Found myself pulling the old Ryobi 21" belt sander out of the bgox yesterday
and noted that's one of my tools that really, really needs to be replaced.
It's served me well for several years but is really starting to sound bad.
SO, in the hopes of getting a new one what models should I look at for
general use and what features are helpful?
Right now I do not have variable speed?, A quick change of the paper is nice
and ergonomics are a major factor. What are others using that they like?
Since I switched to an aggressive right angle ROS in 1989 I probably have
not use my belt sander 3 times. You might want to consider one of the more
aggressive ROS's like the Right Angle variety and or the Festool Rotex.
With these sanders you would probably get more bang and usage for your buck.
PC, Bosch, Makita, DeWalt Most of the majors build these sanders but you
typically do not see the heavier duty right angle sanders in the home
centers. My PC is 18 years old, I'll probably switch to Festool when it
poops out. ;~)
If you want the best, www.festoolusa.com and do a dealer search.
There really aren't any that I like very much for the ergonomics any
more. I am partial to 3x24, though, so that is somewhat a limiting
constraint on my own choices.
The best choice I found for my purposes when replacing the old (as in
20+) B&D was the Makita lower profile although I can't think of the
model and it probably isn't made any longer, either, anyway since
everybody seems to think they have to introduce new and kill old models
at the drop of a hat anymore... :(
Anyway, it is ok -- balance isn't as good as the old center-mount B&D,
but not nearly as bad as the side-driven models and lower for clearance
Variable speed is also an "ok" option, but certainly note a make or
break one (again, other usage patterns could conceivably make that a
Paper change is good as is tracking and dust collection adequate.
Biggest "gotcha" for 3" these days is that virtually all 3" machines are
made from 4" chassis w/ nothing but the rollers and platen swapped out
for narrower ones. This usually means the machine can't reach an inside
corner as the platen doesn't reach the edge of the housing even on the
open side and contributes a lot of bulk and heft (and imbalance) for no
If it came in a 24" version, I'd give the 3-wheel DeWalt a whirl. It
surely appears from pictures to have an opportunity to be much more
amenable to handling than most of the other current designs, much in
keeping w/ my old favorite B&Ds (may the rest in the parts bin in peace
while I keep wishing for a way to remake the drive gears at a reasonable
Now that you mention it hitting the inside corners of the doors I was
working on was a huge problem. I think I came within 2" though :-) . I'm
wondering if having extra weight on the belt sander increases the work load
or decreases the need the push?
Depends on the job/orientation. For the most part, for my usage
patterns it is a detriment rather than a help.
If you ever have need to work on vertical surfaces, you'll soon find the
heavy P-C's and similar a real workout although they're absolutely
bullet-proof from that side of things...
Again, not enough information on usage pattern for more specifics really...
BE321 by Ryobi at Home Depot. Probably $100 or a bit less. Always
reviewed as a best buy in the mags. There's no one sander that is
multifunctional to a point where it replace other types of sanders. I
own 5 sanders, including a big boy Festool and the Ryobi BE321. Each
gets its fair share of use for its intended purpose in my shop.
I'm using all kinds of stuff and I hate it all. It's good stuff I
just hate sanding.
I have a PC 362VS whisper series 4 x 24, it works well in all ways
except for light weight.
I have a PC 360 3 x 24, it also works well, a little lighter but I
like the balance of the 362 better.
I have a Delta 18/36 drum sander, very agressive and good for keeping
a flat plane on a panel.
I have a couple of PC 5" quick sand ROS, one hook and loop VS and the
other adhesive backed. After using them for a couple of hours my hand
tingles for the rest of the day.
I used every one of them yesterday sanding 15 glued up panels. The
panels came out great, but the act of sanding in no way made my day.
SInce I don't currently have dust collection, I pushed it all out in
the back yard, I now have a back yard full of cherry flour. Good
The only thing I don't have is an agressive right angle ROS, as Leon
suggested. I think I may need to get one, see if it can change my
attitude about sanding :~)
FIY, many of the ROS sanders are basically finish sanders with a bit more
get up and go. The PC right angle ROS,
is quite aggressive. I have been using the 5" single speed with PSA paper
since 1989. I suspect that the design has been highly successful since it
is still around. BTY I can use mine all day long with no tingle.
Not totally vibration free but not bad for a sander.
As good as it is I think a Rotex is in my future.
I have an Elu that is no longer available *as an Elu* but DeWalt makes the
same sander; a model DW433. I have replaced the platen and the dust bag but
the sander is still going strong. I don't know exactly how old it is but it
gets lots of use and I wouldn't trade it for any other 3 X 21 out there.
I also have a Bosch 1276 DVS (4 X 24) that I like but don't use very often
(weight, bulk, etc)
*IF* you're interested in a ROS, be sure to look at a Ridgid R2611 (Home
Depot) I bought one a few weeks ago and I'm impressed with it's
I should point out that I also have a Bosch 3727 DEVS 6" ROS that has served
well but IMHO isn't quite the sander that the Ridgid is.
I also have a Porter Cable 7335 that I bought right after they hit the
market. It's a 5" PSA (pressure sensitive adhesive) type. The others are
hook & loop (velcro)
Dust collection on the Ridgid is great even with just the little dust bag
and if you connect a vac hose, provision for which is built in, you can just
about forget the dust.
My 2 cents worth.
My old Ryobi belt sander is slowly going too. It lasted over 15 years
and Ryobi still makes it with a few improvements so I bought another
one for $99 at the BORG. I use it a lot upside-down, and the flat top
make's that super easy.
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