Flap-Wheel Sanders for Doors?

Is sanding-wheel machinery practical with complicated shapes such as cabinet doors? February 2, 2011

Does anyone have experience with machines that automate the sanding sealer sanding process? We are a small but growing cabinet shop looking into machinery that could sand sanding sealer on cabinet doors and millwork packages. I have notice that Quickwood makes a few machines for this process, but was unsure how well they work with cabinet doors that have a lot of detail?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor M:
I used to buy interior shutters from a company that used Quickwood brush type sanders on operable louvered panels that had tiltrods already attached. They did a pretty good job, but I think this company did a little hands on cleanup sanding after running through the machine. That is a lot more detail than the average cabinet door, so I would certainly look into Quickwood. When we started building our own shutters, I was seriously looking at getting the same machine from Quickwood, but we started buying our components already primed and sanded so we never had the need. I was always amazed that the sanding brushes did not rip the stapled tiltrod clean off the panel.

From contributor J:
These machines can increase production times when used correctly, but they are not without their problems. The flap wheels that the machines use need to be replaced often and they are not cheap. As contributor M said, doors may require touchup sanding after being run through, or the opposite can happen - they can burn though stain color on the edges and need color touchup before topcoating.

I have also seen intercoat adhesion problems arise when using them to sand catalyzed finishes, probably due to the expensive wheels being too worn out.

I don't have experience with a lot of different models, but the ones I have seen were sometimes hard to justify given setup, adjustment and wheel replacement costs. This is one of those pieces of equipment that needs to be used all day long in order to pay for itself.

From contributor M:

Contributor J's response made me remember something else. While you said you would be sanding the sealer coat, if you do the occasional paint order, you may not be able to use the same brushes when switching over. Just something to consider that might easily be overlooked. I know when we were considering the expense of adding the machine, we found it boils down to how much production you plan to run.