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ShopSmith Vs. Gator 3 X 21, 80 grit sanding belts. Price comparison.

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Review by MarkTheFiddler posted 01-28-2013 12:53 AM 6207 views 0 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch
ShopSmith Vs. Gator 3 X 21, 80 grit sanding belts. Price comparison. ShopSmith Vs. Gator 3 X 21, 80 grit sanding belts. Price comparison. No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

ShopSmith sells 4 3X21 Sanding Belts for $17.98 at Lowes
Gator sells 5 3X21 Sanding Belts for $5.98 at Lowes

Figure $4.50 for each ShopSmith Vs. $1.20 per Gator

I used both belts to sand the aluminum oxide finish off hardwood flooring for use in a project. That is some very tough finish. I sanded until I had to apply downward pressure on the belt sander to get a bite. I stopped there. Mind you the flooring finish dulls out the sand paper very quickly.

Take a look at this picture:

The 3 boards at the top of the image were done with the shopsmith paper. I felt I was starting to apply a little force toward the end of the last board. I stopped there and replaced the paper with the gator belt.

The board at the bottom of the image was sanded with the Gator Belt before I was applying more downward pressure than with the ShopSmith brand. That is roughly 1/3 of a board. The ratio thus far was 9 to 1. Because Shopsmith is reversible, I put it back on the belt sander running the opposite direction. There was plenty of grit left to finish the “Gator” board and the Shopsmith belt was still viable if I applied pressure to the sander. That was beyond the scope of the test.

Here is the math:
Each ShopSmith board cost $1.22 to sand (without downward pressure). Honestly, I use my belts much longer than that.

Each Gator Board would have cost $3.60 to sand (without downward pressure).

I’m not sure you will agree with this or not but my opinion is that it cost 3X more to sand with Gator than ShopSmith.

I’ll try other brands for future analysis. I DO want to save a buck and ShopSmith gave me sticker shock. However, Gator turned out to be far too expensive.

-- Thanks for all the lessons!




View MarkTheFiddler's profile

MarkTheFiddler

1996 posts in 1155 days



14 comments so far

View John's profile

John

341 posts in 2764 days


#1 posted 01-28-2013 01:07 AM

excellent review, shows the difference between price and cost, thanks!

-- John - Central PA - http://affyx.wordpress.com

View dustyal's profile

dustyal

1249 posts in 2441 days


#2 posted 01-28-2013 01:31 AM

well done analysis… thanks for posting. I was just in Lowes and saw the Shopsmilth 5 inch ROS disks. They looked impressive but at this time I am stocked up with old stuff. Once gone, I will try Shopsmith. Previously, I was not excited with the Gator.

Your review is strong evidence that you get what you pay for.

-- Al H. - small shop, small projects...

View Radu's profile

Radu

323 posts in 2010 days


#3 posted 01-28-2013 01:56 AM

Thanks for the review / analysis. I’d be interested to see where the red Diablo’s that HD sells, stand.

View 72hw's profile

72hw

85 posts in 1078 days


#4 posted 01-28-2013 02:18 AM

Empirical data – awesome! I have been using Gator brand belts on my Sand Devil and had often wondered about the higher priced belts. Many thanks for taking the time to do this experiment – definitely food for thought!

-- “Weird heroes and mould-breaking champions exist as living proof to those who need it that the tyranny of 'the rat race' is not yet final.” ― Hunter S. Thompson

View Shawn Masterson's profile

Shawn Masterson

1262 posts in 915 days


#5 posted 01-28-2013 02:31 AM

love the test. it just sucks that it is nearly impossible to find a quality product in stores now a days. you have to order it on line.

View MarkTheFiddler's profile

MarkTheFiddler

1996 posts in 1155 days


#6 posted 01-28-2013 03:14 AM

You all are very welcome.

Radu – I was going to give Diablo and Norton a try. If they cant knock this finish off the flooring like ShopSmith, I can surely use them on something else. I think I can get Norton Belts at Rockler. I don’t remember seeing Diablo belts but it was because I only needed ROS hook and loop discs at the time. They probably carry them.

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

View gfadvm's profile

gfadvm

13369 posts in 1656 days


#7 posted 01-28-2013 03:56 AM

Good review! And pretty scientific. Try the Norton 3X (not the same as the regular Norton). They outlasted everything else I tried. As a side note: man do you need a drum sander to clean that flooring up!

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View MarkTheFiddler's profile

MarkTheFiddler

1996 posts in 1155 days


#8 posted 01-28-2013 04:56 AM

Will get the Norton 3x Andy. And thanks for the advice on the drum sander. Yet another tool on my list of want to gets. It doesn’t end, does it?

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

View gfadvm's profile

gfadvm

13369 posts in 1656 days


#9 posted 01-28-2013 05:01 AM

Mark- I don’t know how far you are from Tulsa but I saw a 16” dual drum Grizzly drum sander AND a Jet dust collecter on Tulsa CL last night for $700. I damn near bought it and I already have 2 drum sanders and a dust collecter! If you buy my 10-20 Jet, then I can buy that monster!

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View MarkTheFiddler's profile

MarkTheFiddler

1996 posts in 1155 days


#10 posted 01-28-2013 05:07 AM

Sorry Andy – Just pulled the trigger on a Bosch contractor TS. That killed any hope of a budget for a while. About all I can afford is a pair of F-clamps. Good luck with that Grizzly.

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

View Shawn Masterson's profile

Shawn Masterson

1262 posts in 915 days


#11 posted 01-30-2013 04:26 AM

because of this review I tried the ros paper today. wow it is outstanding. as for the drum sander I just sold one . I had a performax 25×2 It was a monster, took a 4’ x 4’ foot print in my 26×30 shop. when it came to sanding finishes off it seemed to me once the drum got warm the paper gummed really fast. I had 80 on the front and 120 out back. I was sanding some Brazilian cherry I probably sanded 20’ and the front drum was already loadin up. it was amazing for raw stock. thanks for the review I probably would have over looked the paper (price & brand) but cause of you I am sold.

View MarkTheFiddler's profile

MarkTheFiddler

1996 posts in 1155 days


#12 posted 01-30-2013 05:34 AM

Wow Shawn, I’m humbled! Those are very kind words. I’m really happy this made such an outstanding difference for you.

Mark

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

View Oakum's profile

Oakum

4 posts in 606 days


#13 posted 07-09-2015 06:44 AM

The ceramic media you used to cut down the aluminum oxide finish, which is very hard, was the right choice. I’m not sure which type of Gator belts you tried; it may have been aluminum oxide which would be no harder than the aluminum oxide used in the flooring finish… I think Gator also makes products that use ceramic though which would help you to compare apples to apples.

-- Oakum Slocum

View MarkTheFiddler's profile

MarkTheFiddler

1996 posts in 1155 days


#14 posted 07-10-2015 10:35 PM

Howdy Oakum,

I have noticed a lot of changes in sandpaper during the last few years. Allow me to qualify that, I have seen changes in the offerings at Lowes and other tool stores. Back when I ran these comparisons, there was Gator Garnet and Shopsmith ceramic on the shelves at my local Lowes.

Of course – apples and oranges that are supposed to do the same job are still valid. In terms of efficiency, durability and cost per unit of sanding, I keep getting the same results.

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

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