Tame Your Belt Sander Wallingford CT
North Haven, CT
East Haven, CT
Tame Your Belt Sander
Tame Your Belt Sander
Get that menacing belt sander under control with these whip-it-into-shape tips.
by George Vondriska
Does the prospect of using a belt sander make your palms sweat and your hands shake? I feel your pain. Belt sanders have a bad rap as the quickest way to ruin a project. Use them incorrectly and your project starts to look like the rolling hills of Ireland. But used correctly, they’re a great tool for flattening panels, flushing up trim and face frames and getting to the finish line fast.
Start by learning the belt-sander rules of the road:
• Keep it moving. The slightest pause can form a gouge.
• Let the weight of the sander to the work. Don’t lean on the machine.
• Use nothing but 120-grit paper until you’re comfortable with the machine.
• Don’t overextend yourself. Running a belt sander at your reach’s extreme end is a sure way to gouge material.
Handling the Sander
Photo 1: Start with a soft landing. Before you pull the trigger, lift the sander slightly off the workpiece. Squeeze the trigger as you ease the sander down and forward, feathering it into the material. Think of it as an airplane making a smooth landing.
Photo 2: Go over the edge, but only a little. As you sand to an edge, allow the platen to project over the corner, but never by more than half its length or width. This keeps the sander balanced and flat.
Photo 3: End with a smooth take-off. OK, you’ve successfully landed your sander and finished sanding. Now it’s time to take off. On your last stroke, lift the sander as it moves forward. Then release the trigger.
A big part of the battle is won just by taking the time to set up properly.#
Get the height right. The surface you’re sanding should be slightly lower than your waist. This puts your arms at a comfortable working height. For some projects, like cabinets, it may mean working on a surface other than your workbench. Make sure the piece you’re sanding is secure. It’s also good practice to keep the cord out of the way by draping it over your shoulder. It looks weird, but it prevents frayed cords— and nerves—from belt-sanded wires.
Provide solid stops. You can’t sand a piece that you’re chasing around the shop. Belt sanders are powerful and have a tendency to launch projects off their perches. Be sure your material is trapped against stops that are firmly clamped to the bench. Clamping the material itself to the bench is a hassle because the clamps get in the way. The stops should be thinner than the material you’re working on and wide enough so the sander won’t bump into the clamps.
A belt sander can flatten a glued-up panel in no time.