Portable Belt Sander Grit Recommendation?

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Forum topic by Lovegasoline posted 05-31-2018 11:05 PM 620 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Lovegasoline's profile


85 posts in 648 days

05-31-2018 11:05 PM

Hi folks, I’m in the midst of a built in kitchen cabinet renovation project. These are 90 years old and have been about as neglected and abused as cabinets can be. Because of the insane amount of work and time involved in stripping the paint, I didn’t plan to touch the shelving inside. There’s dozens of layers of all kinds of paint slopped on, staples, some have layers of decades old adhesive backed contact paper under paint, even some sort of duct tape, you name it. Thick cruddy bumpy paint. The shelves underneath it all are solid wood and if they’re the same material as the rest of the cabinetry, they’re poplar.

However … in the spirit of thoroughness I asked a friend and he dropped off a cheap B&D belt sander for me to borrow (BLACK+DECKER DS321 Dragster 7 Amp 3” x 21”) one with the lower small diameter wheel on the front. I’ve got 1-1/2” diamond hose Shop Vac with another hose w/smaller fitting made by Bosch to first their ROS sanders, so maybe I can rig something to adapt it and collect the dust. [I was originally thinking with one of those 4” high amp beasts I could do a quick and dirty job of getting most of the stuff off and even if I didn’t take it down to bare wood I could smooth it out and get a nicer surface to prime vs. what’s presently there]. If after belt sanding the surface is still chunky and I’m inspired and crazy, I could always do a quick & dirty filling/resurfacing job with some ReadyPatch, then sand that smooth and have a decent surface.

There’s three shelves about 8 feet long. So I’m gonna try to do them top and bottom. It would be nice to get all the ghetto funk out of the cabinets and have nice freshly primed and painted interiors (the interior cabinet’s back wall has been skim coated extremely nicely). If it turns out to be too much of a slog then I’ll just do a triage operation and sand the shelves that are visible when the cabinets are open: the lowest shelf’s upper surface and the bottom of the next shelf above it. If the latter turns out to be too much work (already have an overfull platter) I’ll abandon this operation and leave it as is.

I’m looking to do this fast and cheap. I have a ROS with a full disks in all grits to follow up with the belt sander.

So my question is that I plan to head over to Home Depot tonight and grab some belts. What type and grit should I get? This is mostly latex paint, over oil paint, with some contact paper thrown in for good measure.

Thanks a bunch for any direction on this!

10 replies so far

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4258 days

#1 posted 05-31-2018 11:24 PM

Latex may load up the belt. If you can get
a rubber sanding belt cleaner that will remove
it easily.

I’d use 60 grit for stripping paint. Sanding
may not be the best way to get it done but
all the methods are tedious in my experience
so you might as well roll up your sleeves and
use the tool you have.

View Lovegasoline's profile


85 posts in 648 days

#2 posted 05-31-2018 11:28 PM

I’ve gone through over 15 gallons of Peel Away stripper plus god knows how much scraping on this project … I’m done with that. I’ll try belt sanding a couple of the viewable shelf surfaces and if it turns into a log I’ll abandon it.

Anything that I can use to clean the belts that I have laying around the house other than buying a rubber belt cleaner?

Also just to be clear, my goal isn’t to bring this down to bare wood, nice as that would be. I just want to smooth the surfaces out a bit (it’s got so much crud!) so that after priming and painting they look more like food shelves and less like something one would stumble over in a junkyard or in an overgrown lot.

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4258 days

#3 posted 05-31-2018 11:35 PM

The only thing I know that works is crepe rubber.
Shoes with crepe rubber soles were more common
in the 70s than they are now. Maybe you could
find some in a thrift store.

View Lovegasoline's profile


85 posts in 648 days

#4 posted 05-31-2018 11:43 PM

I’ve got a couple pair of desert boots with crepe sole, like these:

What do you do, just run the belt against the shoe and it loosens the embedded gunk?

After grinding down my shoe soles if I walk funny my sister is friends with a podiatrist.

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4258 days

#5 posted 05-31-2018 11:49 PM

Yeah, it just takes it off. I have this 5” pad
for an orbital sander that you put the running
sander down on and it cleans it.

View LesB's profile


2318 posts in 4053 days

#6 posted 06-01-2018 04:44 PM

In my opinion a belt sander is just not going to do the job or it will take a lot of belts and time.

I once has to strip several layers of alligatored paint off the back of an old house. I found a rotary paint stripper at a tool rental business that came with carbide grit embedded sanding discs. It had adjustable guides to control the depty of the cut. It worked great. I stripped the whole back of the house in one day. Here is a web site that shows one that is similar.

Also 3M makes a paint remover disk that goes on a 4” hand held grinder (you can get an inexpensive grinder at Harbor Freight). They work better than belt sanders. There are also carbide imbedded disks for grinders that would work. You will need to finish sand the cleaned wood surfaces with a belt or orbital sander.

Finally, that old paint probably contains lead so use dust control and a dust mask while doing this.

-- Les B, Oregon

View Lovegasoline's profile


85 posts in 648 days

#7 posted 06-01-2018 06:37 PM

What sort of 3M paint remover disk are you referring too? They make several kinds marked as paint removers.

View tomsteve's profile


988 posts in 1829 days

#8 posted 06-03-2018 06:06 PM

something im thinking is if theres that many coats of paint over the years, could there be lead paint somewhere in there?

View bandit571's profile


24425 posts in 3293 days

#9 posted 06-03-2018 06:38 PM

Walk into Harbor Freight, get a few packs of the RED 36 grit sanding belts…10 belts might be about the same price as a single Lennox…..

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View Lovegasoline's profile


85 posts in 648 days

#10 posted 06-08-2018 12:19 AM

Yeah, there’s lead in there all right.

Anyway, an update. The belt sander worked along with some scraping, and even some lacquer thinner to soften some tenacious latex paint.

Here’s some of the grimness involved in a paint stripper’s ordeal:

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