What's with HF? Took a chance, yet another gem!

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Review by Tennessee posted 08-17-2012 04:14 PM 10278 views 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
What's with HF? Took a chance, yet another gem! What's with HF? Took a chance, yet another gem! What's with HF? Took a chance, yet another gem! Click the pictures to enlarge them

Now that I’m semi-retired, I have more time to drift through tool stores, home improvement centers, and the like.
In HF the other day, noticed the 97593 Magnesium 4X24 Belt Sander on sale for $69.99, usually $79.99. With my 20% coupon, walked the last one out of the store for a ridiculous $55.00

Now I know we all like to think somewhere along the line we graduate from ever using belt sanders ever again, but for some reason their use pops up from time to time, and for me, it always seems like I never have a big enough one to do the job. I just about REFUSE to spend a lot on a belt sander, since I use it maybe 3-4 times a year, tops, but my little 3X21 B&D just last week was able to recapture a piece of redheart for me that my old lunchbox planer had chewed up a little. By sanding it down, I was able to get the critical piece I needed off the piece of stock, but it took a long time with my old B&D, so it was fresh on my mind.

The Harbor Freight Chicago Tool 4X24 Magnesium Belt Sander is one of those tools that I think you would use to sand the paint off that old picnic table, or take down 8-10 coats of whatever off any larger piece of wood you need cleaned.
I know that in my earlier years, I even used a belt sander for a planer, (thank goodness those days are gone for me), but I also know that beginners will use these tools in all kinds of ways. I know I did.

This thing is just a flat-out HORSE. Even with the magnesium frame, it still weighs. Mine was the last one my store had, and did not have a manual, (have to download it), but the website says it puts 1640 Feet of sandpaper per minute on the wood, pulls 10 amps, and weighs somewhere around 15 lbs. I believe it all, having hogged down a piece of 2 ft. by 5” wide solid piece of oak from rough mill cut to smooth in less than two minutes. Spent more time keping the wood stable and turning it around than the actual sanding took. All this with the crappy belt they provided, I believe an 80 grit. One reviewer said that after 27 minutes of sanding he snapped his HF belt, use Diablo and you can run forever. The last time I ran a belt sander for 27 minutes was a Craftsman, when the front roller fell off from the heat and I took it back. I was trying to take an epoxy finish off a piece of bowling alley, so uses for these tools do arise.

The dust collection bag was squirting dust all out like crazy by the nozzle/bag connection, traced it to a simple twisted wire they used to hold on the bag on the inside. Got rid of that and put on a nylon wire tie, problem solved. And it does make some dust!!
I was going to knock off one star for poor dust collection, but after changing the bag clamp to a wire tie, no problems at all, and it only took a minute or two.

Mine tracked perfectly out of the box, and I love the little handle on the side to loosen the belt, rather than have to do the “front roller dance” pushing it back and hoping it catches, change the belt, then hope you can get it to snap back and re-tighten by running the tracking knob back and forth. None of that with this sander. Simply loosen the handle on the side, change the belt, snap the handle back in place, and keep going.

I really went into HF to look at driveway sensors for my wife, and the lathe tools recently reviewed here. I ended up buying the sensors and this hog, and I’m really glad I did.
I don’t use a belt sander much anymore, but when I do, I want a large surface belt, and for $55 compared to a smaller PC for $169, this was a no-brainer. Now, if I can just remember where the extra set of brushes will be in a couple years when I need em…

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View Tennessee's profile


2901 posts in 3362 days

11 comments so far

View olddutchman1's profile


69 posts in 3260 days

#1 posted 08-17-2012 05:23 PM

Hello Paul! I have found out that They do have a few very good tools. I started a large remodel on Our home, and being about 56 years old, didn’t want to buy the best of the best. I found out that some tools were better than others, and some I would consider throw-aways. They also were selling recondishioned tools. I bought a router, 3 piece, snd I like that and have used that a lot. Also bought a Sawzall, and have used that quite a bit. I now am 67 years old, and My disability has worsened, so I bought the 12 in. clamps, figuring that they might work, or not. They cost $1.99 , and for that money I bought six. When I went to use the clamps, I was presently surprised with the way they worked. They are nothing like whe american counterpart, but work nicely for the clamping I do. The edges were smooth, and I roufted them up with a wrasp, and they will hold pretty good. I don’t have much strength, so for the price I could not be happier. Wish you well, and it must be nice to be able to walk through a stor! I have blood clots along with the nerve damage, so I can’t take the trip to go to one!

-- Saved! and so gratefull.Consider Who Created it All

View Tennessee's profile


2901 posts in 3362 days

#2 posted 08-17-2012 05:36 PM

God bless you for still working wood and staying young! At least at some other stores they have the ride around carts.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View chrisstef's profile


18100 posts in 3854 days

#3 posted 08-17-2012 05:40 PM

There’s nothing magical about a belt sander but when you need one, you do need a horse. For one of those rarely used tools i like the idea of this one. Thanks for the nice write up and review.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View a1Jim's profile


118134 posts in 4425 days

#4 posted 08-17-2012 07:28 PM

HF has some good tools that are real bargains but some of their tools are not worth having. Thanks for the review.
This sander looks like A PC knock off.


View TheOldTimer's profile


226 posts in 3934 days

#5 posted 08-17-2012 09:49 PM

It looks like a PC that I had, make sure that you remove the bearing plates and oil the sleve bearings once and a while. I doubt that it has ball bearings.

-- TheOldTimer,Chandler Arizona

View Tennessee's profile


2901 posts in 3362 days

#6 posted 08-18-2012 04:45 PM

Good feedback Old Timer. Will do!

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View rainymountcraftsman's profile


48 posts in 4038 days

#7 posted 08-19-2012 05:17 AM

only time will tell with HF tools. I do find that there screwdrivers with the orange and green handles are not bad.

View dbhost's profile


5777 posts in 4079 days

#8 posted 08-20-2012 01:56 PM

I am watching this review. Tennessee, please keep this updated as you get to using it more. I am wanting a belt sander, and really want one that has the same size belt as my Ridgid benchtop unit. This is one of the few out there that are not multi hundreds of dollars… I don’t really need fancy in a belt sander, just reliable…

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View Tennessee's profile


2901 posts in 3362 days

#9 posted 08-21-2012 01:25 PM

Well, I’ve only used it a couple times so far, but it does not seem to heat up, runs freely after turning it off, (always a good sign of good alignment and bearings), but I will say this doggone thing is heavy. You do not have to press down on this one. Also has a nice, long cord with a decent wire size, not one of those chintzy cords that often come with HF tools. You probably will also have to fix the dust collector bag, but once I got the wire tie on, all was good. Better have your stock down good to your bench before you turn this on. I also thought it good since I also have the Rigid sander, and have a lot of those belts lying around.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View Tennessee's profile


2901 posts in 3362 days

#10 posted 08-30-2012 09:07 PM

Today I had to rebuild a pickguard for a guitar I am building. My Grizzly spiralhead planer only goes down to about 3.75MM, and I need 3MM for my thickness. Instead of making a sled with sticky tape, decided since the pickguard was redheart would just sand down .75MM and move on.
Had the wood sitting on one of those shelf liner sticky things we all use to hold wood, and a towel was spread out nearby, from working on the actual guitar.

Long story short, I touched the sticky thing with the running belt, and it sucked the sticky liner sheet and about 8 inches of the towel into the drive roller area of the belt sander so fast I could not get my finger off the trigger quick enough. We’re talking about one second or so. Totally jammed, I realized that I was going to have to dissasemble.

Here’s what I found:
The main drive roller is mounted on a hardened shaft, stepped into a fairly stout needle bearing well mounted in solid magnesium, and it has a woodruff key insert that allows a fully steel reduction gear to mount on with a C clip on the motor drive side. That steel gear is mated to a smaller steel gear, also mounted in stout needle bearings, and it connects to a fiber layered rubber cog belt that goes up to the motor under all the covers. Overall, quite a stout system, and it was properly mounted, fully greased, and once I took it all apart to remove the towel, I added a little grease just for the heck of it, put it all back together, and it ran just fine.
I also found out why the dust collector is so terrible. It has a great impeller that puts out quite a fair amount of CFM for a small dust collector, but the chamber is a cheap plastic housing inside, and the magnesium chamber outside is split in half, (built this way), so there is really no way this is not going to leak dust with this kind of CFM pushing through. Vacuum is recommended.
Other than that, I was pleasantly surprised at the stoutness of the unit, and once I got it back together, it ran fine and I completed my little task in a couple of minutes.

I had to cut off my belt, which was the original, so I put on a Diablo 80 grit. This thing is so powerful, it grips so well, the whole sander would start to jump and skip a little until the belt wore down a little bit. If you put a Diablo 80 or other aggressive belt on this sander, expect it to really grip, and it will hop. Just be prepared. Otherwise, it hogs off wood like no other belt sander I’ve seen in recent memory.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View RussellAP's profile


3105 posts in 3134 days

#11 posted 10-12-2012 11:47 AM

I love mine. First time I used it was on some Hedge. The only tool that could do the job on that slab and get it smooth.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

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