Power tools can be a serious investment, and with numerous brands and models to choose from, it can be a bit overwhelming when it comes to making a decision! Whether this is the first oscillating spindle sander you’ve purchased, or it’s time to replace the one you already have, this article aims to compare two leading contenders. Reading through hundreds of Amazon reviews can get confusing and exhausting, so I’ve picked out two powerful, popular benchtop sanders and looked at the pros and cons of each. Hopefully my review will help you as you decide on which oscillating spindle sander is the one for you!
Oscillating spindle sanders have been around for a while now, but they’re often a late addition to the workroom. Of course, as with many things, once you have one you can’t imagine going back to working without one! This kind of sander’s particular advantage is that it’s useful for sanding contours and curves – something that would be a lot more difficult with orbital or hand sanding.
Here’s a quick, at-a-glance guide to the two models we’ll be looking at.
Both machines are popular choices in the $200-$500 price bracket, but the Powertech sander is at the lower end of that range and the Jet one is at the higher end.
First and foremost, what we really want to know is: does the machine do what it’s supposed to do? Both the Powertech and the Jet come with a variety of spindle sizes, are sturdily built, and have non-skid rubber feet to prevent them from moving during use. They can both also be permanently mounted to the table.
On the Powertech, the spindle is square to the table, the sanding sleeve is dead center, and the 18″ top is well sized for all but the very largest of projects – it is perfectly flat, too, and because it’s round, your work receives the same support all around. Changing the sanding sleeves is as quick and easy as any worker could wish – around 30 seconds and it’s done! All that is required to change to a different size is to change the table insert, pick a drum, drum washer, and sleeve, and then tighten using the spindle knob – a very nice, easy to use feature of the Powertech, especially as machines costing much more often still require the use of a wrench.
The Jet does not seem to have the same exact trueness of the spindles relative to the base, but although it’s not dead center, it’s acceptable. Although it may require some shimming, its performance is faultless, and there is no vibration or movement during use. Spindle changing is fairly simple, but requires the use of two wrenches so is not as quick and easy as on the Powertech. Also, many users point out that there is not enough storage provided for all the spindles/wrenches provided.
It looks like the first point goes to Powertech!
This is obviously an important safety issue. Sanding dust can present a serious health hazard if the sander is not properly designed to remove it before it ends up in your lungs! Use of a dust collector/vacuum is highly recommended, and each model has a dust port. On the Powertech machine, the dust port fits shop-vac hoses extremely well, and all the dust is immediately pulled down through the table insert. On the Jet, users have reported some dissatisfaction with the dust collection system, because there is almost no gap when using the right insert, and therefore no way for the dust to get underneath the table.
That means that it’s another point for Powertech in this category!
Another important safety feature: is the machinery going to run so loudly that ear protection is required when using it in the workshop?The answer, for both the Powertech 0S1000 and the Jet BOS-5, is no! The motor runs quietly and smoothly on both models, at a volume comparable to that of a sewing machine being used at a low speed. Good news for your ears, and a point each for Powertech and Jet.
Here we come to one of the biggest differences between the two products. The Powertech OS1000 does not have a tilting table, which is a large part of the reason for the product’s low price. The fact that it doesn’t adjust for angle keeps the cost low, so be aware of this. If your work projects will require a tilting table, this model will not be the best fit for you. The Jet BOS-5, however, does have a tilting table. It is a large, cast-iron table which easily adjusts to accommodate all bevel sanding projects. This is arguably the Jet’s star feature! And it certainly earns another point for Jet.
The Powertech OS1000 weighs roughly 50 pounds, and can be picked up easily enough holding the cast iron top. The Jet is a lot heavier at over 80 pounds, and more of a struggle to lift up for tabletop use. Its size means it’s recommended that you buy or build a lower platform rather than use it on the table top. Its weight makes it sturdy enough that there’s no danger of it shifting during use. Different people will view the weight and bulk of the products in different ways, both positive and negative, so I’m going to play it safe and give them a point each – one to Jet for its sturdiness and lack of movement/vibration, and one to Powertech for being compact and easier to move!
Each machine comes with a variety of spindles. The Powertech comes complete with spindles ranging from ½ inch to 3 inches. The Jet comes complete with spindles ranging from ¼ inch to 2 inches. Note that many users of the Powertech recommend buying the 3” spindle as an extra accessory, but that it is an expensive extra.
For the inclusion of the all-important 3” spindle, the point here goes to Powertech.
And the winner is…
Powertech, with a point in 5 of the 6 categories! Jet is a worthy second with 3.
–>Here’s a quick summary:
- Good design, storage, and easy spindle change
- Excellent dust pick-up
- Quiet operation
- Includes 3” spindle
- Quiet operation
- Sturdier, minimal vibration
- Tilting table
It looks like Powertech has this one – a great product, and excellent value for its lower price. However – and it’s an important however! – don’t overlook the fact that it does NOT have the all-important tilting table feature. Ultimately, you may make your choice based on which is more important to you and your projects: Powertech’s inclusion of the 3” spindle but absence of a tilting table, or Jet’s excellent tilting table but expensive extra of a 3” spindle.
(Both links lead to amazon, my favourite vendor. I’ve always had good success with them. Their prices are usually pretty good and their customer service is the best i have encountered so far)[clear]