Horizontal Belt Sander

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Project by Wingstress posted 02-27-2011 07:59 AM 9601 views 28 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’ve been wanting to get a horizontal belt sander for a while. I currently own a Delta shop master, which I hate. The motor is under powered and the disk sander never worked because the set screw flew out. I could never keep anything square and then finally a little while ago the switch broke so the only way to turn it on and off was to pull the cord.

I was about to throw it away, when I realized that the actual sanding mechanism worked just fine, I decided to convert it into the sander I actually wanted. I had a 1/3 HP motor that I used for my buffing wheels. I also had some scrap maple and some casters laying around so I decided to give it a shot.

I started by disassembling the sander. In order to have it going the direction I wanted and have the tracking knob and tensioning lever facing up, I had to flip the spindle on the input side of the belt. This proved to be more difficult than I thought it would be, because the cheap screws would strip when I tried to remove them. I ended up drilling out a few screws, but luckily I didn’t end up needing any of them. Everything else stayed the same.
Here’s a picture of the shop master taken apart.
I built a small table frame and mounted the motor so that it could slide up and down the legs and held in position with hand screw knobs.
The motor connected to the spindle with a standard drill chuck I had laying around.
I removed the dust collection attachments from the sander and built a small box so that it could easily be clamped into position or moved to another location.
The table top was a piece of melamine from an old TV stand. There is a groove in the table top so that the sand paper is just slightly below the table top. Then I put one bolt through the bottom of the frame so I could attach the end of the sander to the table with a star knob. By loosening the drill chuck and the star knob, I can easily remove the sander.
I then made a zero clearance throat plate to fill the groove. Because the motor has a drill chuck attached to it, and it can translate up and down, I am able to quickly convert it to a spindle sander.
I can also push the motor way up so the drill chuck sticks out of the table so I can still attach my buffing wheels.
Finally, I put a mobile base on it. This idea was inspired by several designs on lumberjocks for mobile bases. It has a foot pedal that when pushed spins two axels to engage the wheels. As the lever moves down, a spring loaded cam locks the lever in place. A quick kick of the cam and the weight of the table disengages the wheels.

In the end, I’m very pleased with the convenience and functionality of the sanding table. I’m also pleased with the fact that I spent $11 on an motor arbor and everything else I had in my shop. Talk about a cheap weekend project.
Comments and Questions Welcome. Hope you enjoy…

-- Tom, Simsbury, CT

16 comments so far

View mxrdrver's profile


38 posts in 3342 days

#1 posted 02-27-2011 09:12 AM

Thanks for the great pictures. I’ve been wanting to build something like that for a long time. Can I steal your idea and build one for myself?

View Wiggs's profile


18 posts in 3549 days

#2 posted 02-27-2011 11:31 AM

I hate it when I buy a tool that almost works, but doesn’t quite, so this looks like really sweet revenge to me! Thanks for the pics, and the design details, it’s a very doable project for me now.

-- Wiggs, Western Australia --- Whoever said 'The devil's in the detail' was a woodworker!

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3795 days

#3 posted 02-27-2011 12:57 PM

congrat´s with a great build and funny shoptime :-)
thank´s for the picturebook toturial

take care

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4979 days

#4 posted 02-27-2011 01:20 PM

It looks like a real nice set up. I think this would be easier, & safer to use than the regular belt sander.

I think I’ll favorite this for a future project.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View tdv's profile


1203 posts in 3750 days

#5 posted 02-27-2011 01:37 PM

That is So much better than the original & a lot more versatile thanks for the posting (me too Dick)

-- God created wood that we may create. Trevor East Yorkshire UK

View RexMcKinnon's profile


2593 posts in 3875 days

#6 posted 02-27-2011 04:04 PM

Cool, I love shop made tools.

-- If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail!

View stefang's profile


17039 posts in 4014 days

#7 posted 02-27-2011 04:49 PM

You really got a lot of good tools out of that one smart project. Well done!

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View woody57's profile


650 posts in 4107 days

#8 posted 02-28-2011 12:36 AM

great build
I like the casters as much as anything

-- Emmett, from Georgia

View WoodworkingGeek's profile


181 posts in 3372 days

#9 posted 02-28-2011 01:04 AM

Hey thats a great idea!! I try to build something like that!!

View steliart's profile


2895 posts in 3368 days

#10 posted 02-28-2011 07:53 AM

Very cool ideas here and nice build-up, thanks.

-- Stelios L.A. Stavrinides: - I am not so rich to buy cheap tools, but... necessity is the mother of inventions !!!

View gpastor's profile


192 posts in 3738 days

#11 posted 02-28-2011 04:16 PM

Wow that’s what I would call ture craftsmanship and ingenuity. You are a true thinker, as I learned from my Father thinking is bound up with action.
Thanks Tom

-- Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life. Proverbs 16:31

View sawblade1's profile


754 posts in 3707 days

#12 posted 03-03-2011 06:14 PM

nice Job ;)

-- Proverbs Ch:3 vs 5,6,7 Trust in the lord with all thine heart and lean not unto your own understanding but in all your ways aknowledge him and he shall direct your path [email protected]

View Dusty56's profile


11856 posts in 4368 days

#13 posted 03-11-2011 09:41 PM

Such a great project !!
You turned a virtually useless (boat anchor) into a multi-tasking , space saving tool : )
Have a wonderful day and thanks for all of the pictures as well as the description.

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View Dark_Lightning's profile (online now)


3934 posts in 3789 days

#14 posted 03-11-2011 10:08 PM

Good idea! I had considered doing this with my old Craftsman belt sander, a portable 3”. But what I’d rather do is find a 6” belt sander and convert it to a mini drum sander. A 6” width will be plenty for the small stuff I usually build.

-- Steven.......Random Orbital Nailer

View fernandoindia's profile


1081 posts in 3623 days

#15 posted 03-14-2011 07:48 PM

Tom, that´s a great resurrection !

I´ll be favoriting it. I have an old microwave oven. I will not throw away yet. Maybe you come up with other ingenious recycling project. Lol

Thak you for the photos and detail.

-- Back home. Fernando

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