The new SuperMax dual-drum sander stands out not only as a lower-cost wide sanding solution, but also it is actually manufactured in the United States.
The SuperMax dual-drum series comes in widths of 25, 37 and 50 inches. I tried the 25-inch model. The main components of the machine are dual 6-inch-diameter aluminum drums wrapped with 3-inch-wide abrasive strips. A 5 hp continuous-duty motor drives the drums, and there is a variable-speed conveyer bed with SandSmart controller and a height-adjustment mechanism. Options include rolling casters and a digital thickness scale which I found very beneficial. The conveyer feed table uses a wide sanding belt to more accurately control the finished thickness.
Working the sander
The SuperMax 25 drum can be a very versatile sander but you can't expect it to have the same capacity as a widebelt sander driven by a 20 hp motor. I found it able to do most tasks as long as the belt grits, feed rate and sanding depth were set within its parameters.
The most important point is at start up. Position your stock under the primary drum (power off) till it just makes contact but you can still rotate the drum by hand use that as your initial setting. The secondary drum is adjusted independently of the forward drum according to scales on the machine cover.
The SandSmart feed controller helps figure out the most efficient feed rate, because it constantly monitors the load on the motor with a red indicator light. Manually reducing the feed rate or lessening the sanding depth till the light goes off gives you the proper settings.
Changing the abrasive belts usually takes just a few minutes. The quality of finish was very good for most production work, though high-end pieces would benefit from an orbital touch up.
The SuperMax 25 was able to handle the variety of parts I processed with varying degrees of speed and is probably best suited for the small to medium shop. The suggested retail price is $3,599. For more information visit www.supermaxtools.com.
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