I’ve wanted an oscillating spindle sander ever since I came to understand how they make the curves in wood possible. I decided I wanted to start building my own recurve bows. You can replicate the effect with a drill press and a few attachments, but having the right tool for the job will speed things up a great deal. In this case, Central Machinery’s Model 95088 is much like that generic beer that shows up at parties. It is technically beer; it shares few properties with actual beer, but wow, was it cheap. In the world of benchtop spindle sanders, the $129 price tag this model carries would have it stacked right next to Keystone Light.
In truth, all the thing does is spin a sanding drum at 2000 rpm and oscillate vertically at 58 opm. There are six sizes of sanding drums, from 1/2 inch to 3 inches, and it sports a 14-11/32″ x 11-15/32″ table size. That doesn’t sound like a big deal until you realize it can sand vertically even, smooth curves with no burn marks into stock up to 4 inches high. That’s powerful enough to shape archery bows, table legs, trim pieces, or damn near anything you can get close to the spindle.
The elephant in the room is, of course, that it’s from Harbor Freight. It can’t be half the cost of its Delta or Jet cousins and not give up something — and when it comes to Harbor Freight power tools, that something is usually quality. However the mitigating factor here was that very thing: I didn’t have $250 – $450 to spend on this. I had to stretch to find the budget for this, and having the ability for however long this one lasts is worth more to me than the possibility of getting a really good one down the road. Next month it could fail and I’d be hosed, but then again Chuck’s Central Machinery polisher has been mated to a 6-inch wire cup brush for the past 7 years and seems to be fine.
In the end I just want to get the projects done — this week, thanks to Central Machinery, I can.
Central Machinery’s Oscillating Spindle Sander [Harbor Freight]