Power tools are recommended to be handled with care to avoid any injuries. But while this is all good, most people confuse between techniques that are designed to ensure the survival of the user and those that ensure you use the tool in the best way. For many, it has become a norm to use power tools in whichever way that feels natural to them without giving a care in the world whether it is the right way or not. Doing this might have you completing the project but it will look like the handy work of an amateur.
When dealing with even the best belt sander, you will need to learn how to use them perfectly. While the function and the design of these units seem and even look intuitive, there are several techniques and tips that you should be aware of to have the best results. Reading this, there is a chance you made several mistakes while using your brand new sander. The below guide will take you through the techniques and steps of how to use belt sanders in the best way.
Before we dig our teeth deep into the preparation steps you ought to take, it is important that we note down what belt sanders were designed to do. Understanding the intended purpose of the unit will see to it that you do not misuse your tool.
Belt sanders are designed to work on both commercial and consumer projects. Depending on the type of sandpaper used as well as the skill of the user handling the tool, a belt sander can be used to accomplish fine and rough finishing. However, fine finishing is best left to the professionals as it requires some great deal of accuracy and gentleness.
Now, as you prepare to use your power tool, the first step you should take is check whether the tool is in good working order. Ensure that the pad, the belt itself and other moving parts of the unit are free of dust. Additionally, in the event you will be working on a small piece of wood, it is important to ensure that the piece is fastened to a table to keep it from sliding away from you as you sand against the grain.
While belt sanders may not pose similar risks to those of saws and drills, you still have to take precautionary measures when using the tool. Belt sanders are designed to be efficient at what they do. Their motors run fast and wild and needless to say, can prove to be very loud. The noise can, over time, cause hearing damage. To prevent this, it is advisable that you use ear protectors at all times. In addition to this, the unit will produce dust during a project. The dust is, for the most part, fine though in some instances, especially when working on very rough wood, the unit may throw at you a larger splinter of the wood you are working on. In light of this, it is important that you have protective goggles on at all times and dust masks as well. Additionally, you should never leave your long hair to hang loose when working or have any loose garment as it is easy for it to get caught in the unit leading to great disaster.
After turning on the belt sander, you should not start sanding immediately. You should give it some time to get to its maximum speed. Most belt sanders are designed with a slow start technology. This helps in providing you with more control. After the unit hits its maximum speed, then you can adjust the speed accordingly. High speeds are perfect for hard and stubborn surfaces while slower speeds are perfect for soft woods. Given the amount of power these units generate, it is advisable to use both hands to handle the unit while in operation. This will further improve your control resulting to even better sanding results.
Speaking of power, you should bear in mind that the unit features more than enough power and weight to successfully accomplish a given task. As such, you will not have to apply pressure on the unit (unless of course the wood is very dense. Even then, with a little patience you will get the job done). In the event the belt sander proves to be ineffective for the task at hand, you have the option of getting lower grit sandpaper. But whatever you do, do not apply body weight pressure.
Eyeballing the wood for sanding depth is an art, not even many experienced professionals have been able to master. A simple trick to use to help keep track of the sanded areas is to mark the surface with charcoal or pencil. Depending on just how deep you are looking to sand, you just might have to apply the marks several times.
When rough sanding, have the tool at an angle to the surface of the wood (the grain). Also, you should ensure that you perform complete passes for both rough and finish sanding. This, however, is not the same case when working on uneven floors. You should, however, in such situations ensure your passes are level and longer.
After you are done sanding, there are several steps that you should perform to ensure the tool remains in tip top condition. First and foremost, immediately after finishing your sanding process, turn off the sander and unplug it from the switch. Coil the cord as instructed on the manual using bundling knots to keep the cord from entangling. After you have removed the sandpaper, clean out any debris or dust that may have accumulated over during the project. Leaving the sandpaper on the belt sander can be convenient but may cause a dust build up over time. The dust will reduce the lifespan of the unit and even cause it to break down with time.
Last but not least, ensure that the tool is stored in a cool and dry spot. The spot you select should also be free from adverse weather conditions.