Supermax - 19-38 Open end Drum Sander (Rating: 5)

I've been going back and forth between the Supermax 19-38 and the Jet 18-36 (to the point that I had decided on the Jet, ordered it, then canceled the order after seeing a Jet 22-44 side by side with a Supermax 19-38). I'd like to provide the following comparison between the 19-38 and 18-36. In doing this, I admit that I am extrapolating what the 18-36 is like in some cases based on what I saw on the Jet 22-44. I'll try to note this below. Obviously these are only my opinions and observations, and if yours differ, that's fine too.

The Supermax 19-38 conveyor table is wider (more than 5" wider!) in the direction the conveyor moves. This is based on my measurement on the Supermax (about 23-1/4") and what Jet states in their manual (either 17-15/16" or 17-17/32", depending on which dimension matches). This makes it less likely that I will have to pay the additional money for infeed/outfeed extension tables on the Supermax.

The Supermax 19-38 conveyor table extends past the end of the drum by about 3-3/4", helping stabilize wide boards. The pictures of the 18-36 appear to show that its conveyor table does not extend out past the end of the drum.

The 19-38 sanding 'head unit' (the assembly with the drum and vertical adjustment, motor etc) bolts to a heavy cast iron support 'table'. While I haven't physically seen the 18-36, I have seen the Jet 22-44 and its support 'table' is stamped steel (unless there is a cast iron or heavier steel insert in it that I couldn't see). Pictures of the 18-36 suggest that its support 'table' is also stamped steel. The cast iron support 'table' on the Supermax may reduce flexing of the drum relative to the conveyor table.

Weight difference - The Supermax 19-38 weighs about 100 lbs more than the Jet 18-36 from the information I have seen (264 vs 164 lbs). While it stands to reason that the Supermax would weigh more because it is a little larger, it also weighs substantially more than the Jet 25-50 (264 vs 183 lbs). Part of the difference is probably the cast iron support 'table' mentioned above; perhaps the 'head unit' containing the drum is also heavier / beefier. The drum 'hood' is also plastic on the Jet vs metal on the Supermax. In any case I would think that the additional weight that the Supermax 19-38 has would help damp out vibration.

Comparing the 19-38 to the Jet 22-44 at a local store, it was easier to access the 'motor side' sandpaper roll clip (there was twice as much room) on the 19-38 and its clips were easier to manipulate than the 22-44. I presume that the difference would be similar if the 19-38 were compared to the Jet 18-36.

The Jet 18-36 uses a 'non standard' sandpaper width of 3-3/8", while the Supermax 19-38 uses a commonly available 3" width. Other thicknesses may work on the Jet 18-36, but the 3-3/8" width isn't easy to find apart from sandpaper rolls made by Jet and those provided by Klingspor's, and I got a roll of 3" wide sandpaper (100 grit) at a local store for about half of the price that I would have paid for the 3-3/8" online.

The 19-38 has a lever that lets you slightly alter the relationship between the conveyor and the drum, preventing lines from showing up when sanding wide boards. I haven't used this yet so I can't comment on its effectiveness, but I don't think the 18-36 has a similar feature. Please correct me if I am wrong; I didn't research this extensively.

From what I understand, the infeed/outfeed extension tables fold down on the 19-38 while they don't on the Jet 18-36. I didn't see this at the local store (extension tables were not installed on the units I saw), but that is what I have read on the internet (so it must be true!... ....). Having the extension tables fold down is an obvious benefit in a small shop because it reduces footprint.

I don't want to come across as being 'anti-Jet'. In fact I have a Jet jointer and a Jet bandsaw, and as I said I had first ordered a Jet 18-36 drum sander (and wrote a forum post asking about sandpaper rolls for it). I believe that Jet offers a longer warranty than Supermax, and the Jet thickness adjusting handle has a dial that lets you see how much material you are removing without looking at the thickness gauge on the 'head unit'. The Jet also has an easier adjustment to bring the conveyor table parallel with the drum. However, overall, I'm very glad that I saw the Supermax 19-38 and a similar Jet (22-44) side by side at a local store, and I'm very satisfied so far with the Supermax 19-38. Your mileage may vary…