A Huge Help!

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Review by RandyMorter posted 01-26-2011 10:49 PM 7566 views 2 times favorited 21 comments Add to Favorites Watch
A Huge Help! A Huge Help! No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I picked up this Ridgid Oscillating Edge Belt/Spindle sander on 1/22/2011. I had done one band saw box and had four more in progress and wasn’t looking forward to all of the sanding they were going to require. Being the lazy guy I am, I wanted to find a tool to do some of the work for me. I read a number of reviews about sanders and this one seemed to get decent reviews and the oscillating belt sander feature appealed to me. The price wasn’t bad at $199 for what it offers. I also picked up an extra couple of 150 grit belts (it comes with a single 80 grit belt, 4” x 24”) and a package from Ridgid with extra spindle sand paper (a set of 10 with 5 sizes of 80 grit and 5 sizes of 150 grit. It comes with the 5 sizes of 80 grit). All of that plus tax was a bit under $250. I wanted the finer grit and that was as fine as they had at Home Depot.

Setup was pretty easy – just put the 4 rubber feet on and that’s it. I just have mine sitting on top of my table saw and it seems fine – very little vibration and the unit is heavy enough to stay put.

Pros -

1. I’ve mainly used the spindle, various sizes and both the 80 and 150 grits, to sand one of my new band saw boxes. It really cuts down on the manual sanding. The various sizes allow you to get the spindle right into the rounded cuts.

2. Dust collection is pretty good just using my shop vac with a 2-1/2 inch fitting. There are slots on the work surface near the spindle / belt assembly where the sawdust is sucked into.

3. Grizzly sells pre-formed spindle sand paper that fits the unit. They’re no cheaper than the Ridgig (the 10 Ridgid units were about $15.00) but you can get different grits and just the sizes you want.

4. I read another review on LJ from someone who makes his own spindle sand paper assemblies.

5. I feel I sanded quite a bit of material (probably too much, which is easy to do, because now I have quite a bit of a gap around the drawers) but there isn’t a lot of build up on the belts or spindle sand paper.

6. The unit is surprisingly quiet. The shop vac makes up for it though.

Cons -

1. The unit comes with the belt attached. The belt has a tracking knob on the idler (right) spindle that causes the belt to ride up or down the belt assembly. The first time I turned it on the belt tracking adjustment must have been mis-adjusted, in a quick and few number of revolutions the belt was trying to track off the bottom of the spindles. I think the instructions say to keep your hand by the on/off switch and it’s a good idea so you can turn it off quickly if the tracking is off.

The tracking adjustment isn’t clear to me which way to turn it to cause the belt to track one way or another (even after doing it a few times). Next time I figure it out I’ll write a note on the device. The tracking is pretty sensitive too, a small change can cause the belt to try to jump off the unit or get eaten up by the unit pretty quickly, perhaps 5-10 revolutions. I’ve had occaision to adjust it because I put the 150 grit belt on and had to adjust it afterwards.

2. Once again, I have a trouble with table alignment (I’m beginning to think I’m a whiner). When using the belt there’s a plastic insert that covers the opening where the belt assembly goes, and it has a place for a metal insert that goes around the actual sanding spindle. The metal insert is included in 5 different sizes.

The metal inserts are fine and sit flush with the parent plastic insert.

The plastic insert has levelling screws but I can’t get it to sit flush. It’s not because of the screws but because the plastic is slightly deformed causing it to stick up above the main platform. When you retract the screw into the plastic, the plastic doesn’t have any weight to cause it to “fall” or “sink” into the opening. It’ll go down if you push on it, even with a work piece, but if it’s sticking up and you slide your work piece into the plastic insert it stops the work piece. Perhaps it’ll get better with time.

It’s not awful, especially since it’s just on a sander, but I wish it was flat.

3. Another alignment issue is the drop leaf table extension. It has adjustments for setting the stops for making it level, but the lip of the drop-leaf portion is proud of the main table. Now to be fair, I haven’t tried adjusting it so it may be fixable. I just used the unit with the drop leaf in the dropped position.

4. To be clear – I HAVE NOT done the alignment steps. But the two issues I mentioned above mean that I ended up holding the piece above the table. It seems okay for the box I’m working on since it’s kind of free form and doesn’t have any real square edges that matter. But it means I couldn’t use the unit as it is to try to sand one surface square to another. There are instructions for squaring it up, I just haven’t done it yet. But I don’t think they’ll address the raised insert issue or the drop leaf being proud of the main surface issue.

Other -

1. This is no slam on the unit, but it takes some skill to use it (which I hope I develop!). I’ve never used a power sander like this before (I do have a portable belt sander). It’s pretty easy to sand off too much material so that you get scallops from the sander on the work surface where you used to have minor saw blade marks. With the spindle you can easily loose the desired shape of the work piece.

I found that the larger spindle you can use the better. It’s probably better to start off with the largest spindle you can use and then go to smaller ones as necessary. That way you don’t eat small diameter scallops in the work piece.

The surface of the larger diameter spindle moves quite a bit faster than it does on the smaller spindle. You don’t need as much pressure on the larger spindles to remove a lot of material quickly.

2. You have to watch out how you approach the spindle or belt with your work piece so that it doesn’t get jammed up and/or thrown and/or pinch your fingers. While my table saw seems scary at times, this sander has actually made pieces move around on their own more than any other tool I’ve worked with and I haven’t even had it a week. Be careful when you use this!

3. I don’t always wear a dust mask (I just have one of those 3M paper jobbies) but I found myself wanting one with this unit, even with the dust collection. There wasn’t a lot of build up on the machine so I think my shop vac was getting a lot of the dust, but I think it’s just so fine that it floats around.

4. The box I’m working on is a bit over 4 inches deep. The 1/2 inch sander requires a mounting with a washer that is probably 4 inches when the spindle is in the down position. I couldn’t use that size on my piece. It would sure be nice to have taller spindles, like having them match the max re-saw capacity of your band saw.

5. I haven’t decided whether I’m going to get a stand for the unit or what. I don’t have an easy place to put store it on a shelf. Either way I have to find some home for it, on a stand or on a shelf. Having it on a stand is nice and convenient but you have to have room for the stand too. I’ll probably go this route as I have some room left and the only other thing I need to get is a drill press. And a lathe… And a bigger table saw… And a…

Update 3/3/2011
After using this a bit the fact that the tables aren’t flush has frustrated me enough that I contacted Ridgid about it. Their solution is for me to return it, which I will soon. Hopefully the next one won’t have the problem.

I did try adjusting the set screws but all they are for is setting the zero-degree stops that are supposed to make the table perpendicular to the sanding spindle or belt. I got that done but my issue is when using the spindle with small pieces (i.e. inside the drawers of a band saw box), I work the piece around the spindle. However, the piece catches on the lip between the fixed portion of the table and the dropable table. To overcome the lip you have to raise the work piece off the table and then you may not be square to the spindle.

I tried using the sander with the table down and that’s better for some things but there are times where I want that extra table and I want the entire table to be flush.

In addition, I noticed that the center of the table is bowed up compared to the edges where it pivots.

I uploaded the second picture to help show the issue. I don’t know how well it shows up, but where that ruler is I measured 1/32” w/ my caliper. It’s just enough to catch a work piece and cause you to change focus from sanding to overcoming the lip.

Update 3/5/2011

I exchanged units today at Home Depot and this one is much better. The tables are flush to each other for the most part. This one has a very slight dip in the center of the dropable table but I don’t think that it will cause problems since the earlier issue was working with small pieces, moving them around the spindle, and having them hit the dropable table. With the dropable table very slightly below the fixed table it shouldn’t be a problem (well, not the same problem any way).

I also didn’t mount the rubber feet on this one since I’m bolting it to my stand. The plastic insert (used when using the spindle option) also was flatter and pretty much aligned right out of the box. This unit must be more like the ones that others have got who really like the sander! I haven’t actually sanded with this one yet but I’m already liking it better than the other one!

Update 3/17/2011

After using my second unit I ran into a different problem. The belt would not track. The adjustment was VERY touchy, blowing on it one direction or the other just about moved it enough to make it track to the top or the bottom. IF I got it stable, as soon as I touched the belt with a work piece it would make the belt track one way or the other.

I looked at the assembly and noticed the drive drum faces were as flat as my straight edge. But the idler drum, that is used for tracking adjustment, bowed out in the center. I figured that was why it wouldn’t track straight. There was such a small area for centering the belt on to get it to run straight that it wasn’t happening for me.

I didn’t have a way to sand the drum, so I wrapped one thickness of masking tape around both ends of the drum to build up the drum edges instead of reducing the middle. I’ve now used it this way for a couple of hours without any tracking issue.

-- Randy Morter, Phoenix, AZ

View RandyMorter's profile


228 posts in 3499 days

21 comments so far

View ellen35's profile


2748 posts in 4241 days

#1 posted 01-26-2011 11:05 PM

I have one. I use it all the time… love it.
I have no problems with tracking or the table. Try the alignment steps. I think they will help.
It does take some practice but once you get the hang of it, you’ll love what it can do!

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View Pdub's profile


926 posts in 3988 days

#2 posted 01-26-2011 11:25 PM

I plan on buying one when I get to a Home Depot in Feb. I have read the reviews on here and decided it is the best unit for my price range. Thanks for the review and thanks Ellen, for your input.

-- Paul, North Dakota, USAF Ret.

View RandyMorter's profile


228 posts in 3499 days

#3 posted 01-26-2011 11:58 PM

Thanks Ellen! I’ve read other reports too of people that love this sander, which is why I got one. Overall I’m very happy about the time and effort it’s saved me. I’ll try the table alignment. I also think if I was working with a bit heavier wood it might be better too. I’m using some redwood on it right now and it seems almost like balsa wood!

-- Randy Morter, Phoenix, AZ

View ND2ELK's profile


13495 posts in 4582 days

#4 posted 01-27-2011 12:00 AM

I have this unit as well. I think it is a pretty good unit for the price. It is one of those pieces of equipment that is nice to have when you need it. Being two sanders in one is a nice feature as well. I keep it on a platform and bring it out when I need it with my lift table.

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

View b2rtch's profile


4920 posts in 3857 days

#5 posted 01-27-2011 12:20 AM

I have one I love it I use it all the time but I mostly use the belt.
I have it for tow years ans I never yet used the spindle.
You can find new sleeves for it at Harbor Freight.
I paid $100.00 fro mine on Ebay.

-- Bert

View dbhost's profile


5777 posts in 4040 days

#6 posted 01-27-2011 01:54 AM

I have one, mostly use the belt, but every now and then use the spindles. This is probably my most used tool in the shop.

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View SPHinTampa's profile


567 posts in 4494 days

#7 posted 01-27-2011 02:06 AM

Great company. ok product.

Make sure you fill in and turn in your warranty card.

-- Shawn, I ask in order to learn

View Brad_Nailor's profile


2545 posts in 4766 days

#8 posted 01-27-2011 02:09 AM

I have one of these. It’s nice…I don’t use it a ton, but it’s a must have for certain things…and this machine does the job nicely.


View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3982 days

#9 posted 01-27-2011 02:11 AM

Try to find somebody who doesn’t truly like theirs … MORE than they thought they would, AND …. that doesn’t USE it more than they thought they would.

One of those Ridgid gems.

And … yep: I love mine, too. One day, I’ll improve the dust collection, but … no major hurry ;-)


-- -- Neil

View bigike's profile


4057 posts in 4097 days

#10 posted 01-27-2011 03:26 AM

I want one, to go with my planer.

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop, http://[email protected]

View Bryon McGowan's profile

Bryon McGowan

39 posts in 4054 days

#11 posted 01-27-2011 03:49 AM

I have one of these I have a white one. Used it for many projects no problems dust collection is good with a shop vac.

-- God is great beer is good and people are crazy

View BigG's profile


56 posts in 3878 days

#12 posted 01-27-2011 05:40 AM

This tool saves my XXX on almost every project I work on! Probably most used in the shop. And, no problems with anything.

-- Big G

View ChuckC's profile


844 posts in 3743 days

#13 posted 01-27-2011 05:52 AM

A sander like this is almost required if you do a lot of BS boxes. Do yourself a favor and get one of these too. It will make the paper last a lot longer.

View jcwalleye's profile


306 posts in 3881 days

#14 posted 01-27-2011 06:03 AM

Thanks for the review. Great idea and platform NDELK. You can store it somewhere and when you need it, just roll the table under the platform and jack it up to a working height. No lifting at all. You could start a forum for all the different ways those scisor are being used.

-- Trees, a wonderful gift --Joe--

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 3877 days

#15 posted 01-27-2011 07:04 AM

Don’t count on the dust collection to keep it’s innards clean and shiny. You will get some buildup inside. I mostly use the belt sander and have found that its a good idea to remove it occasionally give the inside a good cleaning. If too much dust builds up, removing the belt sander can be a hassle.

Yeah, it takes a little practice to use it well, but I wouldn’t want to work without it. My SIL has had my belt sander at his house for well over a year and I’m not in a hurry to get it back. – lol

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

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