bench disk versus belt sander - different functions?


I do not own any bench sander. I need one for a small project - both the project and the pieces are small. I think that a disk sander will do the job, but having seen the number of combo disk-belt bench sanders, it got me wondering which of the two is better for what.
The disk is better for small stuff and the belt for larger stuff needing flat surface sanding, but what can I do on a 6" belt sander that I cannot do on a 9" disk? Or 4" versus 5"?
At Grizzly for example, I noticed that they sell disk sanders, combo sanders, but I did not see any $75 - $200 belt sanders. Don't know why that is. I'm looking at the Grizzly 12" disk sander for $125 or biting the bullet and getting the Jet combo for 6"/9" for $380 -- but I need to justify the 6" belt.
Comments appreciated. -- Igor
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igor wrote:

I have very limited esposure tothe disk sanders. I do have a combination belt and spindle sander though. Just to add to your confusion, take a look at the Ridgid unit at Home Depot. http://www.homedepot.com/prel80/HDUS/EN_US/diy_main/pg_diy.jsp?CNTTYPE=PROD_META&CNTKEY=misc%2fsearchResults.jsp&BV_SessionID=@@@@1569855232.1130293062@@@@&BV_EngineIDcfaddgdfgddldcgelceffdfgidgki.0&MID76
--
Ed
http://pages.cthome.net/edhome/



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That link got me large generators. If it was supposed to be the Rigid oscillating belt sander, then I second it. I love mine. The dust collection is almost useless, but you can't have everything. One of these days I will make a hood of some kind for it.
I don't know what the point of disk sanders is; maybe that they're cheap?
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Trouble with the disk sanders on the grade of machine you're contemplating is their tables aren't rigid enough to ensure an angle. That's where good disk sanders excel, perfect 90/30/45, etc or a combination using a sled and the tilt. Great on the lawnmower blades, too.
Trouble with the belt sanders is they stretch and have to be re-tracked, you have to keep things moving or they burn. That's where Ed's oscillating variety come in.
BTW, taking the stop off leaves you vulnerable to a manicure or a shot into the opposite wall. Not worth it.
I have the JET 6x48 with 12" disk, and the belt is so seldom used that it might as well not be there. I own a vise and hand planes, though. You might not.
They make some good iron-tabled cast-trunnioned 12" disk sanders for ~200. That's what I'd get. Of course, that's only hindsight.
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Igor.. I have a belt/disk combo and also a 12" disk on the shopsmith... For my work, the belt is for fast, rough sanding before I use a palm sander.. mostly on flat surfaces and larger pieces.. The disk is great for curves, as John said, (listen to John, he knows jack) but I use the disk a lot for touching up round stuff like disks or dowels, also for things like rounding corners of things before I run them through the router table..
Maybe my whole post should just be "belt=flat, disk=curved" except that I've used the belt sander with a shop made fence to round the edges of shelves and used the disk to square up an edge or to sand to thickness..
Just buy the one for $90 at Harbor freight and do your project... I bought it (6" x 36"belt / 9" disk) about 3 years ago to see if I needed one enough to buy a quality one... it's been such a work horse that I never felt the need to "upgrade"
DON'T buy extra belts or disks from HF.. their abrasives suck... You don't use a lot of belts and disks unless you either abuse the paper or want to change grits... buy quality abrasives and you'll love the sander.... YMMV
mac
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wrote:

Why is the disk sander better on curved?
I bought a used RAS that came with a 10" disk that takes PSA sandpaper. (I got rid of the RAS, but figure the disk would work better on a TS anyhow). I haven't tried it out because my Rigid belt sander does everything I need it for. (well, everything it is big enough for...) If the disk sander is better, I can give it a try.
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It could just be that I sort of learned woodworking on a Shopsmith, so I had the 12" disk and no belt sander... you tend to favor what you're familiar with..
For me, it seems that the disk takes corners off much faster and is easier to control than a belt... OTOH, if the belt sander had the same table/fence arrangement as the disk, that might be different... I use the belt at both "0" and 90 degrees, but mostly for straight stuff... seems logical, since it's about 16" long... (a guess, based on 36' belt).. I haven't mastered things like round disks on the belt, but can do them easily on the disk... My guess is that if I didn't have the disk, I'd learn to use the belt for most things...
mac
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I have a the Rigid Oscilating Belt/Spindle sander as well, and, like everyone else, I love it.
I did run into one instance where I wish I had a disk sander though -- I was making a backgamon board, and after a lot of trial and error, I figured out the only way to make the wedges was to use a sander. The problem with the belt sander is that the belt portion is not perfectly flat -- the wheels are a tad wider than the runner, and if you press and hold a piece of wood in one place (like say when you have a jig), the piece isn't perfectly straight. I did get it to work after a bit, but a disk sander would probably have done a better job.
Having said that, I think the oscelating belt sander is a much more versitile tool than a disk sander would be.
BTW, I use my belt sander to do curves as well, you just have to have a firm grip.
John
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Since I got the Jet 12" disk sander, I almost never use the 6"x48" belt sander. If I could only have one, I get the disk only again.
Dave
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Teamcasa wrote:

I have a 12" disk as well, and have yet to want to a belt. This sander will sand ends, touch up miters and lengths, smooth outside curves, you name it. In my opinion, a better combo is a 12" disk and a spindle sander. Most things I would do with a stationary belt sander are easily done with a thickness planer, hand planes, or a hand held belt sander.
A good disk sander is awesome for fine tuning fits. Mine is located next to my assembly area. I can touch a part up, test fit, touch up, etc... during a dry fit. The sander always has 80 grit on it, I don't even bother to change the disk. A rubber "sandpaper cleaning stick" is a must have.
I'd love a Powermatic 20" disk! <G>
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I agree. See.
http://www.teamcasa.org/workshop/images/shop_16.jpg
Dave
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On Thu, 27 Oct 2005 11:18:35 GMT, B a r r y

All very true.... A perk for me is that the 12" disk is on my Shopsmith, where the combination of adjustable speed, the table and the fence are nice and the fact that the disk is mounted to the drill press spindle is really nice for little touch ups or sanding several pieces to the same length..
mac
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Just a little extra to throw into the discussion:
Some years ago, I had the need for a disk sander (making three sets of children's blocks) but no extra $$ or room. I cut a 9 inch diameter disk out of 3/4" plywood, drilled a 5/8" hole in the center and mounted it on my table saw (insert removed). Initially, I would contact cement sandpaper to the plywood, but of course, it was a hassle changing paper. I then tried it using just loose paper (cut in a 9 " diameter with 5/8" hole) held in place with the arbor nut and washer. Worked fine!! I still use it from time to time when I have the need for a lot of that kind of sanding.
I made the disk 9" in diameter because that is the size of a standard sheet of sandpaper . I initially couldn't get the disk on my saw because of the clearance through the insert hole. I fixed that with a 5/8" wide by 3/8" deep dado on the back side of the disk.
This doesn't answer the question of the OP, but it may be food for thought for some.
Bill Leonhardt
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Bill Leonhardt wrote:

I also made my 1st disk sander, and it still sits in the shed, however rarely used since I got the Belt/Disk combo. I cut a disk from 19mm chippy, and mounted it on a rather large pulley. I then used shearer's paper which is 12"D. It lasts forever as it is what Shearers use to sharpen their clippers. The pulley was mounted on the shaft of a washing machine motor. I made up a table with a groove to take a sliding adjustable fence. It was handy for all sorts of things. One thing I did do a lot of with it was making wooden wheels. By placing a screw in the table the distance away from the disk as the radius of the wheel then cutting the head of. I'd rough cut the wheel, drill a hole in the centre, place it over the screw and turn it against the disk. Presto!! a perfect circle. regards John
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I made up a table with a groove to

My circle-cutting jig for the bandsaw has pairs of pin holes, one for cutting on the saw, the other for rounding at the disk. You can even chamfer with it.
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