Power tools are no joke and often young adults who buy a new home ultimately have to do repairs, maintenance, or want to add a new addition to their house. Do they hire out? Not if they're too proud to pay someone to do it the right way and in half the time. They decide to take a hack at it themselves and usually end up doing a poor job or one that is unsatisfactory in the eyes of their spouse.
But that doesn't mean one can't learn how to become more handy and diligent when their performing their own tasks. One of the most important tasks is learning how to use power tools because these are inherently the most dangerous tools out there. Used incorrectly and they can cause serious harm, let alone put a big damper on your project.
Let's take a look at one tool in particular, a sander, that is often used to smooth out wood or metal, strip paint, finish edges, assist with cabinets, bookcases, doors, etc. It's a powerful tool to have in your arsenal and can cut your project time in half if you own one.
A belt sander, such as one from Black & Decker, is an excellent tool for any workshop. While it is generally not used for finer detail work, when you need to roughly shape a piece of wood or sand something down close to the final finishing stages a belt sander is the perfect tool.
Buying the Right Sander
If you are thinking about purchasing a belt sander, there are several things that you should keep in mind. Buy a good quality brand that has at least a 90 day warranty. Make sure that it uses a standard size belt that you can buy locally. Some cheaper imports use odd belt sizes. It should have a variable speed control so that you can slow the belt down. The sander should be fairly heavy but feel good in your hands. An uncomfortable sander will wear you down in no time. And make sure that it has a dust bag, and the capability to connect to a vacuum, as a belt sander makes quite a bit of dust.
Belt Sanding Basics
After you get a belt sander, find some scrap wood to practice on. Clamp the wood down. While holding the sander just above the wood, squeeze the trigger. Lower the sander on the wood while moving it at the same time. Don’t put too much pressure down; let the machine do its work. The idea is to let the sander ride level on the wood creating a smooth even surface. Hold the sander tightly so if it grabs the wood it will not get away from you.
A hand belt sander can also be used as a bench sander. Turn the sander upside down, and clamp it in a vise. The trigger has a lock to keep it running. You can use this position to shape small pieces of wood, or put a rough edge on a chisel. You can even sharpen lawn mower blades. Be careful, if the piece you are sanding catches, the sander can throw it across your shop.
A belt sander can work down large areas, like a table top. This takes a little technique and the right sandpaper. Use a slightly higher grit than you normally would. The sander works quickly, and a rougher grit of paper will gouge the wood before you know what happened. Move the sander at a medium hand speed and do not stop moving it! Even a short stop will leave an uneven spot. After the top is close to the finish grit and is level, finish it down by hand sanding for a perfect surface to put a finish coat on.
Once you have a belt sander, you will find it to be an invaluable tool in your shop. While it won’t be used every day, when you need it you will surely be glad that you have this time saving tool. To make a comparison, owning a home without a belt sander is like owning arrows for a deer hunt without a reputable and powerful bow sight. One doesn't make sense without the other and that's why it's important to add this to your arsenal of tools.