If you're reading this review, you most likely know what my niche is in the making world. In a nutshell I burn wood, brush off the loose soot, apply a treatment of color and make stuff with it. Here's a sample:
When I first started out I did everything by hand with hand-held brushes. It took a very long time and took quite a bit of muscle. At first it was just an experiment, so that was fine. But I soon realized that I needed something that packed a little more of a punch if I was going to get good, consistent results. Enter, the Restorer.
Now keep in mind that I am only giving my two cents as for how this tool works for me and what I do. How it works for removing paint, sanding, buffing or anything else one might use it for, I cannot say because I quite simply have not put it through those tests.
The Porter Cable Restorer comes with a couple of different grit sleeves and a drum when you purchase it. Again, I haven't used those. But what really got my attention, and ultimately my purchase decision, is the recent addition of stainless wire and nylon brushes to their accessory lineup. Now to be honest, the nylon brush is a bit stiff for cleaning up soot from a charred board. What I have found it very useful for though is burnishing the charred grain after using the wire wheel to do the heavy work. Burnishing the grain helps to maintain the dark brown or black color of the grain by making it easier to wipe the stain back off after I've added color.
The wire wheel, on the other hand, works great for digging down in between the hardened grain and removing the soft, scorched spring wood. This also works great for cleaning up old fence boards or "barn wood" (I'm not sure what's even considered barn wood anymore.) or adding a reclaimed look to soft woods such as cedar, hemlock, Douglas fir and pine. It takes a little experimenting to get used to the behavior traits of the Restorer. It does hop and bounce around a little bit, and I can only assume that's in part because of the length of the wire. But I also think it might be because of the weight of the machine overall. It's very light weight which causes it to float around a little. But like every other new tool, it takes a little bit to figure out exactly how it works in relationship to what you need it to do.
Wheel replacement couldn't be easier on the Restorer. You simply undo the two clasps on the wheel housing, flip the door open, pull the wheel out, throw a new one in, latch the door back down and you're back in business! It takes less than a minute to swap things out.
Although I don't have it hooked up in these pictures, the Restorer has a dust port on the rear of the machine under the handle, and it works quite well hooked up to a shop vac. I use a DeWalt cordless shop-vac when I need it and it works great. Keep in mind that for the dust collection to be effective, it needs to have the whole wheel touching the surface of the work piece. In my experience, if you're brushing two-inch pieces of wood, you don't stand much of a chance of not making a huge mess. But on wider boards it works great.
Other notable features include an adjustable wheel speed control and a trigger lock. While the speed control isn't something that benefits me personally, the trigger lock is a life saver for long runs and greatly reduces hand fatigue. One thing to note: the Restorer is loud. I highly recommend hearing protection and of course a dust mask and safety glasses is always a great idea.
So there you go, a quick word about the Porter Cable Restorer and how it relates to what I use it for in my shop. The Restorer has a ton of different wheels available for a variety of different jobs, and they have plans for more wheels down the road. I think if you're wanting to try to achieve a raised grain look or clean up reclaimed wood, and don't want to break the bank (or your back) the Restorer is something worth looking into.
I've added a few links below so you can check out the exact items I use.
Have you used the Restorer? What is your experience with it an how well did it work for you? I'd love to hear your feedback.