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Old 11-15-2017, 12:27 AM   #1 (permalink)
 
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I've been casually considering getting a sander like this, but having never used one I don't know what I should be looking for. I found someone selling this particular model for $125, brand new, still in the box. What do you think? Is that worth it? Or should I be looking at something else?

https://m.lowes.com/pd/PORTER-CABLE-...Sander/3163789

Last edited by ghansen4; 11-15-2017 at 12:30 AM.
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Old 11-15-2017, 12:55 AM   #2 (permalink)
 
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IMHO, if you are making only pens, you use a sander for two things ... squaring the blank ends, and taking off the sharp blank edges in order to make a headstart for blank rounding on the lathe. . You can achieve both functions using only a disc sander. . So you don't really need the belt sander, although you could use it also for both operations but moreso for the second one.

For squaring the blank ends a disc sander affords better accuracy (which is important) and there are tools and jigs available to help you with this.

Other people may have other opinions.
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Old 11-15-2017, 06:14 AM   #3 (permalink)
 
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Lot has to do with what you want too do with a bench top belt sander. You can find BTBS’s new for less than what the seller is asking, for one new in the box. Would like to see and hear thing before buying! Would also like to know little history before buying could be a reconditioned item better ask.

Many years ago and lot less expensive this disk sander was the darling of pen turners. It excelled at squaring up blanks and if you did a lot of sement pens. They also sold a smaller version don’t see that one listed anymore.

https://www.harborfreight.com/12-inc...der-43468.html

Guess most people buy bench top belt sanders today due to price and variety of brands. Biggest complaints motor too noisy, miter gauges not accurate even if table level on some models, and dust collection.

Bought Hitachi brand belt sander, Lowe’s no longer sells many years ago for less than $100. Seldom used but handy for lot of things when needed other than pen turning for me.
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Old 11-15-2017, 07:24 AM   #4 (permalink)
 
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IMHO what magpens says! Rockler sells a small table fits on my disc sander with a fence that rotates 45 degrees. I use my punches and the square aluminum support against the fence to square the ends... works well


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Old 11-15-2017, 09:15 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I don't know anything about that P-C sander, but I do have 2 similar sanders. I bought a Ryobi at Home Depot for $80 when it was on sale a couple of years ago - regular price $120. It's pretty good for the price - plenty of power & has a dust collection port which is not great but better than nothing and very easy to change belts. I don't use it too often, but it's sure nice to have when I need it. I mostly use the belt, very seldom the disk - as someone noted, the miter guides on these inexpensive sanders are not very good.

I also have a Harbor Freight unit - regular price $75 but about $60 with a 20% off coupon. That's about all it's worth & I wouldn't recommend it for it's intended purpose at all. Much flimsier than the Ryobi, not easy to change belts, no D.C. port. However, I reversed the drive belt & use it to sharpen my tools. It's very good for that purpose - there's a tutorial in the IAP library on making the conversion.

I use a disk sander in a chuck on my headstock & a Rick Herrell jig in my tail stock to swuare up blanks on my lathe. Some folks have jigs to do the job on a BTBS, but I prefer to do that job on a lathe.
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Old 11-15-2017, 09:37 AM   #6 (permalink)
 
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I've had one of the Ryobi sanders for about 12 years now, and it's seen its share of sanding and is still going strong. However, for pen blank squaring it was hard to keep that cheap miter gauge aligned. I purchased the Harbor Freight 1x30 belt sander and built a squaring jig for it. It uses a set of HF punches to align the blank. Picture is below if you're interested. The toggle clamp in the photo has since been replaced with a Bessey self-adjusting clamp.


sanding-jig_1_web.jpg
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Old 11-15-2017, 10:56 AM   #7 (permalink)
 
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I forgot to say that for pen-turning you can quite nicely get away without having a sander at all.

As for squaring blank ends, there are better ways to do it than using a sander. . Squaring blanks on the lathe with a skew or gouge is easy and accurate.

As for getting a headstart for rounding blanks on the lathe, you can bypass that and do the whole rounding operation with a gouge.

You can quite effectively make high quality pens without ever using a sander of any kind.

Now, for making pen stands and boxes a sander could be very useful.
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Old 11-15-2017, 11:37 AM   #8 (permalink)
 
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I think a belt sander is one of the most important beginning tools for a shop, and the combination belt/disk sander would be a huge asset for pen turning and general woodworking!

I'd echo Edgar & Bill in stating (1) make sure to pay attention to the ease of belt swaps, and (2) don't expect much from the miter gauge/disk table at this price point. I have several comparable models (Rikon, Ryobi) and pretty much avoid the disk sander. I'm sure someone more motivated could find ways to sure up the table/gauges, but they have too much play and I don't trust them for squaring blanks.

If you're on the fence and have the room in your budget, I hope you consider moving forward! It's amazing all the uses you will find for these little machines.

Good luck!

David
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Old 11-15-2017, 12:07 PM   #9 (permalink)
 
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My experience is that these smaller sanders are not rigid enough to sand the end of blanks square. Also recognize that your blank end needs to be square to the drilled hole and not the outside which are rarely every perfectly aligned. Use your lathe or a pen mill to get a really square end. If you want to sand than try a set up on the lathe using a rod sticking out of the tail stock with sandpaper set up on a faceplate turning on the headstock.

Hope this helps.
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Old 11-15-2017, 12:12 PM   #10 (permalink)
 
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I bought a similar belt/disk combo, but I don't really use the belt much. The disk is small, which can be limiting. If I had it to do over again, I would have gone with a larger disk-only, like this one: https://www.harborfreight.com/12-inc...der-43468.html
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