Aimed at:- Pro and keen DIYers with a decent budget.
Pros:- Quiet, vibration controlled and very effective stock removal.
Newly launched and aimed at the building trades that need hardy, compact sanders that work well and can take a few knocks, the Metabo SRE3185 and the Metabo SXE 3150 look like they might become favourites – much like the way my SXE 450 Duo has become an indispensable part of my workshop toolkit.
The SRE 3185 came in a simple cardboard box although there is a plastic case option, and first impressions were very favourable as there is a sturdily constructed and compact alloy base and platen with a rather nicely shaped ergonomic handle on top.As is the Metabo way, the controls are picked out in red – hence the two-finger trigger, the lock on button and the speed dial are easy to spot and use.
There is sparing but useful rubber overmoulding on the handle and top of the casing that aid handling and also make one-handed sanding efficient too, when it is needed.
With a motor rating of 200 W and small 1/3rd sanding sheet size, I found that there was enough power for the smaller jobs associated with a sander of this type. Sanding orbit speeds range from 8,800 to 22,300/min and, even at the highest speeds, the motor noise is so well controlled that you won’t upset the neighbours or nearby tradesmen. The speeds are in a suitable range so that even sensitive surfaces like plaster and plastic can be sanded controllably.
The sander weighs only 1.5Kgs and while you are aware that the powerful little motor feels torquey in the hand, it is easy to push around while working. It also has enough stability to sand evenly and consistently.
My experience of Metabo sanders is that they do a very effective job of collecting dust even without vacuum extraction, and a pretty well perfect job with it. With a newly designed fabric dust collection bag attached to the rear of the base, I found that dust collection was excellent. The dust bag has several layers of material that do a good job of trapping dust, but also allowing the motor-induced draught to pass through freely. Metabo has also improved the way in which the dust bag is attached by moulding several ring collars on the alloy dust outlet that not only seals the dust in, but also make for a secure fixing into the dust bag nozzle. The dust outlet is a handy 28mm diameter that fits nicely onto the end of a standard vacuum machine nozzle.
Easily available hook and loop sanding sheets are my first choice for using with this machine as they come pre-perforated to aid the dust extraction through the perforated base. However, users have a choice of using standard 95mm width abrasive papers held in place with the strongly spring-loaded clips on front and back of the sanding platen. Since high quality hook and loop sheets have a decent service life these days, I think that only the most parsimonious will opt for the spring- attached sanding sheet option especially since you will have to make your own perforations for dust extraction.
Professional users will also value the long 4.5m length of power cable that enables a decent work radius.
Using this machine on some planer-finished brown oak, I was pleased that I managed to get a decent sanded finish quite quickly and without much effort on my part, other than simply ensuring that the sander was moved up and down in the direction of the grain of the wood to ensure a scratch free finish.
For a small sander, the rate of stock removal is rapid and it is a really nice machine to use.
My favourite sanders tend to have a round base because they serve my needs best and the SXE3 range can be bought with 125mm or 150mm diameter bases. I also tried out the SXE3150 model and the first thing I noticed was that it is very compact for a 310W machine and when I switched it on I was amazed at how quietly it ran, especially at slower speeds.
The hook and loop base has a variety of perforation patterns to suit a number of different makes of sanding discs, and I also like the mesh backed and multi-perforated types of discs that are equally efficient.
The machine follows a fairly standard layout with the centre of gravity right above the sanding disc with the weight of the motor above. While it can be used in a single hand, I got best results using two hands, with my left hand guiding the machine via the nicely comfortable overmould on the top of the motor housing. Speeds, from 8,000 to 24,000 rpm can be set via the toothed wheel on top of the main handle (which also has a small but effective grippy overmould on it) and off/on is via the two-finger sized trigger beneath. A lock-on button is easy to push in with your thumb.
Like its sibling above, the SXE3150 has a dust extraction spout moulded as part of the cast alloy base and it too has the multi-ribbed outlet that holds either the fabric dustbag or a vacuum extraction tube firmly in place. And, it too is very effective at collecting dust. Even working indoors I noticed very little dust in the air (wear a mask please) because there is inevitably some dust that escapes as you sand over edges, but the vast bulk of the dust is safely collected. Almost perfect results can be achieved with vacuum extraction.
The SXE3150 also has a goodly length of rubberized cord (4.5m) so the work diameter is a useful one.
Users must remember that it is an orbital sander and has very good rates of stock removal, but in order to avoid “swirls” in the workpiece, the machine has to be kept steadily moving. On wood, best results are achieved by moving up and down the grain as well.
I liked this machine from the off, it is light, compact, quiet, easy to use, has good balance and is a very effective performer. I am sure it will find many friends in the market.
In short, these two models are a valuable addition to the Metabo range of sanders, and with the keen pricing in the market, they are definitely worth a look.