Sanding has never been my favourite task, but became tolerable with the invention of longer-lasting abrasives and much better sanding machines. The picture has now been complicated by the research into the dangers of dust inhalation. The knowledge has led to legislation, so even ‘one-man-bands’ now have to use M level dust collection on site. But dust collection in home workshops shouldn’t be ignored either. Time to invest in masks and vac extraction?
The two Triton sanders that were sent for review solidly reflect the innovations in sanding that have taken place, and they also feature good dust extraction and other safety features that make modern sanding much less of a chore.
The Triton 350W Oscillating and Tilting Table Spindle Sander would find a very valuable place in many small workshops. It comes under the heading of a Very Useful Machine. Making, shaping and sanding small curved components can be very challenging and slow if the only tools you have are small drum sanders in a drill, or a bit of abrasive wrapped around a curved shape or dowel.
It took just over 25 minutes from opening the box and reading the instructions to getting a sample bit of timber sanded. This shows that the machine is simple to use and adjust and users will be able to swap sanding spindles and adjust the table etc without tools.
5 sizes of sanding sleeve are provided and the compression washers for each of these. There are also three round table inserts and three inserts with elongated holes for when the spindle is used tilted.
To ensure that all of these small components are readily available when needed, two storage units are attached to each side of the sander to contain them.
Changing the spindles is very easy by simply undoing the wingnut (left hand thread) and lifting out the spindle. Ensuring that the hole in the table insert matches the size of the spindle makes sure that the work is well supported and the maximum amount of dust is extracted. The elongated ‘circles’ are used when the table is set at an angle so that angled edges can be sanded. Adjusting the table is also simple – just loosen the two knobs under the cast alloy table and set the angle on the protractor.
Dust collection is via the extraction port under the table. When connected to a vac extractor most of the dust is collected but it is still wise to wear a dust mask to avoid the inevitable airborne particles.
In the Workshop
Because it stands up quite straight and has a small footprint, this sander can fit into a corner of a workshop quite well. Ideally, I would mount it on a small, wheeled base (holes are provided in the base for secure attachment) so that it could be moved around. Occasionally you might need to sand some bigger workpieces so it is handy to be able to move it.
I used the sander for quite a lot of shaping tasks from table legs to trays and I found that it performed well. It feels straightforward and safe to use with the NVR switch right on the front of the machine for easy access. The oscillating motion is steady and helps to clear dust quickly from the work as well as avoiding burns and scratches on the timber.
Because it is easy to use and adjust there is no excuse for not changing the spindles to the correct sizes needed for each job.
Triton 650W Portable Oscillating Spindle Sander
This tool looks like no other sander I have used so I needed to have a thorough read-through of the instructions with a step-by-step look at switches, controls etc. It occurred to me that Triton have gone out on a limb with this machine because it is innovative and yet niche.
It consists of a plastic body that contains the motor and oscillating gear in a sort of bulky H-shape with a spindle emerging from one of the legs of the H. My first thought was that it offered no obvious place to grip it easily for portable sanding jobs – but after using it a bit more I learned its logic and all became clear.
Used in stationery mode – very useful on site or where space might be tight – the machine can be clamped to a workbench, a workmate or even a bit of sheet material on a couple of trestles. In this inverted mode, the oscillating spindle is upright and is surrounded by a small area that serves as a support ‘table’ for the workpiece. This is good for edge sanding of small workpieces. To help the machine to grip onto the substrate when clamped, a shaped rubber mat is supplied and this really helps to prevent movement in use.
Versatile and Easy
But there is more versatility to be had. Used with the sanding spindle facing downwards, the machine can be moved across edges rather than the edges being moved along the spindle. This is a very useful when sanding edges of worktops in situ for example. With the edge guide that screws into the base it is possible to get a very controlled sanded edge with no ‘dig-ins’ along it. Something that I used to great effect with an oak bench top I was preparing for a client.
The motor is quite buzzy but powerful, and has 6 adjustable speeds that would be necessary for controlled and speedy sanding. On/off is a simple rocker switch above the speed selection dial. With a selection of three spindles and sanding sleeves supplied, users can select the right one for the job.
Dust extraction is pretty simple in benchtop mode – an extraction nozzle is clipped into the end of the machine and the vac is plugged into that. In mobile mode, I found that dust extraction was best served by using a lightweight hose that moved easily as I moved the machine along the edges I was sanding. A niche machine it may be, but getting used to it proved to me that it has some unique solutions to some difficult sanding conundrums.
Aimed at: Small Pro and amateur workers who need to shape edges safely
Pros: Efficient, safe and effective edge sanding with no burns or marks – if you follow the instructions.