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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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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OS-100 Bench top Oscillating
Similar Machines sold in
These machines listed below are not
the same as the model reviewed above, although they do
perform a similar function.
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written permission prohibited
The Sherwood OSS-100 Oscillating Spindle Sander
Insert holder with 4 supplied inserts
Up to six sanding drums/spindles can be stored on the
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
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.