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A Sander for Life: The Metabo SXE 400

Despite the rule for every power tool needs to be cordless, I still use my corded Metabo SXE 400 Random Orbit Sander a lot when I work on my small furniture projects.

I bought the Metabo sander over 20 years ago at an Ally Pally tool show and, I confess, one of the main reasons I did was because, it was a bargain. It was a kind of ‘end of show, let’s get rid of this one cheap’ offer. It came with a bag full of sanding discs too.  They lasted many years.

Recently I had to replace the SXE400 because 20 year’s consistent use had taken its toll. I was surprised that Metabo was still able to supply one, and I was even more surprised to find that I am not the only one who can’t do without one.

The SXE 400 is no streamlined beauty, I think even it’s designers would agree that it is an odd – looking tool. It consists of a chunky body that I can just about get my hand round with an 80mm diameter sanding head at right angles to it.

Mounted right on the front an top of the body is an easy to use sliding on/off switch that just works  right.

A small yellow dial mounted on the back where the cord emerges from the body has six stepless speeds so the user can change speeds to suit the material being sanded.

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Also near the cord, is a 30mm diameter dust extraction port that is surprisingly efficient at removing dust when connected to a vacuum extractor. – Just remember this design is probably over 30 years old and it still fits modern specs.

A hex key is supplied to remove the rubber hook and loop sanding platen and replace it with a softer foam backed pad for sanding over uneven surfaces and polishing. I have never had occasion to use this but the hex key is still in place.

There is a small downside to a smaller random orbit sander – the sanding discs do so much work that they wear out quickly – its important to have a good supply on hand. That said, the sander works hard and it wont take long before you will see results. It is also very useful for getting into smaller spaces, although you will need a delta sander to get into corners of course.

I have always liked the fact that the SXE 400 is easy to handle (belied by the body design) It can be used one or two handed and because the random orbit action runs freely when sanding so it doesn’t catch, so I have even used it to sand bowls and spindles. Used on the lathe, you simply don’t get the lines and scratches that accompany hand sanding, so it saves a lot of time and leaves a smooth surface.

The small print on the label tells me that even my new SXE 400 is made in Germany, which surprised me. I thought that it would be an ideal candidate to be moved to a Chinese factory.

Truth is, going on my experience of the SXE 400, my new one will see me out. My sons will have something to inherit!

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