Tool Review: Belt/Disc Sanders
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Wood Magazine

Tool Review: Belt/Disc Sanders

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6X48" Belt/Disc Sanders

 

These machines, priced from $400 to $800, tackle a range of sanding tasks with both power and finesse. And though they look similar, we found big performance differences among the tested models.

Note: You may also download the entire review including product ratings in the WOOD Store.

 
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    •  Belt/Disc Sanders Introduction      Belt/Disc Sanders Chart
    Tool and Tool Buying Forum

 
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If you've never had the pleasure of using a big combination sander like the ones tested for this article, you're missing out on one of the most versatile machines in the shop. Compared to a portable belt sander clamped upside-down in a vise, it's like the difference between using a long bed jointer and a hand plane to put a straight edge on a board--it can be done, but the large, flat surface makes the job easier and faster. These sanders also sport large-diameter discs, allowing you to sand wider workpieces than less-expensive benchtop belt/disc sanders.

Five qualities that count in a belt/disc sander

  1. Power. Don't expect a machine's rated horsepower to tell you how fast it'll hog away wood--we found little relationship between the two.
  2. Sturdy, accurate tables. Loads of power doesn't mean much if it's not paired with precision. In fact, when touching up a bevel or miter, accuracy and table stability under pressure are paramount.
  3. Flat disc and platen. Again, it's a question of accuracy. If you sand the face of a wide workpiece on the belt, can you trust the machine to make it truly flat? That quality originates with the platen--the supporting surface behind the belt.
  4. Easy belt changes and adjustments. Changing belts on a combo sander involves removing parts, such as the belt table, guards, and/or dust collection ports, and those that don't require any tools for the task earned high marks in our test.
  5. Efficient dust collection. These machines remove a lot of material fast, and without proper dust collection, the shop air quickly becomes hazy with super-fine wood particles.

Learn the results of our testing of the Craftsman 21516, Craftsman 22606, Delta 31-300, Fisch BDS-612001, General International 15-035DC, Grizzly G1276, Jet JSG-96, Jet JSG-6DC, Shop Fox W1676, and Shop Fox W1712 when you pick up the October 2004 issue of WOOD magazine and turn to page 80. Or, you can download the complete review, including charts and photos, for only $3.75.

Editor's Choice Top Tool: Delta 31-300
Editor's Choice Top Value: Craftsman 21516


 

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Wood Magazine