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Thread: Anyone use spindle sanders?

  1. #1
    Senior Member NO ChoP!'s Avatar
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    Anyone use spindle sanders?

    As I'm expanding my shop and replacing some HF cheapies, I've been exploring other options.

    I have had some trouble with shaping westerns, especially getting that perfect coke bottle shape, and have seen several rather nice spindle sanders, for a good price.

    Has anyone used these to contour handles? Are they worth the investment? Or should I just stick with the belt? I just replaced my HF 1x30 with a Kalamazoo 1x42, and have a 12" disc ordered as well...
    The difference between try and triumph is a little "umph"! NO EXCUSES!!!!!!!
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  2. #2
    Senior Member NO ChoP!'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NO ChoP! View Post
    As I'm expanding my shop and replacing some HF cheapies, I've been exploring other options.

    I have had some trouble with shaping westerns, especially getting that perfect coke bottle shape, and have seen several rather nice spindle sanders, for a good price.

    Has anyone used these to contour handles? Are they worth the investment? Or should I just stick with the belt? I just replaced my HF 1x30 with a Kalamazoo 1x42, and have a 12" disc ordered as well...
    (I will add that I am in no way knocking HF, as for $40 delivered to my door, the 1x30 is a heck of a value. I've made 10 handles and over 30 sayas with it, and it's still running strong. I would recommend it to anyone looking to play around with little investment.)
    The difference between try and triumph is a little "umph"! NO EXCUSES!!!!!!!
    chefchristophermiller@yahoo.com

  3. #3
    I think a small wheel grinder would be better suited to the task and could also be used for metal work as well. You could set one up on your new grinder I am pretty sure.
    "Sucking at something is the first step to becoming sorta good at something." -Jake the Dog

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    I've played with spindle sanders a little (though never on a handle)....and I like them for any kind of curved work. That said, with so many things to capture my time, dollars...or limited workspace, I don't have one. I think of them more as a convenience than a workshop necessity. Definitely not in the essential woodworking tools category for me. That might be different if I was churning out a lot of stuff.... but for the occasional handle or curved piece, other methods get the job done quickly and easily enough.

    Don't want to stray too far from the question but, if alternate methods/approaches are of interest for getting coke bottle shapes and other complex curves: I like to rough out curves (if the project allows) with a bandsaw and then finish the shaping with hand tools. I'll use a mill file if possible because it cuts fast and smoothly but my real trick for even curves is to cut some wood strips at about 1/4 thick and put coarse sandpaper in the middle (either adhesive backed sandpaper or applied with some type of glue that won't leach through the paper). I find these sanding sticks get the job done fast for shaping. You can cut the widths as needed and you can bend them along the radius of many curves. The amount of pressure you create by bending them helps to vary or control the cut. And, as needed, you can easily shift to narrower or wider pieces to get the results wanted.

    as for consistency, to check the work along the way and make sure my shape is consistent from side to side or top to bottom, I'll make a flat template of the curves I want and then I can compare that, and each side to my work in progress with a contour gauge.

    I figure, in the rare case I need a spindle sanders services, I can always chuck a sanding drum into a drill press .


    Here's a very quick crude thirty second effort to render a picture of what I mean by the sanding sticks if the explanation is not clear. It's a head on and a profile view ....

  5. #5
    Senior Member hobbitling's Avatar
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    I've been using sandpaper taped to a round form such as a short piece of PVC pipe. I clamp it to a bench with a clamp, and grind the wood against it.
    It's labor intensive and a little slow, but cheaper than a spindle sander, and you can get very accurate and precise shapes due to the slow removal of wood. There's no risk of gouging it or removing too much. makes a very smooth curve for coke-bottling or finger grooves.
    You can easily have several diameters of pipe, and they nest inside each other when you aren't using them.

  6. #6
    Senior Member NO ChoP!'s Avatar
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    Great ideas guys, thank you. I can't believe I never thought to put a spindle in the drill press....
    The difference between try and triumph is a little "umph"! NO EXCUSES!!!!!!!
    chefchristophermiller@yahoo.com

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by NO ChoP! View Post
    Great ideas guys, thank you. I can't believe I never thought to put a spindle in the drill press....
    Check out "robo sanders" ... you can get them from bunch of stores. Think Klingspor's woodworking has the best price/selection..

    They're your basic spindle for a drill press with a slight twist - there is a bearing on the bottom. You can use the bearing to follow a template, if wanted...or it helps stabilize the spindle on the drill a bit.

    Added bonus, if you hook up a fence to your press table, it can function like a one sided self feeding thickness sander for small parts like scales or saya blanks. There's a full kit for this called Luthier's Friend at website of same name or stew mac. It's easy enough to just build a simple jig/fence, though.

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