I was down at HF last weekend to buy one of their (cough, cough...)
"5-horsepower" (must be those short Chinese horses) electric motor for
the home-made 2-stage Bill Pentz DC I'm going to make.
In line to check out, I looked at the sale flier.... 3x21" portable
belt sander for $25 bucks!
I was finishing up building a workbench, and I needed something which
could hog off a lot of material. I had been looking at reviews in FWW,
et. al. where the editor's choice would be some $200 unit like the
DeWalt or something. This thing was almost a TENTH of that price.
"Jeez," I said to myself, "even if it craps out after a couple of
hours, it's still almost cheaper than renting one for that long".
So, I got it....
... and it crapped out after a couple of SECONDS!
One pull on the trigger and it started spinning and I saw a blue flash
from inside the housing and the thing went dead.
The only thing that they package along with the sander (besides the
instructions and dust bag) are replacement motor brushes... so I had a
hunch about where to start looking for the problem. The brushes were
easy (as in... trivial) to get to. Sure enough, the brushes had
fractured and there were little brush fragments in there that I was
able to shake out. I put in the replacement brushes and it worked like
After that initial hiccup, it ran pretty well. I was able to hog off a
lot of material and I got it fairly hot (to the point where I figured
that a tool this cheap would surely quit) but it kept going.
After about a 20-30 minutes worth of total sanding time, I started
seeing some blue flashes again and the sander started sputtering. So,
I stopped it, and noticed that the dust bag was about 1/4 - 1/3 full.
So, I emptied the bag, pulled out the brushes (which were still intact
this time), and blew it all out with the air compressor. I put the
brushes back in and I was back in business.
So, all-in-all, this thing needs a little more care-n-feeding that I'd
expect to have to put into a top-brand tool like DeWalt or PC.
However, the top brands cost 4-8 times as much... and this thing, in
my opinion is *way*
better than 1/4 - 1/8 as good as they are. So, the
bang-for-the-buck ratio is much higher with this HF sander, I'd say.
And, keep in mind that I'm one of thsoe who normally turns his nose up
at HF as well as the rest of us. My bandsaw and jointer are Delta, my
air cleaner is Jet, my biscuit joiner, jigsaw, and cordless drills are
DeWalt and my router and sanders are PC. So, I usually lean toward the
"good stuff". But I really can't find any way to convince myself that
my money would have been better spent on a premier sander when
compared to this one which costs me less than a tank of gas.
My two cents, anyway...