Here I tackle another concern about an article about benchtop sanders in Fine Woodworking issue #221 September/October 2011 by Roland Johnson.
Right off the bat Johnson states up front in the title that Benchtop sanders “…tackle trimming and smoothing quicker than hand tools do – with no sharpening needed.” That’s absolutely not the truth. What he might be better saying is that these machines substitute for skill and the results are therefor dumbed down standards. He fails on all fronts, as is a regular imbalance with this magazine and as was the case in the Bandsaw article previous post, to point out that you must wear a dust mask constantly and should wear one for an hour after all machines are switched off. That there are many other health risks involved with each one of these machines. He fails to point out that the accuracy drastically diminishes when using these types of machine sanders yet through images and text suggest that you can flush and fit drawers, boxes and doors and such with the same accuracy as hand tools which just not true. Whereas there is some truth to these sanders having limited usefulness for certain more perfunctory tasks, they in no way equal hand tool methods and I will gladly prove that in any test they or anyone wants to present to me.
All in all, what I really want to say to any woodworker unused to this type of machine is don’t think that they are better than hand tools, but see them more as complementary in some small way for occasional tasks.
Don’t think that they will give the accuracy in making and fitting drawers and doors into recesses and openings. In skilled hands they might, but planes do it exponentially better. Tread with caution with sanders of all types they carry potential for all manner of respiratory problems no matter how good your extraction.