Wide Belt Sander User Tips

Use the wide-belt sander's drum for stock removal, and the platen for finer-grit finish sanding. July 21, 2006

I have a very old 37" wide belt sander with no manual or info. My question is this: what should be making contact to the wood, the roller or the platten?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor M:
You can use the platten on you final pass.

From the original questioner:
Does that mean that the drum contact is used for everything up to the final pass?

From contributor D:
Is this a two head machine or a single combo head?

From the original questioner:
It has a single drum on top with two drum on bottom and platten between the two. The first drum is the drive head.

From contributor D:
It sounds like a single combination head machine basically designed to run either drum or platen. I dont believe both drum and platen can be utilized at the same time, but Ive not seen everything. If stock removal is required, then remove the platen (slides in and out) and adjust the drums contact for sanding to desired flatness and clarity. After this, slide platen back in and use it with finer grit to remove the course grit marks left by the drum operation, (basically the platens function).

A two pass procedure. Be sure and open machine and readjust sanding position after switching between the two. A 2 head machine (1st head drum only, 2nd head platen only) would allow you to do this with one pass and speed things up-but the platens setting in that machine would be relative to the drum - once again adjusted to remove the 1st head courser marks.

From contributor M:
Yes, platten for the final pass. Dave has done a good job of explaining this. Mine is adjustable, so I leave it in. When I switch to my final grit, I make a pass to register or calibrate. Make sure it is sanding making contact. Then put the platten down to just kiss the surface. It is a final shot. If I am doing raised panel doors I skip this step. I want to finish at 150, so I sand to 180, then use a random orbit with 150 grit to remove the 180 grit cross grain scratches.

Just a quick note here - you will want to use your aggressive grits like 40 - 80 for stock removal. Get it close and then go through finer grits. After stock removal it is a matter of making finer scratches. On our 120 grit and above, we remove about .005 per pass (about a sheet of paper).