Review By Dean Bielanowski  Timbecon Website - http://www.timbecon.com.au


Sherwood OS-100
Oscillating Spindle Sander

 Review

By Dean Bielanowski

There are certain tools and items of machinery that go hand in hand with each other. For example, the jointer and the thicknesser. It makes your woodworking tasks more difficult if you have one, and not the other. And of course there is the chisel and mallet to cite another example. Today we are looking at a machine that I think greatly compliments the band saw - the oscillating spindle sander (OSS). Of course, this doesn't mean you should not have an OSS if you do not have a band saw. Like the other examples mentioned above, you can have one, and not the other and get by using other means, but when it comes to smoothing out curved forms, the OSS is king of the hill. It works great in conjunction with curved cuts on the band saw, with the jig saw, scroll saw, or coping saw. If its got a curved cut, the OSS is probably  the easiest way to sand it smooth.

Naturally, I am referring to flat edge curved cuts here, not rounded edges like a dowel rod or panel with roundover edges made on the router table. See the photos for more detail.

Oscillating Spindle Sanders have always been a bit of a luxury item in my book, and they have always been priced accordingly. As a result, you do not see them in every workshop you enter. However, prices on oscillating spindle sanders have fallen dramatically in recent times and they are now affordable for most people, and certainly a tool to have around if you are regularly cutting curved forms.

We picked up the Sherwood OS-100 sold by Timbecon in Western Australia, but similar models are sold right throughout the world under various badges, although I have not yet seen a clone of this particular machine elsewhere to date (May '05). Let's take a closer look at the Sherwood OS-100.

Packaging and Assembly
It comes in a box, which will no doubt be thrown out shortly after you unpack the machine. The tool ships mostly assembled, and I was surprised at the size of the table top out of the box. The images on the Timbecon website make it look a little smaller than it actually is. Nonetheless, out of the box it came and onto the assembly table. First job was to attach the rubber feet to the base for improved stability and vibration reduction. These go on in a simple screw and nut fashion through the metal base of the machine.

Two spindle storage holders are provided, one for each side of the tool to store your spindles and clearance inserts supplied with the tool. Simply unscrew the pre-installed screws and washers in each side of the tool's base, add in a storage plate for each side, and screw back up. We now have two storage areas capable of holding six spindles that can be used on the OS-100. Incidentally, the OS-100 designation appears to be the Timbecon/Sherwood code, the manual shows "MM236" as the model number, which would be the factory model no doubt.

A small holder is included to house the removable clearance inserts and this is attached to one of the spindle holding brackets with two small screws.

Once the above is complete, simply undo the cable tie keeping the power cord wrapped up and plug it into a suitable power supply. Next you will have to clean the table top with mineral turps or a degreaser to remove the oil film placed on it at the factory. This oil film prevents the table from suffering any rust problems in storage or transit etc. Once the grease is removed from the table top, apply a few coats of silicon-free hard furniture wax for your own rust protection and you should be good to go.

Spindles/Drums
The OS-100 ships with three sanding drums, or spindles, as standard. The sizes supplied are 3/4", 1 1/2" and 2" diameter drums. The 2" drum is the largest available for the tool. Two other drum sizes are available to purchase separately for the OS-100. These are the 1/4" and 1/2" drums. I'd recommend adding the 1/4" drum for smaller diameter, detail work. This is available for AUD$29.90 and the 1/2" is available for AUD$34.90 if you wish to complete the set. The standard supplied set will suit most furniture making and general sanding tasks however.

Each drum comes pre-fitted with a sandpaper sleeve. Additional replacement sleeves are available from the retailer. Be sure to grab an abrasive belt cleaning stick to extend the life of the sanding sleeves as well.

The size of the arc on your project piece determines which size drum is best to use. Naturally, a large 2" drum is not going to be suitable for small radius curves, as it just wont be able to get into the curve or corners easily. And a small drum is not suitable for large radius curves either. It will take you forever to sand the edge smooth with the smaller drum.

To add or remove the sand paper from the drum requires you to unscrew the top nut and remove the cover plate and take off the sanding sleeve. Add a new one and repeat the above two steps in reverse. Not too difficult, although the sanding sleeves are quite a tight fit. The manual recommends adding a small amount of talcum or baby powder to make the fit a little easier. Sound advice! It is best to remove and replace the sleeves when the drum is still locked into the machine, otherwise you are trying to pull the sleeve off without anything holding the other end.

Each drum has a threaded screw connection to the spindle of the sander. You simply screw in, and use two wrenches to tighten securely (not included). To loosen, unscrew in the opposite direction. Easy stuff. This is all done underneath the table, but there is plenty of clearance area to work with, even if you have large hands.

Power Sanding
Unless you have countless hours and endless energy to spend hand sanding curves, a powered sander is the way to go. The OS-100 comes with half a horse under the metal frame. That's a half horsepower motor of course (375W). According to the documentation, the motor is of the 4-pole variety, as opposed to the 2-pole type. I'm no electrical expert, but I think 4-pole types provide more end power and torque than 2-pole, and hence, give you more 'grunt' than a standard 2-pole 1/2 HP power source.

The electric motor rotates the spindle at 1440 revolutions per minute. That's 24 revolutions per second. Sounds quite speedy when you think about it, and it is. The OS-100 is very capable of removing a lot of material quickly with an aggressive 80-grit sleeve attached. A less aggressive sleeve can be used for a more refined sanding finish. To get the best results from the OSS, when you make a curved cut on the band saw or with any saw for that matter, leave a bit of material on the waste side of your cut line and take it off with the OSS after. This gives you the room to play with to ensure your final curve is as refined and smooth as possible.

As well as spinning the drum, the drum also oscillates up and down. The drum will move up and down (oscillate) while rotating, and the oscillation range is 24mm, just under an inch in the imperial scale. This combination of rotation and oscillation is what makes this tool unique to many other power sanding machines. It allows fast results while varying the part of the sandpaper sleeve that is doing the work, reducing heat and prolonging sandpaper life. With the OS-100, the total working height of the sanding drum above the table is 110mm (around 4 1/3" inches). If you have a wider piece, you can flip it over and sand other half, so machine capacity should not be a problem. Note however that the 1/2" spindle is shorter than the two larger ones supplied with the machine. The OS-100 oscillates at 60 strokes per minute (one cycle per second). Larger floor standing oscillating spindle sanders with more capacity are available but are much more expensive and not overly suitable for those on a budget, or those without a lot of workshop space to dedicate to a floor standing machine.

The main power control is on the front face of the tool. It comprises a standard on (green) and off (red) push button. These are encased in a switch enclosure which itself has added safety features. For example, to start the tool, you need to release the switch cover by sliding the large red outer button/knob upward. This releases the door and you have access to the start button. To switch off, you can simply push the door back down to click into place. This simulates hitting a large emergency stop button to stop the machine. You can also reach under the latch door and press the red stop button if you wish. Either way works. The use of the control cover and stop switch makes it difficult for children to access to the start controls, for added piece of mind.

Work Table
The cast iron work table on the OS-100 measures a respectable 370mm x 370mm (14 1/2" x 14 1/2"). It handles all small and medium size pieces with no problem. If you are sanding a large, heavy, and long piece, some supports at the same height as the sander table help a lot in keeping things balanced. I'm talking big chunky table stretchers or legs here. Most pieces are handled without problem on the OS-100. The table is able to tilt from 0 to 45 degrees for bevel sanding tasks. The tilt rides in two angled slots in the table support braces and locks on both sides via thumbscrews. The table locks quite rigidly at all angles. An angle scale is available for setting your desired angle at 1 degree increments. I tested the common angles using a square and other angle setting devices and they are pretty accurate throughout the range - certainly well within +/- 1 degree to the eye. I'd suggest setting table angle using a known, accurate angle gauge if you need higher accuracy. A screw stop underneath the table is adjustable to allow you to quickly reposition the table back to 0 degrees for normal sanding square to the table.

 Four hard plastic table inserts are provided with the OS-100. These allow support to be provided right up close to the sanding drum and are similar in concept to those found on a router table. Two are provided with a regular round clearance hole, each with a different diameter depending on the drum size you are using. The other two inserts, again with different size clearance holes have elongated holes to provide proper clearance when the table is tilted on any angle. They can be removed or added in without any tools as they are a simple push fit. What I do like about these inserts, and something that I have not seen on many other inserts for oscillating spindle sanders, is that they have holes milled into them right around the main clearance hole to improve air flow. Why do you need to improve air flow? Essentially, for enhanced dust collection...

Dust Collection
A 2" dust port/hood is situated at the rear of the machine just under the table. I have a 4" dust hose, but a simple 4" to 2" reducer connection hooks up perfectly to the port. Going back to those perforated holes in the inserts... when a dust sucker is hooked up to the OS-100 in use, the holes in the inserts allow air to be drawn down through the insert, and hence, more dust can be collected around the insert, rather than just the dust that falls down between the edge of the sanding drum and the inner edge of the clearance insert sitting next to it. Spindle sanders do generate a fair amount of fine dust and a lot of this usually collects around the insert on the table of a normal machine. With a perforated insert, a lot more dust can be pulled down under the table and into the extraction system. It's certainly an improvement over the standard solid inserts available with many other machines. Dust collection effectiveness on the OS-100 does come down to how powerful your extraction system is. A 2HP unit will probably be a bit more effective at drawing in dust than a 1HP unit. I'd recommend a 2HP unit, especially since you do need to reduce the connection down to 2" at the source, or at least a very good mobile vacuum extraction unit with large connector. I tried both but still think the large bag extractors work better with this machine than the smaller mobile vacuum systems. The 2HP extractor also has enough grunt to pull in dust that may otherwise try to escape from the front side of the machine under the table, and hence, directly toward the user. There isn't really enough room under the table to adapt a 4" port directly to the tool, easily at least, but if you were creative, you could manage a 3" port with a little tweaking or re-engineering etc. The 2" port seems to be sufficient given the design of the machine.

The OS-100 In Use and Concluding Opinions...
At 33kg (73 pounds) the OS-100 is still somewhat portable, so it can be placed and removed from a bench relatively easily - should be no problem for a two-person lift if the weight is a little too heavy for yourself. You may choose to permanently mount it to a bench or stand. The OS-100 we received did not come with a stand, but the supplier tells me that a pressed metal stand is now included in the package, so that should solve any movement issues, particularly if you put the machine on a mobile base to wheel around as needed.

The machine itself is very easy to use. Changing spindles is quick and easy (just have the right spanners marked for the task to save time). The table adjusts and holds quite firmly in any position throughout its 45 degree range, and dust collection can be added or removed without tools if you have a firm fitting 2" collection adaptor. The added safety cover on the switch box and its dual ability to act as an emergency stop button are handy, especially if you have children hanging around. It will certainly take them a while to figure out how to start the machine, by that time, you will be well on their case!

The plastic yellow inserts are quite a firm fit. I found them a little difficult to remove by hand. If you use the claw of a hammer and lever them out gently, there is no problem. There is a small index pin that you need to align the insert to when you add an insert into the table. Line that up first and then press fit the insert into the round rebate of the table. A little tap with a wooden mallet will persuade it in.

I found the table size to be more than adequate for most tasks. Any bigger and the machine would perhaps have an unfavorably large footprint, and chances are that if you are choosing this bench top model, you don't have a lot of room, or money to play with.

General motor operation is relatively quiet. Your dust extractor will certainly drown out the noise of the sander. Oscillating motion was quite smooth, although the 1 1/2" spindle did seem to produce a very minor hint of vibration, the other two spindle drums were fine (perhaps just a bad spindle?). Tightening it up firm in the machine did improve this however. Keep the threads clean to ensure a smooth operation. The supplied sanding sleeves allow you to remove a fair amount of material relatively quickly, but the finish they give could be better. Naturally, as with all sanding operations, a finer grit paper gives a better result. Timbecon sell replacement sanding sleeves for their model, available in 60, 80 and 120 grit. You might also be able to get finer grit abrasive sleeves else to fit if you want or need a finer finish. These sanding drums are of a similar make to other bench top spindle sanders, so you may be able to cross-source abrasive sleeves as well.
I'd also recommend grabbing an abrasive cleaning stick to keep the sleeves in top condition and make them last longer before replacement is required.

Motor power is adequate for the capacity of this machine. At no time did the motor stall or bog down during use, even when sanding an edge at full capacity. If you have a dust collector, be sure to hook it up. Any sanding operation can produce fine dust that escapes into the air. The OS-100 is no different. I have a 2HP extractor and managed to get quite a good air flow despite the 4" hose reducing to 2" at the dust port. In most cases, I estimate that I was able to collect over 90% of dust created by the sander when in use.

Priced at AUD$349, I believe the OS-100 offers good value for money, especially with the included stand and spindles. Some similar sanders have no stand and only include 1 spindle, and for a higher price tag. In fairness, some bench top machines do come with 5 spindles as standard, but at a higher price tag. This is the lowest price I have seen yet on an oscillating spindle sander, so if you are on a budget or have been waiting for these machines to drop in price, the OS-100 might be the machine for you. It may not be as well machined as the higher price "brand" name models, but it does do the job it is intended to do quite well.

I find that now I have one of these machines at my disposal, I am incorporating curved cuts into my project designs more readily and the end result is much more interesting projects with nice smooth curves. If you regularly cut curves on the band saw, be sure to take a look at the Sherwood OS-100 oscillating spindle sander.
 

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In Australia



OS-100 Bench top Oscillating Spindle Sander
 

Similar Machines sold in the USA
These machines listed below are not the same as the model reviewed above, although they do perform a similar function.

Sherwood OS-100 Photos
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The Sherwood OSS-100 Oscillating Spindle Sander


Insert holder with 4 supplied inserts


Up to six sanding drums/spindles can be stored on the OS-100.


The ON/OFF controls. Note that the flip door can also be closed to act as an emergency stop.


You can either mount the sander directly to a work surface or attach the four rubber feet included.


The table angle setting gauge.


The 2" dust port fitted at the rear of the machine does a respectable job at collecting dust when in use.


The table top is well machined, smooth and straight.


The holes in the insert go a long way in improving dust collection and air flow..


Spindles are secured via threads.


The OSS-100 in action using the 3/4" spindle.


The large 2" spindle in operation. Note that dust collection was not used here, and after only 15 seconds of sanding, dust was starting to build.


Curved beveled cuts are no problem to sand with the OS-100's tilting table.

 


 

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