How To Use a Belt Sander – Informative Guide (Pics & Video)

Cody
| Last Updated: January 24, 2021

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Belt sanders are handy tools that will allow you to shape and remove large amounts of material from a workpiece.

Below, we'll introduce you to working with a belt sander, along with plenty of tips and advice. 

How to Use a Belt Sander 

If you've never operated a belt sander before, you'll soon realize the benefits that come with it. However, you first need to understand the basics.

In the following section, we'll give you a step-by-step guide on using a belt sander properly. 

  1. Unlock the tension by flipping the tensioning lever to place the belt onto the sander.

    Ensure the arrows on the underside of the belt are pointing in the spin direction. If multiple arrows are facing both directions, this means you can place the belt in any direction.

  2. Test it out by turning the belt on; if the belt isn't placed correctly or begins to slide around, you can adjust the sander's track to even it out.

    There are models available that do this automatically for you. You should adjust the tracking while the sander is running. You can turn it upside down to see the belt more clearly.

  3. It would be best if you moved the sander with the grain to ensure no scratches or marking. Sand at a steady pace and only use the weight of the sander to apply the correct pressure.   

  4. If you're using a wide belt sander on a narrow piece of wood, most carpenters will join up multiple narrow pieces of wood and sand them at once to make a larger surface area. The larger the surface area, the easier it is to keep the sander straight.

If you'd like to see a visual representation of the guide above, please look at the YouTube video below. 

Belt Sander Tips For Specific Uses 

Any craftsman or hobbyist DIY'er will tell you that carpentry is like an art form.

With every art form, you'll develop tips and tricks over many years of experience. But, let's cut to the chase and explain some valuable tips and advice in the section below. 

How To Use A Belt Sander To Remove Paint 

To remove paint from a workpiece, you'll require medium and heavy-grit sandpaper. If you start off sanding with the heavy-grit belt, you'll remove the majority of the paint. 

When you begin to see the wood underneath, this is when you swap to a medium-grit belt and remove the remaining paint. This means you won't remove too much material from the workpiece. 

We'd recommend wearing safety glasses to protect yourself from any chippings and a dust mask. The last thing you want to inhale is dust or toxic particles from the paint. 

How To Sharpen Lathe Tools With A Belt Sander

Sharpening lathe chisels can easily be done with your belt sander. It's also a less-expensive method than a grinder.

It's recommended to use a belt at least two inches thick; either 80-grit or 120-grit sandpaper will do fine. We'd recommend using a belt sanding unit as this allows you to hold the lathe chisel with both hands while sharpening. 

You should gently glide the workpiece along with the sander until you're happy with the sharpness. Check the workpiece with every glide; always ensure that you keep the workpiece cool with some water. 

How To Sand Wood Floors With A Belt Sander

To sand standard wooden floors properly, the room must be completely cleared of any furniture, and the floors must be clean. If the wooden floor is full of scratches, marks, or uneven, you should sand it diagonally. 

You should work your way from using 60-grit sandpaper up to a 100-grit to finish to sand wooden floors. 

If the floors are relatively clean and mark-free, you should sand with the grain, starting with an 80-grit, increasing each pass up to 120-grit. 

How To Use A Belt Sander On Hardwood Floors

To sand hardwood floors, you need to ensure the floors are clean and free from any nails. 60-grit sandpaper will be suitable for hardwood floors, although you can swap between any sandpaper you require. 

Most start with a 60-grit, but you can start with 36-grit sandpaper and increase the grit with every pass. Always make sure that you're continually moving the belt sander and sand with the grain. Otherwise, if you're stationary, you'll make the floor uneven. 

Suppose you don't have much experience in sanding hardwood floors with a belt sander. In that case, most experts recommend you practice in areas that aren't likely to be seen as a closet. 

If you'd like to remove any scratches made by the coarse grit sandpaper, you must finish with fine 100-grit sandpaper. 

How to Change a Belt on a Belt Sander 

Changing the belt on your sander is relatively easy when you know what you're doing; for those of you that aren't as experienced in belt changes, please refer to our guide below. 

  1. Ensure that the sander isn't connected to a power source during the process of changing the belt. 

  2. Firstly, to swap a belt over, flick the tension lever to release any tension keeping the old belt secure. 

  3. You'll need to check the inside of the belt; it will show you arrows pointing in either a single or dual direction. You will need to place the belt on the sander in the direction that it operates. For example, if the belt arrows are pointing right, this belt can only move clockwise. 

  4. Once you're happy it's secure, you can connect the power and test it out. If the track isn't even, this can be adjusted using the track adjuster.

Belt Sander Safety Considerations 

Safety should always be your number one priority. Below are some important safety points to consider whenever you're operating a belt sander. 

Protective Equipment 

Many accidents can happen when sanding, chippings can be thrown into your eye, dust can be inhaled, and the constant loud noise can damage your hearing, which is why it's essential to be wearing safety glasses, a mask, and ear protection. 

Effective Ventilation 

Inhaling dust and other toxic particles can be extremely dangerous; the dust can also create a huge mess. This is why it's vital to ensure proper ventilation. 

Keep the windows wide open when sanding. Consider attaching a vacuum to the belt sander to reduce the amount of dust in the air. 

Change The Belt Safely

Keep the sander disconnected from the power when changing the belt; if not, you could accidentally turn the sander on and remove a significant amount of skin, which would undoubtedly be painful. 

What is a Belt Sander Used For? Top 5 Belt Sander Uses

Belt sanders are incredibly versatile tools that can be used to complete various tasks. They can often replace more expensive tools, which is a massive benefit if you're low on space and a budget. Below are the top five uses for a belt sander. 

Sharpening 

While many people use grinders for sharpening, they can be expensive niche tools unnecessary for most home garages. Instead, many opt to use belt sanders instead. 

We recommend between 80 and 120 grit sandpaper, however a local blade shop may be able to help you decide what is best for your blade.

As always, safety is a must, particularly when working with sharp objects. Be sure to use gloves and eye protection, as well as ensure the sander is stable and capable of working on blades.

Material Removal 

Most professionals use belt sanders as an effective tool in removing large quantities of material. They're powerful and aggressive tools that can operate at incredibly fast speeds.

It's beneficial for the user to find a belt sander that has a variable speed control. Therefore it can be used for other tasks. 

Finishing 

Finishing is often done by smaller sanders like an orbital or palm sander. However, suppose you have a variable speed control on your sander. In that case, it can then be used as an effective way of finishing a project. 

Shaping

Belt sanders often have various grip positions built into them. The different grip positions provide the user with greater steering and shape a workpiece with better control. 

Quick Sanding

Belt sanders tend to be large tools that cover a wide area of up to four inches.

The wide area coverage makes them useful for larger workpieces like doors and cabinets; they're able to drastically reduce the time it takes to drastically sand the workpiece by just having a wide belt. 

Conclusion 

Belt sanders are simple tools to master; the information above is all you need to achieve that. These sanders are excellent tools to have in your arsenal as they're incredibly versatile. If you're ever interested in carpentry, it would be a good idea to get a belt sander. 

Cody

My name is Cody and I've been a writer for Tool Tango for quite some time now. I've always had a knack for building things with my hands and creative writing, so being able to combine the two has been great. I love being able to give back to the DIY-community, while also learning a thing or two along the way. When I'm not writing, I enjoy watching Netflix with my girlfriend, fishing, and working in the shop.