Belt sander - cutting board question

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Forum topic by indychip posted 12-11-2013 04:33 PM 2783 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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79 posts in 2144 days

12-11-2013 04:33 PM

When sanding end grain cutting boards, what size belt sander does everyone use? I dont have a drum sander and ROS takes way too long. Is a 3×18 good enough or should I get a 4×24? Also, my budget for this sander is about $200, what would be a good one for the money? Thanks

9 replies so far

View PurpLev's profile


8536 posts in 3670 days

#1 posted 12-11-2013 04:37 PM

generally speaking, I’d use a sanding tool for finishing only. but it sounds like you are trying to use this to mill the final product prior to finishing. In that case there may be other ways to mill it to finished size (router sled comes to mind).

Curious – you mentioned ROS takes too long – with what grit sandpaper did you use the ROS? (I would guess the appropriate grit would be 60-80 for rough milling/flattening)

That said, if you are burning a hole in your pocket and really just want to get a sander I think the bigger the better for your purpose. you can also mount the large one on workbench and use it as stationary sander.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View AandCstyle's profile


3068 posts in 2279 days

#2 posted 12-12-2013 01:22 AM

I have a 4”x24” Bosch belt sander that I rarely use. I do use a drum sander that I bought used for $500. If I didn’t have the drum sander, I would use the ROS starting with the coarsest grit I could find. The downside of a larger belt sander is that it is heavy and tiring to use for extended periods like on an end grain CB, then there is the ability to control it to produce a uniform thickness. If I were in your situation, I would use a router sled as PurpLev suggested. HTH

-- Art

View cabmaker's profile


1735 posts in 2831 days

#3 posted 12-12-2013 02:22 AM

When i use a belt sander on anything that warrants the use, whether a cutting board or otherwise I use a 3×24.

If all your doing is cutting boards the 4 inch belt might be a plus.

I would look at porter cable

A belt sander is probably the quickest and most efficient way to get where your going, but don’t count on it for a finish ready sanding.


View Biff's profile


126 posts in 2036 days

#4 posted 12-12-2013 05:48 AM

4×24 Craftsman from the same decade as Nixon. It takes two boys to help me run it but it gets the job done in a hurry! Makes me a better woodworker because I pay more attention to fit and finish so I don’t have to drag that monster out!

-- Interested in Oregon property? Visit me at

View bigblockyeti's profile


5134 posts in 1743 days

#5 posted 12-12-2013 06:09 AM

I have a 4” x 24” Porter Cable, depending on how it turned out, I’ll start with something pretty aggressive, like 60g and move up from there to 80g then 120g. Then over to the ROS, just seems like end grain takes a lot more for the paper to cut vs. long grain, which for me seems to go much faster. Just got an email from, they’re have a big sale on certified pre-owned stuff. I bought my PC belt sander that way and there was zero indication that it was used. Makita, Milwaukee (older), Bosch and Hitachi all made decent belt sanders. If I had $200 and I needed one right now a Makita would be at the top of my list.

View indychip's profile


79 posts in 2144 days

#6 posted 12-12-2013 01:22 PM

Thanks for all suggestions. I just thought it would be easier to start with a belt sander rather than a router and sled then sand. As long as I can sand and keep the board level, I can skip the router sled step. I guess the key is keeping it level. Thanks again

View bannerpond1's profile


397 posts in 1921 days

#7 posted 12-12-2013 02:11 PM

I used a router sled, as PurpLev suggested, to flatten a very old and used butcher block. Results were excellent. Then I made a sled for a belt sander, which also turn out excellent. After that, I used a small ROS to smooth out the belt sander scratches.

Instead of buying a belt sander, I’d put the money into a drum sander. I use mine on my end grain cutting boards after I plane them. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t plane end grain. I put sacrificial ends on the cutting boards AFTER they are glued up with end grain faces. It saves a huge amount of time and you get better results than sanding off the numerous rises and falls in the end grain pieces. Be sure you take off very small amounts of the end grain. The sacrificial ends take away the tear out which would occur to the end grain if they’re not used. After the planer, I use the drum sander and make two to three passes with the same setting, turning the board end for end with each pass.

Then I use my FessTool 6” ROS to take out the drum sander scratches. I use 150 grit here, and in 5 minutes, I have a finished face on both end grain sides of the board. The end grain sands differently than face grain, and you will not need 220 to get a smooth finish.

If you don’t have a planer and don’t want to get a drum sander, a sled is definitely the way to go. I have some 3 feet diameter, 3 inches thick “cookies” of maple which I will flatten with a router sled for tables with a natural edge. Be careful taking a belt sander to something. It’s easy to put waves in it instead of flattening it. Shim and clamp as necessary to put the belt sander on a bar to pass across the wood on a sled.

Also, I run all four edges of my end grain cutting boards across my jointer, taking only about 1/64 inch at a time. I get zero tear out from that process and it’s much better than any sanding process to get perfect edges.

Hope this helps.

-- --Dale Page

View Tennessee's profile


2873 posts in 2536 days

#8 posted 12-12-2013 02:21 PM

If you MUST buy a belt sander as a stopgap measure, think in terms of you not using it that much over the long haul. I have a big, burly 4X24 that I use maybe once every couple months. Maybe…
Mine is the Harbor Freight 69820 Professional Series. This new model has variable speed. Mine is the older Magnesium Series. It looks the same, save that the new one has variable speed. Dust collection is terrible, but this thing will hog off wood like you never saw. It is listed for $69.99, get a 25% coupon and you are down to $52.50
Mine once caught the rubber mat I had the wood on, and sucked it into the unit so far I had to take it all apart to get the rubber out. Found solid steel gears, good construction, ball bearings.
Think in terms of a tool you will use maybe for a short time, then occasionally. Not a reason to dump $2-300 into a really nice PC or Bosch.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View indychip's profile


79 posts in 2144 days

#9 posted 12-12-2013 03:03 PM

This has really made me think. I thought everyone was just using a belt sander to sand the end grain down. Now I have to think, build router sleds, buy drum sander or belt sander?

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