Adjusting the Platen on a Wide-Belt Sander

Tips on calibrating the platen for a wide-belt sander. July 12, 2008

I recently bought a Powermatic 16" open end wide belt sander, and the instruction manual is not very good. Can someone advise me as to the proper method of setting the height of the platen? I don’t know if there is a method to this, but I don’t have any prior experience with these machines.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor J:
Sand with platen up to thickness. Then lower the platen, with the machine off, till you get some firm drag. Then you’re ready to finish sand. Wood surface should be a little warm on exit, but don't burn.

From the original questioner:
I will give a try. So do you typically only use the platen for final sanding, on the finer grits? I was thinking that I would always have the platen in the same position, but it makes sense if thickness sanding to not have it down on the wood.

From contributor R:
I use a similar method: send through a panel to get uniform drum finish. Then scribble all over it with a pencil. Lower the platen in small increments, and then send the panel through each time until the pencil marks are gone. That way, your drum is doing most of the work and the platen is just smoothing the scratch pattern.