November 19, 2011
Having bought a Ridgid oscillating belt / spindle sander and building my sanding station to house it, I thought my sanding woes were a thing of the past. Not so, as it seems I still need a stationary belt sander. A larger stationary belt sander is a future project I want to do, but in the meantime I have developed a very reasonable temporary solution and that is the focus of this article.
I use the Ridgid mainly as a spindle sander and although it's very fast and easy to put the belt sander attachment on, it only works in the vertical position and more often I need a belt in the horizontal position. I've occasionally used my hand-held belt sander for this - just flipping it over, laying it on the bench with the trigger switch locked on and holding it with one hand while I sand an object with the other. This is good for one or two small pieces, but for more extensive use, it is less than ideal and somewhat dangerous.
So, I thought it over and worked out a few ideas on how I could make a simple platform for this purpose. Main design points are that it holds the sander securely and be convenient to use - no tools needed to put the sander in or take it out. It would have to be relatively small for tabletop use and easy storage. Also, it would be a plus if it could be quickly converted from horizontal belt position to vertical, for accurate 90 degree sanding.
First I needed to get the measurements of the parts that I'd cut to clamp the sander in place. With the sander on its side, I set up two strips of plywood, one on the bottom of the sander and one on the top. I cut two spacers (arrows) to hold the strips parallel and clamped it around the sander:
I could then measure to cut a block of wood that holds the front handle:
And another for the back handle:
These will hold the sander in position, with the belt parallel to the table.
The next step was to cut two pieces of plywood the same size to make up the tables of the platform:
These are joined together with 3" butt hinges, just surface mounted with the barrels of the hinges in the gap.
The pieces of plywood are clamped at 90 degrees in order to position the sander so that the locations for the blocks can be marked:
The front handle holder is then glued in place:
I'm using my long reach clamp to hold it till the glue sets. I drill pilot holes and drive screws into the block from underneath.
The holder for the back handle is installed in the same way:
A vertical block is added (arrow) to mount the hold down clamp:
When I did the layout, I neglected to allow for the dust collection bag and had to notch the plywood (seen in the photo above) and deepen part of the groove in the rear handle holder:
A 1/4"x20 hanger bolt is screwed into the hold down block:
The hold down clamp arm is 1/2" plywood and held on the hanger bolt with a star knob and washer:
A screw is used to adjust the sander square to the other table:
With this, the sander can be adjusted so the belt is 90 degrees to the table when it's in the vertical position.
1/2" plywood blocks are added to the front handle holder to keep it in place:
These stop the sander from moving side to side.