Best way to sand a panel without a drum sander.

I made a bar/counter top out of birds-eye maple and paduk. It involves 4 pieces of the maple and 2 strips of the paduk, all edge glued together. Anyway, it is ~ 25" x 74" and now I would like to sand it smooth. As I don't have a drum sander, and won’t get one past the finance committee, I am wondering what the most efficient way would be. I do have a RO sander, but even with 60 grit on it, it is taking a long time to get anywhere. Would a belt sander be a better way to go? If so, what would be the best technique to use as I have not worked with one before?
Thanks, Jim
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One thing that works for me, is when I make a lattice/grid of diagonal pencil lines all over the face of the board. About 1" apart. Then I take a full sheet of 100 grit and stick it to a slab of MDF of the same size. I then block-sand till I see the pencil marks disappear at the high spots. Now that I know where the high spots are, I beltsand ever so carefully expand the high spots to blend into the valleys. The pencil marks also will let you know of you digging the heel or the toe disproportionally into the top. You can replace the pencil marks as you please to give you a good visual of what you're doing. Don't push onto the beltsander, there usually is no need for that.... and keep it moving. Do not loiter. Repeat when required, wipe hands on pants.
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Thank you. Do you sand with the grain, across the grain, diagonally, or circular motion?
-Jim
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wrote:

Jim,
Further down the thread, Nailshooter has a link to a good how to thread. I personally never sand directly across the grain, but about a 30 degree max angle with the grain initially. Once the surface is relatively flat, only sand with the grain with progressively finer belts.
I will say that using a belt sander in this manner can be a little tricky. You have to take care that the sander stays flat on the surface. Any tipping of the sander to the side can set you back to square one (or beyond). Be careful not to apply too much pressure - light to moderate pressure only and let the sander do the work.
Finally, unless you plan to do more woodworking that requires a belt sander, you might be better off looking for a shop that will run it through a sander for you.
Bill
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Have you looked for a cabinet shop in your area? I know of at least one luthier who "rents" time on a shop drum sander. If it's not in use and he pays for the sanding paper...
Anyway they would show up with multiple instrument fronts and backs to thin down to their playing thicknesses. After spending a couple of hours at the shop everyone is happy.
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On Thu, 08 Jan 2009 08:28:14 -0800, Robatoy wrote:
Nothing that I can see. Obviously there was text there, as I saw it in the OPs response. Was ist los?
I'm using Pan under Linux and it seems to work for other posts. Except I got the same thing for a post by joyted in this same thread.
I'm baffled. Anyone know the reason for Pan's obliviousness to those two posts?
--
It's turtles, all the way down

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On Thu, 08 Jan 2009 11:18:32 -0600, Larry Blanchard wrote:

I may have found a clue. Both posts I can't read include in the headers:
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=windows-1252
I can find on others in the group with that line after checking 10 -20 other posts. The closest is a post that contains:
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=windows-1252; format=flowed
and I can read it fine.
Ah, the joys of computing. If I have more trouble reading posts, I'll check with a Pan/Ubuntu group.
--
It's turtles, all the way down

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Jim,
Have you thought about taking it to a shop that can sand it for a fee? I did that once when I had a few large cherry panels to sand.
Ted
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snipped-for-privacy@iron.net wrote:

As Ted has said finding a shop with a wide belt sander willing to do the job for a nominal fee would be the easiest method. If you want to try the belt sander the following article should get you started:
http://www.woodworkingtips.com/etips/etip021101wb.html
--
Jack Novak
Buffalo, NY - USA
  Click to see the full signature.
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You should also spend a little time practicing on scrap plywood or old panels. It is difficult to understand (until you have ruined a project piece in just seconds) how aggressive a belt sander can be.
And the technique and balanced pressure on the machine needed to use the heavier grits that are being recommended isn't something you develop in a pass or two.
Robert
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"jtpr" wrote:

glued together. Anyway, it is ~ 25" x 74" and now I would like to sand it smooth.
Time to let your fingers do the walking.
Find a commercial drum sander in your area.
Around here there are several.
For less than $30, you will have a flat top.
Have fun.
Lew
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Not a clue; I've looked through the raw text and can't find anything in the headers or body that would account for that.
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Maybe you could borrow or rent a floor sander -- (Assuming that you could detach the top and do the sanding on the floor.)
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On Jan 9, 2:23 am, snipped-for-privacy@gis.net wrote:

I think I will go with the drum sander "buy time" idea. I live in the Portsmouth, NH area if anybody knows of someone that I might ask that would be great. I am going to start a different thread with that question as I need to get this done.
-Jim
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wrote:

Does the sandpaper clog quickly? I can not understand how a RO with 60 grit is not giving results, but you do have a rather large area to do. You can use a wide belt sander or even a floor sander--both of these are very aggressive, much harder to control but will make short work of the sanding task. Make sure you have total control with both hands on the belt sander and be extra careful near the edges. Some belt sanders have optional sanding frames which would be a good idea for what you need to do. A pair of winding sticks can help too. Check your work from time to time viewing at a low angle with a work light also at a low angle. Mark, sand, re-mark, sand, high areas with pencil. Still, you need some patience and be fussy to do a good job.
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