We’re currently looking into buying an edge bander and a 43” dual belt sander. Beyond the particulars in specs, which I think we’ve narrowed down sufficiently, we’re really having a hard time choosing a manufacturer.
Some concerns aired here and elsewhere state that both Time Saver wide belts and Holzher edge banders have not lived up to their former glory in recent years and that is obviously a huge concern for us, that and their ability to satisfactorily support us with maintenance and repair in the future. Our concern with Biesse, for both an edge bander and a wide belt is that there is very little in the way of any feedback, all-be-it the little feedback here is good.
FWIW, as an aside, Stiles has been, shall we say, aloof in their sales approach as I have yet to get even a phone call after my contacting them on two separate occasions. Needless to say, we’ve lost interest in them.
We purchased a CNC from Biesse a year ago and are very happy with their support. While our machine had some major hiccups, they kept at it and fixed the machine which has been working for 10 months now without so much as a squeak. So I know their support is good, they stand by their product, but is their product up to snuff.
I understand that it’s in the manufacturers to scrub bad press from the internet, with that, please send me any feedback you have via the contact link that is linked to my email address.
Had a holzher bander and hated from the day I got it. People love them or hate them.
Now have a biesse and have zero issues (other than its an edgebander that requires that you love it by keeping it clean and maintaned)
There's a company out of Minnesota that sells a widebelt almost identical to what Timesavers sells. Their website sucks, but I've had a dual head 43" machine from them for about a year and a half and I'm very pleased with it and their customer support. It was substantially less money than the Timesavers model. I'm in Minnesota, that played a huge part in what machine I bought. Proximity to parts and technicians is important to factor in.
I dealt with Jon Hill. Decent enough guy. My machine got caught up in the labor strike at the ports on the West coast and took a while to show up. Not their fault though.
I would recommend going with the longer belts. 103" vs. 75". The way I run mine is pretty hard on abrasives, but burning up paper is still cheaper than more machine time. I think the longer belts would improve that.
We purchased a new sander late last year and had some great advice from a trusted fellow shop owner I'd like pay forward. Buy a big sander, huge infact. 53"-3 head and you'll never look back ( I know it seems crazy and way too expensive right?). The footprint is negligibly larger, the extra capacity pays dividends. A year ago, I would have laughed at the reasoning for anything over 43. We are running the occasional full sheet through, large face frames, all kinds of parts, plus with a larger belt width we all get a lot done in less time.
We do frame, Euro, laminate, whatever as well as make a lot of doors.
There was a lot of jargon I really didn't understand until we had the machine in place, that's where I'm grateful to have had a very helpful friend introduce me to a machine class and a rep that changed our approach to sanding.
Here are a few considerations and things learned-
1) constant pass line- feed table/infeed belt never moves- machine frame adjusts up and down. Much more accurate and predictable as well as infeed and outfeed tables always work.
2) Drums/ platen combo. Steel on the first drum- it's bombproof and will make your second rubber contact drum last much longer meaning better sanding. Finally a combi head- this means belts running on a segmented platen which means customizeable sanding if you are ever doing veneer, sealer sanding (huge time savings) and finally prep sanding for finishing with a light hit from the rollers and platen combo.
3) Get a machine that reads and adjusts for the parts coming in- this is gold and will pay for itself in belts and machine abuse and wear avoided.
4) Use a digital caliper to set up the sander, don't mess with the onboard measuring thing unless you have smaller parts that are pre- calibrated. It's foolproof this way.
much less costly and more consistent paper belts with air blasts to cool them and good calibration sanding or tight specs on incoming solid wood will make the belts last a ridiculous long time. Most of our belts fail from edge tears from loading and unloading.
The quality of the parts coming out of this machine means significantly fewer labor hours to the point where I believe in a 8-10 guy shop we will safely cover the extra cost for a machine larger than what I originally set about to purchase.
Lastly, the creature comforts are just an added bonus- a saved program for nearly everything in a very custom shop, a practically dummy proof system, and finally, it's super quiet to run.
The down side is the large amount of compressed air and dust collection needed if you're not already set up for it.
The initial cost creates some initial reservation, but money is cheap right now and labor is scarce and our biggest expense, so it makes sense to invest in equipment that will get more done.
Choosing a wide belt sander correctly can save your company the cost of the machine per year, for every year you own it. You pick the wrong one and it will cost you more than the cost of the machine plus some.
I cannot advocate for one machine company over another as it would alienate my friends at each of the machine manufacturers.
If you would like to email me I can give you a very solid understanding of how you will actually utilize your machine for the best results possible, and this will undoubtedly help you understand which machine will work the best for your requirements.
I can state publically that you defintely want a machine with dead shafts and air exclusion on each sanding position. If you buy a two head make sure it has a drum and combi-head. The machine weight has absolutely nothing to do with how "heavy duty" it is.
Avoid salesmen who promise that a machine will do every single job perfectly and do not let them sell you what they have in stock rather than what you actually need.
My job is to travel the country for my employer and teach people about sanding. I specialize in wide belt machine and have personally worked on over 1500 wide belt machines in my career.
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