We had a slight break in the cold weather in my neck of the woods, so I ducked outdoors to do a bit of sanding of the cutting boards my wife asked me to make as Christmas presents for several of her family members. The router bit I used for my router sled left a bit of a mangled surface on the 3 end-grain cutting boards, so armed with a brand new Ridgid belt sander, I got to work with some cautious sanding.
I can’t say I’m too experienced with a belt sander, so I am rather proud of myself for not de-flattening the surface (it’s still very flat). At first started with 120 grit and a very low speed, but found that it took way too long. So after switching to 80 grit, I gradually raised the sander’s speed and found a good rhythm. After dinner, I debriefed my wife on the following results:
- I had very low expectations for dust collection on a belt sander, but I think I made the right choice with this Ridgid sander. One of my dust extractor adapters fit perfectly, and I was surprised by the amount of dust that was in my dust extractor and separator (probably somewhere between 50%-75% collection).
- The HF sanding belt cleaner was a God-send. I stopped to clean it off the paper every few passes to ensure that I wasn’t wasting my time.
- My MLCS router bits (I used a 3/4” straight bit for the flattening) are showing their limitations. It may have worked on the long grain but didn’t do so well for end-grain. I will gradually be replacing them with premium bits (i.e. Whiteside) as they come on sale.
- If I am going to do more cutting boards, I’ll be looking to buy a bigger and more premium bit for flattening purposes.
After about 2 hours of on and off work, I got 2 of the 3 boards sanded with the belt sander to 120 grit. One more to go tomorrow (forecast calls for 60 degree weather), and I’ll be ready to put the edge profile on the boards before switching to the ROS for sanding through the grits to 320 grit.