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Thread: Has anyone built the Woodsmith belt sander?

  1. #1

    Has anyone built the Woodsmith belt sander?

    A recent issue of Woodsmith describes making a stationary belt sander (different from a previous one that they powered with a lathe).
    - Has anyone built this?
    - Does it perform well?
    - Cost vs a manufactured one?
    - Pitfalls to watch for in construction?

  2. #2

    belt sander experience

    Quote Originally Posted by David Kenagy View Post
    A recent issue of Woodsmith describes making a stationary belt sander (different from a previous one that they powered with a lathe).
    - Has anyone built this?
    - Does it perform well?
    - Cost vs a manufactured one?
    - Pitfalls to watch for in construction?
    I built it right after the article appeared.
    it performs well, but it took a lot of adjusting to get it to track perfectly to suit me. I built the drill press driven belt sander a few years ago and never had any problems. Same sort of build. I had the two rollers at different heights and I turned the rollers on the lathe. ( this caused the crowns to not be on the same plane, height.) Redid them as they showed on the router table and that really helped.
    the motor is the big cost, if you can find a used one that would really make it cheap. We just moved here to NY from Colorado and I gave two motors away that would have been fine. Even with the new Leeson motor it was Apx 1/2 of manufactured one.

    the rollers need to have the crown in the middle and mounted at the same height vertically. The vertical plane of the driven roller that is coupled to the motor I had canted out of vertical. All in all it worked out to be a good addition.
    It worked ok right away but the belt wasnít evenly positioned on both rollers, that bothered me, and that is what all the tinkering was about. Could have left it and used it that way. If you decide to build it pm me and I will send you the tension springs. Charles

  3. #3
    Here is a list of parts that you will need and some you can make
    need: Bearings. 22.43 ea, Shaft coupling. 44.87, Springs. 15.87. Apx $101.46. + ship. +Motor ? +misc hwd - nuts and bolts, rod. plywood. Etc

    can make: Knurled knobs. 5.90 ea. Hand wheel. 22.37, Studded knob. 13.05 ea Apx $60.28 +ship

    lots of time invested to build but was enjoyable, if you enjoy building things itís ok. Make sure you use a enclosed, dust proof motor

  4. #4
    This was posted on BT, ad from CL 00y0y_8wYDG329qd9_1200x900.jpg00L0L_327v23imAPI_1200x900.jpg01212_4m5Zy7mZMv6_1200x900.jpghttps://kansascity.craigslist.org/tls/d/rayville-big-belt-sander-variable-speed/6870227099.html

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Hennessey View Post
    This was posted on BT, ad from CL 00y0y_8wYDG329qd9_1200x900.jpg
    School me guys? What would you use a belt sander that wide for?
    I don't think thicknessing would its strong suit (would need a set of rollers on top to keep even pressure.)
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
    - Sir Edmund Burke

  6. #6
    My guess would be to flatten a board. You would need to hold it to apply the pressure. Our local lumber yard in Kansas 50 years ago had a very long belt sander that the board went under and you used a platen to apply pressure. I think it was called a stoke sander. Someone may have a better take on this than me.

  7. #7
    I've been off-line for months, missed your helpful message.

    I just finshed the rollers (did it their way), and bought the bearings from McMaster-Carr (their vendor, which happens to be 30 min from my house). It seems to me that the idler pully should spin relative to the stationary 5/8" shaft, and only the inside face of the bearing should stay in fixed contact with the shaft. Since the pully is pretty tight against the shaft, I should enlarge it a bit (round file?) so it won't squeak or resist...right?

    My second question is about those idler bearings. They're so easily moved on the shaft that I wonder how they keep the pully at 1/8" from the top and bottom limits (a 6" pulley in a 6.25" space). Do I trust the adjustment screws to handle that, or add washers?

    Since the idler pulleys are glued-up plywood, they're very rough, once the core box bit shapes them. I'm tempted to sand them, but maybe they perform better if they are rough. Your thoughts?

  8. #8
    "What would you use a belt sander that wide for??"

    My interest in the width (6") is to go for longer periods between belt changes. When part of the belt has been used, changing the table height will get me to a different piece of belt and a different cutting speed. New belt will cut faster, old belt will cut more slowly.

    The length is harder to justify. Any straight segment will do a better job on convex curves and straight edges than my spindle sander does. The little 12 - 18" belts on the market always seem too small for freely moving a straight workpiece of 8" or more. Why 89"? I guess because it's the only plan I found, and I've had good results with Woodcraft projects.
    Last edited by David Kenagy; 09-02-2019 at 1:14 PM.

  9. #9
    I sanded my rollers. I added washers to keep them centered as I remember. Need to look tomorrow and will get back. Have you ordered the springs yet. They sell 6 in a set. I have 3 extra if you want them. Let know and iíll Send them to you.

  10. #10
    I put washers under the idler to center

  11. #11
    Thanks. I ordered the springs before I started, but I sure appreciate the thought. Glad to learn that I do need washers (must be reading the plans correctly).

  12. #12
    Well, I finished it, and (in case anyone else is interested) I have answers to my original questions.

    The plan is a good one. There were some pleasant surprises.
    - The table was square to the platen (the surface that backs up the sanding belt). Since I was afraid it wouldn't be, I secured the table to the sliding support with screws and "L" brackets (instead of glue), thinking I could add shims as needed.
    - The sliding support and table move smoothly. I suggest you route the slot in the fixed support with the face down on the router table. Do the same when routing the matching slot on the sliding support, but raise the bit by a few thousandths. That will create a tiny gap between the sliding support and the unit (less friction).

    Some things to watch out for
    - When you glue up the plywood blanks to make the rollers, you will probably want to assemble 2-3 blanks at a time (instead of all 8) because the glue sets so quickly, and you want the center holes aligned, to avoid friction with the metal axis. But watch that the blanks are perpendicular to that axis (it's easy to get them slightly cocked).
    - The idler roller tends to sink down on the fixed wooden piece that holds the axis rod. Assemble with a large washer, to hold the roller above that piece.
    - The plan for the platen didn't suit me. Even the back of a sanding belt is rough, and plastic laminate-on-hardboard will wear out. I had a metal shop bend a piece of stainless steel: 7" x 23" face, with two bends on the left 7" edge. Bend 45 deg for a distance of 1/4", then another 45 deg for a distance of 1/2. Put screw holes in the 1/2" portion. Cut a matching 45 deg on the left edge of the plywood surface (and omit the 1/4" hardboard). My steel platen has no screws on a surface that the belt touches. If you drew a line from the surface of one roller to the surface of the other, it would run along the back of my metal platen (so a taut belt hugs the face gently). The shop charged me $60 to do this piece.

    Jet makes an 89" belt sander that's obviously a copy of an old Delta model. Jet charges $1100 before taxes or shipping. I spent $80 on plywood, $330 on a new motor, $60 on a metal platen, and $250 on the other hardware. If my time has value, then I broke even. If you can find a used motor and salvage hardware, you can beat that.

    But I had fun.

  13. #13
    I'm also building this project and am questioning their dimensions for the jig used to create the round rollers. It seems to me that after I cut the 45 degree corners off the glued-up 5"X5" block to create an octagon shape, there will be no way to actually spin the assembly once placed in the jig. The jig described in the Shopnotes is only 5" wide between the walls but if you do the calculations on the widest point of an octagon you get a distance of 5.4" which seems like it will prevent the glue-up from being rotated to create a round shape. My question is for those of you who followed this design, did the jig described in the magazine actually work and am I just missing something?

  14. #14
    You are not missing anything, the jig dimensions are incorrect. Just make it bigger so you can rotate the rollers. The no on putting a wedge underneath to raise it for the taper works tho. If you havenít ordered the springs I would be glade to give you the three extra I have. Had to buy 6 and only need 3. Send me a pm if you want them. Charles

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Charles Grauer View Post
    You are not missing anything, the jig dimensions are incorrect. Just make it bigger so you can rotate the rollers. The no on putting a wedge underneath to raise it for the taper works tho. If you havenít ordered the springs I would be glade to give you the three extra I have. Had to buy 6 and only need 3. Send me a pm if you want them. Charles
    Thanks for the confirmation Charles and offer of the springs. I'm in the same boat as you now though, since I already bought the 6-pack of springs. I made the upsized jig last night and successfully turned one of the rollers round, still need to turn it down to the correct diameter and get started on roller #2.

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