Milwaukee - 1/4 Sheet Heavy-Duty Sander, Mdl 6020-21 (Rating: 4)

I received this Milwaukee 1/4-sheet sander this week as a prize for completing surveys online - it was the only woodworking type tool offered. This replaces a B&D 1/4-sheet Palm Sander without oscillation.

First impression is that it is packed well in a bright red plastic case with latches. Kit contains the sander, dust bag, three sheets of sandpaper (120, 180, 220), manual, and a paper punch.

I had read reviews of this sander on Amazon and many users had complained that it is difficult to load the sandpaper. Yes, it is difficult, but as you change a few sheets it becomes easier; the instructions state to "pull up on the paper clamp" but there is no protrusion to use for this task. I finally realized that you must use the lever to open the clamps - in fact there is a cutout in the body to allow you to do this. Another complaint was that the dust collection port makes it very difficult to load the sandpaper at the rear of the device. I found that if you load the paper at the rear first, then it isn't as bad as stated: yes, it is somewhat cramped but even my stubby fingers are able to load the paper fairly easily. Another thing to consider is that with use, the pressure the clamps exert will ease somewhat making loading paper easier.

With the 120# paper loaded, I began sanding some QS White Oak I had just resawn. This device seems to sand very well and with a vacuum attached to the dust port (either 1-1/4 or 1-1/2 hoses attach), the dust extraction is excellent. I briefly sanded some with the dust bag attached (there is a spring in the dust bag to prevent it from collapsing) and, again, the dust extraction was very good.

There is some felt vibration through the device into the hand but the rubber grips seem to deaden it to a comfortable level. The On/Off switch is enclosed to prevent dust from contaminating it and is a little difficult to use.

The Paper Punch, unless I'm doing something very wrong, is next to useless. It is a piece of plastic with little pointed protrusions that punch into and sometimes through the paper but doesn't really make or clean out the hole.

All things considered, I'm quite happy with my "free" sander. Would I pay $40 retail price for this sander - yes, I think it is worth that amount but I wouldn't pay too much more. As I said, it sands well and I'm sure that with experience and use the paper will load more easily.

Jim