First, I hope you are not talking about your edge to edge fit before the
glue-up because, if you are, that is another matter. I am operating from
the assumption that you mean an uneven surface on the glued panel.
Belt sanders are a complete waste of time and money. I have had one for 15
years and have barely 15 minutes worth of benefit from it. You would be far
better of going to a garage sale and picking up a Stanley #5 jack plane (or
a #4 would be good) and learning how to tune and use it. I know I am going
to get strong reactions to the contrary, but that is my story and I am
sticking to it!
On Mon, 3 Nov 2003 09:47:39 -0800, "Howard Ruttan"
Considering that I have worn out at least one belt sander and wouldn't
even consider a shop without one I think you are completely out to
That said, what the OP needs is to be able to true up his panels, I
assume some that are already glued up, otherwise he is better off to
try to improve the alignment on future panels to eliminate the need
for either sanding *or* planing. Cauls are the obvious (to me) answer
for future panels. For truing existing ones the belt sander works
well, the main problem is that they are very aggressive. I have
overcome that in part by using finer grits than seem reasonable. For a
glued-up furniture type panel I wouldn't use anything coarser than
150. It works slower and doesn't create the problems you get with
coarse grits. Might even go a lot finer than that.
If you want to plane, fine. It will probably give you a better surface
than sanding once you master planing. I haven't and probably won't
ever get real good at it because I don't have the time to spend in the
shop. I don't care what the experts say, it is a challenge to learn
how to do a good job with a hand plane.
didn't mean to start such a ruckus. You hit the nail on the head (I have
problems with that too!). I need to get better at the gluing process. I have
both a jointer and planer. This last set of glue-ups were by far the best
but still off a bit.
What are cauls? If they are the answer (from your opinion) I would be
interested in understanding what you are referring to.
thanks to you and everyone who has offered great advice.
Pieces clamped across the glue-up to hold it flat. Every foot or so
you put two *straight* 2x2 pieces (hard and stiff is best) across the
panel, one above and one below, and use clamps to squeeze them down
tight. Then you pull the pieces together with your pipe clamps (or
Bessys for the elite). If all pieces are the same thickness and have
good edges you should get a near perfect panel. To prevent your cauls
from becoming one with your panel (interesting effect, but not
terribly useful) put a layer or two of that 2" wide packing tape on
them, you know, the stuff that looks like really wide scotch tape.
Of course you need a portable belt sander!
One of the best accidental buys I ever made was for a portable belt
sander that can be placed on its back & thereby function as a small,
fixed belt sander.
I had the sander for maybe a dozen years and didn't use it very much
until I tried setting it upside-down on the bench (with the belt
This mode of operation greatly eases the aggressiveness problem. It is
MUCH easier to precisely move the work over the sander rather than
I store the sander on the wall with its belt facing out; in this mode
it works great as a grinder as well as for occasional sanding.
I now use the belt sander a lot in one of its fixed modes. It has
become one of my essential machines.
I lock its trigger on & use an external switched outlet for power.
Is the joint slipping during glueup? Clamp small pieces of scrap across the
glueline, and you won't have to flatten it.
Cover the scrap cauls with masking tape for easy unsticking from the
Try semi-clamping down cross pieces (2 X 4s maybe) on top and bottom of your
glued boards to keep them flat, but take them off before the glue hardens so
don't get stuck to your project.
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