Anybody got a Sandflee?

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Forum topic by iSawitfirst posted 02-26-2008 02:45 AM 11467 views 0 times favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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34 posts in 4778 days

02-26-2008 02:45 AM

Topic tags/keywords: sander

I’m considering getting a drum sander but am intregued with the Sandflee. Just wondering if anyone has one. If so, are you able to get consistant thicknesses with it?

If you don’t have one, can you recommend a good 12-18” drum sander?

Thanks in advance.

-- The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance. Aristotle

20 replies so far

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34 posts in 4778 days

#1 posted 03-05-2008 02:23 AM


-- The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance. Aristotle

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2131 posts in 4710 days

#2 posted 03-05-2008 02:36 AM

I’ve got a Delta 18-36” and am very pleased with it. It’s a very sturdy machine. Sorry, haven’t ever heard of the Sandflea.

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49 posts in 4734 days

#3 posted 03-06-2008 03:13 AM

I do have one. The thing to be aware of it that is NOT for thicknessing. The fence makes it work kind of along the lines of a jointer, metaphorically. You can sand a fairly wide panel with it, but you’re not going to level out a piece of resawn veneer or a set of strips to uniform thickness. I use mine on just about every project, and I consider it to be fairly well made, but it’s not cheap for what you get. I don’t regret buying it, exactly, but I don’t think I’m putting it to full use.

If you’re in craft production, as my parents were for many years, you’ll love this thing. Put three different grits of sandpaper on it, zip zip zip, and you’re done sanding. Good luck with your decision. I’ll answer any questions I can.

View GlennJ's profile


2 posts in 4697 days

#4 posted 03-09-2008 02:50 PM

Hi -

I work in a cabinet shop, own a sandflee, and demo it at some of the wood shows. This makes me biased and you should know that going it. I largely aggree with Jim Brown’s assessment – that the unit is not a thickness sander and it is not for removing large quantities of stock. If your application is thickness planing I would recommend the General double drum sander as a great tool. I don’t like the Performax because we consistently have setup and use problems with it. If you are finish sanding parts or assembled units the Sand-Flee is the best choice because of versatility and ease of use.

The Sand-Flee is a finishing drum sander. It is made in the USA from US parts and the motor is a Baldor 1/3 horse motor. The machine carries a lifetime guarentee – we’ll fix it for you if it breaks. The motor has a 2 year warrenty from Baldor. The top is 11 guage stainless.

In the cabinet shop we have the Sand-Flee, a Performax drum sander, and a General double drum sander. For us a 10-cabinet run is large. We build mostly entertainment centers, kitchen remodel and small tables on a 1-off basis.

The Performax sander is the least used. It is a thickness sander with a power feed. Like a planer, the sanding is done on the top and the feed is from the bottom. We have largely stopped using the unit because keeping the overhead arm in proper adjustment is a lot of work. It costs between $5 and $8 per wrap for the paper and you have to wrap the whole drum with the same grit. The paper has a mechanical restraint and can be hard to load. We have also had problems with burning cherry. The Performax also puts dust everywhere even when connected to dust collection.

The General double drum sander is a thickness sander. Like the Performax it sands from the top and the power feed works from the bottom. This is a much better sander for thicknessing. Because the feed is a rubber belt there is some give and on narrow work you can get out of square. Dust collection is good and the feed rate is good. This is a much more expensive machine than either of the others. The shortest part you can put through is 6” and I don’t like to go shorter than 8-10. The mechanical paper restraint is easier to use. You do need to load two drums to use the machine effectively and you are limited to one grit per drum. It will remove lots of stock quickly with an 80 or 100 grit on the first roller.

The Sand-Flee is a different type of machine. The drum is under the table, and you take off about 1/64th per pass because you are limited by the grit you mount. Pressing down on the stock does not increase the amout of wood removed. The paper uses Velcro—so it is available from multiple suppliers and you can mount multiple grits at the same time. There is no height or shape limitation so you can sand all 6 sides of a board—with a fence you effectively edge joint the four sides and sand the front a back. This can be useful for finish sanding boxes or final sanding of doors and lids. Although I don’t scroll saw, several customers use it to sand their work so it manages thin and/or fragile work. It costs about $1.50 to wrap the 18” drum regardless of grit. The paper is easy to load. We use the machine a lot in the shop.

Hope this didn’t sound too much like a commercial, but I like the machine.

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Bob #2

3810 posts in 4988 days

#5 posted 03-09-2008 03:12 PM

I have a variation of this machine and it has served me well.
I will eventually build a drum sander to control the thckness of stock whcih this does not.
It follows the surface of the material you present and has no capacity to “thckness” your stock.
If you are carefull with you planer you cansneakup on a very nice finsh withthis machine but it has he limitation.
I use mine all the time for leveling etc.


-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

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35267 posts in 5367 days

#6 posted 03-09-2008 05:10 PM

I have a friend that has one and I’ve used it but I agree with the posts given. It’s a freehand sander but will not make work level. You can run the wood thru at an angle to help get rid if high spots.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View GlennJ's profile


2 posts in 4697 days

#7 posted 03-10-2008 03:03 PM

On the Sand-Flee web site ( there is a good article by Nick Engler ( that you can download. It talks about surface finish using the tool.

There is also an instructional/sales video reached from the home page. Click the link in the lower right corner.


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10262 posts in 4954 days

#8 posted 03-10-2008 07:16 PM

I have the performax 22/44 and I love it. There isn’t a project that I don’t use it on.

You will notice that my opinion is the exact opposite of GlennJ’s. That’s what these are, opinions.

I have set the adjustment on the cantilevered once I have never had to adjust is since. Installing the paper
isn’t that hard at all once you get used to it. Sandpaper is pretty expensive, but once you get the hang
of the feed rates and how much material to remove per pass, you can get it to last quits a whle.
Right now I have had the same paper on for about a month.

I can see certain advantages of the sand-flee but for a little more money you can get a sander that
also can make you wood the exact thickness you want.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

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14578 posts in 5032 days

#9 posted 03-21-2008 02:12 AM

Well, I’ll let you know sometime within the next two weeks. I ordered a Sand Flee the other day and am awaiting it’s arrival. I have the Performax 16-32 and it is an awesome machine, in my opinion – but it also has it’s height limitations. I also have a Delta Planer (12 1/2”) and what I’m hoping for is that the Sand Flee will be the final piece that I need for perfect stock. I’ll let you know when I’ve put it through it’s paces.

-- Bill - "Suit yourself and let the rest be pleased."

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35 posts in 4794 days

#10 posted 03-29-2010 01:32 PM

I bought the Sand Flee 2 months ago from an individual who never used it. The unit is brand new and he only experimented with it. Frankly the table top is bent and causes a lot of issues. Where there are slots for the fence it is bent and causes snipes when I sand in certain areas of the table. I laid a square on the table and it was bowed in the middle and the slots where raised at the edge. When I pushed the wood, sometimes it will catch on the rear slot and cause a snipe. Other times as, I pushed the wood the slot in front was higher than the table surface and would cause issues. I did bend the top in the middle to make it flat again and I’m still fussing with the slots. The newer brands have a thicker top now. Can I get a new top or is there another way of fixing this. The Sand Flee does sand very quick and square. I just need to get rid of these problems

-- I know all about hard work. It's that R & R I need to learn

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5912 posts in 4629 days

#11 posted 03-29-2010 02:08 PM

Don’t know much about the SandFlee … I built a V-Drum sander ( See: ), and love it.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

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4 posts in 3914 days

#12 posted 04-30-2010 05:56 PM

I have a Sand-Flee 916, a version of the 9 inch model but with an upgraded 1/6 hp motor. Like it a lot though I’m just really starting to use it enough to make it worthwhile. I did use it mostly to finish bottoms on spinning cups and the few flat items I make and as an open face drum to finish bad partings. I also love the idea of using a chuck on the take-off shaft to hold sanding mops. Then I got really smart and, using a fairly fine mop, covering it with an old rag with one or another finish impregnated in it, polishing off my various items.

I do know about problems with the tops but know that the company will replace bad tops.

-- Round and round and round it goes, and too often into the stove...

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1167 posts in 4260 days

#13 posted 04-30-2010 06:30 PM

I built a 20” V-Drum sander to surface table top glue ups that were wider than my 13” planer and to use on cross grain glue up panels. TheDane was one of my inspirations and the basics of miner are the same. Biggest differences are that I used flange mounted bearings instead of pillow blocks and mounted a 1/2 hp motor inside the box in a compartment. I used 3/4” melamine for the top and used Ash fences to get them on the same plane. Pictures to follow this week. After a week I have found myself using it for most everything.

I have used it as a jointer on an old table top that had curled quite a bit. While it would have gone through the planer, it was a test of the sander capability. It did take 30 slow passes with 150 grit paper, but only about 15 minutes. Not sure amount of thickness removed. Using a straight edge from every direction and cannot see any light peeking under. Lesson learned is that sanding anything with a finish will cause the paper to clog quickly.

Setup of the Velcro paper is suppose to be below the table surface and then it lifts to brush the material put across it. I started with it just above the surface and really took material off, although the surface results were not as flat as I wanted..

There is some practice and a feel required You have to go slow and steady or you can get valleys in the surface. If the thickness removal you wanted to obtain was minimal, then I believe a V-drum could work.

As a non production shop and just a tick above hobbyist, I couldn’t afford a SandFlea which drove me to make one. Not the hardest thing to build, but not an afternoon project either.


View lashing's profile


111 posts in 3787 days

#14 posted 10-26-2010 02:58 PM

I have the 18” and am having problems with it. Motor stalls out. I bought the keyless chuck to run a sandmop on the side but it seems to be useless as any pressure applied to it at bogs the motor down. I bought it to sand large peices (13” wide) and that seems to much for the motor.

Any peice with weight to it will stall the motor. So any downward force at all basically seems to bog it down. Which is difficult since the weight of the peice itself is all it takes to bog the thing down to a stop in the middle of the peice.

Unless my unit or I have a problem – it appears this is only good for light panels or small peices. Not what I expected buying an 18” unit.

View SteveMI's profile


1167 posts in 4260 days

#15 posted 10-26-2010 04:16 PM

Lashing, I don’t have the sandflee, but check the belt tension. On my belt driven table saw it came from the factory with a very loose belt. The belt would double over on the motor pulley, bind and stall when trying to cut anything. It would run well without a load. I tightened the belt and it works fine.


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