Powermatic 6" Belt/12" Disk Sander

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Review by Kelly posted 02-10-2016 03:38 AM 4595 views 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Powermatic 6" Belt/12" Disk Sander No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I’ve had this since 2013 and it is, definitely, an essential to my shop. In that time, I’ve learned:


- Assembly was simple. I spent around an hour and a half, including adjustments of tables and tracking, then was able to plug the unit in and run it. For the most part, assembly could be figured out without the directions, but are still important for setting gaps between support tables and the belt or disk for safe operation.


- The unit operated without any vibration.

- I had no trouble with any parts missing or being misaligned.

- Belt tracking was good. After setting tracking, it remained where initially set.

NOTE: After moving the belt by hand to roughly set position, it was simple to finish the minute
adjustments by pulsing the unit off and on. The combination of steps avoids tracking damage
to guards.

NOTE: Buy good quality belts. Bad glue joints cause thumping, as the belt goes around and presses
between the platen and against your material.

- See “CONS,” regarding the cabinet, below.


- This unit ran reasonably quiet. Most noise appears to come from movement of air and the belt running over the platen.


- Connected to my little 1-1/2 HP dust collector, dust collection was reasonable. Some dust does escape, but much of that has to do with the collection system attached to it. When I hook my 3hp collector to this, dust collection improves vastly.

With the top cover flipped back to allow use of the end of the belt, for sanding contours, auxiliary dust collection directed at the area being worked will solve a lot of dust problems.


To improve dust collection, I did what Powermatic should have done from the get go:

I modified the dust collection at the end which, when the belt is in the vertical position, is nearest the base. I did this by installing a piece of vinyl [left over from a bathroom wall repair] at the back of the bottom end of the drum.

Essentially, the modification is just the addition of a flap long enough to mount across the bottom of the belt housing, the other end just resting on the unit base. I cut is long enough that it bends slightly, creating a reasonable seal.

For example, when the drum is vertical and with duct collection connected and running, air is no longer drawn from the back at the bottom of the drum.

Even with good dust collection, you should wear a nuisance mask for any significant sanding operations.


- Before upgrading to this unit, I had a $150.00 sander. It proved useful over and again, but was easy to bog down when working even small (e.g., twelve inch long) boards, on the belt. That is less a problem with this unit. However, after some use, I’ve found this unit is not difficult to bog down too. So it would be nice to see a more powerful motor on it.


- Changing the position of the belt between horizontal, vertical or any position in between just takes seconds. Just loosen the lever, pull the knob, set the position, then lock the belt in position using the lock and, if setting to horizontal, vertical or at forty-five degrees, using the positive stops. My little sander required an act of Congress.

- Taking the end cover off is just a matter of turning a thumb screw and flipping it out of the way.

- Changing belts just requires removing the side cover (three thumb screws), backing off the belt positioning adjustment, then sliding the belt off.

- Removing end guard for the belt quickly, for couture sanding, is a critical part of the value of this unit. To do so only requires loosening a couple thumb screws.

- The VERY heavy duty table takes a bit more effort to adjust or remove, and it must be removed for longer stock. I keep Allen wrenches attached to the unit with rare earth magnets.

I find myself running without the table more often that with because it does reduce the usable area of belt a great deal.

- To increase the usable belt area, I installed a couple pieces of wood. For ninety-nine percent of the work I do, this works far better than the stock table. By adding kerfs across the front, you still get the effect of the mandatory zero clearance table and dust collection. [Now that I’ve test drove this modification, I am going to install some 1/4” x 3” aluminum angle to stiffen the bed.


- Being able to remove the table and stop to run boards the full length of the belt is also a critical part of the value of this unit. However, see the “CONS” section.

  • CONS

- As others noted, in use, the belt table leaves only about half the belt for use.

- Re-positioning or removing the belt table for other uses is not a quick process and requires an Allen wrench. [For that reason, I may fabricate a table dedicated for work to be done at ninety degrees to the belt and which will attach with knob type bolts.]

- The cabinet could use a reinforcement on the bottom. My cabinet saw has a three or four inch trim piece, with rounded edge, and juts out on the bottom. This adds a lot of rigidity to the base. This base is straight, so can’t be moved by dragging it, or the sides flex too much and could be damaged. If this were mounted in a mobile base, the flexibility of the base would no longer be an issue.

April 2020 NOTE:

I purchased a roll of 6” wide graphite for the platens of a Powermatic and Jet edge sander I scored through a friend. The graphite reduced drag on the belt significantly, during use. I had some left over, so added to the platen of my 6”x48”. I noted an improvement on it too.

When doing a lot of sanding, I have a second hose from one of my collectors and position it near the sanding area to greatly improve dust pick up. It’s a GOOD idea to have a screen over the hose, since projects get very noisy, going through the impellers.

View Kelly's profile


3053 posts in 3754 days

5 comments so far

View Tennessee's profile


2901 posts in 3324 days

#1 posted 02-12-2016 01:01 PM

Whoops – wrong review. Wanted to post on the bandsaw!

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View Kelly's profile


3053 posts in 3754 days

#2 posted 08-06-2016 05:08 PM

Somebody shoot mahr[the]shill and put him out of his [and our] misery.

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

6327 posts in 3303 days

#3 posted 04-09-2020 12:08 PM

Thanks for this, Kelly. I’m getting ready to spring for one of these and finding a review I trust has been a little tricky. I’ll be ordering one next week (I hope).

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View Kelly's profile


3053 posts in 3754 days

#4 posted 04-09-2020 04:38 PM

I suspect reviews of Grizzlys, Jets and old Delta iron would be as good or near as good. The horse power would be a big consideration. These are pretty simple machines.

As it stands, I happened on some 4” angle aluminum and it will work fine for a after market table. Ideally, whatever table is used would have a zero clearance top for some applications.

When I added tables to the motor end of the 6” x 89” edge sanders, it helped make them easier to use in most instances, but I had to cut slots in the table, to allow the system to better pick up dust at the end of boards.

View splintergroup's profile


3867 posts in 2032 days

#5 posted 04-09-2020 07:11 PM

I have an older model 30A, great machines!

It’s interesting to see what the subtle differences are, someday I’ll get around to making a proper table for the belt (mine was missing). I agree with your comments on making it easy on/off, the needs seem to always be changing.

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