Belt sanders? Your thoughts

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Forum topic by Kaleb the Swede posted 08-26-2013 12:57 AM 1758 views 0 times favorited 42 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Kaleb the Swede

1612 posts in 1133 days

08-26-2013 12:57 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question sander

Hi there. I am asking out of ignorance with this question. I have two sanders, a random orbit sander and a quarter sheet. I have a nice collection of hand planes a 4 through 7. Is a belt sander ( the handheld kind) an essential for an aspiring (wannabe) woodworker. What are it’s uses? With my hand planes and sanders i have now, do i need it? The reason I am asking is I was taken with the new rigid belt sander and I was kicking around the idea of getting it. Do I need it? Or is it just the tool junkie in me? I genuinely would like to know from the guys who use them. We talk a lot about tools, I was just wondering about them as they aren’t brought up much.

-- Just trying to build something beautiful

42 replies so far

View firefighterontheside's profile


10866 posts in 1020 days

#1 posted 08-26-2013 01:18 AM

I just bought that new ridgid sander. I had an old old one that had been my grandpas. I don’t use one for fine sanding, but more for removing material such as when fitting a built in cabinet. I scribe the shape onto the piece and then sand to the line. I don’t have any kind of fixed tabletop sander so I will turn it upside down and lock the trigger and then I can just hold the piece on top of the sander. Its nice to have.

-- Bill M. I love my job as a firefighter, but nothing gives me the satisfaction of running my hand over a project that I have built and just finished sanding.

View Grandpa's profile


3250 posts in 1839 days

#2 posted 08-26-2013 01:25 AM

I own 2 belt sanders and have taught woodworking to adults in even classes. Many nice projects have been ruined by using belt sanders. I would never say don’t get a belt sander. I would say learn to use one properly and gently. They can be very useful but use with caution.

View BentheViking's profile


1762 posts in 1728 days

#3 posted 08-26-2013 01:27 AM

Do you need it maybe maybe not. Are you going to find times its useful, if not for fine woodworking at least for some other household task? Yup. Are you going to find some time within the first week of owning it that you can do something useful with it so that you can say “look honey this new thing isn’t a waste”? Almost definitely.

Glad to see your back from the sea. How was your deadliest catch summer?

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

View distrbd's profile


1889 posts in 1610 days

#4 posted 08-26-2013 01:29 AM

Kaleb it’s the tool junkie in you wanting a new tool lol..but I must also add that if you are impatient and want to flatten a wooden surface quickly ,nothing removes wood faster than a belt sander,if you need to round a table top corner or straighten an edge fast,then you may find a use for it in your shop.

On the other hand if you enjoy working with hand planes and are good at it,a belt sander will be sitting in a box and not get much use.
If you ask me,buy one.

-- Ken from Ontario, Canada

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Kaleb the Swede

1612 posts in 1133 days

#5 posted 08-26-2013 01:43 AM

Thanks for the responses guys. Thinking I may get one. Ben it was a grind this summer. I was only home 3 days in July.

-- Just trying to build something beautiful

View Loren's profile


7982 posts in 2812 days

#6 posted 08-26-2013 01:46 AM

They have their uses. Scribing back splashes is one. Leveling
inset shaker drawer cases is another.

Sanding boards and panels flat with a hand held belt
sander requires some practice and is certainly unforgiving
of attention lapses.


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Kaleb the Swede

1612 posts in 1133 days

#7 posted 08-26-2013 03:04 AM

Thanks Loren. I just never thought about one much. I watched Norm use it. I just thought their may be a few applications where it could be useful.

-- Just trying to build something beautiful

View redSLED's profile


790 posts in 1056 days

#8 posted 08-26-2013 03:33 AM

I’m mostly a power tool user, and my Makita 4”x24” belt sander (BS) is in my top 5 favourite tools because I can get quite a few things done with it very quickly when I need to. I’m planning for a 2nd BS (cheaper and new) so I can run a finer grit belt right after a coarse one without having to switch belts on the same BS.

Uses and benefits:
- sand away rough cuts and saw blade burn marks fast (if no router/table is set-up for milling)
- sand down knots fast and flat
- remove patches of old paint/clear coats fast
- even out/make flush slight glue-up mistakes
- take 1/16” off soft wood fast if piece/board is not too big (even removal requires skill!)
- fast wood removal as desired prior to ‘distressed finishing’
- shape a radius on a corner really fast (skill required!) vs jig saw/file and sander
- flip BS upside down to:
—sand fast and flat small pieces/edges
—use belt end(s) for quick contour/spindle sand
—quick sharpening of pencils, plumb bob, beater chisels, scribes/awls/punches, etc.
—quickly sharpen drill bits instead of throwing them away (titanium coated not applicable)
—make and shape any size wood plugs and dowels fast from scraps

Clearly, without my handheld belt sander I’d be walking the streets aimlessly late at night.

-- Perfection is the difference between too much and not enough.

View Moron's profile


5002 posts in 3057 days

#9 posted 08-26-2013 03:37 AM

easiest tool to ruin a lot of hard work

avoid all “green “ people who think they know how to use one

a necessary tool in my arsenal that I don’t lend out due to catastrophic results

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View tefinn's profile


1222 posts in 1601 days

#10 posted 08-26-2013 03:50 AM

As already mentioned, I use mine for sanding scribe lines. I also use it for sanding ill fitting doors in the house, fast initial sanding of cutting boards and taking off paint or cleaning up reclaimed lumber before planing.

-- Tom Finnigan - Measures? We don't need no stinking measures! - Hmm, maybe thats why my project pieces don't fit.

View redSLED's profile


790 posts in 1056 days

#11 posted 08-26-2013 04:07 AM

^ Moron, too true. I also would never lend out my belt sander – but because I use it often.

-- Perfection is the difference between too much and not enough.

View Moron's profile


5002 posts in 3057 days

#12 posted 08-26-2013 04:14 AM

if you dont own one, buy one

it will teach you faster then you care to learn

; )

its clear to me, that sanding etiquette isnt sold

its earned

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Moron's profile


5002 posts in 3057 days

#13 posted 08-26-2013 04:21 AM

sanding is a never ending pursuit of lowering and raising the bar of a goal that each individual sets ?

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View mbs's profile


1587 posts in 2104 days

#14 posted 08-26-2013 04:28 AM

I haven’t used my belt sander since I purchased the Festool rotex sander which is probably 10 yrs ago.

-- Sorry the reply is so long. I didn't have time to write a short reply.

View Christophret's profile


150 posts in 1165 days

#15 posted 08-26-2013 04:47 AM

I want what Moron is taking.

-- I cut it twice and it's still too short!

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