Sander Skitz Out!!!

Greetings everyone…

Quick senario / question sesh…

I have burnt thru 2 cheap( Harbor freight) sanders in 6 boards… I realize that cheap is in this equation but what can I do to stop these bad boys from burning up?

  1. I am not putting pressure on the pad so no friction to motor.

  2. is the glass dust insulating the commutator?

  3. how does one protect the sander from burning up?

  4. I realize that buying a better sander is a recommended alternative but this trend is making me cautious to buying

    high dollar sander and having the same thing happen.

What are some reccomendations / suggestions / tips to prevent this and will I have the same problems with… say…

a milwaukee sander?

Thanks all!

How about that eclipse last nite!!??

I have done about 9 boards with mine and it is still running like a champ. Maby don’t sand a lot at a tiem and take a little break to let the baby cool down.

get tubed

Didja wrap the intake with some fine cloth? For cheapos, a good idea.

at the advice of Herb Spitzer i put better grease in the transfer case seems to run smoother than it did with the stock cheap grease.

Howzit ZoSurf, One thing that will extend the life of a grinder is to blow the dust out of it before using it. don't have it running since fiberglass dust will harm the insulation on the wiring. I have 2 Makitas that have never failed me. 1 is 9 years old and the other is 5 years old. Take good care of your tools and they will be there for you. Also check to see if the gear head is not bound up from the cheapo china grease, Herb Spitzer is the man to talk to about that. Aloha,Kokua

are you using a 12 gauge extension cord that is less then 50 feet and in good shape… or a 14 gauage that is less then 25 feet that is in good shape…

when i was about 20 i rented a jack hammer to do a job for my parents… used a bunch of old chords pluged together to get way down in their back yard… burned out the jackhammer, cost me $1400, should have read the contract… any how this type of stuff makes a difference.

The previous posts pretty much got it covered; Regrease the gearhead, blow it out (during and after you use it), use a 12 ga. extension cord (preferably less than 20’). I’ve had mine for 2 years, used it on 4 new longboards and many, many repairs. Also use it for buffing. Bought a spare at the same time and it’s still in the box. It’s a good tool that will perform as well as more expensive sanders.

thanks for the replies…

I think maybe the cord is the issue…

I have a nice breathable piece of fleece as a filter for vent openings and the grease isn’t the issue…

I don’t have an air source where I sand, and I think the tool cleaning may be the culprit… I just use a little electric blower to clean out any dust…

The filter setup keeps alot of dust out… I think its the power cord…

thanks again for the info!!!

I’ve had a HF sander for over a year now 30+ boards and tons of ding repair, no cleaning 100 ft extension chord no problems. Probably your chord…

Save your money and buy a good sander. The one in my little picture was trashed by a car. I took it apart, put it back together, and it work’s fine…no new parts. I’ve 3 of them. 1 for heavy, one med, one polishing. I can’t say enough about buying good quality tools. You’ve burned through 2 harbors. there $30 each? you’ll be on your third, or $100 with tax, and you’ll still have a cheep sander. If you like glasing/ sanding I think it’s time to invest in a better sander, you deserve it, think of it as a Holloween present.


i had one makita last 11 years , during that same i had may other sanders come and go … i reckon that one sander alone did 3000 boards or more , work out those numbers per board ??? way cheaper to buy expensive tools …

averaged a set of brushes once or twice a year and a new switch every 18 months or so …

our sanders would run non stop , all day , 7 days a week , kicked around in the dust , getting wet while wet and drying , polishing compound , used and abused …ive never come across anything as durable as a makita …

all our other brands of sanders would be lucky to survive 18 months in the same enviroment , hitachi , ryobi,metabo,black and decker,skill,watts,rups,dewalt…all of them just died a miserable death … in the end i was left with a collection of makitas, even tho ive never owned one , ive heard good reports about festo…

my moneys on makita …

if any power tool company wants to test the durability of a power tool , just give it to a surfboard factory , thats the ulitimate test of abuse…



Good grease, correct cord, regular cleaning, and replacement of brushes are all good ideas. The single biggest problem I have had with all power tools is with the triggers breaking. Can’t understand why a company designs an excellent tool and then puts in a cheap trigger. So I would add: Always let the tool get up to speed before setting it to work-don’t tap it on and off too much. Make sure to clean the trigger with forced air. Buy good quality if it will receive heavy use. Take care. Patrick

Howzit ZoSurf, I'm not so sure the cord is the problem in your case. If the grinder uses more amps than the cord is rated for that would cause a problem, but my Makitas only draw 7 amps and I use a 16 gauge, 12 amp extension cord 25 feet long and it's never been a problem. Check how many amps your grinder uses and how many amps the cord is rated for. Aloha,Kokua

Yah, and I’ll add that after you match the cord to length and amp load you ought to go up ( smaller number) a size on the cord anyhow. Especially if you’re, say out on the end of a power line or whatever where voltage may not be so hot to begin with.

Amazing, the number of guys who spend top dollar on a tool and save a couple bucks on the cord, then fry the tool. for info.

My own working cords these days are all Coleman Cable Polar/Solar cords, nothing lighter than a #12 wire. and Amazon seems to have as good a price as anybody. Over 75’, I go to a #10 or a #8 wire. About half my working power tools are approaching their quarter century mark, so maybe I’m doing something right?

hope that’s of use


Howzit doc,I've made a few of my own extension cords using romex 12 gauge outdoor wire, cut to any length you desire and connect male and female plugs. They are somewhat stiff but they work great, we use one that's 150' long to supply power for surf contest ( fax,copy machine, amp for music and announcments,etc) Aloha,Kokua

I just bought a new sander to help with my last board. Its a Makita GV5000. Cost $89. Its not a big 7" production sander, but its waaaaay more efficient than using a combo (like I used to) of angle grinder with sanding pad (too aggressive at 11000 rpm), belt sander (hard not to leave marks), 1/4 sheet pad sander & random orbit sander (too slow) and drill with 5" pad (doesn’t work very well at 1400 rpm or so). This little guy runs at, I think, 4500 rpm and uses standard 5" discs like the ones they sell for drills.

After laminating, I used a 50 & an 80 grit and a 150 to fine-tune the rails. After hotcoating and installing the fin, leash loop, etc., I used 150 and 220. Then I cut a big scotch -brite (green kitchen scrubby) into a 5" circle, poked a hole in it, and used it to buff & polish which worked great. I also put a 220 disc over the green scrubby to use as a soft back-up-pad when doing the fin.

The wheel is small enough that it gets into the trailing edge very well when foiling fins. Its lightweight and comfortable to use and does not vibrate.

Probably not enough machine for a production shop, but I strongly recommend it for the garage builder like me.

Howzit Benny, What size is the arbor 5/8, if so you can use any attachment that would work on a real production grinder. Looks like it might have a small HP motor so like you said it wouldn’t work for production work. We used to use similar grinders in the boat repair yards. One of my fellow glassers uses that model for taking down the laps. $ 89.00 is a good price since the good Makita grinders cost about $ 250.00 in Hawaii, but I love the quality of Makitas and even though they have a Japanese name they are made in the USA. What is a trip is some of the name brands like Coleman and I think Milwaukee have been bought by the Japanese and are made overseas.Aloha,Kokua

Hey, Kokua,

Yah, my buddy the tool repair guy mentioned that Porter-Cable got bought by DeWalt/Black&Decker and that Milwaukee was bought by Ryobi. Though at least with the Milwaukee deal, he figured they would keep the line pretty much the same, a high-end industrial compliment to the rather cheezy Ryobi line.

Funny thing - he had a guy in who was all over the Made in USA tools issue. Wanted nothing that wasn’t made here, so he wanted DeWalt. But, my buddy tells him, they are not, the Makita’s are. For me, I’ve just never really liked the way the Makitas fit my hands - grew up with the old Stanley line of power tools and old Porter Cables and such and the ergonometrics seem just that skosh different that I’m used to. So, I buy the old ones and have 'em rebuilt and baby my tools some.

Meant to get back to ya about the Romex cords… I cheat, and use a 4-way box on the end of mine, wired up just like a 4 way outlet with the square galvanized box and everything, the outdoor-type spring loaded outlet covers and all. And you don’t lose any zap when you have several things to plug in. 'Cos every time you add a 3 way splitter or something, I figure you lose a couple of volts, y’know?

hope that’s of some use. Best regards


he kokua, i also had a makita, i didnt like it. It started too slow. i now have a hitachi, great machine and more powerfull than the makita. On paper it has the same power, but in reality it is stronger.


Kokua, the arbor is 5/8 with 2 flat sides like a DeWalt grinder. It’s tapped 3/16 female for an allen screw that holds the plastic pad on.

One of my requirements in a power tool is that the parts which may break or get lost be easily replaceable. This meets that need, all the parts look like off-the-shelf.