Sander/Polisher purchase question

I’m going to purchase a sander/polisher this weekend. At the local Sears they have the Milwuakee for $199.00, or a Craftsmen for $60.00. The Milwuakee has maybe 100-150 more horsepower, but that’s the only difference I could see besodes the huge price difference. Will the Craftsmen do all I need it to if I’m only doing a couple boards a year? The max. disc size on the Craftsmen is 6"…I’m just looking for something to basically do the hot coat sanding and the final polishing with…Here’s a link if you want to have a look at the Craftsmen I’m looking at. Thanks for any input.

If your only doing a couple a year I wouldn’t overlook the harbour frieght cheepie. I think I paid $30 for mine, with an 18 month warranty. I’ve done 5 boards with it so far, still works fine.

A few things…

First, never believe claimed horsepower. It’s fiction. Look at the amperage, which gives you an idea of its real power or lack thereof.

Second- the Sears is $60, has a 1/2" threaded spindle ( kind of an odd size ) and 4.5 amp motor, plastic body and probably plastic gears.

The Milwaukee is a 0-1750 RPM polisher, the RPMs are a little low for some sanding tasks. 11 amp motor ( good) , metal gear case and gears ( also good) and has a 5/8"/11 spindle ( good, more stuff including backing pads available for it)

Though in a Milwaukee, you’d be better off with the 0-6000 RPM 13 amp Milwaukee #6078, which is available for roughly the same price ( though not from sears) , has the RPM range dialed in via a thumb control and a variable speed within that range governed by a variable speed trigger. Nice tool. I like mine.

However…if you’re gonna be doing only a few boards a year, why not consider the $25 Harbor Freight - 11 amps, 5/8"/11 spindle, metal gear case and (probably metal, looking at the manual : ) gears.

1000-3000 RPM, looks to be similar to my Milwaukee in how the speed’s governed. Some of the guys have bought them and they seem to be reasonably happy with 'em.

hope that’s of use


Craftsman power tools can be OK. Most people would agree that for any power tool, features to look for would include BALL and/or ROLLER bearings and easy to replace brushes. The sander you are looking at features ball and SLEEVE bearings and INTERNAL brushes. These could present maintenance issues down the road. Also, for smooth surfaces, you will have best results using a “Power Pad” or equivalent. These require a specific spindle thread - 5/8" 11 NC. The Craftsman has 1/2" 20 threads per inch spindle which won’t accept the standard Power Pad. Fiberglass grit is really hard on power tools so get the best you can afford. Milwaukee is a big, heavy sander that is probably overkill for a limited production hobbyist. There are a number of lighter models that have the features you need. Here’s one on E-Bay that I would choose over the Craftsman…

Sorry - You already said the same thing. It took awhile to write my response and I didn’t realize you had already answered!


If you’re only doing a few boards a year, I would def go with the Harbour Freight.

If you’d like to take it a step further (looking to expand your tools) also get a Porter Cable 7336 (6") or 7335 (5") orbital sander (109.00 from Lowes Hardware). The 5" is preferred: working around fins, dings, etc.

You’d have a pretty complete sanding and polishing combo for under 200.00 bucks. Use the HF for heavy grunt sanding & polishing work, and then the PC for areas & work that requires more control. Doc turned me onto this same combo awhile back and I swear by it.


Herb Bean

Not at all, John, I didn’t mention the brushes and bearings at all, for instance, and you brought far more detail to why to get a sander/grinder/polisher with the 5/8"-11 threaded spindle… if anything, one kinda complimented the other.



Thanks very much for all the helpful info…John- The one on Ebay, could I use that for sanding down a hotcoat as well? I’m actually fine with sanding down hotcoats by hand with a block, but I definitely want something that will be able to finish off a board after a gloss coat…

…if you do the hot coat work rigth, and make a few boards, you don´t need those grinders…these machines makes too much scratches for a hobbyist…, buy a Bosch rectangular orbital sander water proof…, and you will got a perfect flat finish without any scratches, and only take a few times more…


I have the $25 Harbor freight and it has been good to me. It came with a rubber backer, Hookit backer, wool bonnet and spare brushes! I ordered another one just to have a spare. Spend your bucks on a the soft Power Pad which costs more than the sander and that will help a lot.


Hi Doc,

I received my HF sander/polisher a couple of months ago. First thing I did was take it apart, clean it out, and pack it with moly wheel bearing grease. The gears are indeed metal. It’s also got a soft start, so it doesn’t fly across the room when you pull the trigger. Definitely worth every bit of $25.

Did you get out last weekend? I went out Saturday just after sunset, and Sunday afternoon. 3/2 suit… I was so cold when I got back to my car Saturday night that I forgot how to get out of my suit, so I sat in the back seat in a pile of towels with the heater running until my brain thawed. :slight_smile:


Yup I did the same with my HF sander. Grease from the factory looked like Vaseline or something. Like the soft start but takes a little getting used to. Water here just hit 68 F Yahooo!!! Trunks baby! I really feel for you guys up north…BRRRR…



Patrick, the water temps are in the high thirties, low forties, and going out after dark in a 3/2? Amigo, you can get into trouble that way. And when you get so cold you’re not functioning, you’re getting into it. Seriously. I’ve been there and done that and you really don’t want to. for more. If ya want, I’ll see if I can find you a good deal on a full on winter suit, or use one of the LG deals that come along in the fall. Really, I don’t want to be reading about ya in the paper.

In any event, I’m glad you’re happy with the HF - I may get a couple for when I have a big boat to sand and help I don’t want to trust with the Milwaukee. Is that variable speed switch a two position type or a roller type ?

Best regards


I concur, I have the harbour Freight, though I dont use it sanding, I use it in the shaping room but its been good and relaible, For sanding I think on this board im the biggest spokesperson for the SPV18 Hitachi, Light powerfull strong a real workhorse production sanding is no problem, I also have that Craftsman one, Its good too for one thing,

the dust its collecting on the shelf that thing is a POS

I totally forgot I bought this Makita 5" Disc sander a couple years ago. It’s the GV 5000 model. It should work fine for sanding down hot coats yeah? 4,500rpms, 3.6 amps. It has a hard disc on it thought…Does anyone know if I can get a soft “Power Pad” oe similar for this sander?

TENOVER, Search the archives, I posted a while back a step by step account of how to make your oiwn power pads, cost is about 7.00

if you cant find it ill dig it up later, I gotta get back to the box

Hey Surflab…

If you can find that thread, or send me instructions that’d be great…I’ve tried searching the archives, and I found a reference to it saying that the thread “…called SANDING101 has instructions on how to make your own cheap soft pads…” but couldn’t actually find THAT thread…Thanks.


Hey Surflab…

If you can find that thread, or send me instructions that’d be great…I’ve tried searching the archives, and I found a reference to it saying that the thread “…called SANDING101 has instructions on how to make your own cheap soft pads…” but couldn’t actually find THAT thread…Thanks.

Here you go- down at the bottom

I’ll also note that this method is a great way to repair/rebuild your old, dead pad - rip off the foam and go from there. Being the sort of bozo that never throws away anything, I have a couple of dead 3M foam backing pads and I do believe I’m gonna fix 'em…

Thanks, Surflab, much appreciated. I’ll bet that some vinyl fabric or Naugahyde ( which I happen to have some scrap in the workshop) , stuck to the foam ‘cloth side down’ with contact cement, would work for stickon type pads…

best regards


Thanks Doc…

The 5’’ disk sander is good with a course wheel to grind down plugs and gnarley spots but not so good for sanding a hot coat. It spins kinda fast and the attachment is most likely a bolt through a hole in the center of the pad screwing into the machine. The best is to have the standard 3/8’’ 11 course thread spindle (that sticks out of the machine) that screws into the back of almost all good sanding pads. And a variable speed control makes things sooooooo nice. Of course you can get spindle attachments and make your own sanding pads and do lots of rigging and MAKE anything work. But if you are purchasing new equipment, you will thank yourself for getting a variable speed sander with a power pad instead of riggin up a ghetto special.