PORTABLE electric sanding machines can save hours of tedious and tiring hand sanding or scraping -provided the right machine is selected and properly handled. The only thing that might get damaged is the piece of wood or furniture you’re working on. That’s why you want to practice using a belt sander first on a piece of scrap lumber. It only has a 3”x21” belt, which means it is a smaller tool than most heavy-duty belt sanders. If you’re doing a lot of belt sanding, it’s worth getting a hose that allows you to connect your sander to a shop vacuum.
Plus, you would be better by moving the sander because it can tear through a large amount of stock very quickly. To minimize the glue that accumulates on the belt and to safely sand glued-up stock, let all glue joints dry at least 24 hours. Along with this 21” model, belt sanders also come in 18” models, which are more suited to do-it-yourself activity. On the other hand, because it’s relatively docile, an orbital sander isn’t particularly useful for heavy stock removal. In this case, the chart topping RIDGID didn’t seem to sand as aggressively as models with lower motor amp and belt speed ratings.
I took a half hr and sharpened and tuned and adjusted a few and showed them to my son so he could make use of the good ones if he needed. The lever is then pushed back the other way and the two ends of the pulley system move back to their original positions, pushing out against the belt and locking it in place. And as far as sander tools go, Rockwell RK7866 is quite similar to those floor models that you’re likely to spot in retailers. You can sometimes use the hose that came with your shop vacuum, but it’s usually too large or too stiff.
As mentioned in the beginning of this chapter, you aren’t limited to sanding just flat, straight surfaces; the belt sander will also sand curves. The belt is slipped on or off, the lever turned back, and tension holds the belt in place. By changing the grit of the sand paper, you can adjust how much wood you can remove in one pass. Never grind or sharpen tools freehand; use the table, a fixture or clamps to support and guide the tool.
To my thought it is far more elegant to take ply panels down to fair scribed curves in wood than a belt sander. I use mine attached to a Festool vacuum and do not need to wear a mask while sanding, and the workpiece is practically clean after sanding. The belt splice is usually not the same thickness as the rest of the belt and it will telegraph to the board until the contact roller is soft enough to absorb the difference. Belt sanders bring power and versatility, meaning you can forget those pesky sanding blocks for good.
Before you begin any belt sander operation, turn on the Mark V, set the speed according to Table 19-1 (below) and let the belt sander get up to speed. I have a dozen planes in my shop of various types and they are wonderful to behold when tuned, sharpened and put to their best use task. When using a belt or drum sander, always tilt the machine before starting it so that the abrasive face is out of contact with the floor and, when you come to the end of a run, again tilt the machine to lift the abrasive. While an orbital sander can still do some damage if not kept moving, it is much more manageable than a belt sander.
When using the belt sander always make sure you have a good grip before you switch it on. The trigger on/off switch is not a clutch trigger it’s an immediate action switch. In the example shown here the finisher checks for flatness and what kind of finish may be on the floor. I just am not seeing how I would use a belt sander in that application to good effect but certainly willing to learn a few tricks…After all, I have the darn thing in the shop. As its name implies, a disk sander consists of a disk or pad that serves as a backing for a circular-shaped piece of abrasive paper.
Another option for dust collecting would be to build your work surface out of peg board and box in the riser, making it similar to a sanding table. A handheld electric belt sander with a very coarse belt can grind a block of pine into nothing in no time. Connect a hose from your dust collection system to the dust chute on the belt sander or wear a dust mask.