ON TEST: Laguna Supermax 16-32 Drum Sander

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Above: Showing the Laguna 16-32 with infeed table lowered and the adapter for dust extraction on outfeed table.

Words and photos: Richard Vaughan

The drum sander is nowadays a basic tool for many woodworkers as it enables fine adjustments to thickness for even small components such as those common in boxmaking. It can also dimension highly figured wood that would explode in a thicknesser, and workshop made veneers and facings are simple to produce.

The Performax was invented in Minnesota USA in the mid-80s. Its value was quickly recognised and spawned a company that developed a range of sanders. In 2001 the Performax company was bought by Jet. In 2005 two ex-Performax staff bought the rights to make all but the smallest machines back in Minnesota where it all started, but with the Supermax name on them, while Jet kept the Performax name. The smaller machines with the Performax name are made in Taiwan. In 2017 Laguna bought Supermax technology and name.

The constant improvements over these years informed my choice when it came time to replace my original Performax, and the pedigree shows in the features of this current machine.


Adjusting the sanding drum to be perfectly parallel to the table is now easy.

The 72kg heft of the boxes when delivered gives immediate cred – this is a solidly built machine. Assembly was simple with no issues of non-alignment of parts or bolt holes. The first significant improvement I noticed was how easy it is to adjust the sanding drum to be perfectly parallel to the table that carries the workpiece. It is no longer a matter of shims and trial and error. You adjust the drum alignment with a nut on the outer edge of the table, and there is no need for vernier calipers to measure the wood after each pass when setting up. The Wixey digital read-out of thickness takes care of that.

Another refinement is the SandSmart feature which monitors the load and slows the feed speed when the wood is giving too much resistance. The option to lever the depth of cut for large adjustments rather than winding all the way is a well thought-out convenience. The wide range of capacity from veneer at 0.8mm to a solid 75mm is another plus.


A close-up view of the Laguna drum sander controls.

Yet another innovation in this machine is the ability to handle material wider than the drum without getting a line at the junction of the passes. A lever tilts the roller a tad which blends the passes to satisfactorily sand a board width of 32 inches (812.8mm).

The 100mm diameter dust extraction outlet has turbo blades for more efficient airflow. I fitted reduction pieces to accommodate the 43mm diameter of my Festool hose and the resultant dust extraction is very effective.

The infeed and outfeed tables fold down when not in use, and are an extra but a very worthwhile investment. Castors are also an extra but I was able to reuse those from my old machine.

In short the only issue that I can have with the current Laguna Supermax is that it wasn’t available 35 years ago.

Available from Carbatec, see www.carbatec.com.au

Richard Vaughan is a furniture designer/maker in Brisbane who also runs woodwork classes. See richardvaughan.com.au

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