Rockwell Model 4420 Type 2 Finishing Sander Circa 1971

In continuing our “Old Tools” mini-series, we wanted to follow up on our last installment and cover a Rockwell 4420 (96) Type 2 1/3rd sheet Finishing Sander that was purchased for a penny back in 1971 and has been in use ever since. It was purchased alongside a Black & Decker 7301 Circular Saw and a corded drill for $19.99 (for the pair). When you purchased the two Black & Decker tools you received your choice of another tool for just a penny. Needless to say this was a good deal at the time – in 2011 dollars that would equate to around $120 for three tools – and this was before the advent of Chinese manufacturing and cheap parts and materials. Add to this the fact that both the Black & Decker Circular Saw and the Rockwell Finishing Sander are still in usable operation and you really have a great deal!

In continuing our “Old Tools” mini-series, we wanted to follow up on our last installment and cover a Rockwell 4420 (96) Type 2 1/3rd sheet Finishing Sander that was purchased for a penny back in 1971 and has been in use ever since. It was purchased alongside a Black & Decker 7301 Circular Saw and a corded drill for $19.99 (for the pair). When you purchased the two Black & Decker tools you received your choice of another tool for just a penny. Needless to say this was a good deal at the time – in 2011 dollars that would equate to around $120 for three tools – and this was before the advent of Chinese manufacturing and cheap parts and materials. Add to this the fact that both the Black & Decker Circular Saw and the Rockwell Model 4420 Type 2 Finishing Sander are still in usable operation and you really have a great deal! (and unlike the Circular Saw, that’s even the same electrical cord that came with the tool).


Rockwell Model 4420 Type 2 Finishing Sander Features

All of these tools were used both professionally and privately for over 40 years, including renovation work and home improvement projects. The Rockwell Model 4420 Type 2 Finishing Sander, which was made in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, operated at 12,000 opm (oscillations per minute) – which approximates the frequency of modern multi-tools. One thing that eventually needed fixing was the felt material located on the bottom of the tool, which simply rotted out over the years. While an easy fix now would be to get some hook and loop sheets and cut the material to fit the base, at the time a thin 3.16″ piece of plywood seemed to do the trick – and is what you see still affixed to the base to this day.

Rockwell Model 4420 Type 2 Finishing Sander

Cheap tools are great, but buying quality tools that last over 40 years is something to behold. It makes you want to rethink the purchasing of inexpensive tools if you intend to use them over the long haul. Is quality still up to this level for tools that can be maintained and kept in tip top shape throughout the years? We’ll have to see, but that’s really what makes up a large portion of our Performance rating in our tool grades.


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Gary Robbins

I have a Rockwell sander similar to the one pictured but mine is yellow instead of green. I am looking for the felt pad. I don’t know if it is worth the cost of the pad or if I should just by a new sander.

Ken Oaks

I have a Rockwell Model 96 Orbital Sander that looks identical to the photo in you article. Unlike yours, my felt pad is still fine, but the motor brushes are wearing out. I had to reverse them to get a few more hours out of it. Have been looking for replacement brushes on-line, but every time I get close, they’ve been discontinued. Any idea of where to get brushes?

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