The Belt Sander

The belt sander is only one of many different types of power sand­ing tools. It performs the sanding operation by means of a continuous or endless belt driven by drums or wheels, actuated by a motor. There are two types of belt sanders sta­tionary and portable. The average homeowner, unless he has an ex­tensive workshop. rarely requires a stationary model. The portable unit, however, is a handy power tool addi­tion to any handyman's workshop if he is engaged in any type of remodel­ing or building.

Portable belt sanders operate on ordinary house current. They vary according to the power of the motor, anywhere from 1/2 H.P. to 11/2 H.P., and the width of the belt. Normally, the portable belt sander is designated by the size of the sanding belt. The belts range in width from about 2" to 4" and the units range in weight from about 8 pounds to over 30 pounds. Before buying a portable belt sander, the handyman should "test" the unit to see if the weight is comfortable.

Belt sanders are particularly useful for rough sanding. With a coarse sandpaper, a belt sander Can do the same job as a plane in only a slightly longer time. For details about select­ing the right type of belt for the job.

Adjusting the Belt

Once you have selected the right belt for the job, it is necessary to place the belt on the drums or wheels of the sander. There are differences in this technique. depending upon the manufacturer. Study the literature you received with the sander.

Normally, one drum is fixed in position. This is the one that is con­nected with gears to the motor. The other drum is adjustable. When mounting the belt, you should:

1.  Disconnect the power sander from the electrical outlet.

2.  Lay the sander on its side.

3.    Push the adjustable drum to­ward the fixed drum so that you can slip the belt over both. Most belts have an arrow on the inside to show the direction in which the belt ro­tates. Be sure to install the belt to run in the right direction, otherwise the seam may tear apart.

Release the pressure on the ad­justable pulley, usually held by hand 1.      or turn the adjusting nut on some models so that the belt is held se­curely.

2.  Plug the cord into the electrical outlet and hold the sander in one hand so that the belt does not come into contact with any surface.

3.  Press the trigger switch in the handle so that the belt starts to re­volve.

4.  Turn the adjustment knob on the side of the sander. This tilts the pulley so that the belt slides in over the drums. Be careful not to turn it to let the belt fly Off. Also. do not turn it so that the edge of the belt is flush against the metal side of the sander. This will ruin the belt and may even cause the belt to cut through the metal side.

5.  Once the belt is in position. release pressure on the trigger switch. The sander is now ready for use.

Operating the Sander

The belt sander, because of its speed, removes a substantial amount of the surface being sanded. There­fore, never hold it in one place—al­ways keep moving while sanding or you will develop grooves in the work.

1.    When sanding a large flat sur­face, hold the sander at a slight angle, about 15°. to the long edge of the surface and move the sander back and forth across the board.

2.    Apply a liht, even pressure. Do not press down with all your weight. This may cause groove sand­ing or it may slow the sander up con­siderably and cause the motor to overheat. It may also "burn" the wood being sanded.

3.    Keep the sander level while sanding. While working at an angle is permitted, too great an angle will cause the edge of the belt to dig into the wood.

4.    Always sand from rough to fine finish. If you start with a rough sand­paper belt, shift afterwards to a me­dium and finally to a fine belt in order to get a perfectly smooth surface.

5.    When sanding with a fine belt, work the sander in the direction of the grain of the wood.

6.    Always be certain that the sur­face being sanded is secure. You can use a bench stop or a vise for this purpose. Never sand when standing directly behind the sander. It is al­ways safer to stand on one side, work­ing with your arms at an angle to your body. In this way, if the sander does pull the work loose, the wood or other material will not fly back and hit your body. Thanks for reading this basic carpentry page.