I need belt sander help

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Forum topic by indychip posted 10-06-2014 12:08 PM 1053 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View indychip's profile


79 posts in 2147 days

10-06-2014 12:08 PM

I started making end grain cutting boards. I am using a 3×21 belt sander with 80 grit paper to smooth the board and then a ROS starting with 80 grit and finishing at 220. The problem I am having is with the belt sander; The board is smooth but “wavy” and has sanding lines all over it and it is almost impossible to get these lines out. When sanding I am using a side to side motion. What am I doing wrong? Is it too much pressure? Uneven presure? Too aggressive grit (80 grit)? Should I slow my sander down?

My first craft fair is this weekend and I really need to resolve this issue quickly. Ultimately, I want to get a drum sander, but that isn’t happening this year. Any tips or tricks would greatly be appreciated.

7 replies so far

View paxorion's profile


1107 posts in 2071 days

#1 posted 10-06-2014 03:15 PM

For my last boards I used a drum sander. The drum sander would run down down the length of the board and not side-ways. I stopped trying to get out the sanding lines at some point and I am glad I did since they disappeared after the mineral oil finish went on.

-- paxorion

View Minorhero's profile


373 posts in 2631 days

#2 posted 10-06-2014 03:40 PM

A belt sander is waaaaaay overpowered for flattening a cutting board. The problem is definitely that you can’t move it around enough before it begins eating into the board.

Flatten using your favorite method (hand plane, router with jig, helical head planer) and try sanding with a ROS.

View GrandpaLen's profile


1650 posts in 2298 days

#3 posted 10-06-2014 03:51 PM

...well I’m not sure what brand of sander you are using but when I bought my DeWalt they had an optional sanding frame that I picked up with it, if my memory serves me the price was around $90.00. Your problem is the platton is allowing the sander to ride up and own over the harder and softer grain which is further exaggerating the waves. Until you can stabilize that motion I’m afraid you’re destined to experience the frustration. You’re option now is run it through a planer or find someone with a drum sander to level them out.

Good Luck with your sales.
Work Safely and have Fun. – Grandpa Len.

-- Mother Nature should be proud of what you've done with her tree. - Len ...just north of a stone's throw from the oHIo, river that is, in So. Indiana.

View NoThanks's profile


798 posts in 1555 days

#4 posted 10-06-2014 04:36 PM

Belt sander should work fine.
Hold it flat and keep it moving at all times.
Think figure 8’s. Just takes experience to keep it flat.
Getting the lines out is another thing.
80 is probably to rough, need to reduce down to 100 after the 80 then use 100 on your ROS.

-- Because I'm gone, that's why!

View indychip's profile


79 posts in 2147 days

#5 posted 10-06-2014 05:49 PM

Thanks for all the replies. I think I will attempt to build a router sled. Hopefully that will level out all the wavyness. Then I will hit with my ROS.

View JAAune's profile


1802 posts in 2343 days

#6 posted 10-06-2014 06:04 PM

Definitely takes practice and good technique to use a belt sander properly. It’s also important to make sure the platen is smooth and flat. A graphite backing pad helps. Make sure there are no stickers on the back of the sanding belt as those can cause problems. You can’t sand flat if the belt has lumps under it.

Don’t put any down pressure on the sander. Just let it float on the surface under its own weight.

-- See my work at and

View moke's profile


1181 posts in 2802 days

#7 posted 10-06-2014 06:15 PM

I use a abelt sander to get the end grain sanded to a reasonably smooth place. I now have a Drum sander so it is easy to get it flat now, but prior to that I used the belt sander at an 35 to 45 degree angle to the piece. No pressure, let it float and as aggresive as a BS is I would use the finest grit I could find….it still is proabably only 150. After you have it to a resaonable flattness, take a strait edge, put it on edge and pull it accross the sanded piece. Mark the high spots with a pencil and use your ROS with 100 grit or so to take down those high spots. Repeat that until it is pretty flat then final sand it. One piece of advice my WW mentor taught me about making cutting boards is to add rubber feet….that will stop it from rocking if you don’t have the bottom flat!!!!!

-- Mike

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