Porter-Cable 371K Compact Belt Sander - Review

371k_1.jpgWe were pretty intrigued when we first heard about Porter-Cable's 371K Compact Belt Sander. Could it be true that we could have the power of a belt sander but with the size of an orbital? Does this mean no more aching arms after stints of operating our large, way-too-powerful belt sander? Well, that's the intent behind the 371K, but the question is, did Porter-Cable succeed?

The 371K is certainly compact, weighing in at around the 5 lb mark. Considering that Porter-Cable's two larger belt sanders weigh 10 lbs and 14 lbs, the 371K is a huge advancement in this area. Because of its small dimensions, the 371K does not have any traditional handle to speak of, only a removable front pommel and a padded area that wraps around the sides and top for gripping. This style of handle (non-handle, really) makes it very easy to switch around your grip on the tool, and, because of the likelihood that it's going to be used in some tight spaces, this becomes an innovative and essential feature.

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Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (1) | social bookmarking

May 3, 2007

Porter-Cable 371K Compact Belt Sander Arrives For Review

porter_cable_compact_sander.jpgWith the 371K, Porter-Cable has created the Mini-Me of the belt sanding world and just taking it out of the box, we were startled by how small it is. It's got flush sanding capabilities on both sides and a grip that can be held in all sorts of ways. And it looks like that's the kind of versatile use this little tool will get seeing as it only weighs about 5 lbs. We're going to sand everything we can and let you know how it goes.

At Tool King and Amazon.com

Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

April 16, 2007

Porter-Cable 371K Compact Belt Sander

porter_cable_compact_sander.jpgWe would probably use our belt sander more often if it wasn't the size, shape, and weight of a cinder block. Using it on a vertical surface is pretty much out of the question and even when it's flat on a board it's like controlling an untrained St. Bernard. But still, it's a great tool, if only it was smaller...

Enter Porter-Cable and their 371K Compact Belt Sander. This little guy looks to create an entirely new class of tool by merging the usefulness of a belt sander with the size and maneuverability of an orbital. It weighs only five pounds, which puts it at less than half of the weight of Porter-Cable's heavy-duty belt sander. Because the tool is so versatile and will likely be used places that a regular belt sander can't, the handle is designed to accommodate any number of grip positions.

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April 13, 2007

Microplane Stainless Steel Sanding Discs - Review

microplane_fine.jpgMicroplane has recently come out with an interesting and innovative idea; stainless steel sanding discs for an orbital sander. According to Microplane, the discs, which are available in coarse (40 grit), medium (80 grit) and fine (120 grit), remove wood five times faster and last seven times longer than regular sandpaper. It supposedly takes 35 regular sanding discs to measure up to one stainless steel disc.

The discs are just what you would assume they would be; Borg versions of the standard orbital discs. The back of each disc has eight little Velcro pads that are placed so as not to interfere with any of the dust collection holes (the discs are compatible with both five and eight hole orbitals). The sanding side of the discs have a number of little blade protrusions on them. The coarse grit disc resembles a bullet-riddled piece of metal, while the finer two grits take on the appearance of a flattened version of Microplane's great kitchen graters. The discs attach to the sander just like regular ones do.

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Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (1) | social bookmarking

March 30, 2007

Microplane Stainless Steel Sanding Discs Arrive For Review

microplane_fine.jpgJust yesterday, we were working on some closet shelving and, once again, became frustrated at how fast we tear through sanding pads for our orbital sander. It felt like every ten minutes we were pulling off a gummed up, slightly shredded pad with virtually no grit left and giving it the Frisbee throw across the workshop.

Well, if what we hear about Microplane's Stainless Steel Sanding Discs is true, those days may be coming to an end. They claim that one of their pads has the life of 35 regular pads and that it removes wood five times as fast. Late yesterday, we received the sample pack that they were nice enough to send us and we're going to test them out and have a full review up soon.

At Microplane and Amazon.com

Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

March 27, 2007

Skil Octo Multi-Finishing Sander - Review

octo_full.jpg
Sanding is a very zen experience. It's the woodworker's moment of contemplation; the cutting, gluing, and fitting are all done and the piece is almost finished. The only thing left is to apply some stain and your hand-crafted piece of art is complete. It's a time to run your hands over the wood, to consider the process that got you here, to experience a communion with the piece, and to gently work out any small imperfections in the hope of achieving something that is without fault. A peaceful last breath before it is all over.

Garbage.

Pure garbage. And anyone who has ever done a woodworking project knows it. Sanding is a tedious, and at times, frustrating process. Orbital sanders take some of the pain out of the procedure, but there are always areas, little rabbets, nooks, and cut-outs, that you simply can't get to, not even with a piece of sandpaper wrapped around a pencil or taped to a stick (we know you've done it, we have too). If you're like us, you look forward to, and actively seek out, anything that makes sanding easier.

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Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (1) | social bookmarking

March 20, 2007

Microplane Stainless Steel Sanding Discs

microplane_sanding_discs.jpg
Our orbital sander is one of the most indispensable tools that we own. It's versatile, fairly small, and does a great job in a lot of different situations. But the problem we always have is with the sanding discs; they just wear out too quickly. To combat this common complaint, Microplane, the makers of kitchen tools, woodworking tools, and a few personal hygiene tools, have come out with what looks like a great idea; stainless steel sanding pads for the orbital sander.


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Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

Skil Octo Multi-Finishing Sander Arrives for Review

skil_octo_2.jpg
The good folks at Skil have been kind enough to send us one of their new Octo Finishing Sanders. We're very excited about this little tool and think that it has the potential of being quite a success. With eight different detachable sanding heads, the Octo seems capable of sanding just about anything. We'll test it out and have a full review up soon.

At Amazon.com

Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

March 4, 2007

Skil Introduces Octo Multi-Finishing Sander

skil_octo.jpg
Recently, Skil has come out with an innovative new tool they call the Octo Multi-Finishing Sander, and just by looking at it, we bet it could be pretty useful in some tight spots. The tool comes with eight attachments, allowing you to sand just about every hard to get area from shutters to inside corners. The flex attachment even contours to irregular surfaces like moldings and balusters, putting an end to a lot of tedious hand sanding.

A built-in work light, a keyless attachment system, and a small dust collection bag round out what looks to be a promising tool.

Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

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