"Using the right tool for the job makes all the difference". But what if you don't know which tool to use or how to use it??
Today we're continuing our series on power tools! I'm the gal that usually asks for one for Christmas, and I always have a wish list of tools that I want to add to my collection. So, here we go, I'm bringing you my love of tools in a blog post!
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Today is all about the hand held belt sander. I got my first one from my grandfather's tool collection after he passed away, and I admit it sat for quite a long time before I tried it. It's a bigger sander than the palm sander, so I was a little afraid of it. But there will come a project that you just need more power than your palm sander can give you - that's when it's good to know about a belt sander!
I'm working on a very special project right now, and the only tool for this job was a belt sander. I just purchased this Ridgid one after my old Craftsman wore out, and it's the best little belt sander I've ever used.
When to use a hand held belt sander?
I use a belt sander when I need more power behind my sanding. Specifically when there's an existing finish that's many layers or very hard to sand through (that's the case in these photos). OR if there's a very rough surface that needs leveling out.
I don't (yet) have a planer, so my belt sander takes the place of that from time to time too. Only ever use a belt sander on a solid piece of wood - NOT veneer! And even when I use my belt sander to get through a finish, I always still finish sand with my palm sander to take out any scratches left behind.
How it works?
There's literally a belt of sandpaper that spins around the wheels in the bottom of the sander. Because of how it works, it does have a tendency of getting away from you if you don't hold on pretty securely to the sander.
The grit you choose matters! The lower the grit the rougher the sandpaper and the more it will cut through whatever you are sanding. You want to be careful with wood because you can pretty quickly get scratches and divots in the wood that you didn't mean to. I used 60 grit on this table, followed by 80 grit and 120 grit finish sanding.
As with any sandpaper, it get's clogged and wears down after using it a bit. Change the sandpaper belts often for the quickest results.
Things to know...
Different hand held belt sanders are made to hold different belt sizes. Always make sure you get the right length belt for your tool (usual sizes are 18" and 21" long).
There is a clamp that releases on the side of the sander which allows you to slide off the old belt and install the new one very easily.
Some belts are directional, if yours is, it will have arrows on the inside of the belt, just make sure you put the sanding belt on in the proper direction.
There's a knob somewhere on the sander that when turned while the belt is running will adjust the belt to the center of the sanding plate. You may need to adjust this as you go because sometimes belts can get a little off track.
As I said before, you do have to be a little extra cautious with the belt sander as it can run away from you pretty quick. Make sure you are ready to hold it in place and get a little arm work-out in the process.
Once you get the hang of it, it's a great tool to know how to use and have in your workshop!!
Want to see the full list of tools I recommend for the DIYer - I made a list for you here!