The Craftsman CMEW231 random orbit sander is an affordable sander that offers good sanding capability and generally works well for people who use it. There’s also some drawbacks to consider in addition to the positives. Let’s take a closer look.
Sanding Power & Motor
This sander is powered by a 3 amp motor that runs at a max speed of 12,000 OPM, which is a very common spec for cheaper orbit sanders like this one. The motor has a single speed setting and isn’t able to be adjusted for variable speeds. The motor is powerful enough for most refinishing jobs and maybe even a little too much in some instances. There is no soft-start or stop, so you’ll feel the torque a bit when you fire this tool up.
People find that the 12,000 OPM can seem a little fast when they are trying to do jobs where they don’t need to strip a whole lot of material for refinishing. Others find that the sander doesn’t seem powerful enough when they are applying too much pressure to the sander on the material surface. So the power can be bit tricky to work with for some, but once you get a feel for the limits and boundaries it’s not bad.
This sander is pretty lightweight at 2.9 lbs. It is designed with grips on the top and the vertical shaft, and can be held in either position. People who use this sander say they like how it feels in their hands, but it can also feel a little large for smaller hands. The sander is very maneuverable with one or two hands, but the vibration is enough to fatigue some people when used for longer periods of time.
This sander has a 5 inch hook and loop pad that will hold any 5 inch hook and loop pad with 8 dust collection holes. This is standard for orbit sanders on the market right now and it’s easy to find these types of sanding discs for many surfaces and purposes.
There really aren’t many complaints out there about the sanding pad itself. People find it to work well as long as the hook and loop surface is kept clean and free from sawdust buildup. Changing sanding discs is super easy with this type of setup, which is plus. The sanding pad can be replaced if/when it wears out, and people should expect that to happen every once in a while if you use this sander regularly. The pad can be replaced with part number DWE64233.
One thing worth noting about this sander is that it uses a belt between the sanding pad and sander body to control the pad speed when the pad is off-surface. This belt is considered a replaceable part on this sander and will likely need to be replaced at some point if you use this sander often. You’ll be able to tell if the belt needs to be replaced when the speed of the pad dramatically speeds up when lifted from the sanding surface. The replacement belt is OEM part number N430442.
This sander, like most random orbit sanders, doesn’t have very good dust collection unless you hook it up to a vacuum system. The included dust collection bag doesn’t do a very good job of collecting dust, and when using just the bag, you’ll experience a lot of dust when sanding. When used on a vacuum system, however, the dust collection is actually pretty good.
Craftsman says in their marketing materials that this sander dust port can hook up to a 1-1/4 inch vacuum hose but people find that you actually need an adapter to connect to a hose. The adapter recommended for hooking this up to a vacuum hose is part number DWV9000. You may notice that this is a Dewalt part and it will also work on Dewalt sanders. There is also an adapter and hose kit that is also recommended as usable with this sander, and the extra adapters in the kit can make it useful for other tools around you shop as well if dust collection is something you require often.
This is a fairly well-built sander for the price. People say it feels similar to the Dewalt orbit sanders when they hold it in hand, and it weighs about the same. This sander is made from a combination of metal and plastic parts, which is normal these days. People don’t seem to have any reliability issues with the plastic switches and and parts on this one. The power switch is sealed which helps keep dust from getting where it doesn’t need to be. The dust collection bag is probably the weak point in terms of quality on this sander – people have issues with it just not working well and falling off during use.
This sander is pretty light on accessories and doesn’t come with a bag or hard case like some other sanders. Some product listings for this sander also say it comes with a sample sanding disc but many people notice they didn’t receive one. So it’s best to expect this to include just the sander and dust bag.
- Dust Bag
Other Available Accessories
There are some other potentially useful accessories and replacement parts we’d like to point out, in case you need them or aren’t sure what part you need.
Setup & Assembly
This is a pretty easy tool to setup and get running out of the box. There’s not much to assemble or calibrate. As usual, it’s good to read through the manual to make sure you understand the setup and maintenance recommendations, but you will be up and running with this sander very quickly.
Craftsman offers a 3 year warranty on defective parts or workmanship. This is good enough to help you out if you have quality control issues out of the box.
- Smooth sanding with random orbit action
- Good grip and handling
- No variable speed
- Dust collection isn’t that great with the dust bag
- Belt will require replacement at some point
5.75 in x 5.5 in 10.13 in
The Craftsman CMEW231 random orbit sander is a good tool for the price. It’s powerful enough for most light to medium refinishing jobs and can handle longer workloads. Some find the grip to be good and others find the vibration to be a little fatiguing. The single speed is a little bit limiting but the sanding action is smooth. If you need a reliable, affordable orbit sander this is a good tool to start with.