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Wise Buys: Benchtop Oscillating Spindle Sanders

Grizzly #G0538
Why buy? Nothing beats a spindle sander for smoothing curved edges. Because the spindle oscillates up and down as it spins, it sands efficiently with greater stock removal, less burning, and longer abrasive life than you get with a non-oscillating drum. T

Grizzly #G0538

6 sanding drums: 1/2", 3/4", 1", 1-1/2", 2", and 3" in diameter
Includes: 6 insert rings, wrenches
Weight: 34 lbs

Editor test-drive:
The Grizzly G0538 features a 14x20" laminate-covered MDF top with the spindle offset. I like that, because most of the time I'm working on the right side of the spindle. Despite its small size, it sands with gusto while still being easy to finesse. My shop-vacuum hose connected easily to the 2-1/2" port below the table and sucked up all the dust. I had to anchor it to my workbench, though, because the lightweight unit scooted around when unsecured.

--Tested by Jeff Mertz, Design Editor

To learn more:
800-523-4777; grizzly.com

Ridgid #EB4424

5 sanding drums: 1/2", 3/4", 1", 1-1/2", and 2" in diameter
Includes: 4 insert rings, drum washers, belt-sanding attachment, workpiece stop, hex wrenches
Weight: 40 lbs

Editor test-drive:
Not only is this machine nearly unstoppable as an oscillating spindle sander, it's also a 4x24" oscillating edge sander. The belt drive fits into the same drive shaft as the drums, and provides about 8" of working belt length. It takes about 30 seconds to make the change to spindle sanding. The front of the aluminum table tilts down to 48°. My shop vacuum hooked up easily to the 2-1/2" dust port and gathered in all but a little dust behind the drums.

--Tested by Dave Campbell, Deputy Editor

To learn more:
800-871-8158; leevalley.com

Craftsman 21500

6 sanding drums: 1/2", 3/4", 1", 1-1/2", 2", and 3" in diameter
Includes: 6 insert rings, drum washers
Weight: 58 lbs

Editor test-drive:
There's nothing fancy about this unit, but it does everything I need a spindle sander to do. The 18" diameter cast-iron table provides plenty of worksurface, and beefs up the vibration-eliminating weight to 58 lbs. The Craftsman 21500 has a 3"-diameter spindle, something Ridgid and General International don't offer. I force-fed hard maple and cherry against the spindles and could not bog it down. The 2-1/2" dust port fit my shop vacuum hose precisely for good dust collection.

--Tested by Lucas Peters, Multimedia Editor

To learn more:
800-383-4814; craftsman.com

Craftsman 21500

General International 15-220-M1

5 sanding drums: 1/4", 1/2", 5/8", 1-1/2", and 2" in diameter
Includes: 4 insert rings, wrenches
Weight: 81 lbs

Editor test-drive:
Why pay this much ($430 at the time of our test) for a benchtop spindle sander? Because the 81-lb heft of a rugged cast-iron top and heavy steel base eliminates vibration, and the 1/2-hp motor--twice as big as the competitors--powers through wood without a hint of stalling. I like the test-tallest 5-1/2" sanding drums (other makes are 4-1/2") for those rare occasions when I need to sand a workpiece that large. The table tilts to 45° for angled work. And there's an adapter included to hook up a 4" dust hose to the 2" port.

--Tested by Craig Ruegsegger, Multimedia Editor

To learn more:
888-949-1161; general.ca

General International 15-220-M1

Grizzly #G0538
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