Some people have taken to soaking the belts in a solvent like "mineral
spirits" and then using a tooth brush. Personally I find that my time and the
solvent are worth more than the belt. However, if I had won that ultrasonic
cleaner in the last auction.... . JG
Loyde Berkholtz wrote:
I have soaked the belts in lacquer thinner with great success! Lacquer
thinner is the only "paint thinner" type of material that I have had much
success with. I roll up the belts into a tight enough roll so they will go
inside a wide mouth quart mason jar and fill the jar with enough lacquer
thinner to completely immerse the belt. Use the included lid to seal the jar
and let it soak. I have had my best results by letting the belt soak at
least over night. A couple of shakes of the jar every hour or two will
encourage part of the pitch on the belt to come off on its own and settle to
the bottom of the jar, but shaking is not required for it to work. Sometimes
I take the belt out of the jar and reverse the direction it is rolled, put
it back in the jar and shake it again if the pitch build up on the belt is
paticularly bad. I sometimes take the belt out of the jar while it is
still wet and rub it with a fine toothed brush if I am in a hurry to use it
again. The lacquer thinner will break down almost all of the adhesive
properties of the pitch if the belt soaks long enough. An eraser block will
remove almost all of the remaining pitch after the belt is reinstalled on
the sanding drum if you chose not to brush it by hand with a brush. If you
chose to hand clean the belt with a fine toothed brush you will not need the
Also,belts can be soaked for weeks at a time with no harm to them! Dont Ask
Me How I Know.
I keep a sealed quart jar of used lacquer thinner in the shop all the time
and do all my belts as needed, preferably before I need them again.
As for cost, I am able to reuse the lacquer thinner in the mason jar
numerous times. Dirty looking lacquer thinner will continue to work as long
as it is able to break down the adhesive properties of the pitch. I usually
throw the lacquer thinner away after several belt cleanings because there is
so much pitch settlement in the bottom of the jar that it makes the soaked
belt look dirty and is a little more trouble to clean up the belt when it is
removed from the jar. I am able to purchase lacquer thinner in grades that
is suitable for this for around $7.50/gal. This procedure requires only 1/2
quart or so of this low cost lacquer thinner for it to give excellent
results. For me I find it is certainly better than buying new sanding belts
before the abrasive on the belt is worn out.
I suggest you give it a try and determine if this procedure is for you.
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