How to use a belt sander?
Table of Contents
Belt sanders are powerful tools and the best belt sanders will offer you a lot of different features that will make your tedious sanding jobs more palatable and get them done much quicker without the physical effort sanding by hand would take. There are many different brands of belt sanders such as WEN, Makita and Porter-Cable to name a few. Although there are different brands on the market offering their own unique features, most operate in the same basic way and can perform the same tasks.
The features on the different belt sanders make certain aspects of the belt sander easier to use such as Automatic Belt Tracking or Quick Belt Change Levers. However the way you use the belt sanders and what they are used for remains relatively similar no matter the brand.
Belt sander safety
No matter which brand of belt sander you buy you need to take some basic safety precautions when using your new belt sander. Below are some of the basic best practice safety precautions you should take. First and foremost you will need to protect your ears as these power tools can be very loud and can damage your ears if you do not take proper precautions. Wear earplugs, as even the quietest of these machines put out quite a noise.
Secondly and very importantly, wear a dust mask. Despite the fact that these machines have dust bags and offer features which reduce the amount of dust emitted, there is still enough to be unhealthy for you. Make sure that when you want to change the belt or empty the dust bag you switch the machine off.
Remember if you are going to be sanding metal, you are going to create sparks. This mixed with sawdust which is in the dust bag you could start a fire. Ensure that the dust bag on your machine is empty, it is best to either blow all the dust out, or vacuum it out to ensure there is no residual sawdust before you attempt sanding any metal materials.
Hold your machine securely always, these are powerful tools and if you relax too much you could find it sliding away from your or worse into you.
Finally, make sure that the machine is switched off before you plug it in. This may seem like a simple thing, however it is remarkable how many times these tools are switched on when plugged in and as many of them have a trigger lock which keeps it in the on position.
How to use a belt Sander to Remove Paint
Using your belt sander to remove paint, varnish or stain is simple. First start with a coarse grit belt, something like a 60-grit belt will work well. Remember the larger the number the finer the grit. You will then move your belt sander over the area you are working on. Work the area over a few time, using finer and finer grits until you reach the point where you are happy with the smoothness of the area you are working on.
Remember, if it is wood you are sanding down, work with the grain of the wood and not counter to it. Also do put pressure on your belt sander, these are heavy enough for you just to guide it over the areas you want sanded, if you put too much pressure on the belt sander you are likely to clog up the belt.
How to use a Stationary belt Sander?
In order to turn your belt sander into a stationary sander you simply clamp it upright position onto your workbench. Once you have clamped it onto the bench, you will lock the trigger in the “on” position. Using your belt sander is great for when you are sanding small pieces of work or trying to form edges of wood.
Once your sander is clamped and switched on, you will hold your wood against the belt to shape your wood. Stationary sanders are also very good to use as a tool sharpener such as grinding of chisels, plane irons and gouges.
Belt sander tips / tricks
Belt sanders are incredible power tools that can do so much more than just sanding and below there are a few tips and tricks that can allow you to accomplish so much more with your belt sander than you ever though you could. Belt sanders are fantastic tool sharpeners (click here for the review).
They will sharpen chisels and more in seconds. Be sure you are using the stationary belt sander when performing this task and as you will be working on metal, make sure you take the necessary safety precautions by emptying your dust bag of all sawdust before you start.
Choose your sandpaper before you start you project. Course grit paper is great for cutting down rough surfaces and the fine paper will give your wood a satin smooth look and feel. Remember the higher the number, the coarser the grain.
Make sure when you are working on a piece of wood or sanding down your deck that all metal objects such as screws and nails are removed as they can do some serious irreparable damage to your sanding belt.
When you are going to be using your belt sander, remember to always keep it moving as leaving it in one spot will create a gouge in your material. Moving it from side to side or backwards and forwards all the time.
Use your sander gently, your sander is heavy so it will already excerpt pressure on your wood to sand it properly. Putting additional pressure on may damage your material causing gouging which is not good at all. When sanding wood, try to sand with the grain of the wood and not against the grain.
A belt sander is an essential, must have tool in your arsenal. It is incredibly versatile and will take care of all of those seemingly impossible sanding jobs in short order. It is easy and simple to use if and you can do much more than just sand down wood with this great power tool.