Sanding large live-edge planks - belt sander?

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Forum topic by poihths posted 03-14-2019 01:53 PM 231 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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9 posts in 784 days

03-14-2019 01:53 PM

Topic tags/keywords: finshing sanding belt sander live-edge large pieces

The other day as I was finish sanding a large walnut live-edge plank before applying varnish, I was thinking that one usually wants to sand with the grain. Well, I was using a rotary sander, so unless the grain is circular, I’m not exactly sanding with the grain, am I? So I started wondering—what if I were using a belt sander?

Is there a role for a belt sander in finishing large flat pieces, such as live-edge planks? If so, what would be the ins and outs of that?

5 replies so far

View pottz's profile


4502 posts in 1288 days

#1 posted 03-14-2019 02:17 PM

sure if i need to do a lot of heavy sanding i will,many here will scoff at the idea but they do have a time and dont want to use one for anything finish tough.just be careful because they will cause you problems if you get too aggressive.they have a purpose just like any tool.

-- sawdust the bigger the pile the bigger my smile-larry,so cal.

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John Smith

1701 posts in 466 days

#2 posted 03-14-2019 03:56 PM

this is when the craftsman must be familiar with his power tools
and the downfalls with one miner “oooops’ such as with the belt sander.
if the wood is properly dried and solid, I use all 3: belt, R/O and the inline.
if your slab is already dead flat, there is no need for an aggressive belt sander.
depending on the wood, finish and stain, some sanding marks stick out
like a purple thumb if left too deep.
post some photos if you like in the stages you go through.



-- Failure is proof that you at least tried ~ now, go do it again, and again, until you get it right --

View bilyo's profile


567 posts in 1406 days

#3 posted 03-16-2019 01:16 AM

If your rotary sander is of the random orbit type, you are OK. What you are doing is what it is designed for. Just proceed through, at least, 180 grit. Better, go through 220 grit. If your sander is not random orbit you should finish sanding by hand with 180 and 220 grits. Trying to finish sand with a belt sander is not recommended.

View WoodenDreams's profile


511 posts in 214 days

#4 posted 03-16-2019 01:54 AM

I’ve used variable 4×24 belt sanders locked in at its’ slow or a medium speed with 180 grit to sand table tops, coffee tables and lids for hope & cedar chests. As John Smith says being familiar with the sander and having the feel of its’ use. With slow to speed and soft pressure and consistent checking, you can get the results you want without scratching. Then a couple quick swipes with a orbital or detail sander with 220 grit. I’ve not had problems leaving marks. But you can be close to the oooops factor if your not comfortable with the belt sander.

View Kelly's profile


2237 posts in 3247 days

#5 posted 03-16-2019 06:04 AM

I have a few belt sanders and, when I need them, they are gold. In the old days, I did a lot of final finish with a belt.

I keep a couple of my belts because of their value in removing material, but then I also keep my siding sander (24 grit carbide on a metal plate) and electric hand plane for hogging material off, when even a belt is too tame.

Now days, I use the hook and loop beasties more because I can switch between what is, essentially, angle grinder mode and ROS mode.

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