Ridgid - EB4424 Oscillating Edge Belt / Spindle Sander (Rating: 3)

Hi, after much deliberation, and reading and rereading the FWW review, I bought the EB4424, Ridgid Oscillating Spindle Sander.

8/4/15 Update:
I returned #2. I then took a combo square off the display and applied it to the display unit sander. Much flatter table, and much more coplaner tables (tiltable table relative to fixed), and near perfect perpendicular table to spindle. All I can suggest is the older models were machined with much tighter tolerances. In my opinion the latest FWW article is mistaken. The older review may have been true, but either FWW got an older model sander this time around, or Ridgid swapped out production shortly after the review. I can see where those of you with the higher quality machine could rate it a 5. But my 3 is generous for what's currently on the shelves.

7/24/15 Update:
I returned the unit, and bought a 2nd one. It is more or less the same; certainly no better. All the same issues below apply. I have not powered it on yet, but the tilt-able table is not flat-with the same sort of crown near the spindle. If the tilt-able table is set perpendicular to the spindle, than it is not co-planer with the fixed table. Running a straightedge across the tiltable table, it extends above the fixed table with a gap of about 1/16". That constitutes significant wobble for a piece one would sand where you transfered the center of gravity from the tiltable table to the fixed table (e.g. sanding the inside of a bandsaw box).

While I was at the store, I looked at the "display model". It's a different beast. First, the rollers on the belt sander assembly are METAL vs plastic on the one in the box. The belt assembly is all metal, whereas the boxed one has plastic in various places including the tab that positions the small roller into the cutout in the table. Second, the table has a more polished finish than the rough painted one in the box. The display model - clearly older - generally has a better fit and finish look and feel about it. I just about grabbed an associate and asked if I could buy the display (though clearly lacking various parts). This is one of those times I kick myself for not buying this until when FWW reviewed it the first time a few years ago.

It reminds me when I bought a Ridgid 6" random orbit sander 10 years or so back when it was made by the German company, Metabo. It was a $110 sander. I bought two in fact once I learned it was likely to be later manufactured in China. I believe that did happen a few years later.

I think #2 is going back to the store. I may try again in a few months. Maybe enough returns come in that they get the message. If you have an older one, I think you have much better quality unit.

Here are my observations:

1) The tilt-able table is not flat, and not coplaner with the fixed portion of the table (where the spindle protrudes). Mine has a hump in the 3" flat area (the area nearest the spindle on the tilt-able table). The very edges of that area are flat, but as you come inwards toward the center, the hump is very pronounced. You can feel it with your hand and if you put a 3" long straightedge (engineers square) on the table, there's a hump that allows stock to rock toward and away from the spindle at least 1/32". If your stock is 5 or 6 inches it may not matter, but for 3-inch or smaller stock it is going to be impossible to sand perpendicular to the stock. If you align the adjustable table to be perpendicular to the spindle, then the adjustable table is not coplaner with the fixed table. If you keep most of the stock on the tiltable table, then that may not be a problem, but if you move the stock and reference off the fixed table (e.g. inside sanding) , the spindle will no longer be perpendicular to the stock. Also for sanding thin stock, 1/8" up to maybe 1/2" this may not be a big issue, but as you sand over 1" thick, edges will start to get out of perpendicular by a noticeable amount. I was sanding a 3" high bandsaw box, and had to flip the box over periodically to minimize uneven sanding. This was not a precision operation, but it clearly indicated that if it needed to be, I would have been in trouble.

1a) I initially setup the tilt-able table to be nearly co-planer with the fixed table. That turned out to be a problem, as the tilt-able table was then way off from perpendicular to the spindle. I decided it was more important to be perpendicular to the spindle, so re-adjusted the tilt-able table. For the best accuracy you may want to just remove the little indexing part from under the tilt lock knob. Just get out an engineers square or digital protractor to set your angles. Most of the time I would think having the stock perpendicular to the spindle would be more desirable. Again, from (1) above, that hump in the tilt-able table will cause major issues on stock under 5" wide or when referencing from the fixed table.

2) The onboard storage of "everything" is awesome. A big plus especially with the inserts, washers, etc. (but there might be a better way.. see #4)

3) The belt sander assembly is lightweight. The rollers are plastic, and in fact, the 3" roller on mine has a small nub from the mfg process. It would be easy to sand off, except it oscillates! A little hand filing should resolve. I doubt the platen is all that flat. Again, the belt sanding accessory is handy, but only light duty. My jointer and crosscut sled will not get any less use.

4) The little orange plastic insert for use with the spindles is warped like crazy. It is lightweight plastic and warped 1/4". The leveling feet are of no use, as it wobbles no matter what. A 1/4" aluminum or hardwood plate would be much better. Mill a plate for each spindle size and forget the inserts and wobbly plastic plate. You might be able to get away with only 2 plates-one for the 1" and under spindles and one for the 1-1/2" and above spindles. Another idea-just make an entire top overlay, maybe from 1/2" mdf. Again, a couple may be sufficient. That would make the entire top perpendicular, though you'd need to shim it somehow and fasten it, and lose 1/2" of spindle height. Also, the adjusting screws on the plate have little to rest on. There is enough side to side play in mine that the adjusting screws slide off their contact points. This whole insert design needs more thought.

For me-I think I will try to get another one, or at least a replacement tilt-able table and hope to get a much flatter piece of cast aluminum. That would help a lot. With that, then I'd be tempted to shim up a 1/2" mdf overlay top to get a near perpendicular top a full 360 degrees around the spindle. All of this assumes the spindle runout is a few thou, otherwise I'm chasing after pots of gold near those elusive rainbows. As-is,the sander is functional, and at 199 + tax, quite a bargain. But there are some major shortcomings for those who want or need precision.

Thanks for reading. If you have one of these sanders and simple don't see the issues I have, I'd love to hear from you. I have read there are various QC issues, so maybe I just happened to get one.