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I'm renovating my coffee shop with all new furniture. I'm building everything myself from reclaimed lumber from dumpsters in front of homes being refurbished or gutted. I live in Chicago so a lot of the lumber folks are throwing out is amazing and I just can't let it go to waste. Problem is the lumber requires lots of love to get it to the place where human butts can comfortably sit upon it or it can perform as a counter top surface. Thus far I have burned up a Craftsman and two Rigid belt sanders. All within the $100 price range, I use the belt sander a lot and can't really go to a large stationary piece of equiptment. I do intend on getting a smaller stationary belt sander, but the hand held is my workhorse. Any suggestions as to the best hand held I can get for around or under $300? Please help as my most recent Rigid is on its last leg. Both Rigids bit the dust in under a year.
 

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where's my table saw?
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It sounds like you "overuse" them?

A belt sander "should be used" by resting it on the work and using it's own weight to press down. I don't do as I say, however. :eek: There is a tendency to press down with increasing pressure because it's just not going fast enough to suit me. :thumbdown: I will say I still have a Craftsman 4" from the 1980's and I have overused it more than a few times myself. My favorite is a Dewalt 3" x 21", It's lighter and has a dust collection port. I would stick with Rigid in your case for the unlimited warranty. but I don't know if that applies to "commercial" use. :blink:

You might consider a 7" or 9" disc sander for removing a majority of the wood, then use a belt sander to finish up.
 

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John
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I'm sure woodnthings suggestion will help but Ridgid and Craftsman are hobbyist/DIY/light duty offerings. I have a reconditioned Hitachi 3x21 that has done a great job for me, but, I haven't put it to anywhere near what you are doing. I would suggest you look at the contractor lines; Hitachi, Porter Cable, Bosch, Makita. I think you are probably considering the right price range. Shopping the reconditioned market can save some bucks on contractor level tools.
http://bigskytool.com/Search.aspx?q=belt+sanders

http://www.cpooutlets.com/belt-sanders/belt-sanders,default,sc.html
:smile:
 

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For resurfacing reclaimed lumber, using a sander sounds like a very slow process. Have you thought about getting a small planer? It would make very quick work of rough lumber and save countless hours of sanding. Used ones can start at a couple hundred that will get the job done.
 

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+1 on the small planer. Maybe a dewalt or ridgid, new or used. I would think you could get one in your price range and it will be way faster. Watch out for nails though.
 

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Porter cable 4x24. I have 5 in the shop they last the best. The planer idea sounds the best. Noisy but fast, plus you'll get surfaced boards, flat and smooth. Small belt sander can't do that.
 

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Old School
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Porter cable 4x24. I have 5 in the shop they last the best. The planer idea sounds the best. Noisy but fast, plus you'll get surfaced boards, flat and smooth. Small belt sander can't do that.
I would steer away from portable planers. I have several, and use them mostly for carpentry projects, like door trimming. You can create a problem real fast with them.

Absolutely the best sander I've used is a Porter Cable...either 3"x24", or a 4"x24". I have both, but use the 3" more often.






.
 

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i find belt sanders with the side mounted motors to be somewhat "out of balance", like my porter cable 3x21. i seem to always be trying to level it out with arm english. the models with top mounted motors, as shown in the pic above, would be better in my opinion.
 

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Sounds like you are trying to use a belt sander for stock removal as well as sanding.

I would use a decent vintage Stanley No. 5 or No. 6 for the stock removal. Works faster than you may appreciate.

Once the surface is flat enough then you can use the belt sander - if needed. As stated in earlier reply, if you are burning up the sanders, you may be pressing down too hard.

I would get the blue zirconia sanding belts from Klingspor. They do not gum up as fast, easier to clean, lower heat and last longer.

http://www.woodworkingshop.com/abrasive-belts/
 

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Hunter
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+1 on the Porter Cable 4x24. It's got enough weight to keep a lot of pressure on the work piece.

You still might consider some other method of doing the majority of the work (planer, disc sander, etc.) and then sanding to finish.

Hunter
 

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cabinetman said:
I would steer away from portable planers. I have several, and use them mostly for carpentry projects, like door trimming. You can create a problem real fast with them...
Are you referring to lunchbox/bench top type planers or the handheld variety?
 

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Awesome sander!

This one is a little pricey but it is well balanced, does a great job and will last a long time, I still have two of them from years ago. This is about the best sander I ever used.
Since the O.P. seems to be MIA, I just had to comment on the P.C. sander in the picture. Wow, it looks like new and I'm sure works better than anything on today's market. People that have never used one have no idea how well they work. (I had a Skil 4 1/2 x 26 that was far superior to anything made today.) Hope you keep it, and hand it down to someone who will use and appreciate it.
 

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caliwoodmastergv said:
Electric hand planes are a recipe for disaster if your surfacing boards.
I've never tried this but I'm interested in what you folks think about it.

 

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where's my table saw?
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they are a bit tricky to use

You need a lot of practice and you can't take deep passes, but it will remove a bunch of material in a short time. You will then need to smooth out the surface by hand planing.

 
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