Portable Belt Sander 101

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Postby Airspeed » Wed Oct 03, 2007 3:09 pm

I dont know where you guys buy your sanding belts but I have found a great website that sell great quality butt joint belt at a very good price,
www.supergrit.com
When you buy sanding belts for wood I would recomend Aluminum Oxide as the abrasive and make sure you only buy butt joint belts, belts with lap joints are almost useless, they make your sander bounce around and leave a mess!
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Postby Bad-Dawg » Wed Nov 07, 2007 8:14 pm

Two items.

1. Never EVER dangle your pinky finger near that back roller!!! I did that exactly once and spent 6 hours in the ER and a year in varying levels of pain, with the threat of having to have a toenail grafted to what was left of my finger. 12 years later it doesn't look too bad though, just a little bit thinner than the others and the nail is distinctly "crowned and pointy at the cuticle.

@. Check out Maddog MacBride's "Redneck Lathe". I have the same sander and also built one of these for making spars for one of my boats.

http://www.nauticalfollies.com/diy.htm

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Postby G-force » Wed Apr 02, 2008 12:09 am

Here is a little something I worked up. I traced out and jig sawed both of my 1/2" plywood sides, then clamped them back to back and belt sanded the edges to make them exactaly the same. However, if the belt sander was not held perfectaly 90 degrees to the wood, one side would be sanded smaller. So I first leveled out my work bench. Shim the legs as required to make it level to the earth. Then I attached a level to the side of my beltsander. This Makita just happened to have an unused tapped hole in the perfect spot for my adjustable T square body. Ensure that the surface you mount it on is 90 degrees to the belt. Now, as I held the belt sander sideways to sand the edges of the ply, I could make sure I remained square. Image
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Postby halfdome, Danny » Wed Apr 02, 2008 8:45 am

That's using the ole' noodle :thumbsup: Good idea. :) Danny
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Postby Roly Nelson » Wed May 14, 2008 7:13 pm

Great Idea, Mike. See, I'm still learning after 58 years of woodworking.
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Postby Steve_Cox » Mon Jan 19, 2009 8:57 pm

I was thinking of you Roly while I was using my belt sander yesterday on an inside radius piece. Thanks for all your wisdom.

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Postby Roly Nelson » Mon Jun 01, 2009 12:27 am

Steve, that's perfect, just like the one I made. Hey, you're stealing my stuff. Good, that's what we're here for. Good luck with your new toy.
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Postby planovet » Mon Jun 01, 2009 2:09 pm

Another use for a belt sander?

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Postby halfdome, Danny » Mon Jun 01, 2009 3:12 pm

I worked with a guy years ago at a San Diego Cabinet shop that was dropping the belt sander and damaging it. It was his job to belt sand the face frames of completed cabinets. He was warned it could cost him his job. The next time he dropped it he put out his forearm to stop it and sanded a few layers of skin off. The scab was about 2" x 6" long :cry: . Danny
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Postby afreegreek » Fri Jan 29, 2010 8:14 pm

the most important thing about belt sanders is the base plate on the bottom. most belt sanders have warped, twisted or cupped base plates and will not sand well because of it. the first thing you need to do is remove the belt and the various thingies on the bottom and get to the main metal base plate. tape a piece of coarse wet/dry silicon carbide paper down on a flat surface such as your table saw and slide the sander back and forth on it.. now you will see the high and lows spots. you have to lap this so it is flat. do that and put your rig back together and happy sanding. my last Makita 9924DB's base was so cupped that there'd be nothing left if I just lapped it flat so I took it off and pounded it flattish with a hammer before I lapped it flat. another thing I do is soften the transition bends on the front and back of the plate to make them less abrupt and smarten up the outer edge to make it smooth and square. this helps a lot when you want to sand along a wall or other vertical surface and allows you to track the belt right to the edge and actually get full, proper contact with the surface you're sanding. also make sure the goodies that you took off to get at the plate are in good condition or get replacements to put on. those cork, graphite and thin metal plates etc must also be good and flat too.

it doesn't matter if you have the best or the cheapest sander, if you do these things you will get good results. the only things that matter is that the plate is flat and the belt will track. the rest is up to you and your skill. just remember that no matter what belt sander you buy, they are just like planes and chisels and not ready for use out of the box. they must be tuned up a bit to get the best results. cheap belts with a lapped joint should be avoided. they are almost never joined straight and will drive you nuts trying to get them to track, the bump at the joint is problematic too. stay away from them.

BTW, I start the sander flat on the wood all the time and I'm no rookie. I've been a cabinet maker for over 25 years. however, to each their own. it's the result that counts so do what works best for you no matter what others may say or do. if you like to spin the belt before touchdown go to it.

my pick for a belt sander it the Makita 9924DB it is light, turns fast, has excellent balance, a low centre of gravity and can run both 3x24 and 4x24 belts. it's sold as a 3x24 but I've never used one, I've always use 4x24 belts on it. it's fairly cheap too compared to some sanders although I buy what works for what I do. cost is a distant consideration for me if I consider it at all when it comes to tools. they are my bread and butter, not toys for weekend fun.
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Postby afreegreek » Fri Jan 29, 2010 8:28 pm

halfdome, Danny wrote:I worked with a guy years ago at a San Diego Cabinet shop that was dropping the belt sander and damaging it. It was his job to belt sand the face frames of completed cabinets. He was warned it could cost him his job. The next time he dropped it he put out his forearm to stop it and sanded a few layers of skin off. The scab was about 2" x 6" long :cry: . Danny
that's why I buy my own tools. that way I can do what I want.

I had a guy give me hell once for leaving a company router on the floor while I was working. I looked at him and said.. "I've never dropped a tool off the floor and broken it yet" since then I use my own tools at work. it costs money to do that but I don't have to put up with old POS shop tools or yappy foremen.
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Re: Portable Belt Sander 101

Postby ctstaas » Wed May 28, 2014 7:41 pm

Thanks Roly,
Now that's what I'm talking about. We should have should have a thread about tools specifically. To me, good tools make the impossible very difficult. OK I'll start: one of my favorite tools with electricity is my Millwalkee portable bad saw, deep throat. I use mine to cut almost everything of any shape. Kind of expensive initially but it's like carrying a baby to use. I would not start another build without one. How can I justify buying the smaller version?
I still have tools inherited form my grandpa and knowing his level of quality craftsmanship guides my hand. When people like Bob, and Grant and Roly say things, I listen. Sometimes,, I learn.
There were some friends on tnttt talking about drawing curves and using a compass. The tool was actually called a trammel point. I'm not trying to be a know it all but if you sent your significant to the tool store for a compass and you really needed a trammel point it would be a real bummer.
My son is just home from work and said he punched holes all day. I asked if he knew the most important safety rule for punching, regarding the punch diameter being equal to or greater than the material thickness. He didn't. Does he now that I've told him? Safety things and stuff that went wrong provide learnable moments and are cool when shared.
I make some cool tools and fixtures and I enjoy sharing with others and corrupting their good ideas to suite my needs. I have made parts with those tools and once I test drive I'll pass along.
Just a thought? Enjoy, Chris
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Re: Portable Belt Sander 101

Postby Falcon » Sat Nov 22, 2014 8:08 am

I have used many belt sanders over the years, I picked up a 2 1/2x14 porter cable a few years ago, its my go to one now, I found it is very easy to control, its size lets you not damage good wood around where you are sanding,,
http://www.homedepot.com/p/Porter-Cable ... bx|dynamic
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Re: Portable Belt Sander 101

Postby MarkusMasonis » Fri Jan 16, 2015 9:56 am

It's a good tip about the loose clothing! We've all heard it before, and I had too, but I relearned recently why to take it seriously.

Was holding the sander at my side, checking the curves on my template, and it caught in my shirt. Chewed through two layers and a few layer of skin before it finally bound up and stopped. Happened way to fast to remember to unlock the trigger. It was basically really bad road rash on the side of my stomach. It hurt like hell and took over a month to heal!

We get pretty lax with our tools sometimes, or I do. I've been using things like this my whole life! It's good to have a safety refresher.

BUT ...

What if that had been a better sander, and not a Canadian Tire special that has a weak motor and gets easily bound up? Or a router?

What if, instead of holding a belt sander, I was leaning over a tablesaw?

Lesson learned!
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