DeWalt 433 Belt Sander
to the maker, the SF 4000-A is the first cordless screwdriver
with the power, speed, and endurance to rival corded models.
The 4,000-rpm tool can be fitted with a 50-screw magazine
($100) to speed production even further. Battery power comes
from a 2amp-hour nicad battery or an optional
3amp-hour NiMH battery. With an adapter ($35), you can
mount either pack on your belt, making the tool noticeably
lighter. The molded knuckle guard protects hands from metal
framing and directs cooling air to the front, so you get less
drywall dust blowing in your face. The tool sells for $349,
with two nicad batteries.
Jack of All Trades.
It's hard to
get bored doing remodeling work: One day you're hanging drywall
and the next you're building a deck. If you're looking for a
collated screwdriver you can use on all your projects, check
out the Senco DS275-18v. This 18-volt tool has an adjustable
depth-of-drive, accepts screws from 1 to 3 inches long, and
spins at 3,000 rpm. It sells for about $200, including two
Stand-Up Deck Driver.
down deck boards may be a great way to prevent cupping and
donkey tracks, but all that kneeling can be tough on your knees
and back. The P13 autofeed screwdriver from Pam offers a more
comfortable way to screw decking and subflooring. Powered by a
Milwaukee drill, it can accept fasteners from 1 to 3 inches
long. In addition to standard galvanized deck screws, the
company offers screws for fiber-composite decking that are
meant to eliminate mushrooming around the screw head. The
composite deck screws are available in red, green, tan, and
stainless. The P13 with stand-up extension has a list price of
$360. The coated deck fasteners sell for $69 per 1,000;
stainless versions go for $187 per 1,000.
Pam Fastening, 800/699-2674,
Installing the last
row of strip flooring or fighting a bowed board can be a real
pain. While improvised solutions like wedges and flat bars
sometimes work well enough, there is a better method: the
Powerjack. The tool's ratcheting action makes it easy to get a
tight fit between boards. And, unlike a flat bar, the Powerjack
frees both of your hands for fastening. There are two versions:
Model 200 (left) has a plate that's screwed to the floor and is
designed primarily for straightening a bowed board in the
field. Model 100 (right) is more versatile. It's meant to be
braced against a wall for tightening up that last row or two,
but you can also use it in the field by placing it against a
temporary cleat screwed to the floor. I found the jacks on the
Web for $218 each.
one way to know for sure whether subfloors and slabs are dry
enough for finish flooring: Use a moisture meter. Unlike
cheaper alternatives, the Delmhorst BD-2100 can test a variety
of materials in addition to wood, including gypsum, insulation,
and concrete. Prices start around $280. The optional probe
(model 21E) for deeper tests adds another $50. Given increased
concerns about mold and moisture damage, this is one tool every
contractor should consider buying.
Delmhorst Instrument, 877/335-6467,
Out of a Jamb.
flooring under door jambs can be faster than other methods, and
the results often look better. But conventional handsaws scrape
your hands against the subfloor, and electric jamb saws may be
too expensive if you're not a full-time flooring contractor.
Here's a happy medium: the Hand Undercut Saw. It cuts
efficiently on both the pull and the push stroke, and the
offset handle keeps your knuckles from dragging. The saw sells
for about $22.
Mortensen Industries, 800/811-4325,
irritate new-home buyers more than floor squeaks, but solutions
aren't always easy — especially when squeaks are on
the second floor. The Squeeeeek No More for carpet and the
Counter Snap for hardwood use special screws to eliminate
squeaks from the top side. A small aluminum tool breaks off the
scored screws below the finished flooring, where the hole is
hidden by carpet or filled with wood putty. Both tools use the
same screw. The $30 kits include either the hardwood or the
carpet tool and 50 proprietary screws. Replacement screws cost
$10 for 50.
O'Berry Enterprises, 800/459-8428,
DeWalt 433 Belt
Sanderby Derrell Day
Belt sanders are the tool of choice for smoothing rough wood
or flattening out mismatched glue joints. Their ability to
quickly remove large amounts of material with just a few passes
makes them indispensable timesavers. But what renders them so
effective can also make them dangerous, as anyone who's ever
gouged a workpiece with a belt sander knows.
Most belt sanders use two similarly sized rollers mounted fore
and aft with a flat surface (platen) for the belt to ride
against. The motor is mounted above or behind the roller
assembly. The design is simple and generally effective, but
it's also a little top-heavy. In the hands of a novice, the
tool's shortcomings can ruin the work. Even in the hands of a
pro, the tool can be prone to tipping, which can spell
disaster. That's what DeWalt's new tool is designed to
Lowering the center of gravity in racecars and sailboats gives
them greater stability, and the same is true of belt
In an effort to make the new DW433 more stable, DeWalt's
engineers have lowered the tool's center of gravity by putting
the motor just above the platen. They did this by adding a
third roller to the front of the machine so the belt can travel
over the motor. The position of the two front rollers allows
the sander to get much closer to vertical obstructions like
walls and cabinets.
The designers also kept the right side of the sander free of
any protrusions that would prevent the user from sanding right
up next to a wall or other vertical surface. Taken together,
these features reduce the need for touch-ups with another
With an extra front roller and an
obstruction-free right side, the DeWalt 433 can get closer to
walls and other vertical surfaces than other belt sanders. Even
the dust bag, on the left side below the trigger handle, is
tucked out of the way. Belt speed is adjusted with a rotary
dial mounted on the rear handle. Electronic circuitry maintains
the setting under load.
Pros and Cons
The trigger handle is rubber-coated for reduced vibration and
a better grip. The front grip is removable and can be placed
either on top or in front of the housing. The 433 has
electronically controlled variable speed from 850 to 1,450 feet
per minute. The speed control uses a rotating dial mounted on
the rear handle. It can be adjusted under load, and the
electronic control keeps the belt turning at a steady speed
even when additional pressure is applied to the tool.
The platen is generously sized and is machined completely
flat, a feature that sets the DW433 apart from its competition.
Combined with the low center of gravity, this gives the sander
a smooth and stable feel. I never detected even the slightest
tendency for this machine to tip, even when sanding at a
10-degree angle against the grain, as I often do.
Dust control on most belt sanders is hopeful at best, but the
DW433 has this problem pretty well licked: I found dust pickup
to be excellent. When you don't want the dust bag attached,
there's a sliding valve to close the dust port, which keeps
dust from blowing into your face. The dust bag is easily
detached and emptied, and it didn't hinder me in any way while
Belt replacement is quick and easy with a large thumb-lever
release located on the front wheel assembly. The tracking
adjustment located below the release made adjustments easy, but
I did notice that the adjustment knob on the tool I tested
seemed to be a little looser than it should have been. While
the loose knob concerned me, I didn't need to make any further
tracking adjustments after the initial setting, and the belts
stayed true throughout the test.
Weight a factor. If you use
this belt sander a lot, you can probably cancel your gym
membership, because it's heavy. It weighs in at about 11 1/2
pounds. Everyone on the crew who tried this tool remarked
immediately about its weight. I'm sure the sander's metal
housing contributes to this. While the weight was advantageous
for sanding on a flat surface and actually contributed to the
solid feel, vertical surfaces were another matter.
Nose dives. We had another
gripe: Every time we finished sanding and set the sander down
on its nose, it fell over. Belt sanders should be designed so
they can be placed upright on their nose, the most natural
position for putting the tool down and grabbing it again.
Everyone who used this sander set it on its nose, only to watch
it tumble over.
The kit I tested comes with a frame that allows the sander to
be bench-mounted, but the setup was time-consuming. The frame
works well enough, but it won't replace the sanding station in
An optional sanding frame converts the
tool from ordinary hand-held use to a bench-mounted sanding
station. It's included in a kit version of the tool and adds
about $30 to the cost.
Overall, I liked the DW433; it represents a major breakthrough
in belt-sander design. I'd love to see it produced in a
4-by-21-inch model for large surfaces like stair treads and
countertops. Its dead-flat platen, low center of gravity, and
significant weight would all be pluses for leveling large
The sander (without the frame) sells for $190 on the Web. A
kit that includes the sanding frame sells for about $30
Derrell Day is a finish
carpenter and general contractor in Panama City, Fla.