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What To Look For In A Belt Sander?

What to look for in a belt sander

A belt sander is the most efficient equipment for removing much material. There are some things to consider when buying a belt sander. This is whether you're looking for your first one or replacing one you've had for a while.

Many elements influence the right belt sander selection. We examine several key characteristics, such as size, general design, and construction toughness. The next subjective elements I choose are the tool's variable speed options, dust collection, and how it feels in my hands while in use.

What To Look For In A Belt Sander?


The width and length of the sanding belt are used to gauge belt sander size. Small, detail-oriented sanders use only a few inches of wide belts, whereas larger machines use 4" x 24" belts. A 3" x 21" sander is typical for home workshops. The size provides a sizable sanding area without the exhaustion of operating a big machine. You'll probably find it capable of handling most storage tasks.


Belt sanders eliminate stock quickly. The platen is essential for maintaining a flat surface throughout this rigorous stock removal. The plate on the belt sander's base that makes contact with the workpiece is known as the platen. It must be flat to prevent the sander from producing a wavy surface. There are two kinds of platen: metal and graphite. Even with brand-new sanders, metal plates are thin and often deformed or buckled. Graphite plates have an advantage over metal in that they distort less.


A sander's front and rear rollers must be completely aligned for the belt to track correctly and remain centered on the platen. The belt and perhaps the sander could be damaged if they are out of alignment and the belt rubs against the housing. Perhaps the belt can completely disengage from the machine. Some sanders claim the auto-tracking capability to help keep the belt centered on the platen. The sander's belt may need to be changed again, but you could still need manual adjustments.

You can modify the belt tracking position by turning a thumbscrew knob next to the front roller. It swings the forward roller from side to side to correct the alignment of the front and back rollers. To fine-tune the tracking, search for a sander with a tracking knob that moves the roller gradually.


A belt sander removes lots of material. But you should also be able to sand carefully using your sander. A motor with variable speed can be useful. Dialing down the speed control is all that is required to adjust.


In seconds, a belt sander may fill your shop with fine dust. Because of this, when comparing sanders, I put strong dust collection capabilities close to the top of my list of essential features. Only some dust will be captured by tiny bags with most sanders. Finding a sander with a dust port or adapter that fits your vacuum or dust collector is therefore advantageous.


Even a moderately sized 3" x 21" belt sander might be difficult to operate. So, the tool must be comfortable in your hands. Well-placed handles lessen strain during prolonged use. Some sanders feature two-position handles. Doing so lets you move the handle into a position that complements your working posture. The market is filled with belt sanders. Finding one with all the options you want can be challenging. But if you follow these instructions, you should be able to find one for your store.

Graphite Platen Upgrade For Sander

You can make flatter surfaces by switching the thin, flimsy metal platen on your belt sander for a graphite platen. Also, it stops sanding belts from overheating and reduces friction. And it means all belts will last longer. Graphite is a kind of smooth, durable carbon and resistant to warping or buckling at high temperatures. Platens are an excellent belt substitute since they effectively dissipate heat.

The graphite platen material is cut to length with a utility knife from various-sized rolls. Lay out the screw holes in the graphite platen using the old metal platen as a guide. Then simply connect it to your device. You'll notice immediately that your sander will run cooler, and the belts won't wear out as rapidly from the heat produced by sanding with a graphite platen upgrade. You'll also have a uniform sanding surface.

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