Top Performer archive

Wednesday 28 September 2011

Mafell put their money where their mouth is with a cash back guarantee seven-day trial. Derek Jones gives it a go for F&C

Gallery

I've long had a preference for random orbital sanders over orbitals so wasn't entirely thrilled at the idea of using Mafell's UVA 115E for a day. It was a happy coincidence that one of the jobs I wanted to complete over the weekend was to clean up the top of my workbench. By now I should be used to surprises from Mafell as to date they have never failed to impress with the launch of a new product. If, like me, you feel to some extent that a sander is a sander is a sander, then you too are in for a surprise. The UVA 115E was handed over with some pretty big claims as to its anti-vibration technology and dust collection system. Both are hot topics currently and something that I know manufacturers have been tackling for a while so with high expectations I set to work.

Anti-vibration

Mafell have indeed made significant steps towards reducing the amount of vibration transmitted to the user in what is basically a machine designed to vibrate a great deal. Close inspection of the handgrips showed rubber gaskets between the handles and the main casing as the first line of defence. Inside, things are rather more sophisticated.

A weighted counter balance operates in direct opposition to the action of the sanding plate to cancel out the movement and prevent it from being transferred through to the grips.

F&C wrote about the dangers of white finger in issue 174 and suggested that the best option to minimise exposure to levels of vibration considered harmful, was to operate machines for shorter periods of time. Hardly ground breaking I know but in the absence of anything else this advice still stands.

I could throw numbers at you to clarify the point, but as I discovered when putting that article together, it's a complex subject and data alone can be misleading if one's not experienced at deciphering the figures and by the way if you are, please get in touch.

I've opted for something a little more visual. A small pot of liquid was placed on top of the Mafell machine once it had been started and quite remarkably it stayed put. There was a slight rippling on the surface and I was able to make gentle movements with the machine.

The same was tried on a similar piece of kit, different manufacturer, but the pot had to be held in place and I think you'll agree, the pictures speak for themselves.

Extraction

By their very nature sanders are designed to create dust and I have not yet come across a machine with onboard extraction that didn’t leave a lot to be desired. We've become accustomed to this I guess and compensate by hooking up to a vacuum, but Mafell claim the UVA 115E is less reliant on external forces to operate effectively without filling the workshop with a fine cloud of dust. Again this is hard to convey with words alone so I'm hoping

that pictures will help. When used with Abranet sanding grids the pick-up is very impressive and with this capability you'd be daft not to make the switch from using conventional sheets to Abranet grids. It took several attempts to capture, in one picture, that the UVA115E was capable of 'Hoovering' up dust under it's own steam. The instruction manual recommends operating it in this fashion for short bursts only and changing the filter bag at regular intervals.

Dual purpose

Included in the box is a delta shaped attachment that fixes to the front of the base plate via an Allen head bolt. This enables you to access areas that a square edge won't get into and works well. The same Abranet grids are available for this but extraction doesn't extend into the attachment. The machine will take standard sheet material as there are clamps at each end to hold it in place and the box is designed so that the machine will rest firmly upside down while you attach your abrasive of choice. An intermediate Velcro protection pad is supplied for both sanding bases when the Abranet grids are being used.

Electronic stepless speed control will allow you to run the machine at the optimum speed to suit the material. Painted surfaces including lacquers and even some plastics can be sanded without fear of overheating the surface and prematurely clogging the abrasive.


Tegan Foley

Tagged In:

Sander , Derek Jones , woodworking , Maffel

F&c Verdict

What I have failed to do so far is comment on the machines ability to sand. The 80g Abranet cut through a good layer of acrylic varnish to get back to bare timber with plenty of life left in the grid. The day before, a sheet of 80g on a random orbital managed about 4sq ft before needing to be changed. Working up through the grades to 320g, a really fine surface was achieved. I have learnt that the Abranet grids tend to be slightly more abrasive than the paper sheet equivalent. The UVA 115E has a stroke diameter of 2.6mm and, combined with slow movements across the surface,
I was able to eliminate the scratch pattern from the previous grade successfully each time. The result was a finish in excess of what was required for a bench worktop. I think you can tell by now that I was very happy with the way the UVA 115E performed. I think it has got a lot going for it but do not just take my word for it. Mafell will let you have one on a money back guarantee seven-day trial.

Pros & Cons

Pros:
Very low vibration
Excellent dust extraction
Cons:
None

The Numbers

Power input: 450W
Speed at normal load: 3000 - 18,000
Stroke dia: 2.6mm
Sanding pad size: 223 x 112mm
Hose connector dia: 35mm
Weight: 2.7kg
Price: £495 inc VAT

What Is In The Box?

1 x UVA 115E orbital sander
8 x Abranet sanding sheets 60-320g
1 x delta sanding attachment
1 x dust collection bag