Belt sanders are multipurpose tools. If you are a woodcrafter or DIY worker, you will often need to flatten the surface of your woodworks. Having a belt sander would be an advantage for flattening the inconsistencies and rough patch on a flat surface.
Belt sanders being power sanders, ensures rapid removal of wood bumps and rugged surfaces with its coarse grits. There are different sizes of belt sanders but the handier ones with minimal sizes are more preferable for portability and freehand movement on sturdy wood surfaces.
However, we would suggest you to use the right size of belt sanders appropriate for particular usage.
Why Belt Sander?
If a survey was to be conducted among homeowners about their preferred DIY activity, chances are low that sanding wood will come up. Primarily handicapped with the workload that comes with sanding, the activity stands side by side with scraping paint.
However, in houses where people are highly active, sanding wood is an inevitable task. So, here’s a potential categorization of the best small belt sander models which will make the task a bit less taxing and your life a bit easier.
Related reading: Why Is My Belt Sander Leaving Burn Marks On Wood?
What is a Belt Sander Used for?
Usually a belt sander is used for trimming scribed lines, sanding uneven surfaces, leveling the surfaces of hard wooden floor, and freehand edging. The belt sanders use quick motion and optimum force to smooth your inconsistent flat surface.
Just fit in a coarse paper on the belt area of your sanding beast, it will sand away the layers of paint and smoothen the jagged surfaces in an excellent speed.
Its superior speed and faster sanding rate sands a wider area within a short time. There are different designs and sizes of belt sanders available in the market to meet the requirements of different sanding proficiencies.
Belt sanders are available in both portable and stationary benchtop model. The portable sanders are hand-held to sand the flat area of your wood or cardboard and smoothen the edges with your hand movement.
The latter one is fixed on a place and materials that need sanding are brought to its sanding surface to level the work piece.
Both of these designs are great to work on your wood works. You have to decide on the one that best suits your task requirements and purchase it.
You will not get the desired result on your woodwork if you use the smaller size for wide surfaces, or choose high-grade grits on usual ones. Moreover, it will be very time consuming and tiring as well.
Types of Belt Sanders
Now, let’s look at the types of belt sanders in this section.
Stationary Belt Sander
Stationary Belt Sanders are fixed on tabletops to sand the material. Some belt sanders come with stand or you can purchase them separately to fix with your stationary belt sander. These sanders are quickly removable from this setting but stays in a fixed position while working.
Most stationary belt sanders are 4 inches wide and 3 feet long. Larger ones are 6 inch by 48 inches or more bigly. As you move the surface of the work piece upon the sander, you may have to lift more weight than usual. However, you can place your belt sander as you wish to give your work a fine edging.
Portable belt sanders are handier and frequent to sand on the flat surface. You can set the belt easily into the drums. You can produce the desired smoothness on your work with a minimum variable speed.
The best part of having a portable sander is you can take it to your workshop and store it easily for its minimalistic design. Even you can fix it in a stationary position to sand on it like a stationary belt sander.
You can remove your sand dust from the working area with the inbuilt dust blower and store it in dust bag. It helps you to keep your workstation clean.
User Tips: How to Sand?
If you are a beginner in doing wood works, a question may twirl in your mind on ‘What is a Belt Sander Used for?’ In this article, we try to guide you on its usability and some key notion of using belt sanders. First, if you are using a power sander especially a belt sander, remember to avoid underdoing or overdoing it. Underdoing it will take you forever to complete the sanding and overdoing it might ruin your project.
The primary task before using your belt sander is to install the loopy-sheet between the wheels. Unlock the tension lever or hold the spring in a spring loaded model to slip in the new belt. Make sure to watch the arrow sign on the belt before installing it, and then release the lever or spring to fit the belt within the rolls.
Next, turn the sander on to see if the belt rubs or slips from its position. If it does make sure to adjust the tracking knob and bring the belt in a central position on the wheels. Finally, when you start sanding on your project keep the sander move in an even pace keeping up with its linear movement.
Do not press down on your sander it will create inconsistency on your wooden surface. Move your belt sander in a zigzag motion and overlap your sanding area. If you are leveling a narrow wood piece, try to stay straight with your sanding. For doing works on several narrow woods you can just place them altogether to sand the edges at once.
Use variable speed at a controllable speed or at minimum to avoid over sanding.
Clean up your work area and remove the debris from the surface. The stuck debris will cause gouges on your project.
Keep the sander moving until your work piece has reached the required smoothness. Sand it the wood with an even pressure and minimal speed. Inconsistent movement on the surface may create imperfection on the work surface.
The Belt sanders will do your rough job easy but it will take time to get used to with it. Therefore, we would not recommend these sanders to novice users. However, having a belt sander is a great addition in your utility tools to give your project a smooth and glossy finishing as a woodcrafter or DIY’s.
Belt Sanders are safe and handy tools for using. However, it is wise to be precautious on some things to avoid uncertainties.
- Wear a safety mask to avoid breathing in the sand powder into your lung.
- Cover your eyes with a protection glass while sanding your wood or hard cardboard. While doing the sanding, the sandpaper materials and sand dust can get into your eyes.
- Use a hearing cover to avoid the loud distraction of the sander.
- Unplug the sander from the connection before changing your sandpaper or emptying your dust storage.
- Do not rest your belt sanders on your work surface it can tip over and spoil your project.
- If you use belt sanders on metal surface, blow out the dust with the inbuilt blower of the sander or vacuum it. The abrasive on the sand belt may cause spark while sanding and it can spread fire through the sand dust or the dust bag.
- Remember to pull the trigger off before plugging it in. If the trigger of the belt sander is turned on, it can flip on your work piece and ruin it in seconds.
- Secure your wooded piece, cardboard, or frame in a fixed position by clamping it with a table or make it stationary with something. Once you start sanding on your work piece it cannot move or slip from its position. If it does, it will ruin your work in the middle
Belt Sander Alternatives
Electric power sanders are the fastest and can easily make wood smoother. They devise the best possible way to make this difficult task a tad easier for the individual doing them. There’s a variety of sanders in many shapes and sizes, but in terms of versatility, our top 3 choices are:
- Belt Sanders: Smoothing large plane surfaces can be a challenging task, especially uneven ones. However, a belt sander with its high speed and brute force is the behemoth meant for these tasks. Though it’s a bit hard to control and caution is advised for a beginner.
- Orbital Finishing Sanders: The easy-to-control and lightweight sander is known for its precision even when held in one hand is the orbital finishing sander. It is relatively quieter in comparison.
- Random Orbit Sanders: Often mismatched alongside an orbital finishing sander, the random orbit sander has a round pad foreign to the other two types, making it comfortable for all types of grips.
To ensure smooth and clean edging on your work choose the right belt sander with the required amount of grading and grits. Grits are amount of coarseness or abrasive material used in a sand paper. They can range from 60 grits to 800 grits or more.
However, we prefer 120 grits to do sanding on flat surfaces. Grading is the amount of grits or way of measuring it. Follow the tips and cautions to use your sander and ace your project like a pro! Finally, we hope our guidelines and insight will assist you on learning-‘What a belt sander is used for?’