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Thickness sanders.....Byrnes vs Micro Mart

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I have the Byrnes Model Machines thickness sander. It is the best on the market. Buy quality and you buy once.



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I have the MicroMark.  It's NOT a production sander nor is its precise.  By precise, there's no real way of pre-setting your thickness.   However, it will handle just about any wood you want if you don't try to take off too much at once.  


I bought mine before the Byrnes was available.  In hindsight... I would by the Byrnes.   The problem is, I don't need one that much, but when I do, I really need it.

"The shipwright is slow, but the wood is patient." - me

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Buy the best tool you can afford, or wait 'til you can afford it.  There are very few tools I've acquired that I've regretted, and they are all the cheaper alternatives at the time.  There is no comparison to the Byrnes sander.


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I have the MicroLux thickness sander (it's MicroMark, by the way) and I'm perfectly happy with it. I've use it and I've used the Byrnes and both work about the same. As someone pointed out, you can't pre-set the thickness on the MicroLux, but I don't recall being able to do that with the Byrnes. For both the MicroLux and the Byrnes Machines sanders, I've had to take off a little bit of wood at a time and then measure the resulting piece.


The comment that the MicroLux sander only sands basswood is hogwash. I've never once thickess sanded basswood with it. As I've been milling most of my own wood these days, I use it regularly on Boxwood, Cherry, Pear, Holly and Beech. It works fine, is very heavy and feels very rugged, very sturdy.


The main difference between the two, in my experience, is in design. The MicroLux sander works. It's not super user friendly. The Byrnes Machines sander works. It's well designed, so it's more user friendly.


For instance, the Byrnes sander uses a screw to adjust the thickness and it has a large diameter thumb wheel. The Microlux model uses a hex bolt. It works, but it's not as nice and its location is a bit awkward. Plus, as I recall, on the Byrnes sander that adjustment screw is easy to reach and the fine threads on it give you more precise adjustment.


The vacuum hose attachment on the Byrnes sander is on top so it's out of the way. The Microlux sander put's it on the side where the wood comes out, so you have to do more to get it out of the way of your work.


The Byrnes sander uses standard sandpaper making it inexpensive to operate. The Microlux uses special sanding sleeves which cost a lot more, though they seem to last a long time. I haven't changed mine since I bought it, which is a good thing as the Microlux drum sander requires you to practically disassemble the whole machine to change it. The Byrnes sander is much simpler here - again a better design. Plus, on the Byrnes, you can use grits of your choice. On the Microlux, your choices are limited to the 3 available grits.


One thing I should add is that the Microlux thickness sander has a big heavy roller on the feed side that is designed to hold down your work as you feed it in. I found this was more of a hassle than an asset, so I removed mine. Every time a piece was almost through the sander, the think would drop with a thunk and jar the unit and the work piece so that the last bit of the work piece would come out uneven. I was much happier with the machine after I took this piece off.



Overall, the Microlux is less expensive but it's clearly not as well designed as the Byrnes product. It's still VERY useable and I have no sense that I've missed out by buying it. It's clearly not perfect, but it does its job and I use it about once a week or so. But, the Byrnes thickness sander is really not that much more money than the Microlux model unless you can get it at a good sale price from Micromark. So, you may want to pay a little more and spring for the Byrnes model.




Edited by catopower

Clare Hess

He's a -> "HE"

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Well ,I guess any more recommendations are moot at this point. But I have the MicroMark sander and it works good if one is patient. If you try to force it,it will just heat up and shut down. One improvement I made was to take out the height adjuster, drill a hole in the hex head and tap in a small roll pin so that I could tell by feel how much I was trying to take off.I forgot what the thread size is but you can guess fairly accurately what you're taking off. Also you should have a micrometer handy. I'm sure I have saved the price of the strip wood I have used y making it myself.  BILL

Bill, in Idaho

Completed Mamoli Halifax and Billings Viking ship in 2015

Next  Model Shipways Syren

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