Here are a few quick thoughts (and one question) about oscillating spindle sanders. I identified a need for one of these machines over a year ago when I was making a breadboard. I subsequently researched them online, and saw a really good review of the Jet JBOS-5 model, which sells for about £500. It looked like a very nice, solid machine but was out of my price range. Below that price there are lots of models to choose from, but I noticed that most of them are clones. They all have exactly the same specification but just in different coloured cases, and with different brand names.
A quick search currently finds these clones (there are more):
- Triton (my one)
- Rutlands (unbranded)
All of these are the same thing, just re-branded. So all I had to do was find the cheapest one and go and buy that one. At the time of purchase, the best offer was for the Triton one from Screwfix. I trust Screwfix having dealt with them a lot over the years, and it came with a three-year guarantee. I paid £120. What surprised me was the massive range of prices I saw, all for the same machine with exactly the same accessories! Prices ranged from £120 to just under £300, for the SAME MACHINE! In fact there’s plenty of scam artists on eBay, selling the same Triton model as my one at extortionate prices (Screwfix are currently doing the Triton for £130). There’s one listed at the time of writing at £258, with another one at only £229, claiming (falsely) that the rrp is £369! What’s even more alarming is that it looks like some poor schmucks have actually paid this price and bought from a back-bedroom scammer when they could have got the same machine delivered free by one of the biggest and trusted names in this country! Don’t they bother searching the internet? The Screwfix one is nearly always the first one listed in search results.
While I’m on the subject of prices: I did briefly consider the £500 Jet model but was put off by the fact that it didn’t come with a 3″ (76 mm) spindle. The Triton clones all come with that larger spindle size. But here’s the thing (and what was the final nail in the coffin for the Jet) – the cost of the 76 mm spindle assembly and abrasive sleeve for the Jet was nearly £100! (just checked – you can now get it for only £85!). So the 3″ spindle alone was nearly the cost of a complete Triton machine! Obviously the Jet is a better machine, but £85 for a spindle – come on – what a rip-off!
A current search reveals that the VonHaus clone is only £105. Wow! So if I were buying one now, I would go for that one, seeing as they are all THE SAME MACHINE. And, typically, there’s someone currently selling the VonHaus model on eBay for £218.89 – interestingly they have it listed as a Sanding polishing Machine, which it clearly isn’t. What a fake world we live in these days…
So I bought the Triton model and am really pleased with it. It’s pretty quiet for a brush motor and has a solid cast iron top. (Of course, everything I say about the Triton will also apply to all the other clones). One thing that impressed me about the Triton is that the photos on the box show someone using it in an actual workshop, complete with sawdust and mess as opposed to a clinically clean studio mock-up.
I like it! Much more realistic.
Spindle sanders are great tools and are surprisingly easy to use to create smooth curves. You might think that there would be a tendency to create a series of dips in the work as the spindle bites in, but if you keep the work-piece moving it’s easy to get smooth results. The dust extraction works really well too.
Below are some ‘unboxing’ photos of my one. Since owning it, it has come into its own on several projects.
The one question I have is connected with the shape of the work surface. Obviously it’s intended that you stand with the power switch towards you and the dust take-off round the far side. So why (oh why) is the larger part of the work surface ‘wasted’, being on the far side of the spindle? Surely the larger part of the work surface should be the bit that you put the work-piece on. I tend to use mine the wrong way round so that I can take advantage of the larger area. But it has always baffled me.