SKIL 7510-01 SANDCAT BELT SANDER REVIEW

Key Features:

  • Where the Sandcat lacks in raw power, it makes up for in design details. Rather than having a manual tracking adjustment knob, Skil has outfitted this model with an auto-tracking feature. This is supposed to keep the sanding belt perfectly centered on the platen, helping extend belt life and motor life. These systems can be tricky so it’s best to keep an eye on it, just in case.
  • The Sandcat has another techy feature that no other belt sander out there has: a pressure monitoring system. The tool can actually sense how much pressure is being applied (how hard the user is pressing) and somehow calculates the optimal pressure level. If the user is pressing too hard, a red light comes on, signaling to let up. If the user runs a belt sander while pressing way too hard on the back, it will wear the belts out much faster, build up friction wear on the platen, and rag out the electric motor. The Sandcat’s pressure control technology will prevent all that.

TOOL CONSTRUCTION

The Sandcat is a lightweight sander, make no mistake about it. It’s not meant for long hours of heavy use, like sanding an entire house’s floors or smoothing welds for a whole pole barn. It’s made for small-to-medium size projects like redoing cabinet faces, furniture building, or other woodworking projects.

To that end, the housing on the Sandcat is made of a durable plastic. It’s not meant to be dropped off ladders, but the plastic is heavy enough to withstand household use.

There is a pistol-grip style handle for the user’s right hand. The trigger turns the sander on. The Sandcat does not have an always-on switch, meaning the user must hold down the trigger the entire time. There is also a second-hand grip at the front of the machine. This is a nice feature. Your second hand can tire out very quickly if there is not a comfortable rest for it, and the front rest feels natural.

This is a very light sander. That’s an obvious consequence of its small size. It only weighs 6.4 pounds. This can go either way for a belt sander. When using a belt sander on floors or work pieces that are laid on the floor, having a heavy sander can reduce user fatigue. However, the Sandcat is made more for bench projects or wall sanding or other, smaller projects. In that case, since the sander has to be manipulated more, the lighter sander actually works in the user’s favor.

MOTOR

The Sandcat comes equipped with a 6 amp electric motor. This is towards the lower end of the spectrum as far as belt sander motor sizes go. Five amp motors are do exist, but so are nine and twelve amp motors. However, most of those large motors are really overkill. The six amp motor is plenty powerful enough to accomplish the types of projects for which the Sandcat is intended. Again, this machine is not for heavy-duty projects; stick to household-type stuff and light woodworking, and the motor should not bog down.

SANDING BELT

The Sandcat uses a 3”x18” belt. This is about as small as handheld belt sanders can get. That is not a bad thing, however. The three-inch belt works great for small projects. The length of the belt is really inconsequential. It really just means the sander overall is shorter.

The Sandcat, because of its small size and light-duty parts, is not really a good choice for metal sanding and grinding. Stick to aluminum oxide belts and non-metal surfaces to extend the Sandcat’s life and keep it in good shape.

DUST COLLECTION

This is where the 7510-01 Sandcat really shines. It should be clear by now that this sander is made for light projects. Many of these light projects—wall sanding, cabinet resurfacing, fine woodworking, furniture repair or construction—may take place indoors. And everyone knows what a terrible mess sanding can make, especially inside. It can clog the HVAC, get into the carpet, fill tiny nooks and crannies, and is all-around a headache to clean up.

Skil has made it easy. Most belt sanders have a dust collection bag or dust collection port. The bags often leak and external vacuums spew exhaust dust into the room. The Sandcat has a completely enclosed, solid plastic dust collection container, complete with a micro-filtration system. This is the sander to use for any indoor project.

OUR VERDICT

Overall, the Skil 7510-01 is absolutely a great deal. First of all, it’s about as cheap as they come. Most belt sanders are in the neighborhood but the Sandcat costs a quarter of that. But the low price should not be confused with low quality. It is a durable machine packed with neat design features and technological functions. As long as it’s not substituted in for a heavy-duty belt sander on industrial projects, this tool should serve any DIYer well for a very long time.

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