A spindle sander is basically sand paper on a tube that rotates. This can be either handheld or mounted on a bench. This kind of sander is good for sending curves and for contouring that would normally be difficult with a hand or orbital sander. It is mainly used in woodwork to smooth costs or saw marks. It is also used extensively in rounding wood such as furniture legs.
Oscillating Spindle Sander
A common type of spindle sander is an oscillating spindle sander. This type of sander is bench mounted. The spindle moves up and down as it rotates to work faster, sand more evenly, and reduce the heat on the sandpaper. By maintaining lower heat, the sandpaper will last longer. With the up-down motion of the drum, you can sand faster and are unlikely to burn your wood or sandpaper. There are several different models of oscillating spindle sanders that vary in size and features. You can purchase them in either a table-top or stand-alone style.
Spindle Sanders Sleeves
The spindle sleeves are round tubes of sandpaper that slide over the spindle drum. Just like any other sandpaper, these tubes come in different grits. You can buy everything from very coarse to very fine or finishing sandpaper. Because there are different drum sizes, you have to be careful to purchase the sleep designed for the drum size you are using. They will very in both diameter as well as the length. If your sleeves are not the same diameter as the drum, it will not hold tight to the drum or it will not fit on the drum. If the length is too short, you can end up damaging the drum, as it could come in contact with your project. If the sleeve is longer than the drum, you could be attempting to sand with hollow paper, which will obviously be ineffective.
Spindle Sander Drums
The drum is the part of the sander that the sandpaper (sleeve) slides onto. These are typically made from rubber, and are carefully balanced. Quality drums are designed to expand as they spin, gripping the sleeves even tighter as they rotate. The drums vary in diameter as well as length. You will vary the diameter of the drum based on the curve you are creating or sanding. A larger drum will create a more gradual curve, while a smaller diameter drum will create a sharper curve. The height of the drum varies so that you can use a taller drum for thicker projects, while using a shorter one for thinner projects. The length also varies based on how much your sander oscillates. It may only oscillate 1/2” from top to bottom, while another sander may oscillate 3” from top to bottom. Your drum will need to be long enough to be constantly in contact with your project whether the sander is at the bottom of its motion or the top.
Ryobi Spindle Sander
One of the most cost-effective, common, and best loved oscillating spindle sanders on the market today is the Ryobi OSS500. This is a small, table-top spindle sander that performs well for the average user. This model has a set up-down stroke of 5/8”, and oscillates at 58 times per minute. The RPM of the drum is set at 2000, which many reviewers feel is just right. The body of this sander is made of cast iron, making it very heavy so that it will most likely stay in place on your workbench during use without any additional mounting needed. This model comes with seven spindles ranging from ½” to 3” as well as six throat plates. The throat plates are pieces that drop in next to your drum to minimize the space between the table and your drum so your project doesn’t get pulled down inside the sander. Ryobi also give you a large variety of sleeves in 50, 80 and 150 grits. You have everything you need when you purchase this outstanding tool to get started on almost any project. You can purchase this amazing tool for as little as $49 online.
Top Amazon.com Results
The top selling sander on Amazon.com is made by Delta. This model has many similar features to the ones I have mentioned previously. It has a complete set of drums and sleeves that store neatly in the two built-in storage compartments below the table. There is an attachment for a vacuum, and it includes several throat plates. This sander rotates at 1724 RPM. What makes this model unique from the two I previously reviewed is the fan and collection bag that comes standard. There is a mounted, downward blowing fan that helps to collect the dust and sawdust that blows into a collection bag for easy cleanup. This model sells for $280 on Amazon.com.
The second best-selling oscillating spindle sander on Amazon.com is a table-top model made by Jet. Jet is one of the most common, most reliable names in this type of sander. The model represented here is the 708404 JBOS-5. This ½ horse power beast boasts one of the most powerful motors in the desktop models. Included accessories include 5 spindles and 4 throat sleeves. There are two main features that set this model apart. The first is that this model allows you to tilt the table up to a 45 degree angle. The second is that the spindle stroke boasts an amazing 1”. This model sells for $440.
The next sander is a table-top model by Grizzly. This model includes six sleeves, and has six drums, which store neatly under the table for a neat work area and quick changes. This model rotates at 1725 RPM and oscillates at 72 strokes per minute. This particular oscillating spindle sander comes with three each of 80 and 150 grit sleeves and six throat plates. This model includes a vacuum port, as well. This sander has a spindle stroke of 5/8”, and can be purchased at Amazon.com for $150.
There are several other companies that make oscillating spindle sanders that vary from the basic home bench-top models that average $50-500 to the floor models in which the cost can easily exceed $1000. There is a huge variety of drums and sleeves available for all the models, as well as a great variety of features.