Oscar Hennin, of Woolwich, using his SandTronix prototype. Photo contributed by Oscar Hennin

After spending 10 hours a day sanding wooden beams by hand for his family’s timber framing business in Woolwich, 19-year-old Oscar Hennin was determined to find a better alternative to the “boring, tedious task.”

Hennin, a 2021 Morse High School graduate now studying engineering at UMass Amherst, has spent the past two years developing an automated sander called SandTronix. The device attaches to a wooden beam, automatically moving along the surface to evenly sand it. While sanding timber frames by hand can take up to 100 hours, Hennin said the SandTronix can get the job done in less than 60, without the muscle fatigue.

“It was an invention born out of necessity but also a desire to create and have something I could say I’m proud of,” Hennin said.

After entering a series of entrepreneurial competitions at UMass Amherst this year, Hennin won $17,000 in seed money to help fund the future of SandTronix.

During the competition, Hennin was given five minutes to explain to a panel of judges the social, economic and technological impact his invention would have on the world.

Competition judge Steven Luby said he was impressed by Hennin’s “working prototype and overall enthusiasm for solving problems.” He said using the seed money, Hennin could potentially create a prototype that sands other large flat surfaces like tabletops, making the SandTronix more versatile.


Alternatives to the common hand sander or the SandTronix are drum sanders, typically used by large lumber companies that cost up to $100,000.

Going forward, Hennin said he plans on making a smaller prototype that is lightweight, durable and more versatile. He said the device will be fully automatic, disassemblable and waterproof with increased use of metal. Unlike the drum sander, he said his device will only cost around $3,000.

Hennin said there is a market for SandTronix because the global demand for sanding is rising and the manufacture of durable goods is growing by 4% each year.

Hoping to have a new prototype ready by the end of winter, Hennin said he will offer free demonstrations to local timber framers and ask for feedback.

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