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  • Porter Cable 371 Compact Belt Sander

    I have some interest in purchasing the Porter Cable 371 Compact Belt Sander. Has anyone else got one of these? Is it worth the money and are the belts easy to come by? Thanks.

  • #2
    Re: Porter Cable 371 Compact Belt Sander

    Originally posted by jdg05 View Post
    I have some interest in purchasing the Porter Cable 371 Compact Belt Sander. Has anyone else got one of these? Is it worth the money and are the belts easy to come by? Thanks.
    My dad does a lot of cabinet work and I bought him one last year for fathers day and he LOVES the thing. We played with at the 07 woodworking show and he was pretty high on the size and the tremendous power behind it. I bought it at Depot along paper and I know he has gone through a good amount of paper since then and picks it up at Depot. I believe the have PC paper and Norton also might have some the same size.

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    • #3
      Re: Porter Cable 371 Compact Belt Sander

      I have this sander and I like it pretty well--loved it at first. The belts are available at HD usually, but you can only get 80grit 2 packs or multi grit 5 packs. I needed 60 grit mostly which means I have a lot of 80,100 etc sitting around. I would have loved to have some 50 or 36 grit available. You can get 5 packs of whatever single grit you want online, but they are WAY more expensive than at HD.

      Pros-

      ~Its way easier to handle than most belt sanders making it great for scribing panels or sanding vertical surfaces such as cabinets.

      ~It fits in tight spaces.

      ~Gives you more power and is more aggressive than a random orbital.

      ~Looks like a pill bug or something.

      Cons-


      ~On mine the drive-belt broke within a very short time. I was able to order the part and replace it myself. Has worked fine since then.

      ~Limited belt selection as noted above.


      ~Gets VERY hot when used for extended periods. I mean really, really hot. It was a big problem for me because when using it on paint the heat helped to gum up the belts super fast.

      ~ The pill bug design means you can't "table" it upside down on a bench.


      I actually quit using it and got a cheapo black and decker. It is pretty light even though it is way bigger because it is mostly plastic. Probably not what you are looking for, but one of my co workers has the small makita and it is pretty good. I would go that way next time i am in the market.

      Just my experience, yours may vary.

      Eli
      Last edited by woodenstickers; 02-06-2008, 12:33 AM.
      A good carpenter makes few mistakes, a great carpenter can fix his own.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Porter Cable 371 Compact Belt Sander

        I got the first one that was sold at the Woodcraft in my area. It is great, plenty of power and simple one-handed operation. I would not however consider it as the only one to own. It is a "second" unit.

        I think that most of the "cons" listed above are more like over-expectations.
        The belt breaking could happen anywhere anytime.....stuff happens.
        I buy belts from a Klingspor dealer that supplies the shop where I work, so belt selection and price are not an issue with me.
        If I really needed it for a "long period of time", I think I would use a bigger sander. Like I said before, this is really a second unit.
        I don't see a need to table a little unit like this anyway. The round body contributes to the good feeling grip.

        It is a limited use machine, therefore not for everyone. If you have a use for one, you can't go wrong. It is a very nice piece.

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        • #5
          Re: Porter Cable 371 Compact Belt Sander

          If you are interested in getting this HD has them on clearance for $79. Also the belts my HD carry are made by Norton and we carry a 50 grit, 80 grit and a 120 grit. We don't carry the multi packs from Porter Cable anymore. You're local HD may vary.

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          • #6
            Re: Porter Cable 371 Compact Belt Sander

            Originally posted by LONGHAIR View Post
            I got the first one that was sold at the Woodcraft in my area. It is great, plenty of power and simple one-handed operation. I would not however consider it as the only one to own. It is a "second" unit.

            I think that most of the "cons" listed above are more like over-expectations.
            The belt breaking could happen anywhere anytime.....stuff happens.
            I buy belts from a Klingspor dealer that supplies the shop where I work, so belt selection and price are not an issue with me.
            If I really needed it for a "long period of time", I think I would use a bigger sander. Like I said before, this is really a second unit.
            I don't see a need to table a little unit like this anyway. The round body contributes to the good feeling grip.

            It is a limited use machine, therefore not for everyone. If you have a use for one, you can't go wrong. It is a very nice piece.

            I'm glad you like your purchase. The replacement belt was $26, however, I use my tools for work on different job sites, not in a shop. The downtime it would have taken to get it fixed under warranty (2 weeks before they would even look at it) would have cost me considerably more than $26, so I bought it cash--and still waited a week for the part to come. Yes, Broken belts can and do happen anywhere. This was one of the times it happened to me--with very few hours on the tool and adding 20% to the initial cost.

            I needed a lightweight sander for my application--sanding cabinets in a vertical position. So if you chose the size of your sander based on the length of time you will be using it, you are in a different situation than--well anyone I can think of. Usually the application, not the the length of time you will use a tool dictates it's size. And I'd probably prefer a light tool to a heavier one the longer I'd be using it. Maybe that's just me. I also use a ROS for long periods of time. It isn't really any bigger than this sander. I also use a larger belt sander for long periods of time. It doesn't ever get as half as hot as the porter cable does. I don't think it is an over-expectation to think I should be able to use a tool that cost $119 for longer than 20 minute intervals in it's intended purpose.

            And lastly, you may not have the need to table a little sander like this. I would like to be able to and have found the not much bigger makita to be very useful in this position. From scribing very small pieces of panel to cleaning dried bondo off of putty knives to a quick sharpening of a demo wood chisel--a world outside of your experience does exist.

            You were right about one thing, it is a limited use machine--very limited. If you use it as a pick-up tool in a well equipped shop I bet it's neato. If you are looking for a tool to use for construction and would like to have a small light belt sander that is good on a jobsite--look at the makita.

            I am going to look for the 50 grit norton belts though. They didn't have them the last time I was looking for belts for it. Maybe it will be useful again. I'd like to be a fan of this tool, that's why I bought it.

            El
            Last edited by woodenstickers; 02-08-2008, 11:51 PM.
            A good carpenter makes few mistakes, a great carpenter can fix his own.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Porter Cable 371 Compact Belt Sander

              You may be able to find good, inexpensive belts from Kingspore. They sell through McFeely's catalog, but also have an online store now. Check out Klingspor's Woodworking Shop.
              I put it all back together better than before. There\'s lots of leftover parts.

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              • #8
                Re: Porter Cable 371 Compact Belt Sander

                Thanks for the link Sandy. Those are great prices, but still no 50's available.


                Hey Cellardoor, do you think you could post the sku or product number of those norton 50 grit belts? I couldn't find any 2 1/2 x 14 norton belts in my store. I'd like to see if they could order some for me. Thanks!

                Eli
                A good carpenter makes few mistakes, a great carpenter can fix his own.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Porter Cable 371 Compact Belt Sander

                  I finally got some 50 grit belts for this puppy from HD! Very nice. I'm putting it back in rotation. I also bought the makita 3x18 sander that I was talking about in this thread earlier. It is far superior to the PC in just about every way except for weight. The dust collection on the makita is unbelievable when a vacuum is hooked up, and even pretty good with just the bag.

                  I still find the PC gets very hot very quickly. After having it on the shelf for a few months though, I'm loving the light weight and easy handling of it.

                  Eli
                  A good carpenter makes few mistakes, a great carpenter can fix his own.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Porter Cable 371 Compact Belt Sander

                    I have the 3x18 Makita and I must say although apprehensive at first, I
                    am very pleased with this little work horse.
                    Surprisingly good dust collection with the included dust bag.
                    Tracks very well.
                    Runs cool.
                    Takes a common size sanding belt that can be purchased in any big box store at just about any grit I desire.
                    It's Light weight of only 5.7 lbs makes it easy to sand vertically with one hand.

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