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Platen question on widebelt

Dave Edgerton  Member

First off this widebelt is new to me with no manual. Is the plan with a graphite pad supposed to be engaged at all times or should you move it up out of the way and use the main contact roller when using say 80 grit to rough sand some hardwood stock before changing belts to fine?
Second question, how much should a person take off per pass or is that machine and wood specific. We have been watching the ammeter to determine loading on the machine rather than a set thickness increment.

6/4/20       #2: Platen question on widebelt ...
Bruce H

I keep the platen out of the way for most sanding and only use it for the final finish.

How much you take off will depend on the grit you are using. You might get away with ten thousands using a 60 grit belt and maybe three thousands with a 220 grit belt. Heave handed heats up the belt and shortens its life. If the belt grit is dull the more you hog it the greater chance of burning the surface. In general you are only trying to remove the scratches from the previous grit size.

Draw a pencil line across your board. It will take about five thousands to remove it. Finer grits I usually just sear the pencil line, coarser grits it would be entirely gone.

6/4/20       #3: Platen question on widebelt ...
Jared E

Dave, your approach jibes with what I do. No platen until final pass. According to my widebelt manual, lower it into position without lowering the setting on the belt, and use a _light_ pencil mark to gauge scratch depth.

6/4/20       #4: Platen question on widebelt ...

I follow the sequence in this article.

SurfPrep Sanding Article

6/5/20       #5: Platen question on widebelt ...
David R Sochar Member

Dave- It appears you have a combination head on your sander. That is good.

The head allows for calibration using the drum only. Being rigid, it sands a flat surface, with minimal rounding at the edges. Set it so the platen is down and engaged, and it is for final sanding, but since it has some give, it will round edges a bit.

Watching the ammeter is good - sanders are not like a planer - set a dimension and force it thru. You will learn to dance with the sander, how to get the most out of it.

I do feel that no money is ever saved by using cheap belts. Buy good belts and try a few from major manufacturers, you will find that a certain brand will give you the best results.

Wide belts are great machines and can really help productivity while improving the product. You might even consider hiring a tech to set it up right and train your shop. That was a big help for our Butfering.

6/14/20       #6: Platen question on widebelt ...
keith farr

Most important is once you have sander set, back it off some. Almost ALL sanding problems on a widebelt stem from taking off too much. We have a double head timesaver and a single head AEM we rough down on the double head (doors, fronts,and frames) 80 grit, then move over to a the single head and barely kiss the surface with 120 grit (I mean barely touch it) just removing the "tips" of the 80 grit hips and valleys I always take mutiple passes as opposed to fewer heavier passes

6/18/20       #7: Platen question on widebelt ...
Kevin Jenness Member

The Surfprep article linked to by Rocket is very useful. Once you have removed any tearout/snipe with your initial grit all you want to do with subsequent passes is to get down through the previous scratch pattern. The cooler your belts run, the longer they will last.

With the machine I used to operate we tried to keep the ammeter below 50% as a rule. Spikes were ok, but continuous operation above 70% wound up with the feed motor overheating and cutting out, leaving a divot in the workpiece.

The machine could also be stopped by the electric eye being obscured by sanding dust, causing the belt to run off the roller. It's a good idea to check and clean that when you change belts

We had good luck with 3M belts with a thin tape holding the splice together as opposed to the old skived and overlapped joints. Cheap belts are a waste of money, as is using a belt after it dulls.

2/3/21       #8: Platen question on widebelt ...
Adam West  Member


I am the author of that article. Feel free to contact me if you still have questions.

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