As I’ve owned a Bosch PMF 180 E Multifunction Tool for a few years now I thought it was about time to give it a review. I have to admit that the reason it’s getting a review now is because I want to have a rant about one aspect of the tool which is absolute rubbish. Now that might not seem like a particularly good start to a review but I’d like to make it clear that over all I really like the tool and a I would almost certainly buy another if this one broke down.
So lets get straight to the problem – sanding. The tool is sold as being multi-functional which it is, it cuts and it sands. When it comes to cutting it can’t be beaten, I love the 25mm flat cutter as it’s perfect for producing a thin kerf cut in floorboards so that they can be lifted cleanly. It’s great, as well, for cutting out holes in plasterboard for electrical boxes etc. Basically anywhere you want to plunge cut this is the go to tool for the job. The blades are, admittedly, expensive for what they are but as long as you avoid hitting nails and other metal they last a fair while.
The sanding attachment is a whole different kettle of fish though. With a new sanding pad backer and a new sanding sheet it’s a dream. The material removal is really fast and the machine is easy to hold and get into awkward spaces. Dust extraction isn’t great but it never is on tools like this. The problem is that after a couple of minutes sanding the sheet begins to become detached from the pad and after about 5 minutes it falls of. The pad just rips the fuzz off the sand paper. This is seriously frustrating because the paper clearly has a lot of life left in it but it won’t stick any more.
To make things worse half the fuzz ends up stuck to the pad which then has to be pulled off by hand or the next sheet won’t stick properly. Finally, each new sanding sheet somehow damages the pad, after a dozen or so sheets the pad is pretty much ruined. Pads will typically set you back about £10 so this makes sanding a really expensive job.
I’m not sure what the problem is exactly. My guess is that the paper stalls on the work but the head keeps vibrating which tears the fuzz off the back of the paper. I’ve had plenty of time to experiment and what I’ve noticed is that if you push very firmly the fuzz doesn’t get ripped off any where nearly as fast as if you just lightly touch the sander to the work. I suspect a light pressure is stopping the hooks of the pad from properly engaging with the fuzz. Whatever the cause though it really needs to be fixed as it renders the sanding function virtually useless due to cost. I’m actually considering glueing old sheets onto a knackered pad to see if that gives a better result – I suspect it will.
Overall I wouldn’t be without this tool, it’s been a real work horse. I’ve used it and abused it in just about every way you can imagine. So far I’ve not had to replace a single part although after one particularly dusty job I had to open it up and clean out the air inlets as it was in danger of over heating. I’ve considered getting a dedicated detail sander but to be honest I suspect they all suffer from the same problem so I don’t see much point in shelling out more money – I’d be interested to hear about peoples experiences with other detail sanders though.