Sander Belts break

Why do my sander belts break? I recently made several fairly small boxes for rocks using rough cedar boards. Just nailed them together. Started sanding with my 3" x 21" sander and the belt ripped. No problem it was an old belt. Then I put on a new 80 grit belt and it popped before I had finished one box. I decided I better take off the sharp edges with a rasp first. The next 80 grit belt popped after touching the wood for less than 10 seconds. The third belt popped quicly also, and I was throughly disgusted. All belts except the first broke apart at the glue seam. I don't think the belt popping is due to me as I carefully centered each the belt, nail heads were below the wood, and I applied little pressure.
I have had this sears sander for over 20 years and been pissed before when belts broke for no apparent reason. I've wondered before and am still wondering if maybe belt tensioner (which isn't adjustable) is set way too high. Any thoughts?
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Dampness will deteriorate the glue. Perhaps where you are storing the spares, they become damp at times.
--
Chipper Wood

useours, yours won't work
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Also, the older belt seams were directional. Suppose you took that into account as well.

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Thought that they all were directional. I just bought a new belt from Harbor Freight to try and it has an arrow. Nonetheless, I am always careful to run them in the direction of the arrow.
George wrote:

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Newer ones have an end-to-end rather than overlap.

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George E. Cawthon wrote:

FWIW, the other day I had occasion to get out the belt sander, which I haven't used in a long while. Belt broke. Next belt broke. Every belt I had broke. All of them stored in a dry basement for several years. Went down to Sears (closest place to get such things) the next morning and picked up some new belts. They didn't break.
Don't know if was the humidity or if the glue just isn't very good. I've had a similar experience with velcro-backed sanding pads--if they've been stored too long the velcro layer peels off after a few minutes of use.
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--John
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On Wed, 19 May 2004 06:45:03 -0400, "J. Clarke"

Possibly too dry?
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I have had bad luck with Harbor Fright, they seem to break before the grit is gone but the Nortons I get from the BORG seem pretty good. I have some blue Nortons that are almost slick but they are still together. I agree age could be the problem. I'm not sure how fast these things turn over in our local stores. My Fla garage/shop is a pretty hostile environment too.
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"J. Clarke" wrote:

Glad to hear (not really glad) that other people have had the same problem, so maybe it isn't the machine. You guys are beginning to convince me that it is the belts. If so, it sure doesn't make any sense to buy more than you need immediately.
I was so pissed, I looked at the thing and said maybe a good drop on the concrete driveway would fix it. Childish, but if felt good, and I was convinced it was the machine. The drop didn't do anything so I dropped it again and broke a little bit of the housing at the back. It still ran. Threw it in the garbage can along with the broken belts. After about an hour, I dug it out of the can and put it in a drawer with the intent of taking it apart later to see if I could do something with the tension spring. Some time this week I'll put the new HF belt on and see if it breaks.
Thanks.
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Most companies don't advertise it (Klingspor, Norton, 3M) but the seam tape they use on belts is a closely guarded secret and none of them will guarantee a shelf life greater than one year. They will give you recommendations on how to store them (temp, humidity, and how to hang them so as not to put any permanent creases in them) but the bottom line is don't stock up on sanding belts and buy them from a source where the turnover is high so you know they haven't been sitting on the shelf - sort of like batteries. Same goes for PSA sanding disk.

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Interesting. I broke out my ~25 year old Craftsman 4x24 sander last night to clean some paing of the front fence. the relatively new,4-5 years old, bidirecitonal belt on it broke at first touch. I dug out one of the old one directional, slightly clogged belts, figuring if it broke I'd be no worse off, and attacked the rails. Cleaned the belt 3x with a belt cleaning rubber stick and it held up as long as my lower back did. Tonight I'll switch to a slightly cleaner belt and do another section. If I run out I hope someone besides sears has 4x24's. Joe
Max Mahanke wrote:

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Never damp or wet. Stored in a drawer. Anyway, this is Boise, it is a very dry climate.
Chipper Wood wrote:

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George E. Cawthon wrote:

How long have you had the belts and where were they stored?
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--John
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Probably 4 years old and stored in a drawer. These were not cheap belts. Poor belt construction could be a factor, and possibly age, this time, but I've had newly purchased belts break in the past. Of course newly purchased doesn't mean the belts are newly constructed. My experience in talking with other is rather unusual so that was why I was wondering if could be the sander itself.
"J. Clarke" wrote:

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in message

fairly small

them together.

ripped. No

belt and it

take off the

popped after

popped
except the

belt popping is

heads were below

pissed before

before and am

adjustable) is

Chances are they are old or have not been stored in a cool, dry area. I have an old refrigerator in my garage that I keep my belts and masking tape in. I have masking tape in it that is about 4 years old and works like it was just bought.
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"Frank K." wrote:

They are 4 years old, but others seem not to have any problem. Always dry and mostly cool, temp does rise to 90 in the summer but probably not that hot in the drawer.
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On Mon, 17 May 2004 23:41:47 GMT, "George E. Cawthon"

You did not mention the brand of sander belts which can make a big difference. The thing that comes to mind is the 10 seconds after use. It could very well be the tension is too high. Give it just enough tension such that belt does not slip.
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Phisherman wrote:

Possibly Sears, possibly not. Don't remember where I bought them, but believe they were the polyester cloth one. However, the breaks are always at the glue seam. The parts diagram, indicates a spring but no tension adjustment. I have always thought the tension was high, but what do I know. I'm going to try it with a new belt and if the belt breaks, I'm going to take it apart and modify the spring than tensions the idler pulley.
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