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The belt sander
is extremely useful for doing many different sanding jobs. It will
produce a smooth surface on a board in less time and with less work
than hand sanding.
The belt sander
also offers an important advantage over disc sanders: The abrasive
belt travels in one direction only, leaving no swirl marks. With
a belt sander, you can sand parallel to the grain of the wood. This
will produce a smooth finish free of scratches and tiny blemishes.
the belt sander has capabilities which permit you to sand end, miter,
and bevel cuts quickly and accurately, sand convex and concave shapes,
round over the edges and the ends of workpieces, and
create compound curves in wood. You can also use the belt sander
to sharpen tools.
The belt sander
works by driving a continuous abrasive belt over two drums: a drive
drum and an idler drum. The drive drum is covered by a nonslip rubber
sleeve and drives the belt continuously in one direction. The idler
drum is spring loaded to automatically tension the belt. The tension
knob on the left side of this drum releases a torsion spring that
presses the drum forward to tension the belt. The tracking knob
(behind the tension knob on the left side of the belt sander) changes
the angle of the idler drum in relation to the drive drum. This,
in turn, centers the abrasive belt on the backup plate. Since the
abrasive belt moves in a straight line, the machine is particularly
suitable for sanding parallel to the wood grain. In some particular
instances, especially when a lot of material must be removed, crossgrain
or diagonal sanding techniques may be used.
The belt width
doesn't limit how wide stock must be in order to be sanded. Repeat
passes and special procedures permit smoothing materials that are
wider than the belt itself.
Sander Setup and Features
The Belt Sander can be mounted on the MARK V or on a Shopsmith
Power Stand and can be operated in (A) a horizontal position
or (B) a vertical position.
To set up your
belt sander, follow the instructions in the Owners Manual that came
with your machine.
As you work
with the belt sander, you'll find that it has several special features:
The belt sander
mounts on the Mark V or on a Shopsmith Power Stand and is operated
in either a vertical or horizontal position (Figure
is 6" by 9". It can be tilted from 0 to 20° into
the belt, or from 0 to 45° away from the belt. The
Shopsmith Miter Gauge fits in the slot on the worktable and can
be locked in place. Also, the worktable has two holes cast into
the table slot, making it easy to attach extensions and special
The Worktable can be installed in four different positions.
can be installed in four different positions on the hard side of
the belt sander: parallel to the belt on either side of the machine
or perpendicular to the belt in the center or at the back of the
machine (Figure 19-2).
surface on the 'hard side' of the belt sander (the side with the
backup plate) is 6" x 14" when the worktable is used as a backstop,or
6" x 16-1/2"without the worktable. On the 'soft side' (the side
without the backup plate), the working surface is 3" x 16". (When
working on the 'soft side', use only the 3" in the center of the
belt to keep the belt tracking properly.)
use a combination of abrasive tools to smooth and shape a workpiece.
When mounted on the belt sander auxiliary spindle, the drum sander
will sand a tighter radius (1-1/4") than you can sand on the idler
drum. You can also mount the drill chuck on the belt sander auxiliary
spindle. The chuck will hold smaller drum sanders and flutter sheets.
Combination setups allow greater versatility. Shown is a belt
sander, disc sander and drum sander combination. The dust
collection system is connected to the belt sander and the
MARK V lower guard.
When the Mark
V is used to power the belt sander, you can mount the sanding disc
on the Mark V's main spindle and use the two abrasive tools in combination.
You can even use the dum sander (Figure
19-3). Warning: When tools are used in combination, never
exceed the speed for the slowest tool. In this case that would be
the disc sander.
When you are
not using the auxiliary spindle, be sure to install the spindle
cap. Insert the lip of the cap in the belt sander casting and give
it a tap with a mallet to secure it. Later on, if you wish to use
the auxiliary spindle, the cap can be removed with a pair of pliers;
simply turn the cap and pull out at the same time.
The belt sander
has a dust chute incorporated in its lower casting. This will direct
waste material out of the machine and it will accept the hose from
your dust collection system. Since most heavy-duty dust collection
systems have fairly strong motors, it is good practice not to plug
a dust collection system into the same circuit as the Mark V.
Two ways to store sanding belts. Don't allow them to kink
or become dirty.
are available in three grits: coarse, medium, and fine. The belt
sander accepts abrasive belts 6" wide by 48" long. Often, there
are slight inconsistencies from belt to belt; some are slightly
longer than 48", some shorter. The automatic belt tensioning feature
compensates for this. There's no need for you to readjust the distance
between the drums every time you change a belt, unless you use a
The grit you
choose depends on the work you have to do. Remember that for the
smoothest surface possible, always work your way from coarse to
be carefully stored by using one of the methods shown in Figure
Before using the belt sander, read and understand these important
belt sander danger zone is 3" out from the abrasive belt in all
directions. When you're working with the worktable parallel to the
belt or without the worktable, the danger zone also extends 6' in
back of the belt sander; the moving belt can throw stock in this
direction. Never stand in line with the rotation of the belt.
- Wear proper
eye and ear protection.
- Connect a
hose from your dust collection system to the dust chute on the
belt sander or wear a dust mask. When doing a lot of sanding,
wear a respirator.
- If you're
not using a dust collection system, always keep your hands away
from the dust chute when the machine is running.
- Be sure the
bottom edge of the worktable is not more than 1/16" above the
abrasive belt when you are working. Because of the direction of
rotation of the belt, small pieces of stock--or a finger, for
that matter--can be drawn down between the abrasive belt and the
worktable. The smaller the clearance between the belt and the
worktable, the easier it is to prevent accidents. However, never
let the edge of the worktable touch the abrasive belt. This will
grind away part of the worktable.
- Never tilt
the table toward the belt. The rotation of the belt could wedge
your hands between the table and belt.
- Use the belt
sander in either the vertical or horizontal position. Avoid positions
in between unless you install the extra bolt.
- Do not use
- Let glued-up
stock dry at least 24 hours prior to sanding.
- Never sand
particle board or paint that contains lead.
to sand pieces that are too small or too large to be safely controlled.
To maneuver small workpieces on the belt sander, grip them in
a pair of pliers (Figure
19-5), clamp them in a drill chuck, or make a special fixture
to hold them. (Metal jaws should be covered with tape or leather
so they don't leave marks on the stock.) This will give you better
control and keep your fingers out of the danger zone.
19-5. To safely sand small workpieces, hold them with
a pair of pliers, clamp them in a drill chuck, or use
a special fixture you make yourself..
- Always check
the machine before you turn it on. Remove any adjusting wrenches
or anything that may be resting on the belt.
- Be certain
the abrasive belt is tracking properly and does not rub against
any part of the belt sander.
possible, support the workpiece by backing it up or guiding it
with the worktable.
- Check that
the worktable is locked securely in place.
- Always turn
the belt sander on first; then put the workpiece in position.
Never turn the machine on with a workpiece resting on the belt.
- Never spin
the abrasive belt, drive shaft, pulley, or V-belt to start the
belt sander. Keep your hands away from these parts when the machine
is plugged in.
- The belt
sander must be unplugged from its power source before performing
any adjustments or repair procedures, with the exception of belt
tracking and crowning. Do not rely solely on the power switch.
- If you use
the belt sander to grind or sharpen tools, first clean the sawdust
from inside and around the machine 50 sparks do not ignite the
sawdust. Work with the cutting edge pointing away from you and
in the same direction as the rotation of the belt. Never mount
wire or grinding wheels on the auxiliary spindle. Never grind
or sharpen tools freehand; use the table, a fixture or clamps
to support and guide the tool.
- If you're
using a Shopsmith Power Stand, be sure that you're using the proper
pulley and belt combination, and that the pulley and belt are
Before you begin
any belt sander operation, turn on the Mark V, set the speed according
to Table 19-1 (below) and let the belt sander get up to speed. Generally
the speed is determined by the size of the workpiece. For instance,
if you're sanding a large surface area, you'll want to set the speed
dial toward the lower end of the speed range. Lower speeds provide
more torque, and the machine won't bog down as easily.
19-1: Belt Sander Speed Chart
(1150 RPM, 900 SFPM)
(1300 RPM, 1020 SFPM)
(1450 RPM, 1150 SFPM)
RPM, 1250 SFPM)
(1600 RPM, 1250 SFPM)
(1900 RPM, 1500 SFPM)
or Sharpening Metal Tools -- Slow (700 RPM, 550 SFPM)
These speeds are for 60 hz. operations.
Use the belt sander in the horizontal position for general
is best done with the belt sander in the horizontal position (Figure
19-6). Install the worktable and lock it in place no farther
than 1/16" above the abrasive belt.
Take a comfortable
stance on either side of the belt sander. Your position is determined
by whatever gives you the most control over the workpiece you're
about to sand.
Check the sander
to see that nothing is resting on the belt; then turn it on. Hold
the stock against the abrasive belt and sand with the grain.
The drag on
the machine increases with the pressure of the stock against the
belt, causing the motor to labor. Excessive pressure will also heat
up the abrasive belt and the backup plate. The belt will wear out
faster, and the backup plate will warp slightly, making it difficult
to sand a flat surface. So put just enough pressure on the stock
to keep it firmly in position. Let the belt sander do the work.
Small, fully assembled projects can be sanded as shown. The
worktable acts as a stop.
If the workpiece
is shorter than 14", use the worktable as a back stop. When sanding
longer stock, secure the worktable parallel to the belt. Use the
worktable as much as possible. The additional support adds safety
and accuracy to your sanding operations. Even completely assembled
projects can be sanded on all sides if you work as shown in Figure
Hold the stock
snugly against the worktable and flat against the belt. Move it
slowly back and forth so that the entire surface is evenly sanded.
If you don't keep the stock constantly moving, it may heat up and
start to burn. And be careful not to apply more pressure
or dwell longer on one area of the workpiece than another; this
will make the sanded surface uneven.
Small, fully assembled projects can be sanded as shown. The
worktable acts as a stop.
When you need
to remove a lot of material or when the stock surface is very rough,
start by sanding across the grain. Position the worktable so that
it straddles the belt; then pass the stock across the belt sander
using the worktable as a backup (Figure
19-8). The wood grain should be perpendicu~ar to the belt direction.
When you've sanded away most of the stock you wish to remove, finish
the operation by sanding with the grain. This will remove any blemishes
caused by cross-grain sanding and leave a smooth surface on the
Using a diagonal feed with the belt sander in the horizontal
The use of a
diagonal feed with the belt sander in the horizontal position, as
shown in Figure 19-9,
permits the surfacing of a workpiece wider than the normal capacity
of the belt. It gives a smoother finish than the method shown in
Figure 19-8. A
table extension is used to support the stock. Figure
19-25 shows how to make the extension. The angle of the fence
should be kept as small as possible to minimize crossgrain sanding.
A diagonal feed will always result in some cross-grain scratches
on the workpiece surface. Therefore, this operation must always
be followed by straight with-the-grain sanding until the scratches
are removed and the surface is smooth.
To sand large workpieces, remove the worktable. Use extra
care, as you have no additional support other than the belt
If you are sanding
large pieces of stock, you may need to remove the worktable from
the belt sander (Figure
19-10). As we said before, the worktable contributes to the
safety and accuracy of your sanding chores. But if you're careful,
you can still get good results without it. Warning: Be careful
of your fingers--do not hook them under the workpiece or you may
accidentally rub them against the moving belt.
Secure the belt
sander in the horizontal position. Turn on the machine and let it
come up to speed. Then hold the stock in place, flat against the
belt. You may not have to press down at all the weight of a large
workpiece will usually supply ample pressure. As with smaller pieces,
keep the stock moving so that the entire surface area is evenly
Edge sanding is easily accomplished with an arrangement like
this. The belt will try to move the workpiece back, so do
not sand directly in-line with the belt.
To sand the
edge of a workpiece, secure the belt sander in the horizontal position.
Install the worktable parallel to and no farther than 1/16" above
the belt. Hold the surface of the stock firmly against the worktable,
while moving the stock back and forth (Figure
19-11). Be careful to sand the entire edge evenly. If you sand
too much stock off the middle of a workpiece, it will develop a
When you saw
cross-grain, the saw blade leaves the ends of your boards rough.
This rough surface is unsightly and can often make for a weak or
ill-fitting joint unless you true-up and smooth cross-cut
end grain with a sander.
To sand the
end grain of short workpieces, you can work with the belt sander
in either the horizontal or vertical position, with the worktable
parallel to the belt. To sand the end grain of long pieces, secure
the belt sander in the vertical position. Use the worktable to support
one end of the workpiece and a roller stand to support the other.
To sand end grain, use the worktable and the miter gauge to
support the workpiece. This helps keep the end of the workpiece
square to the belt.
Lock the miter
gauge in the slot in the worktable by tightening the Allen screw
in the miter gauge bar. The face of the miter gauge will provide
another support surface and hold the workpiece square to the belt.
With a square or drafting triangle, check that the surface of the
worktable and the face of the miter gauge are 90° to the belt.
Make adjustments, if necessary; then check that the worktable is
no more than 1/16" above the surface of the belt.
Hold the workpiece
firmly against the worktable and the miter gauge (Figure
19-12). Unlike surface sanding and edge sanding, do not move
the stock back and forth. Instead, gently press the end of the stock
against the moving belt. Be careful not to apply too much pressure
or hold the stock against the belt for too long; the end grain may
start to burn.
To sand square ends, move he workpiece directly forward against
the belt and use the miter gauge to keep the workpiece square.
A light feed pressure is adequate.
Up to this point
we have mainly concerned ourselves with the horizontal operation
of the belt sander. Actually, the operation in both positions is
basically the same. For instance, in both positions, excessive pressure
against the belt is never necessary. Forcing the work can result
in stalling the belt, clogging the abrasive, burning the stock,
and even in tearing the belt. A slow, steady feed, with an occasional
retraction of the workpiece to allow waste to move off, will always
produce the best results.
Sand outside curves by sweeping them across the belt. Make
a steady pass to avoid forming "flats" on the workpiece.
square ends, move the workpiece directly forward against the belt
and use the miter gauge, with an extension if needed, to keep the
work in correct position (Figure
19-13). To sand outside curves, hold the work flat on the table
and then slowly, but steadily, sweep the workpiece across the belt
while turning it to keep the curve tangent to the belt's surface
You can accomplish
some surface sanding by sweeping work across the belt as shown in
This is not really the ideal way to smooth surfaces since, even
Surface sanding can also be done by sweeping the workpiece
across the belt in this manner. However, this action will
leave cross-grain marks.
with a fine-grit
paper, the action will leave crossgrain marks. However, it's not
a procedure to ignore, especially if you wish to remove a lot of
material quickly. Just be aware that the work will require some
additional with-the-grain sanding.
Miters and Bevels
To sand miter cuts, adjust the angle of the miter gauge and
leave the worktable square to the belt.
Sanding a miter
or a bevel is similar to end grain sanding. Once again, lock the
miter gauge in the worktable and use both support surfaces to ensure
the accuracy of the operation.
To sand a miter
cut, adjust the angle of the miter gauge and leave the worktable
square to the belt (Figure
19-16). To sand a bevel cut, adjust the tilt of the worktable
and leave the miter gauge square to the belt (Figure
19-17). Warning: Do not tilt the worktable in toward the
belt. When the worktable is tilted in, there is a danger that the
rotation of the belt will wedge the stock--or your hands--under
the worktable. You can also set both the miter gauge and the
worktable to sand compound angles (Figure
To sand bevel cuts, just tilt the table to the angle you need.
Move the workpiece directly forward into the belt.
To set the angle
of the miter gauge or tilt of the worktable at the same angle as
the cut, copy the angle of the cut with a sliding T-bevel (Figure
19-19A). Lock the arm of the T-bevel in place.
To sand compound angles, set the miter gauge and the table
tilt to the same angles used when the workpiece was cut.
Place the base
of the T-bevel against the hard side of the belt sander. Rest the
arm of the T-bevel against either the face of the miter gauge (if
you're sanding a miter cut) or the worktable (if you're sanding
a bevel cut). Adjust the angle or the tilt until the arm of the
T-bevel rests flush against the working surface (Figure
If either the
miter gauge or the worktable is to be left at 90° to the belt,
check it with a square and make adjustments if necessary. When you
have completed all the angle and tilt adjustments, be sure that
the worktable is no more than 1/16" away from the belt.
(A) To set the angle of the miter gauge or the tilt of the
worktable, first copy the angle of the cut with a sliding
T-bevel. (B) Once you have copied the angle with a bevel,
transfer that angle to the miter gauge or worktable.
Hold the stock
firmly against the worktable and the miter gauge. Don't move the
stock back and forth; just press it gently against the moving belt.
Sand perfect chamfers on the ends of stock by using the miter
gauge to set the angle; the stop block allows the stock to
move just so far against the belt.
You can form
chamfers on the end of a workpiece by using the miter gauge and
a stop block as shown in Figure
19-20. Set the miter gauge to the angle you need and clamp the
stop block in position so the workpiece can be advanced just so
far against the belt. With the miter gauge's position locked, it's
just a matter of holding the work against the miter gauge face and
then moving it forward until it hits the stop block.
If the cross
section of the work is rectangular, the stop block must be adjusted
to accommodate wide and narrow surfaces of the work. If the workpiece
is square, then one stop block setting will do. If there are many
chamfers to sand, change the position of the stop block to avoid
working against just one area of the belt.
To sand a chamfer on the edge of a workpiece, secure the belt
sander in the horizontal position. Install the worktable parallel
to the belt and mount the miter gauge. Hold the workpiece
flat against the worktable while moving it back and forth.
also be formed on the edges of a workpiece with the belt sander
in the horizontal position. Position the worktable parallel to the
belt and adjust the tilt. Hoid the workpiece absolutely flat against
the worktable and move it back and forth paratlel to the rotation
of the belt. Check it frequently to be sure that you're sanding
the chamfer evenly all along the edge of the workpiece (Figure
Convex and Concave Curves
Use the worktable extension when sanding a concave curve.
in the beginning of this chapter, you aren't limited to sanding
just flat, straight surfaces; the belt sander will also sand curves.
The belt sander
will quickly remove millmarks from curved workpieces. Or, when the
shape of a curve is critical to the design or fit of a workpiece,
many woodworkers cut wide of the mark and use the belt sander to
sand the stock to its final shape. This technique gives you better
control and accuracy when making oddshaped workpieces.
To sand both
convex and concave curves, secure the belt sander in the horizontal
position. Install the worktable parallel to and no farther than
1/16" above the belt. If you haven't already done so, make the worktable
extension shown in Figure
19-25; then bolt it to the worktable. This extension is essential
when sanding both concave (Figure
19-22) and convex curves.
To sand convex
curves, hold the workpiece firmly against the worktable and rock
it against the direction of rotation on the hard side of the belt
sander. Sand the curved edge evenly until all millmarks are removed
and you achieve the desired shape. To sand concave curves, hold
the workpiece firmly against the worktable and roll it against the
direction of rotation on the idler drum. Once again, sand the curved
edges evenly until all millmarks are removed and you achieve the
with the idler drum, use very light pressure. If you press too hard,
you'll put an unnecessary strain on the sleeve bearings in the idler
drum. You may also ruin the crown of the abrasive belt. Once the
crown is destroyed, the belt will not track properly.
Compound Curves and Odd Shapes
Using the belt saner to sand an odd-shaped object.
You can sand
three-dimensional or compound curves on the soft side
of the belt sander. There is no backup plate on this side, and the
belt will conform to almost any shape that's pressed against it.
This is especially useful when rounding off lathe turnings or softening
sharp corners and edges.
Secure the belt
sander in the vertical position, without the worktable. Hold the
workpiece and touch it to the abrasive belt (Figure
19-23). Use very light pressure. Hold the workpiece with the
end you're sanding pointing up. If you feel the belt sander dragging
the workpiece up and out of your grasp, back off immediately. Rock
the workpiece from side to side and back and forth until you achieve
the desired shape.
When you use
the soft side of the belt sander, always work in the center 3" of
the abrasive belt. If you press against the sides, the belt will
creep off center.
Wood Sanding Hints
Getting a smooth,
clean surface begins by making sure you hold the stock flat against
the abrasive belt, keep the stock moving, and sand all areas evenly.
Here are a few additional tips to help you get the best results:
the Center of the Belt--Work in the center of the abrasive belt,
especially if you're sanding small workpieces. If you sand on the
edges, the belt will drift off center, rub up against the belt sander
frame, and begin to fray.
Abrasive Belts--As you work with your belt sander, sawdust and
other materials will accumulate on the belt, making the abrasive
surface smooth and useless. You can extend the life of your abrasive
belts by cleaning them occasionally with an abrasive cleaning stick.
Simply hold the cleaning stick against the abrasive belt while the
machine is running.
belt sander is especially useful in truing up glue joints,
sanding off high or uneven surfaces and excess glue. But glue will
quickly accumulate on the belt, even more quickly than sawdust.
And if the glue dries on the belt or melts into the fabric, it will
be impossible to remove. To minimize the glue that accumulates on
the belt and to safely sand glued-up stock, let all glue joints
dry at least 24 hours. Then knock off the largest glue beads with
a scraper or chisel before sanding the workpiece. Warning: Let
glued-up stock dry at /east 24 hours prior to sanding. Sand
the workpieces slowly, apply very light pressure, and don't allow
the friction of the belt to melt the glue. Clean the belt with an
abrasive cleaning stick immediately after sanding.
A roller stand and/or a worktable extension provide additional
Paints and Other Finishes--The belt sander can also be used
to clean up secondhand wood, especially wood that has been painted
or finished. But like glue, these substances will quickly accumulate
on your abrasive belt and stay there. Remove the majority of the
old finish from the wood with a chemical paint remover and/or scraper.
If you use a water-based remover, allow the workpiece to dry 24
hours before sanding it. Once the majority of the old finish has
been stripped from the wood, sand the surface clean on the belt
sander. Warning: Be sure to wear a dust mask and never sand surfaces
painted with lead paint. When you've finished, clean the belt
with an abrasive cleaning stick.
Construction details of the worktable extension.
Support--Extremely long or odd-shaped workpieces may require
additional support in order to sand them safely and accurately.
A roller stand and/or a worktable extension provide additional support
during sanding operations (Figure
19-24). Construction details for building the extension are
shown in Figure 19-25.
As shown in
the worktable extension can also be used when a drum sander is mounted
on the belt
To save wear and tear on your abrasive belts and idler drum
when sanding a lot of concave curves, mount a drum sander
on the belt sander auxiliary spindle. The worktable and worktable
extension provide support.
spindle. Position the worktable on the right side of the machine,
parallel to but facing away from the belt. Warning: Tape or tie
up the table tilt lock so it doesn't contact the belt.