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Belt and Disc Sander

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ChrisH15/03/2015 12:51:44
857 forum posts
29 photos

I was thinking that maybe a small belt and disc sander would be useful in the workshop. I know that they are made to sand wood but I would want to tart up bits of metal instead, make them look a bit pretty if I wasn't going to go to the effort of loads of work filing and polishing with ever finer wet and dry etc, take sharp corners off, that sort of thing.

Now, I know what I want would be impossible - a good quality, well made, robust machine at a nice low cost; you only get what you pay for so that is impossible but one can aim that way!

So the questions for the team are: can anyone suggest a suitable machine from experience, what experience has anyone had of belt and disc sanders, and what about life of sanding belts and discs when used on metal instead of wood, or are metal grade belts and discs available?


Edited By ChrisH on 15/03/2015 12:53:19

Nick Grant15/03/2015 13:20:36
32 forum posts

Im half searching for one myself at the moment. One thing I have learned is that metal causes extra problems because a lot of the cheap ones have plastic dust collection chutes and the metal sparks burn through. They can also be far from precise which is a bigger problem for metal work than wood.

I would make sure you can have a good look in person to check everything over before buying one or possibly look into making a belt sender yourself. There are plenty of designs online for the kind of sanders that knife makes use which are very flexible.

martin perman15/03/2015 13:27:51
1828 forum posts
78 photos

I,ve got an ALDI special with what I assume is a belt for wood but it does what I want with tidying my metal jobs, cheap but suits my needs.


Martin P

Edited By martin perman on 15/03/2015 13:28:44

JasonB15/03/2015 13:32:07
18118 forum posts
1996 photos
1 articles

I use a Clarke one which also comes in many other makes but would never consider using it in place of drawfiling and working through the grits to get a good finish.

They are great for fast metal removal, things like rounding over before going to buttons, general cleaning up of castings or fabricated parts. Ouite good for profiling external curves on thinish sheet.

I use Zirconium (blue) belts which last quite well. You will only really get sparks from hardened steel, so not a problem with mild steel.

There are some good quality linishers about but they come with an equally good price tag

jaCK Hobson15/03/2015 13:32:45
170 forum posts
28 photos

Modern ceramic grinding belts are very good at removing metal. I wouldn't go below 50 grit - the lower grades probably don't work that well on smaller machines.

If you were thinking of the small 4" belt and disc sanders around £100 ... save your money. I have a couple and don't use them now, ever. They don't seem to save any significant time unless on hardened steel (where you can't use a file).

To be able to lean into the belt and make it work efficiently you need a minimum if 1HP. To get maximum metal removal rates you want to aim for a minimum of 1 hp per inch of belt width. You can get away with less if you use a contact wheel rather than flat platen. 2" width is good for many applications. Longer belts work out cheaper in the long run. Aim for about 1 meter minimum. You are going to be spending many hundreds to get something like that.

I do have a 4" belt attached to a 1HP motor and that is OK for some things. I guess this is close:

A better way to go is something like sold here:

Or Chinese imports

A 1HP grinder/buffer with a 2" belt attachment is useful for cleaning things up. Difficult to find the 2" attachment with that power though.

Bazyle15/03/2015 13:37:49
5221 forum posts
201 photos

I have an old ex-school woodwork one with the disc bits missing. In looking at loads of web pictures to see what was missing I could see that the design has been 98% constant for decades. Small changes to use plastic and different motors but so much remains the same.
I suggest looking to see if the motor is sealed against swarf and think of replacing some of the plastic bits with tin.

jaCK Hobson15/03/2015 13:40:32
170 forum posts
28 photos

If you go for specs like I suggest then you will get plenty of sparks from Mild steel:

steamdave15/03/2015 14:31:07
438 forum posts
33 photos

I use an Aldi floor sander inverted as suggested and modified by Jim Whetren. Does OK for my metal butchering. The lack of a side sanding wheel has not been an inconvenience. is the link

The Emerald Isle

Vic15/03/2015 15:51:43
2500 forum posts
14 photos,10558.0/topicseen.html

Oompa Lumpa15/03/2015 16:04:30
888 forum posts
36 photos

I too have a cheapish (£100 or so) 4" Belt/Disc sander. While Jack is probably quite correct in saying his present setup is far superior, what do you want from it?

If you just want to grind, shape and form "metal" and you don't want to spend a week building something eminently "far superior" - AND complicated spend Seventy nine pounds at Chester, if you want the very best - in my opinion - buy this one from Robert Sorby (beautifully made).

There are plenty of plans on 't Net to build really nice belt sanders with lots and lots of features but irrespective of whatever machine you choose, the choice of belt will make a massive difference and again, the new ceramic belts are terrific. There are a couple of people, especially the knife makers, who will make you belts of any size and grit including the ceramics that really do remove metal and above all, last.

I am quite happy using my cheap and cheerful machine, if a better quality one comes along at the right price, I will buy it but for now the machine I have is quite adequate. I


john fletcher 115/03/2015 16:37:46
586 forum posts

About 10 years ago I bought an incomplete belt sander from Warco at Harrogate show, the body is cast iron and robust. I made the missing part and its been a "GOOD UN" as they say. I fixed up a dust extraction idea using the workshop vacuum cleaner. Be cautious don't mix aluminium dust with steel dust it can highly inflammable, ask the explosive experts.Ted

Vic15/03/2015 18:47:14
2500 forum posts
14 photos

The Record Power ones have cast iron bases, my BDS 250 weighs a ton.

ChrisH15/03/2015 18:55:02
857 forum posts
29 photos

Many thanks for all the replies - I now have a lot of food for thought! Whilst some of the more expensive machines suggested look very good they are sadly out of my price range, just could not justify that sort of expenditure - would never get it past my Financial Director!

Will think again of what I want it for - Graham's Chester suggestion looked good, but then I have an old belt sander that needs a new life so maybe I will work on that as per "the poor mans linisher", and do I need a disc as well as a belt? Questions, questions!

Vic15/03/2015 18:59:26
2500 forum posts
14 photos

Then again you could build one ...

Neil Wyatt15/03/2015 19:24:41
17896 forum posts
706 photos
77 articles

The relatively cheap 1" belt 5" disc ones are surprisingly handy. Mine does far more than I expected of it, and the standard belts work fine on steel (and last much longer than I expected - as long as you don't rip them with sharp corners!).


Ian S C16/03/2015 07:50:06
7468 forum posts
230 photos

They are good for sharpening HSS lathe tools.

Ian S C

Involute Curve16/03/2015 10:11:57
337 forum posts
107 photos

I have a similar setup to Jason, Clark wood worker thing with Blue belts fitted, its also useful for forming notches in tubing, with slight modifications and the use of differing sizes of roller.


Ady116/03/2015 10:24:23
3692 forum posts
514 photos

Aldi and Lidl tools are handy because they often have 3 year guarantees

If you do work it too hard then it will blow up so you take it back with the receipt and get your money back no questions asked

I store each box with its receipt taped inside in the garage

Handy if you need to buy a better quality item for your particular needs, but as a hobbyist only the drill sharpening jig has been a joke item for me so far

John Stevenson16/03/2015 10:54:08
5068 forum posts
3 photos

I'm in the same boat at the moment, I have a cheap ALDI one, the one where the belt leans back at 45 degrees for some reason that escapes me ?

However 3 or 4 new holes and it's now near vertical, 50mm wide belt but no sanding disk, those have never appealed to me and what is the difference between a disk and belt anyway,? it's just rotating medium.

Anyway after a thunk, which in my book is a serious think, I have come to the conclusion that all these cheaper belt sanders lack power and features, so I hunted round and got a 1.5 HP 3 phase motor as I know these are 1.5 HP continuous. I have 3 phase so no problem but I also have a couple of spare inverters so have the choice of running on single phase if needed.

Idea is to remove the shaft and replace with a longer shaft with provision for mounting wheels both ends.

Left hand end will have a normal course general wheel out board with a 1/4" wide white allox wheel inboard of that one with a tapered shape to it for the odd clearance angle.

Right hand side will carry a wide fine while allox wheel for fine tool grinding and outboard of this a 50mm wide belt sander.

Unfortunately I will have to loose the fan off the motor to do this But TBH I can't see a problem as it will not be in use for long periods of time. If I do go the single phase VFD route I can at least wire the inbuilt thermister to the VFD but I feel it's over kill.

I propose to use 8" wheels on this because of a couple of reasons. 8" is still within safe grinding speeds but most important is that I literally have a shelf full of 8" wheels. Also the flywheel effect of these wheels if correctly balanced will help smooth running.

Vic16/03/2015 10:55:46
2500 forum posts
14 photos

I use mine for tool sharpening.

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