Belt Sanding Tips

A belt sander is a great tool to have around to tackle a number of weekend projects. Most belt sanders have an adjustment feature that automatically maintains the belt in the center of the pulley during operation. If I felt I could save time with the sander it would be used as I would have greater profit from quicker completion. It takes a lot more effort to remove deep sanding scratches with a random orbital sander. A belt sander is also more dangerous than a random orbital sander specially if a very coarse sanding belt is in place. The random orbital sander is typically used after the primary surface smoothing has been completed with the belt sander.

It sands using a continuous belt that rides between a couple or maybe three pulleys. As it is though I will do a complete set of spars for a boat over a days work and use hand and bench planes. Repeat passes and special procedures permit smoothing materials that are wider than the belt itself. If the workpiece is shorter than the top of the belt, a fence is set over one drum to function as a stop, allowing the workpiece to rest in a station­ary position as the belt spins beneath it. Work the piece from side to side so that the belt will wear evenly. Watch how I move the sander around in an oval as I cut through the varnish finish.

Where belt sanders really excel, and I’m surprised no one has mentioned this yet, is at drag racing. We’d use low-quality chisels for this type of work, so it didn’t matter if we didn’t have a perfect edge. Sandpaper sheets are cut into halves or quarters and are then securely clamped onto the flat base of the sander. Ultimately, a belt sander delivers linear, smooth results with less effort and mess than sanding by hand. I also use it for quick removal of old paint and other materials on flat surfaces and as part of steel preparation. Sand with the folded sandpaper until it dulls, flip the folded sandpaper over to use the second third, then refold to use the third third.

First we have a belt sander that rental centers offer, but far and wide a traditional drum sander is the choice of most professionals as they tend to have more power or torque in getting much older finishes off the floor like this heavily waxed and shellacked example. Sand the board by moving the sander forward and back, in the same direction as the grain.

In all seriousness, I’ve used belt sanders for decades and I can’t begin to tell you how useful they are. I then use a skill saw to correct depth and run longitudinal grooves in stock Once I have a series of depth grooves to control depths at apprpriate places on foil I then will use power planer. Many pros will tell you to move the sander around both front and back and sideways when it’s on. If you don’t, the sander can dig a hole just sanding away in one stationary position. Basically, the tool is comprised of a belt of sandpaper that is wrapped around two rotating drums. Aside from this, you will need to work with the sander and the grain of the wood more.

Unlike most table-mounted sander’s narrow belts, the Jet has a massive 6”x48” belt and a 12” disc! Remember the belt sander should always be switched on before you make contact with the work piece and switched off after it is taken off. A belt sander running on a system below 18v will not be powerful enough for most uses and will die very quickly. Chamfers can also be formed on the edges of a workpiece with the belt sander in the horizontal position.

Even if its been set up by someone else I swear the moment I touch the thing the belt decides it want to start scurrying off sideways. If someone proudly states they don’t have a decent plane in the shop nor the desire to learn to use one that is fine with me. And I will admire one for saying so without shame. Their smaller cousins (1/4 sheet sanders) however do not remove as much material, mainly because the sanding surface is much smaller. Sanding by hand in the direction of the grain to remove these squigglies then becomes unnecessary. A belt sander takes off the most material and it’s the most aggressive of all the sanders.

All sanders vibrate, but an excessively vibrating sander can really wear on the operator’s hand and wrist when working on large sanding projects. I truly am interested in finding out if I am missing out on things that a belt sander could do to make life easier and building quicker. Belt sanders simply allow one to slip sanding belts on and off without much effort.

The speed they operate leaves little room for error, and the skills required are no more or less than the skills to use a hand tool well, but they are different skills. Belt sanders are mainly used for more aggressive sanding situations but if used with respect and gently can be used for sanding and preparing woodwork for painting. Falling somewhere in between a belt sander and orbital finishing sander is the random-orbit sander. The entire front curve of the belt is exposed, and a little of the top is even exposed. Reduction gears right behind the drive gear cause further reduction in speed bringing it down to a speed good enough to drive the belt.

Some homeowners will want to rent a big floor sander to do a large wooden surface like a deck floor. Rather than having the workpiece presented to it, the portable belt sander is generally presented to the surface to be sanded. This technique, known as gang sanding, not only saves time but also produces better results, because you’re not trying to balance the wide belt on the narrow edge of a single board. The smallest and least aggressive of the power sanders, the detail sander is best for finishing jobs in tight areas.

When dealing with larger floor areas, it is better to use a belt (or drum) floor sander (illustrated right) for the main area of the floor and then using a handheld rotary sander to sand the areas around the edges and corners where the belt sander cannot reach. Move the sander back and forth in smooth, even motions, using the front handle to guide it across the wood.

The belt sander has a large, flat surface, which permits sanding long, wide boards. I love my cordless drill, my table and band saw, My skill saw and my power planer and ROS. If you own wood patio furniture or a wood picnic table then your belt sander is the ideal tool to give them a brand new look. Stick to smoothing large, flat surfaces, especially really rough ones, with belt sanders.

The abrasive belt is the only component moving back and forth on the machine; therefore the belt, not the machine, causes snakes. A 220 grit abrasive belt produces a scratch pattern approximately002 deep into the workpiece. If you want to watch a video of me using a belt sander, just go to this page of my website. Esp note if you use planes a lot in your shop or if you haven’t gotten an appreciation for them yet. Once you put the new belt on, make sure you track it, similar to how you track a blade on say a bandsaw. Metal- Tallow or Beeswax are recommended for use as lubricants for polishing, sanding or removing stains from metals.

Any serious paint on the surface should be removed – use either a chemical paint stripper (preferred) or a heat gun (there is a risk that this will cause the paint to be drawn further into the board). Though belt sanders are still in use initial part of the wood cleaning job as it can clean paints and spots quickly, though the advance machines are capable of offering finer services those woodworkers love to do with their hands.

If the direction of the grain is established, sand the rest of the floor ‘with the grain’ using overlapping strips. Regularly check the belt in your belt sander for cracks, and make sure your rollers line up. Over time, your sanding belt will wear away the platen, which is the piece of metal between the belt and boot. Most belt sanders now have variable speed, which ranges anywhere between 500 fpm to around 1500 fpm.

The belt sander can be adjusted to operate in the vertical or horizontal position. At this point spin the belt sander’s rollers for taking slack and making the paper tightened. Home disk sanders are suitable only for fairly rough work – such as sanding off peeling paint on shingles or siding around the outside, or sanding wrought-iron railings, furniture and yard equipment. As an alternative, a belt sander can quickly remove excess material from a door’s edge and thus eliminate sticking. Use a soft broom to sweep the walls, wall fitting, skirting boards, architrave, mantelpiece, window and door frames etc to dislodge any wood dust which has collected.

Now, to replace the old belt just put the new belt onto the roller and release the lever while plugging in the sander. Sanding belts come in many sizes and many differing grades for use, please ensure you use the correct grade for the surface you are working on. In my line of furniture work I rarely find a need for a belt sander, but every now and again I do pull out the big gun! And everything will go smoothly because you know how to how to choose the right belt sander for the application. Guys that follow the NWFA way and others that only use a two grit system with absolutely no difference.

I refer to these as squigglies.” The best policy is to sand them out by hand in the direction of the grain after sanding to the finest grit, usually #180 or #220, with the sander. Refinishing- When removing lacquer or varnish, paint, use an open coat type belt to strip off the layers initially. I’ve used a belt sander most of my life – not today because I was out to the shops today, but still, I had to think about it. You can easily bring a small woodworking piece to the surface of the handheld sander for fine work. Removing the sander from the piece and then placing it back on the surface causes what I call exit and entry wounds” that leave unnatural markings on your surface.

On this type of sander, the motor is actually set parallel to the length of the sanding belt A perpendicular gear drive cuts down motor speed, and power is fed to the drive roller through a sander belt. You can sand three-dimensional or “compound” curves on the soft side of the belt sander. If the floorboards are generally in reasonable condition and you finally decide it’s worth sanding, sweep the floor to remove all loose debris.