SuperMax 19-38 Drum Sander Review

SuperMax 19-38 Drum Sander

If you have been on the lookout for a performing and high-quality drum sander, then surely you have encountered the popular SuperMax 19-38 drum sander. This is a model used and recommended by many experts in the field. But beneath the layer of hype - is this product really worth it? This is what we will attempt to answer in this in-depth and comprehensive review of the SuperMax 19-38.

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#1. Technical Features

To help us understand how the SuperMax 19-38 performs in its globality, let us cover each of its important features.

Power

The SuperMax 19-38 sports a beefy 1-3/4 HP motor. It is a little bit more performing than the other popular Performax 16-32 drum sander rated at 1-1/2 HP. With its rated power, the SuperMax can easily sand through both softwood and hardwood for a high-quality professional finish. Depending on the sand paper grit size you are planning to use, you can “fine-tune” the finished result this way. Whether you are looking for a smooth and polished output or simply plan to resurface or straighten rough stock - it is all possible with this powerful drum sander.

Speed

This model sports the INTELLISAND technology that automatically adjusts the speed of the conveyor belt and conveyor pad on-the-fly without user intervention. It also sports a variable speed that allows you to adjust the feed speed from 0 to 10 feet a minute. This variable speed allows you to work with a wide variety of materials of different densities and surfaces.

Indeed, you can easily straighten rough lumber in only two passes with this very handy speed feature. What this speed brings to the table is greater user-friendliness and ability to work with different materials. This is very useful, especially in a busy workshop that demands this specific material type versatility.

Drum size

The drum size is more generous in the SuperMax 19-38 than in the JET 16-32 by quite a considerable margin. Indeed, with a 19 inches drum size this means that this model can comfortably work with material of around 38 inches wide. Contrasted to the 32 inches of the JET 16-32. We definitely prefer this model for those who work with larger pieces of material and the additional size is always a big bonus regardless of stock size you work with.

Plate size

The conveyor table is super-sized at 22 inches. This allows it to accommodate larger pieces of stock and offers a more generous surface area for you to maneuver. Indeed, this unit can accommodate a maximum 19 inches stock on its 22 inches conveyor table at one time, but the extra 3 inches table allows you to position or guide your stock more easily. It is also good to note that this model has a conveyor table size 3 inches larger than the JET 16-32.

Dust Collection

As you may already know, a drum sander without a good dust collection system is not a very efficient device. Luckily, the SuperMax 19-38 has one of the best and most high quality dust port we have seen in a drum sander, ever! It has a metal shroud with a 4 inches dust port. This metal dust port is extremely tough and durable.

Compared to the JET 16-32, which merely uses a plastic shroud that is more fragile and less lasting. It is very solid and will not budge even when it is sucking in air at maximum load. This means that this model can work with any external vacuum systems, including very high-powered commercial air extraction models usually seen in professional workshops.

​Additionally, the filtering system in this dust collection system does a good job keeping sawdust and other debris from the moving parts. In turn, it indirectly helps boost the longevity of the unit as a whole. It is a very ingenious dust collection system that not only helps you to work in a cleaner environment but also healthier. This is very important, especially if you work with a drum sander every day for long hours.

Quality of Surface

As expected, almost everything in this professional drum sander is quality. The 22 inches conveyor surface is made from a very tough rubber-plastic compound that is durable to wear and tear. It is also anti-skid which helps promote material maneuverability. Indeed, stock moving under the load of the drum is a recurring problem many professional faces when using a drum sander. This is absolutely not a problem with this model as materials stay firm regardless of downward pressure exerted on it.

Material Type

For the greatest versatility, this drum sander can easily work with any type of material. From softwood to hardwood, it is engineered to deliver the most efficient sanding finish without stalling, creating abrasive marks, or wood burns.

Additionally, you can even use raw lumber with this device. What we mean is that this drum sander can easily replace a wood planer and will even deliver a superior result if used for this purpose. If you do, we recommend that you retrofit this drum sander with a lower grit sandpaper roll of less than 80 grit. By default, this model is shipped with an 80 grit sandpaper.

Lastly, this model can work with stock with a maximum weight of 38 inches and thickness of 4 inches. This is 1 inch more than the JET 16-32 drum sander. The extra height and with is definitely welcome here as it offers more versatility. The height of the conveyor table can easily be adjusted up or down using the height lever.

User friendly

The SuperMax 19-38 promote user-friendliness above all else. Despite being a professional drum sander, even beginners can start using this power tool right away.

Making adjustment to the conveyor belt table and moving it up or down is very easy. The conveyor can be made parallel to the sanding drum with only 1 nut. This is very easy to do even if you are an absolute newbie and has never worked with a drum sander before.

​Additionally, the index alignment allows you to make adjustments depending on the width of material you are working with, fast and easy. The height is equally easy to adjust with the height adjustment lever located right on top of the device. One big advantage of this model is that it automatically locks in position allowing you to make repetitive sanding.

Lastly, the INTELLISAND technology automatically adjusts the speed based on the material and downward or upward pressure of the drum. This smart feature prevents you from gouging your material and provide a more consistent finish quality.

Other Features

  • High-Precision: This unit can save material with an incredible precision of up to 0.010 inch.
  • Abrasive Conveyor: The abrasive conveyor belt holds your material in position and prevents it from moving for a professional finish. It works equally well on raw lumber as well as on smooth-surfaced materials.
  • Self-Cooling: The drums are made from high-quality die-cast aluminum that is not only durable but also helps prevent overheating.
  • Heavy-Duty Cast Iron: Almost all building components of this drum sander are made from heavy-duty cast-iron for durability and longevity.

#2. Price

Despite being a fairly expensive power tool, we think that the SuperMax 19-38 is very competitively priced especially taking into account its solid and durable metal build construction as well as its premium features. It is more superior and versatile than the JET 16-32 at almost the same price tag. Out of two, the SuperMax 19-38 is more value for money and offers superior size, performance, and better build construction.

#3. Pros/Cons

Pros

  • High-quality cast iron build construction. Very durable and long-lasting and can be used for daily heavy-duty applications.
  • Powerful 1-3/4 HP motor can be used for both softwood and hardwood.
  • Large 22 inches durable conveyor table.
  • Download and upward pressure can easily be adjusted with height adjustment lever.
  • Smart and automatic variable speed powered by INTELLISAND technology that automatically adjusts the conveyor speed for you.
  • Comfortably works with material of 4 inches thickness and 38 inches width. Superior than the Performax 16-32 by offering an extra 1 inch in thickness and 6 inches in width.
  • Very competitive price and more value for money than similarly priced drum sanders.

Cons

  • The 4 inches dust port is situated right at the top of the device. It can be awkward to work with as your hose can get in the way. You will need to find a way to affix the hose right on top to prevent it from bending either at the front or to the back.

#4. Expert Review

To get a better idea how this drum sander works and performs, here is an expert review from Bill Schroeder and Chris Marshall. Chris works for SuperMax and talks extensively about the “upgraded” features like the thrust bearing that allows you to get more accuracy. Additionally, he demonstrates how easy it is to change the sand paper as well as how to adjust the feed speed, among other things on the menu. All in all, this overview will give you an invaluable insight about this power tool. You can watch the video below:

#5. Who Should Buy?

It is not difficult for us to recommend this model to any professional who works with medium to large sized stock. It can comfortably work with stock as thick as 4 inches and as wide as 38 inches. This is very generous considering most drum sanders in this price range can barely work with 32 inches stock. It is not the most powerful drum sander out there with 1-3/4 HP but it is sufficient for any heavy-duty application on both softwood and hardwood. All in all, if you are looking for a fairly powerful, dependable and versatile drum sander, the Supermax 19-38 is a great choice that will not disappoint.

​Performax 16-32 vs. SuperMax 19-38

If you had an eye on the older Performax 16-32 drum sander, let’s see how it compares to the newer Supermax 19-38.

Capacity

The SuperMax 19-38 can accommodate larger and thicker stock. It can comfortably work with 4 inches thickness and 38 inches width. On the other hand, the Performax 16-32 does only a maximum of 3 inches thickness and 32 inches wide. This extra width means that the SuperMax is more versatile and easy to work with - especially for those work more with boards/sheets rather than planks.

Power:

The Performax 16-32 still sports a powerful 1-1/2 HP dual motor compared to the 1-3/4 HP in the Supermax. This power is almost negligible but more is always better - so a point goes to the SuperMax in this case.

Features:

Many customers using this product vouch that the SuperMax works a little bit more efficiently and quietly than the Performax. This may have to do with a better and more efficient motor present in the SuperMax.

The SuperMax features the Intellisand technology that works better, in our opinion than the Sandsmart technology in the Performax 16-32. it is a little more responsive, especially if you shove stock too fast in the conveyor infeed.

The SuperMax has a digital meter for extreme accuracy. This is missing in the Performax. What this does is allow you to shave material with a precision of up to 0.01 inch. The Performax can equally do this - but it is more difficult to tell since you do not have a digital meter to tell.

​Additionally, the conveyor belt is more easily adjustable with simply screwing and unscrewing 4 bolts on the SuperMax than on the Performax.

Supermax 19-38 Story

To put things into perspective, it is always nice to go back in time and understand how SuperMax 19-38 started as a product. Here is its story:

SuperMax was started by Warren Weber and Bill Schroeder. Back in the day, both Bill Schroeder who was the general manager and Engineer Warren Weber developed the Performax 16-32. It was an instant success. But in and around 2001, Performax was sold to conglomerate Walter Meier Mfg (owner of JET and POWERMATIC). Four years later, in 2005, Walter Meier Mfg decided to stop manufacturing of drum sanders of more than 24 inches in width. According to their analysts, it seems that the real money was in the “mini” drum sander market.

​This is where Bill and Warren left Performax and founded SuperMax later that year. With a rich experience in what works and what does not in the drum sander industry, the 2 men came up with their own drum sander model - the SuperMax 19-38. It was a similarly open design as the Performax 16-32 but superior in every sense.

​A few years later, the SuperMax 19-38 outsold the Performax 16-32 by quite a considerable margin. The success behind SuperMax is proof how a small company can compete neck to neck and even outsell a mega corporation by simply having a superior product.

Resources: Supermaxtools.comFixthisbuildthat.comPopularwoodworking.com

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Tom Bradly
 

My entrepreneurial journey started in 2006, when I dropped out of university. I wanted to work with my hands, to build things. Now I mix my background with computers with my first-hand experience with woodworking to provide insights into the tools I like best. I love everything about woodworking and have been building stuff for over 20 years of my life. I hope to pass some knowledge and expertise.