Delta Bench Random Orbital Sander - a review

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      The value of an orbital sander is not new to anyone these days. Orbital sanders have been popular for years. But an orbital bench sander - that was new to me so when I saw that Delta had one, I wanted to try it.

   Sanding is not my favorite task but I do know how important it is to the final project quality. So I am constantly looking for ways to do it faster and better. In that I have used orbital portable sanders almost exclusively, the new Delta product seemed to make sense.

   Bethany is a craftsperson and neighbor who came by the shop and had opportunity to try the Delta Random Orbital Sander for the first time. I followed her with my camera. By the way, I hope that Bethany will be gracing these pages in future months, don't you?

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     The first thing you can't help but notice is the weight of the unit. It is heavy—a typical Delta machine boasting a 1/2 horsepower motor.
It has an accessory stand. You certainly need something solid.  The stand works nice but I opted to mount it on one of my portable carts. Right now this gives me more flexibility in the shop. I don't know about you, but I run out of floor space quickly, and like carts with casters.

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   But whatever you do, you must clamp or bolt it to the platform or it will "walk" right off. The unit vibrates — which is only normal given the power of the machine and the orbital action.

   When I first turned it on, I was surprised. I wasn't prepared for the amount of noise and movement the sander gives off. I thought I hadn't set it up properly. Then it made sense...a big motor moving a large platform will make that noise. You get use to it fast. It is a serious machine.

   Bethany had the same reaction but quickly got use to it.

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      And like other heavy duty tools, you will want to wear hearing and eye protection. It is easy to forget when sanding but makes sense to use.

   The unit comes with sample grit discs of both PSA (pressure sensitive adhesive) and hook and loop. So far I have only used the latter. Grades are available in 60 to 320 grit.

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   For shop use here, it is easier to switch grades. Using the hook and loop makes that so simple. The fence is held in place by two hold-down screws. Removing one allows the fence to be moved so that discs can be switched. It takes less than a minute.

  Now Bethany used the Delta Bench Orbital Sander on quite a few different objects that were in progress. Here she is  sanding a mahogany shelf side with some fancy, delicate scroll work. We  wanted to get a first hand idea if the orbital action would hurt any of the fancy scroll work.

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   It didn't. It worked very well. We were both a little bit tentative in using the 80 grit paper. Actually, in that this is a near finished piece, grades 120 through 320 would be the usual...and the 320 grade paper left the finish wonderfully smooth and ready for finishing. You couldn't ask for a better way to have sanded this.

   We both found that using the 80 grit disc accentuates the action and requires a good grip. The movement is clockwise and the instructions suggest that you position your work on the left hand side so that the motion feeds the work against the fence. The sooner you learn that trick, the better off you will be.

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   This is very important when handling small pieces. Once you get use to the idea that the fence is there to help you, sanding becomes so much easier.

   Sanding these little pieces makes you really appreciate the bench-top unit. These small objects are difficult to sand with a portable orbital sander...and are a true breeze to do here.

   The unit has a built-in dust collection system. What's remarkable  is that it works so well. When you are sanding, you can see the dust disappear over the edges of the disc.  It is a very effective and since this can be such fine dust, it is nice that it goes into the bag and not into the air...or our lungs.

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   You can hook it up to a vacuum cleaner. I love the Porter Cable vacuum cleaner that turns itself on and off with the sander.  This unit is so very portable and has such an effective clean-air (HEPA filter) system. For our use, both the internal and the Porter Cable vacuum seemed to work just fine. When using the built-in dust collection system, just remember to empty the collection bag regularly.

   So bottom line, does it have a place in the shop? Without a doubt. I would recommend a quality portable orbital first, but this a close second. Add this unit to Delta's Orbital Spindle sander and their Sanding Center and the task of finish sanding becomes no task at all.

   By the way, if you are wondering what I am saying to Bethany, try "When is it my turn?"

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