Serious Sanding

When first gathering power tools, a belt sander often finds its way into the collection, even before some of the finishing sanders.  They tend to be moderately priced (although that varies significantly) and whether or not they are abused, they can cause significant amounts of damage when used incorrectly.

The simple belt sander is not a precision tool….but it can be! (For a price)

The basic belt sander is a coarse material removal tool – typically NOT for fine woodworking situations – not able to produce a consistent flat surface, and if you are not careful, capable of digging significant gouges and hollow spots.  However, if you take a sander and raise it up so the abrasive material is cutting the surface, and not also trying to be the reference for that surface then the accuracy jumps phenomenally.

One method to approach this is used by Festool – having the sander suspended in a cradle (Festool call it a sanding frame), and the cradle references off the surface to be sanded (in this case by small, densely packed brushes). This is my latest acquisition from the ever-tempting range of Festool from Ideal Tools.  Think the next thing on my list will be a Kapex – bet that doesn’t come in a Systainer!!  Even the Systainer for the BS105 is double the size of a normal one – able to fit clip two Systainers to its top, side-by-side.

Festool BS105 Sander in cradle

The sander is easily removed and replaced in the cradle, can be raised and lowered with the small green knob (far right in the photo), and the lever near it allows the sander to be quickly raised above the surface, so it can be running without contacting the surface.

The sander weighs a significant 7kg or so, so there is absolutely no need to push the sander down when using it – you drift it back and forth over the surface allowing the weight of the machine to do all the work.

Sanding Frame Detail

Under the sanding frame, the brushes are visible, which allow the sander to be used in any direction, without marring the surface.

A belt sander is also often mounted upside down in a vice and used as a mini-linisher.  Clamping one in a vice is all well and good, but Festool do that this into account and instead provide a couple of stands that screw to the top of the belt sander, which become feet when the sander is tipped over.

Feet attached

They screw into brass threads purposely built into the top of the sander.  The sander is then turned over..


becoming a mini-linisher.  An optional fence can be added if required.

About the only disappointing thing about the sander is that it doesn’t have a detachable power cable (like a lot of the Festool range).

This sander looks particularly ready for belt sander racing, although its weight might be a disadvantage (or an advantage?), but at $1485, I doubt anyone would be particularly interested in finding out!

%d bloggers like this: