This 3.7 amp, 6″ sander produces great quantities of dust, so don’t think of using it for delicate jobs where cleanup is a problem. On the other hand, a sander’s job is to sand, and this machine does the job surpassingly well.
PAS stands for peel and stick. You’d be surprised how long it took me to figure that out. I chose this format because the disks are cheaper than hook-and-loop, and I use them in quantity. Princess Auto sells them at half-price about twice a year, so I keep an eye on the flyers and order about $100. worth at a time at .33 per sheet.
I came to the PC sander by way of the boatyard where I kept my antique mahogany cruiser for twenty-five years. Before random orbital sanders became common, we would struggle along with ¼ sheet Makita pad sanders for all varnish and paint operations. The first 7336 which came to the boatyard received so much work that several more were immediately ordered. Within a year this sander did virtually all of the flat-surface sanding, even though I remember a Bosch and two Dewalts on the site as well. The Porter Cable got more work done, and more easily, than the other random orbital sanders. Virtually everyone used 80 grit as the basic sanding disk, both for varnish and paint, only going to finer disks for final sanding.
The boat retired, I have found my 7336 quite useful for the final sanding of cabinets, doors, and indeed any wood which needs close attention, even my ash and pine floors after a session with drum sander and edger. For example I screwed and plugged 900 feet of pine flooring and then discovered it was easier to knock the tops off the plugs with the ROS than to cut them with a chisel.
On the Net I found that the early 7336’s had an excellent history of durability, but later machines didn’t hold up because of cheap bearings. After 2000 or so PC went back to the ball bearings and rescued the model’s reputation, so pay careful attention to the sander’s age if you buy a used one.
While sanding a set of stairs yesterday I decided that the sticky on/off switch had to be cleaned. With my manual at another house, this attempt produced a comedy of errors which involved the disassembly of both ends of the machine (only the back needs to come off), a couple of blown breakers from wrong wiring combinations, and a several-hour Internet search for a wiring diagram for the switch. By the end of this time I concluded that the Porter Cable website is worse than useless: it’s a trap designed by the stupid to siphon off the time of those who need help. It took me an hour and all of my personal information to filter my way through to where I could call up the promised parts diagram. At that point a screen told me that for liability reasons Porter Cable no longer publishes such information. Thanks. Toolpartsdirect.com, on the other hand, was much more obliging. With the correct diagram the repair went smoothly and the sander went back together fine.
For the stairway, a vacuum attachment and the hook-and-loop disks would have made good sense, but for most of my work I keep my shop a free-fire zone for minor dust and rely on the 25″ double drum sander for major work.
In summary, the Porter-Cable 7336 is easily the best random orbital sander I have used. It makes a mess, but it gets the job done. Oh yes, the finished product tends to be very good, entirely without scratches if the operator pays attention to what he or she is doing.
Just don’t expect any help from Head Office.