Comments on belt sander purchase

I was sanding some red oak with some nasty tearout last night and found that I had to break down and get out the belt sander. It was really a job for a drum sander, but I don't have one and have neither the space nor budget for one.
The old crapsman that keeps going, but it is completely unrefined and lacks any form of dust collection (it was a freak'n mess).
That mess was enough to get me thinking about upgrading to something better. I'm inclined to stick with the 3x21 size as I have a modest inventory of belts and it seems like a good tradeoff for size/weight/price
These look like pretty good optons to me:
Bosch 1274DVS
(Amazon.com product link shortened)04036901&sr=1-2
Makita 9903
(Amazon.com product link shortened)04036901&sr=1-4
The Bosch is a little cheaper and lighter and a little less power. Two things about it concern me, however: The low rear handle position does not look the most ergonomic to me. I once had a Bosch D-Handle ROS that I gave away because I just hated the ergonomics. My other concern is the side-facing dust port. I think that might be a problem with a hose connected.
Is is reasonable to expect dust collection to be >95% effective when mated to a shop-vac?
Comments on these two models, or suggestions of what else I should be looking at/for would be appreciated.
Thanks,
Steve
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StephenM wrote:

(Amazon.com product link shortened)04036901&sr=1-2
(Amazon.com product link shortened)04036901&sr=1-4
I have the PC 3 x 21. It is like sanding with a tank, especially walls or doors. I like it.
(Amazon.com product link shortened)04045199&sr=1-15
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wrote:
Just a general observation, Steve... I don't see how dust collection can be effective with a belt sander....
Certainly not for a bench mounted one, (mine was banished to the carport), and none of the hand held belt sanders that I've used seem designed for collection.. Seems that the dust is thrown out the ends of the belt, so maybe a shroud like the air dams of race cars might work?

mac
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StephenM wrote: ...

Within the last few months at the outside there was a previous discussion on the subject to which I responded at fair length about some of my considerations on the subject. ISTR there being some other discussion engendered in that thread. A google groups search would probably uncover it relatively easily.
I don't know either of those two models specifically -- I have a Makita that replaced the old B&D that is reasonably satisfactory to my particular whims but to me mind there's nothing on the current market that is as good ergonomically as the old B&D w/ the between-roller motor drive that gave excellent balance...
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I also have a 3X21 PC and it works great plus the dust collection port ain't all that bad. At least I can see across the shop when I'm done. :)
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I have a (cheap) Ryobi 3x21". Surprisingly, this tool has been used over 16 years and still runs great. I like the fact it has a flat top so I can lay it upsidedown on the bench to sand small parts. Has variable speed, easy belt change, long cord, easy to handle, dust bag.
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We use the 3 x 24 Makita extensively. I have 'done' a lot of belt sanders over the years. I bought the first Makita some years back because I was sick and tired of replacing motor bearings on the Porter Cables. I bought the Makita as a 'cheap/disposable' alternative. Turns out, the things are seemingly indestructible. All I have had to replace has been the graphite skidpads. Great sander, can't speak for the 3 x 21. That extra 1.5" on the 3x24 does help keeps things flat(ter).
r
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wrote:

We use the 3 x 24 Makita extensively. I have 'done' a lot of belt sanders over the years. I bought the first Makita some years back because I was sick and tired of replacing motor bearings on the Porter Cables. I bought the Makita as a 'cheap/disposable' alternative. Turns out, the things are seemingly indestructible. All I have had to replace has been the graphite skidpads. Great sander, can't speak for the 3 x 21. That extra 1.5" on the 3x24 does help keeps things flat(ter).
r
I'll second what Robatoy says, the 3x24 Makita can't be beat. I too have found it indestructible. I'll bet that the 3x21 you're looking at will serve you well.
Jeff
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I love this group!
Hmmm need a new belt sander. Wonder which one I should get. Oh well, I'll just read some rec first and decide later.
First message... belt sanders.
Thx, Makita 3 x24 it is.

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Grab an extra graphite pad if you can. They do wear, but that is the whole point. I only pay $5.00 for them from a Makita depot.
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The 9920 is VERY different from the 9924DB. My comments are based on extensive use of the 9924DB.
The 9920 has auto-tracking and I just don't have a lot of faith in that feature.
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Robatoy wrote:

I don't recall the model I have -- what I don't like (but I was unable to find any at the time that didn't suffer the same problem) is that the 3x24 is actually a 4x24 body w/ cut down rollers. Hence balance isn't what it should be and the flush-sanding on the side comes at the price of offsetting the roller/paper in the body.
Other reviews mentioned this; I was unable to find this out before purchasing the Makita. Functionally otherwise it's solid although the power cord for some reason is _always_ in the way more than on any other tool I've ever owned. It is long, which is a nice feature, but it is "floppy" and the angle at which it leaves the handle seems to make it always want to lay just where you're ready to run it over...
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I bought a Ryobi belt sander from the BORG which had a defective motor from the get go. Returned it and bought the Bosch which ran for two days until the switch went bad. Bought the PC 3x21 and after fiddling got my PC 6" ROS hose hooked up to it & the Fein Vac which leaves little dust in the shop. My old $30 Craftsman lasted for 35 years before cracking up.
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I had a 4x24 Craftsman for about 25 years and when the bearings packed it in I bought the Porter Cable 4x24 'cuz I had quite a collection of sanding belts. It's quite heavy, which is good when leveling plywood seams of a floor or flattening a large surface, like a bench top, but makes it a monster for edge sanding, such as scribing a counter top to an uneven wall.
(Amazon.com product link shortened)
For more portability I bought a 3x21 Ryobi "in-line" sander and it's great for scribing and general use in a non-flat position. It's very similar to the Bosch sander you referred to. Being a Bosch fan I doubt that the Ryobi is built as well as the Bosch but I found many great reviews for the Ryobi before I bought it and it was less expensive than the Bosch. The "side saddle" drive mechanism of the PC, Makita, Dewalt and others of this ilk prevent sanding up to a wall with both sides of the machine... and sometimes it's impractical to turn it around. The "in-line" style of sanders works well in that application. But the 'in-lines" tend to be lighter and less powerful. The Ryobi has performed very well so far and I'd recommend it (or the Porter Cables, too).
(Amazon.com product link shortened)04092526&sr=1-2
After acquiring a collection of 3x21 belts, I had the chance to score the 3x21 Porter Cable (baby brother to the 4x24) for a ridiculously low price, so I grabbed it. It performs every bit as well as the bigger one but, as I said, it's a bit heavier than the "in-line" design.
(Amazon.com product link shortened)04045199&sr=1-15
I've never been concerned with dust collection 'cuz I seldom use a belt sander in a pristine environment. I'd say that the dust bags on the PC models and the Ryobi are about 50% efficient and I think a shop vac would kick that up to 95%.
In my humble opinion, variable speed is a must on this type of tool.
Hope this helps...
Cheers
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No one mentioned one of those newer ones with the small roller in front.
Curious, anyone use one of those?
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Yup, returned it the same day...once a DeWalt once the B&D, both sucked...IMHO.
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I much prefer this model if you are looking at Bosch and 3x21: <http://www.boschtools.com/Products/Tools/Pages/BoschProductDetail.aspx?pid 74DVS> It is easy to turn upside down and use as a stationary tool - I built a spot on the end of the router table. This little one seems much more finger friendly than my 6x48 for some stuff.
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Thanks all for your input.
I decided to go with the Makita 9320 ( 3x24, autotracking). $185 w/ free shipping from Tools for Less.
I eliminated the Bosch inline unit as most people seem to categorize it as "finesse" belt sander. Agile, good for non-horizontal applications, but light on power.
The Makita 9902/03/20 are all almost the same unit; the same motor and design, the 02 leaves out variable speed, the 20 is the next size up belt size (3x24). Consequently, I considered all on-line reviews of this family of Makita sanders. The reviews were *universally* positive, not a lemon or a so-so in the bunch. According to those accounts the autotracking seems to work as advertized.
The weight and price differences from the 03 to the 20 were minimal, so I decided to to for the slightly larger unit.
It should arive on Monday I'll post a review.
-Steve
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*I'm* totally unrefined when it comes to belt sanders. LOOKOUT! Excavation!
Sometimes I think I could get better results sanding with an L-1011.
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