Easy Belt Sander Maintenance
Welcome to the Koopman Powershop blog, our monthly installment designed to help you maintain and improve your equipment. This month we’ll be taking a look at belt sanders! Belt sanders are the powerhouses of the sanding world. They can be your biggest boon in a job, or your worst enemy. For jobs big or small belt sanders provide a world of speed and versatility that just couldn’t be attained manually. A well maintained belt sander will provide years of steady and smooth work.
Powerblog: Belt Sander
Time: 1 Hour or less
Step One: The Belt
The first step is probably something you already do on a regular basis: checking the belt. If you’re ever experiencing problems with your belt sander this is the first place to look. Manually turn the belt in it’s track and examine it. If you find any cracks or areas with extreme wear then it’s time to replace the belt.
The first step in replacing the belt is to determine which size belt your sander takes. Most multi-use belt sanders will run 3″ wide belts. Wider and narrower belts exist, but they’re mostly used for specific applications. The length of belt will depend on how large your sander is. Smaller sanders will run 18″ belts while most mid size sanders run 21″ belts. Larger sanders can run 24″ and above but this will generally be custom sized. Koopman Lumber carries high quality belts from Norton Abrasives – a company based right here in Massachusetts. It always pays to keep your belt free of gummy build up.
Next you need to determine which size grit you need. This will depends heavily on what kind of jobs the grit will need to preform. 80-120 grit is a very standard set up with 80 being the more heavy duty of the two. If you need a very heavy sanding you can go all the way up to a 50, but remember that grit this coarse can leave grooves in whatever you are sanding.
Step Two: The Rollers
When you have the belt removed it’s time to take a look at the rollers from above. The sides of each roller should line up with each other. If they don’t your belt is going to have a wandering problem and you will not only get an inferior work load, but potentially damage your equipment. Not all rollers are tracked the same way on all machines so it’s best to look in your owners manual to find out how to adjust the roller tracking (or look up the model online and get the manual from there).
Step Three: The Platen
If you’re not sure what a platen is that’s fine, a lot of people don’t! The platen is the piece of metal in between the belt and the boot that is backed by a piece of cork or similar material to absorb shock. Over time the belt will wear away at the metal and cork. You can tell when either needs to be replaced quite simply – the metal will appear too thin in some parts and the cork will crumble easily. To replace the platen, simply remove the belt and unscrew the platen and replace it with a new one that you can order at any Koopman Lumber store location depending on the make and model of your sander.
Step four: Vacuuming
When you’ve completed all of this bring out the shop vac and give your sander a good once over with the vacuum. Sawdust and debris from use tend to build up in crevices along the face of your sander and a quick vacuum every now and then will go a long way towards increasing the life of your machine.
Your belt sander should be thanking you by now. A new belt, platen, well adjusted rollers, and clean interior can keep your machine running for years longer than you might expect it to. We won’t say you’ll never buy another sander again, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a reason to!
For high volume professional users, consider a Festool sanding system. It’s an investment that pays you back with savings in time and materials. By effectively removing dust and debris and capturing it in the vacuum, you’ll save tons of time and your paper will last way longer. Festool is stocked in Westborough, Whitinsville, and Sharon locations.
We hope that you enjoyed this month’s Powershop Blog and learned a lot about caring for your belt sander. If you have any questions or want to set up an appointment with our Powershop specialists check out our locations at www.koopmanlumber.com.