After purchasing -- and returning -- the Makita 3X18 belt sander, I bought the Porter-Cable 352VS What a difference! This sander is powerful and easy to use. Simply glide the sander back and forth, without having to push down at all. Porter-Cable came up with a design that gives you a lot of power, but at the same time control over that power. This is what a belt sander SHOULD be like.
The position of the front handle makes sense -- it is up higher than the front of the machine, so you get a good position relative to the sanding surface. The handle is also designed to give you a lot to grab onto.
The dust bag is designed well. You can swivel it in any direction to get it out of the way while you're sanding, and it holds the dust without spilling until you're ready to empty it out. Also, it does a fair job collecting the dust, but you should never expect any dust-bag system to be perfect.
The mechanism for loading and unloading sander belts is very good. It is easy to place the belt in the sander and then tighten it up securely. The tracking system really holds the sander belt in place. I placed the belt on the sander, held it upside-down, running the sander until the belt no longer shifted left or right. Then I began sanding, and for the whole time I worked, the belt did not move from center at all. Because the housing is made of metal, even if the belt DID move, it would not damage the sander, as it would on machines with plastic bodies. All told, this sander is a great combination of power and ease of use.
PS: The 3X21 sander belts that Porter-Cable makes (the purple ones) are excellent
PORTER-CABLE will repair, without charge, any defects due to faulty materials or workmanship for three years from the date of purchase. This warranty does not cover part failure due to normal wear or tool abuse. For further detail of warranty coverage and warranty repair information, visit www.deltaportercable.com or call (888) 848-5175. This warranty does not apply to accessories or damage caused where repairs have been made or attempted by others. This warranty gives you specific legal rights and you may have other rights which vary in certain states or provinces.
In addition to the warranty, PORTER-CABLE tools are covered by our: 1 YEAR FREE SERVICE: PORTER-CABLE will maintain the tool and replace worn parts caused by normal use, for free, any time during the first year after purchase.
90 DAY MONEY BACK GUARANTEE: If you are not completely satisfied with the performance of your PORTER-CABLE Power Tool, Laser, or Nailer for any reason, you can return it within 90 days from the date of purchase with a receipt for a full refund – no questions asked. LATIN AMERICA: This warranty does not apply to products sold in Latin America. For products sold in Latin America, see country specific warranty information contained in the packaging, call the local company or see website for warranty information. To register your tool for warranty service visit our website at www.deltaportercable.com. WARNING LABEL REPLACEMENT If your warning labels become illegible or are missing, call (888) 848-5175 for a free replacement.
Tools-r-us (TRU) is a Factory Authorized Porter-Cable Warranty Repair Station.