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Power Tool Review

Posted: Sat Jul 29, 2017 10:45 am
by Kevin Morin
Since I didn't see a specifically Tool related category to post this review in, I'm posting in Metal because that's where I'm using the tool.

Eastwood offers a Surface Contour Tool that an electric powered (117VAC 9 Amp) horizontal roller style sander, buffer, finishing tool. I just bought one and paid the list price of 200.00 US$ to see what use I could make of this tool in odd jobs, I'm not building any boats right now.

I consider the tool a good buy- it appears to be on sale right now for 20.$ off the list price so it seems a better value for the money now? I can't remark about tool life but I can state that it has good power and using a couple of the 'scotchbrite-like' 4" wide wheels I was able to clean some old weathered aluminum for welding in a very short time. Further, the horizontal roller wheel compared to a flat rotary disk grinder is just as aggressive at cleaning the surface as a 4" grinder for the same grit.

The only design and use related complaint I have is the machine screw that needs to be removed, and replaced to change the wheels; I'd have preferred some type of 1/2 twist-lock assembly on the main drive shaft that allowed a tool-less abrasive wheel change. Instead the SCT comes with a left hand, cheese head, socket recess (Allen) hex driven machine screw that has to be loosened and re-tightened using an Allen key. Not the end of the world, but if you're cleaning a small area- bringing it through the grit progression to a shine or finish- there is a slow down as you replace the wheels.

The consumables are not cheap, at about 60$ for the different grits of 'scotchbrite-like' plastic abrasives; to avoid brand name conflict the company refers to these surfacing wheels as 'non-woven nylon' but they are similar to the 3M scotchbrite (tm) materials. Eastwood offers a rubber sanding drum and a spread of grits 80, 120, 240 ( each sleeve is $3) but I can't remark about their use more than a practice swipe or two on some aluminum. I would guess these sanding rolls would do well on wood, but I'm not sure how the roller would act compared to other power tool surfacing geometry in a wood sander?

I have not tried out the two steel and rust targeted roller wheels- they're a bit too aggressive for aluminum work that I've had since I've had this tool. I don't do that much work in steel, but will try to report on their performance once I have these two coarse rollers on some rusty steel or have to strip some paint?

The last consumable roller I bought with the tool was a cotton (? might be synthetic?) felt polishing roller wheel. I used this wheel after the orange/medium grit nylon followed by the blue nylon/fine grit rollers to polish some aluminum pipe. By adding a polishing compound (white grade polish in a stick form) to the wheel while it was running at the slowest speed setting (there are 1-6 speeds) then speeding the wheel up- the aluminum took a very bright chrome finish with almost no effort. So aluminum parts, like cutwaters, cleats, windshield frame parts, or deck mounted vents could be polished to a chrome shine using this tool very easily.

Summary: If you're doing metal work and can afford another few hundred for a power tool that is designed to follow contours on metal surfaces (wood too) this tool appears well made, heavy duty, and is offered with a variety of rollers for metal paint stripping, metal sanding and surface polishing. The Eastwood SCT works well to descale marine aluminum and even bringing those materials to a high level of finish in a short time- even if the shape of the work is curved and not all flat. IMO this is a worthwhile tool for anyone working in welded aluminum boats.

Kevin Morin
Kenai, AK

Re: Power Tool Review

Posted: Wed May 09, 2018 1:43 pm
by Kevin Morin
As built.jpg

This post is about making a dust collector for the Eastwood SCT roller sanding buffing and surface conditioning tool posted above as the thread starter.

The tool comes without any dust collection provisions so I decided to add my own by forming some steel. The black edge below the roller drum (black edge) is the back edge of the steel shield that covers the rollers and prevents any flying (shattered? busted?) debris from the operator. I show the tool here, as it comes from the factory.


Here is the final dust collection manifold welded to the lower edge of the steel shroud in the first image (above). I could only find thin wall steel tubing in aircraft alloys so I used 4130 alloy tubing- not needed but it was available locally without hunting far.

removed shroud strip.jpg

First I cut a strip of the steel roller shroud off the back edge so I'd be able to fit the intake tube down closer to the casting body of the tool and leave the roller more prominent - and to further this lowered profile:

next post?

Kevin Morin

Re: Power Tool Review

Posted: Wed May 09, 2018 1:48 pm
by Kevin Morin
2nd flat end.jpg

this image shows the flattened piece of 1-1/4" tube laying about where it will end up- and a flattened end of some 1-1/2" tube both of which are more oval than rounded- so the seam between them will be a bit odd- not a straight miter due to the shapes. I just put the tube or tube end in a vise and squeezed the main shape- then pounded a bit with a hammer to get some shape adjustments.

joint fit_2.jpg

shape of the miter seam allows the shape transition and joint to be relatively smooth- not all that critical for air flow and dust collection! The outer mitered segment is left to fill with scraps from the saw cuts on these two pc.'s joint cuts.


rough fit of mitered opening- this little remnant fit the bill for a patch pc that sort of 'rounded' the outside corner of the manifold.

next post

Re: Power Tool Review

Posted: Wed May 09, 2018 1:51 pm
by Kevin Morin

a little sanding and the outside gore is ready to weld in- filling the outside corner making a kind of rounded end fit?


welded and sanded to a decent surface, the manifold is close to being attached to the steel shroud's back edge (that was cut down)


cap for the oval intake manifold that is drilled with a group of 3/8" holes as intake ports.

Re: Power Tool Review

Posted: Wed May 09, 2018 1:54 pm
by Kevin Morin

end cap of 16 gauge welded to horizontal dust manifold

fit up finished manifold.jpg

final welded manifold being fit to weld to the shroud prior to painting and test run.


tube to shroud welds in the corners- doesn't take much to keep this light wt material together.

Re: Power Tool Review

Posted: Wed May 09, 2018 2:11 pm
by Kevin Morin
test fit_1.jpg

testing prior to painting - worked well, no dust and not too badly in the way of the handle and operator's grip. Hoses are always a pain but this makes the tool much more useful in a shop.


Inverted to show the part/manifold all painted to look a little more presentable. Hose off the larger vacuum used during the test- the 1-1/2" outlet and adapters will allow about any shop vac to connect.


Looking down on the tool ready to use- the larger hose wasn't much problem to handle on the bench- if the tool is used in vertical, overhead or other positions compared to downhand ? well taping the hose to the cord or making a strain relief to attach the hose to the tool's handle or just going to smaller vac hose may all turn out to be worth the time?

The manifold does not join between the smaller drilled tube and the large tube; at 90 deg.s I wanted some body to tube clearance for the shop vac hose attachment fittings so.... I angled the two tubes to 110 or 115 deg.s (not measured, just by eye when making miter joint).

A note on this tool shown above- there are roller flap drum combination wheels available. THESE are very nice drums- there is a sheet or flap of sand paper inserted between a nylon or scotchbrite type of abrasive. The sanding sheets come in 80, 120, 240 grits and have become a very widely used tool in the shop. I was using the straight woven nylon or scotchbrite type wheels without the flap layers- and those are not nearly as aggressive and wear out with much less use.

The drums without sanding flaps do polish nicely and I still recognize that very useful function- but for stripping mill scale, cleaning up water stained off cuts that have been in the pile for years- out in the weather- the flap sanding drums were extremely useful and big improvement over the drums without those layers.

All this tool needs now is for the manufacturer to provide these dust intake fittings of inexpensive plastic so that buyers don't have to build there own! ON the other hand- if you've acquired one of these SCT drum sanding tools? Here is how I made the manifold to pull out dust at the source- in case you need to equip your tool with one.

NEXT: the tools need a quick change drum release and lock mechanism so that the left hand, metric, allen head, socket recess machine screw is not loosened and tightened over and over to change grits by swapping drums.

If there are any questions about the project please don't hesitate to post- I could not weld this without TIG as my stick or MIG skills don't scale down to this size metal. The work cold be done by brazing too, but I used TIG as it was the only way for me personally to make these smaller scale welds.

Kevin Morin
Kenai, AK

Re: Power Tool Review

Posted: Wed May 09, 2018 6:46 pm
by kens
That looks like what I would call a badd actor
I have used the little scotch brite pads on a 90-degree die grinder, they move metal pretty fast
I once had a scotch brite pad on a 90-degree 4 1/2" grinder, I think it was called a 'Tiger Wheel', that was pretty aggressive too.

Re: Power Tool Review

Posted: Wed May 09, 2018 9:23 pm
by Kevin Morin
I think it's as aggressive or docile as the grit of the wheel? The 240 grit sander/buffer sure doesn't gouge or cut off huge layers or metal- haven't tried it on wood yet? For certain the felt polishing wheel with some buffing rouge or white polishing paste will bring up a great shine on aluminum- probably do so on SS or steel too?

Don't know all the ins and outs yet- but now that the dust factor is in control I'm using this tool every time I prep aluminum.

Kevin Morin
Kenai, AK

Re: Power Tool Review

Posted: Wed Jul 11, 2018 9:57 am
by Kevin Morin
This post reviews a Widow Maker/Meat Axe/"aluminum grinder w saw blades" which is very safe to use even though it looks wickedly dangerous.

Before we look more at this tool let's make clear:
#1 THIS post is not advocating you build, use or employ this tool modifications.
#2 Glen-L Marine, Forum and Co. allow this information as an educational exposition and DO NOT advocate you build or use this tool.
#3 All power tools require skill to use safely and this free cutting carbide edge tool especially requires your full attention and safe working precautions.
#4 Used with the exact set up shown; this tool is as safe as any skill saw, jig saw, router or other power tool- all of which require you to keep body parts out of the cutting mechanism while the tool is running!!!

With all that said; the reason this tool is shown is to explicitly illustrate (exactly) to the welded aluminum boat builder/remodeler/repair person a tool use technique that can reduce work and increase control and refined cutting of some regular boat building operations. As with a skill saw, or a grinder with an abrasive wheel- if any part of your body comes in contact with the cutting edge- injury will result. However if the tool is build/modified as shown it is safe and very handy to perform specific jobs.

The key to this tool is to use 2 or 3 saw blades NOT ONE... many builders and re-modelers use this tool
A) with one blade, and I recommend against that even if that version may have some functionality to those who use it?
B) Also, many who have created their own version of this tool do not use the all steel blade guard and I also recommend against that lack of protection.
C) the exact design and blade orientation of this version of tool makes it safe AND useful as well as fairly exact in cutting trimming beveling and weld removal applications- altering the relationships shown will likely reduce the usefulness of this modified tool.


This Makita (brand) 4" grinder is supplied with a smaller diameter drive stud; most 4" tools have a 5/8" coarse thread mounting and drive hub. Because this model has the smaller (3/8") hub you can mount Diablo 4" saw blade in a pair OR with three blades and the bore of the blade and the hub of the grinder can be adapted to one another.

The two blades' teeth are clamped onto the drive hub by the compression nut in the center WITH THE TEETH, staggered - this is the key to this tools' utility, safe cutting operations and generally the key point to make sure is present if you construct your own version of this trim tool.


because the two blades' teeth are numerous and staggered; there is not time that any given tooth is able to get a full face bite of metal. The teeth can only take a very shallow 'cut' or scoop of aluminum before the next tooth is engaged and the previous shallow shaving is being thrown free of the blade. THIS fact is what makes this safe and controllable; the arrangement shown is even less able to gouge and jam if the third blade is stacked with the first two.

Notice that the steel safety shroud have been EXTENDED? on both sides of the factory provide blade shield a steel strip has been welded to the steel housing. These two extensions further limit the blades' depth of cut, limit the amount of circumference of the cutting edge available to the work and both ends of the safety housing work as 'tool' posts or pivots when trimming out old welds, removing old structural elements or trimming when doing remodel work.


The photo of the blades' edge shows white plastic strip on the lower flat bar added to the safety shield- its hard to see as the photo whited out with the background and the plastic is white UMHW tape. This allows the tool to drag the safety shield's leg like a table of a skill saw, or table of a router etc. This plastic is hard to keep on, keeps coming off, but the idea is still useful to note as the 'foot' or table can be used to provide an even track along side a weld seam to back chip prior to back welding; to bevel along a seam; to pivot the blade and tool when using the tool as a tack reducer or removing welds.

The purpose here is to make sure anyone building or remodeling a welded aluminum boat learns about a very useful tool that will work wonders in cutting aluminum not grinding. Grinding with a similar size disc is much less exact, and the blade can jamb very easily when removing welds in remodel work. Grinding leaves a deposit of disc material which then adds effort to clean prior to welding or re-welding and this tool cuts cleanly by comparision. Grinding or sanding most often leaves 'tracks' on the sides of the weld being trimmed/removed/shaped - but this tool has less contact area - the edge not the face of the blade disc is used to cut- so the side tracks are reduced and surfaces are kept more clean and flat requiring less post weld clean up and finish.

Overall, the tool is only useful for those with sufficient skill and tool use experience to make use of a free hand cutting tool that will not grab or jamb during cutting. However, for those building welded aluminum boats, tanks, masts or brackets; this tool can be a real time saver while providing a level of exact control while free hand cutting aluminum that is not available with most other tools. It is not for use cutting sheet goods- there a skill saw/jig saw is more applicable. It is not for sanding wide flat areas- there, a belt or rotary sander is more applicable. This tool is for cutting in spaces were the space is too tight for skill saws or jig saws, but where grinding will be slower, create much more dust and mess. The tool will spew chips/shavings all over the place but remains one of the most useful combinations of existing tooling for the job.

I recently did a small remodel job on a 20' welded river dory. The bow deck was mounted on frames about 8" tall inside the boat. I removed the deck, all the framing and cross supports and trimmed all the old welds to within 1/16" or less (ready for sanding if that was needed?) and did it all with this tool as shown above. It did not jump, jamb, lurch during the several hours work. It cut cleanly and in full control and was able to reach into narrow spaces other tools wouldn't reach and that made the job cleaner and faster than if I'd tried to use a grinder, or even a plasma torch.

I don't show the handle that come with the tool that screw into the gear casing head- and sometimes it obstructs getting the tool into the area needed to cut - however, the factory provided handle further increases control and is most often used- but not shown here in these photos. Even if the body of the tool is hand held and the case behind the guide is gripped- the tool is safe and very controllable- but the handles give more leverage in general use.

Kevin Morin
Kenai, AK