A belt sander is a multipurpose tool that lets you perform a variety of jobs like forming curved shapes, finishing up rough surfaces, and correcting misaligned joints. The belt sander simplifies the jobs and saves you a lot of time. However, if you don’t know the exact purpose and functioning of a belt sander, you cannot get the belt out of it.
If you are new to woodworking, this belt sander guide is going to be a lot more helpful. In this guide, I will discuss what a belt sander is and how to use a belt sander. Also, I will share some belt sander tips to help you achieve a risk-free and well-rewarding experience with belt sanders.
How To Use A Belt Sander?
What Is A Belt Sander?
A belt sander is a wood sanding tool that is commonly used to scribe along a line, sand, and finish the rough surfaces, forming curved shapes, leveling the surfaces, and correcting the misaligned joints. Belt sanders are preferred to deal with extremely coarse surfaces because they are more powerful than orbital and vibrating belt sanders. Also, they use a liner belt that lets you wreck large projects faster making them perfect for commercial use.
Types Of Belt Sander
1. Handheld Belt Sanders
Handheld belt sanders are the most common since they are versatile and can be used in different working environments. Handheld belt sanders are either battery-powered or corded and come with a ventilation bag.
Handheld belt sanders are lightweight and ergonomic and are perfect for light to medium-duty tasks.
2. Tube Belt Sander
Tube belt sanders come with a pulley that rotates to spin the sanding belts.
A tube belt sander is a potent electrically powered tool used to perform contouring around curved and shaped objects.
3. Stationary Belt Sander
Stationary belt sanders are fixed in place and the surface is moved again the belt sander. These are heavy machines and come fixed on stands and large work surfaces.
A workpiece is clamped on the stand and the operator moves the workpiece for scribbling, sanding, and finishing.
4. Belt File Sanders
Belt file shaders are also handheld belt sanders. The belt sanders are designed to work with narrow and smaller belt sizes and are perfect for detailing work.
Also, they feature a compact design and give you access to tight corners and spaces.
Choose The Belt
The first step while working a belt sander is to choose the right belt. The roughness of the belts is measured in grits and you can find belts with multiple grit levels like 40 grit, 60 grit, 70 grit, and 100 grit. The coarser the job, the higher grit you will need. Working with an inappropriate belt can cause damage to both materials and the belt sander.
To remove light-duty blemishes from the objects you may work with lower grit levels, but for coarser objects, it is advised to choose the finer belts like 180 grit and above. Release the lever and insert the belt within the belt sander. The lever is usually located at the side of the belt sanders.
Clamp The Material
In this step, you secure the material with the belt sander on which you want to perform sanding. The clamping mechanisms vary from model to model. Therefore it is advised to refer to the user manual to see the belt sander instructions.
Clamping is an important process that secures the material and prevents unnecessary movements during the process giving you a professional finish.
Make A Safe Setup
Once you are done with clamping the next step is to make a safe and convenient setup. A belt sander is a heavy tool and therefore you need to be very careful while working with it. The first thing you need to consider is cord safety. When you are placing the sander on the surface make sure the cord is out of the way.
The cord gets tangled with the spinning belts and can lead to serious accidents or irreparable damage. The best way to get the cord out of the way is to drape it over your shoulder and put it on your back. Plugin the belt sander into a nearby electrical outlet and make sure your cord is not stretched.
Also, your clothing should be out of the way to prevent accidents and it is advised not to wear loose-fitting clothing. Another thing you need to ensure is that vents and ventilation bags are well attached to the machine. If the debris vent is clogged, the belt sander will not function properly.
- Turn the belt sander on and adjust the speed. Do not put the sander directly on the surface and wait until it gains the desired speed.
- Ease the machine and cord and give your first sanding stroke on the surface with minimum pressure.
- Hold the belt sander with firm hands so there is no turbulence when you are giving strokes.
- You should begin the stroke from the rear of the belt sander and ease the motion in a forwarding direction. Gently increase the pressure with every coming stroke.
- While working with the belt sander keep one hand on the trigger and the other on the handle to hold the machine firmly
- Get smooth with forwarding motion and don’t allow the belt sander to stay in one place for more than 2 seconds.
- If you are working with a highly coarse belt do not apply excessive pressure to prevent the damage.
- Regularly monitor your work and stop sanding when you have achieved the desired finish.
- Also, you should keep an eye on the ventilation bag while working with a belt sander. When the ventilation bag is full, detach it and then attach an empty bag.
How To Change The Belt On A Belt Sander?
Depending upon the project requirements you may need multiple belts with different roughness. Changing the belt during the process is tricky and you need to be very careful.
- If you want to change the belt, turn off the electric supply and unplug the belt sander.
- Belts are inserted on the belt sander through a lever mechanism. The lever is either located on the side or at the top of the belt sander.
- Release the lever to lose the tension between the front and back roller.
- Gently remove the old belts and insert a new belt. Tie up the lever and check if the belt is properly centered or not.
Belt Sander Tips
- Belt sanders are loud and the noise level of the hand-held belt sander ranges from 90dBs to 104 dBs. You need to wear hearing protection for a healthy working experience.
- Sanding produces a lot of dust and can cause serious health issues if inhaled for a long time. You must wear a dust mask to prevent the wood dust from entering your body.
- Do not change the belt or empty the vent bag if the belt sander is plugged in.
- Turn off the trigger before plugging the sander in. If you own an advanced belt sander, you will get a safety lock feature. Enable the trigger lock to prevent accidental operations.
- A belt sander is a powerful tool that can remove a large amount of wood in a short time. To prevent the tool from digging into the board you should keep it moving flat. Do not tilt it sideways, otherwise, it will leave sharp lines on the board.
- Wear safety goggles to prevent the wood chips and sanding dust from approaching your eyes. Also, you should not wear loose-fitting clothes or gloves. Gloves or clothes can be easily caught up in the spinning sander belt.
When using a belt sander you should never?
You should not use the belt sander when you are under the influence of alcohol, sedatives or, any drugs. Also, you should not work with a belt sander if you are using a medicine that can lead to impaired thinking. Also, you should not use the belt sander if you are hungry, or dehydrated.
Which way does a belt sander go?
The belt sander moves from even surfaces towards rough surfaces. You should begin from the back and slightly move the belt sander in the forward direction. You can also apply even strokes by moving from side to side and diagonally on flat surfaces.
Should you use gloves with a belt sander?
You should not wear gloves while working with a belt sander. Gloves can be easily caught up in the spinning beats, leading to a serious situation.
Why is my belt sander leaving lines?
If the belt sander is leaving lines, it means you need to adjust its cut. If the belt sander is adjusted to side-cut it will leave a line and you need to set it to its flat cut.
A belt sander is a powerful tool and you need to be very careful if you are a beginner. I’m hopeful that the guide will help you work with a belt sander safely. If you are a beginner it is recommended to use a lightweight and ergonomic belt sander for ease of handling. Also, you should look for advanced safety features like trigger lock and automatic shut off to avoid accidental situations.