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Thread: SuperMax 19-38 Drum Sander Quick Review

  1. #1

    SuperMax 19-38 Drum Sander Quick Review

    After much research and debate I decided to go with this sander as the best solution to my need to keep the physical size reasonable (due to limited shop space) and the budget fairly reasonable (I am comfortable paying more for better quality, but as a hobbyist can’t really justify spending several thousand dollars on a single tool).


    A $1399, this is not an inexpensive tool, but it is reasonable. And from everything I read it has some real advantages over Preformax/Jet for only a small increase in cost so I decided to just go for it.


    I called SuperMax direct and spoke with Dave who was very helpful, answered all my questions and assisted me in putting together a package to fit my needs.


    I actually ended up getting my sander pretty well kitted out with options. I added the casters (very heavy duty, very nice, but perhaps a bit overpriced at $89 a set); the feed tables (which have turned out to be a very good thing, and seem reasonably priced at $99); a bunch of sandpaper rolls (which are proving to be high quality and very long lasting); and at the last minute added the DRO (which works fine, but seems a bit of an indulgence to me as in retrospect it’s nice, but certainly not essential at $199). Best of all, Dave worked with me on a package deal, so the whole thing was still affordable.


    Shipping was fast – they had it on the truck within 2 days, and the freight company took about 5 days to get it cross country to me. Freight company called ahead to schedule delivery, and although I didn’t request a lift gate they had one on the truck and the friendly driver took the pallet down and put it right in my driveway for me.


    I unwrapped the pallet (it was very well packed and arrived damage free) and moved the three differ boxes one at a time through my yard and down into my basement shop. Only one of the boxes is very heavy (220#) and all were actually easy to transport using a two wheel dolly to roll them in individually.


    Everything I had ordered was on the pallet except for my extra sandpaper rolls which somehow didn’t make it. Kudos to SuperMax though, it took one call and they immediately shipped them to me. And, no real harm done since the sander ships with an 80 grit roll installed – so I was able to go ahead and use it immediately without waiting for the extra paper..


    Assembly took about 3 hours for the stand and the sander. Calibration and adjustments maybe another 1/2 hour or so. Instructions were the only bad note – they are beyond terrible! I think if there had been good instructions the assembly time would have been more like 1 hour, as much of the time was spent redoing parts of the assembly to get them right. However, kudos again to SuperMax for having very helpful and responsive customer service. I actually ended up calling about 4 different times to check on details and clarify instructions and every time got quick, helpful answers from friendly people who obviously knew the machine inside and out.


    All the parts fit precisely together with no problems. Holes lined up (although you do have to figure out EXACTLY how the stand parts go together and get them in the right order or it just won’t work – guess how I know that!). The quality of the castings was good and the machining and assembly seemed quite good to me. Cosmetically, the paint finish is not totally perfect, but it is very good – way beyond what I have seen from Grizzly, and perhaps a bit better than Jet. All the bare metal parts were nicely finished. Hardware was good quality. Best of all, NO clean up, NO cosmoline at all.


    I understand that the sander is built in Taiwan, not China. Based on this tool purchase, plus a few of my other tool purchases, it seems to me that as a generalization Taiwan is really building higher quality tools vs China. Overall, on a scale of 1-10 for build quality and “as shipped” condition I would say this tool rates a 9. In comparison, most of the China built tools I have purchased are anywhere from a 2 to a 7. The big difference here from my point of view is that the tool arrived very well packed, very well finished, requiring no clean up, and free of any need to make major adjustments or rework things to achieve quality results. In comparison, a lot of the Chinese tools are capable of good functionality, but generally seem to require quite a bit of clean-up and reworking to get to that point. Kind of makes sense to me – I think its the classic “you get what you pay for” as the Taiwan tools are generally a bit more expensive vs the Chinese ones.


    Calibration wise, everything was very close to right but not dead on. I found it easy to make the adjustments following the manual (which was also very weak in this area) supplemented by a couple more phone calls for clarification. Once you “get it” it is super easy to adjust. With everything adjusted I have zero tracking problems and pretty much dead flat surfaces (within a few hundredths, which is way good enough for my purposes).


    Once I got her ready to run I grabbed an end grain cutting board from my stack of finished but not planed or sanded ones ( although I anticipate using the sander for many things, my initial goal was to speed up and simplify the production of the many different end grain cutting boards my wife has decided we are giving to everyone for Christmas) and decided to see how the 19-38 did at evening out the glued up surface instead of using my planer. In a word, it did great. I ran the 80 grit and it pretty quickly took down the out of flush areas and got me to a smooth even surface. Although I imagine 36 or 60 grit would be even faster, I was actually pretty I pressed with how well the 80 grit did. With a lot less stress then trying to ease end grain through the planer, I got the board looking good.


    Noise level is actually quite low, and dust extraction (using a Jet Vortex 1100) was 100% – I could not see any evidence of escaping dust, and the board was basically clean when it exited.


    The speed setting with the intelligent override built in works great. You can pretty much set the conveyer at full speed and the intelligence slows it down auto-magically whenever it starts to bog down.


    I did find that you need to be reasonable about how much material you try to remove in each pass. Compared to my Dewalt planer the hand wheel needs to be turned in smaller increments as you move the drum down with each pass. I found that about 1/6 to 1/4 turn was about right.


    The more I use this sander, the more impressed with it I am. I really feel like it is a good value with performance equal toor better than what I expected for the price. In fact, its good enough that I expect it will serve my needs long term, and not just be a “good enough” tool which I had to settle for because I couldn’t afford better.


    Bottom line, I’d give it 4.75 stars (deducted a 1/2 star for the awful manual, and then gave a 1/4 star back for the great customer service which helped make up for it). With a new, complete, properly illustrated manual (which I am told is in process) I’d consider this a 5 star tool.
    Erik King

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Trinidad, West Indies
    Posts
    403
    Thanks for the review. Some pics would be nice.

  3. #3
    Thanks for taking the time to post your review. I have been thinking about getting the same machine for some time. Enjoy!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    SoCal
    Posts
    19,707
    I also chose this model. From reports on other small drum sanders it would seem that Supermax got the paper changing issues solved. I can change paper in about 5 minutes, without hurrying; including rolling up the previously mounted paper and putting it away. I have none of the "fights" that I have read about but, I have not changed the paper on another model so let's take that into account. The ease of operation does incent me to change grits as I should and to change back ;-). As Erik says, the noise in inconsequential. The drive motor is louder than the drum motor and both are lost in the sound of the DC. Although certainly not a replacement for a planer when it comes to stock removal, the gentle surfacing of difficult or reversing grains is very satisfactory.

    19-38-stand(16).jpg
    I am familiar with modern idioms but they are outside the vocabulary of what I want to say.

    - George Dyson (composer)



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Upstate NY
    Posts
    3,463
    I got mine a couple months ago. Why are the tables important? I can't see how they would really matter.

    I found the holes didn't line up at all; I actually had to use clamps to force things into place. Perhaps I didn't get the assembly order right, though I tried everything.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Haubstadt (Evansville), Indiana
    Posts
    1,151
    I also have the Supermax, and did a review here a while back. I had about the same experiences as Eric. Everything fit nicely on mine and only needed minor calibration. I did some concentricity checks on the drum and found it within 0.001. I also did make a couple of calls to Supermax and they were very helpful. I remember the manual was less than perfect, but did provide somewhat of a instruction. I got the feed tables, the closed cabinet, and the DRO was included as a special with mine. Feed tables are nice for the price and would rather have them than not. I definitely use the DRO and would say that is necessary. Although not much, there will be backlash in a screw thread and the DRO helps in this area. I wouldn't buy the closed stand if I was ordering today. It looks nice, but overpriced and the wheels are bad. The wheels do not swivel, so I replaced them with a mobile base. The stand with it is fine and I got wheels from Rockler. Made a nice stand for my Dewalt planer. I still haven't had the need to sand wider than 19", but tried it once and seemed to work fine as you just flip a lever to go to wide sanding. Eric, good to know it works fine with the Jet DC 1100, I have been using my Jet 1900, but will need to use the 1100 until I get my shop set up. I do like the positive close metal cover the DC connects to.

    Bill

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    SoCal
    Posts
    19,707
    Quote Originally Posted by Wade Lippman View Post
    I got mine a couple months ago. Why are the tables important? I can't see how they would really matter.

    I found the holes didn't line up at all; I actually had to use clamps to force things into place. Perhaps I didn't get the assembly order right, though I tried everything.
    The tables provide support and avoid snipe on large / longer pieces. They would be unimportant if you are doing pieces that do not require additional support. As to your alignment trouble, I'm going to assume mis-assembly(?). Everything on mine went together like a fine watch. The manual does leave something to be desired but, I found other pics online that cleared things up. Which holes didn't line up? If it was just the stand, it is probably assembled out of order and if it is working for you, I'd leave it alone. If the alignment problems were on the sander, like any misalignments on the feed bed, I would call Supermax as operating the machine after forcing the assembly could be damaging over time. They are very responsive to emails as well.
    I am familiar with modern idioms but they are outside the vocabulary of what I want to say.

    - George Dyson (composer)



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Western NY
    Posts
    323
    I also recently purchased the Supermax 19-38 and had pretty much the same experience as everyone else. Great machine and very happy I purchased it. There is a slight learning curve particularly if you've never used a drum sander before. I burned an 80 grit roll and a 150 grit roll the first week I had the sander. Part of this was my fault for trying to take off too much each pass. Part of it was calibration. I noticed the conveyor would slip on the rollers which stopped the piece from going through at normal speed and then when things got too hot, the paper ended up with a burned streak. Once I figured out the correct amount to take off and tightened the conveyor belt, I have had no more of those issues. I do have to make a comment about how much to turn the handle. Some here are saying 1/6th to 1/4 turn. My experience has been that if I turn the handle more than an inch (maybe 1/8th to 1/10th turn), the next pass is too much of a bite and the intellisand feature comes on. My complaints are very minimal now that I've had the machine for a month or so. I still tend to have a problem attaching the final end of the sandpaper. I have to bend it and then feed it down though and hope it went through the right area to be grasped. Many times it doesn't and I have to keep trying. If I miss 4 or 5 times, my finger starts to get sore from holding the spring clamp open. No biggie really and I'm sure with more practice, that won't be a problem anymore. I watched a video about drum sanders and how to best sand wood pieces. If they are small enough, pass them through lengthwise, width wise and diagonally or you get a lot of grooves left in the wood piece. I found this to work great and very little ROS sanding is necessary to remove the remaining scratches.

  9. #9
    As regards using clamps to force the stand together:

    I can almost guarantee that if the stand does not easily go together and the holes line up perfectly you have the "layers" in the wrong order. I had to take back apart and re-assemble mine three times because I was not "getting" this. You have to very carefully read the instructions and figure out what they are saying and then assemble the vertical, horizontal and cross pieces in exactly the right order or nothing fits right and the holes don't line up.

    But once you get it right, the holes work as intended and everything fits exactly right.

    If you forced the stand together with clamps it most likely got skewed, and if it is skewed the sander won't be level, and if the sander is not level you lose the precise alignment of the drum and conveyor - so I would guess that is why you are having issues.

    I'd suggest pulling it back apart and redoing the stand and I bet everything else will then set up correctly...

    Frustrating, but worth the effort to resolve based on my experience.
    Erik King

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Hatfield, AR
    Posts
    1,170
    I bought this sander a few months ago. I'm very happy with it. I no longer need to have a sanding party wearing a mask. I had a few hiccups during setup, but I figured it out on my own because Supermax never emailed me back. I never called asking for assistance.

    My table would not adjust enough to sand a level surface. It was taking +1/32 off the outboard side with the adjustment as far down as it would go. I stuck some washers under the inboard side of the table to raise it up, re-calibrated everything and it worked great. I didn't spend the extra $$ on casters or the feed tables. I purchased some $5 casters and built a 3/4" plywood base from scrap, works great. I set up feed tables as necessary for long stock.

    I've run 28 1/2" wide end panels through the sander and it completes the job much faster than hand sanding with my 6" ROS. I'm happy with it until I buy a dual drum...
    -Lud

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