SuperMax – Little Guys Building it Bigger and Better

Bill_WarrenTrying to make contact with all the different hand and power tool manufacturers out there takes up a lot of my time here at the magazine. I’m always searching for new products. They may be new to the market or just be new to the magazine, but I’m searching for them, nonetheless. Every once in a while I stumble across more than just a great company; I get a great story about a company.

While I’ve been aware of SuperMax Tools for some time, there’s a lot I didn’t know about the company. In talking with them about testing some of their machines, I got a little education about how the company got started.

Warren Weber and Bill Schroeder both worked for Performax (the group that made one of the first drum sanders available for the home workshop). Bill was the general manager and Warren helped develop the 16-32 drum sander. Around 2001, Performax was sold to Walter Meier Mfg (the parent company of Powermatic and Jet). By 2005, the company decided not to manufacture drum sanders greater than 24″ wide and wide-belt sanders, so Warren and Bill saw the opportunity to create their own company, and SuperMax was born.

Since 2005, SuperMax has introduced a complete line of drum, brush and wide-belt sanders. Having been involved with the development of the Performax 16-32 sander, Warren, knowing the pitfalls and limits of open-ended sanders, developed a 19-38 sander for SuperMax. This machine was designed, oddly enough, to sand boards as wide as 19″ in a single pass, or 38″ wide in a double pass.

We live in a time where boutique hand-tool makers abound. Companies such as Bad Axe Tool Works (Mark Harrell) with his saws, Scott Meek (Scott Meek Toolworks) with his handplane and Dave Jeske (Blue Spruce Toolworks) with his chisels and mallets are thriving because of the growing number of educated consumers. In much the same way that these hand-tool makers are succeeding, the SuperMax story is an affirmation that power tools are not necessarily the domain of the mega-corporations – they can actually be made by two guys living the dream.

While drum sanders may not be for every shop, I can’t wait to get one or two of their machines into the magazine shop and put them through their paces. I’ll keep you updated on what comes in and how it performs.

— Chuck Bender

 

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