which belt sander to buy

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i should first of all say that i am cross posting. i originally posted this on alt.woodworking, but this newsgroup seems to have way more users and this is where i though i was posting originally, so i post here again. my apologies for the cross post.
i've been waiting for canadian tire to put their belt sander on sale for about the last month since mine old one blew up. today it came on sale, but home hardware has also got one on sale for the same price ($50 CDN). i've never heard of the home hardware make (tmt - model # tt11011). here's the specs:
canadian tire Mastercraft 4.5A 3x21-in. Belt Sander a.. Zippered dust collection bag a.. Sands flush to vertical surfaces a.. Quick-release belt tension lever and single knob tracking adjustment a.. Auxiliary handle for two-handed operation a.. Best used for sanding flat surfaces a.. Lock-on button a.. Powerful 4.5A motor a.. Single speed (660 ft/min) a.. Uses 3 x 21" sanding belt
home hardware tmt 6.5 amp 3X21 belt speed of 800 fpm
the tmt sounds more powerful, but how reliable? anybody recommend a model?
tks
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I'm glad to see you posted this. I was just coming to the news group to ask the same question. My Craftsman burnt up (won't get another one of those) and I was just looking at the Porter Cable. I would appreciate the knowledge and advice of the group for brand and model. I'll use it for projects around the house; nothing too large. Price under $200.00 preferably. Thanks in advance. Randy

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I recommend the Porter-Cable 3 x 21 vs with dust bag. I have six units here at the school and we have put them through their paces. I have not had any service problems and I like the balance and the performance of the units.
Mike
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Ryobi 3x21. Had it for about 10(?) years. Been dropped, thrown, had paint spilled on it, had stuff dropped on it. Keeps on truckin'. Variable speed and dust bag. Easy to handle. Easy to clamp to the Workmate. 'Course, this assumes they haven't cheapened them up lately.
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Definitly the Ryobi. I have the 3x18, less than 2 years old, but the 3x21is identical except for the size. I used it for 4 continous hours stopping only to change belts to take an endgrain slice of a log from chainsaw finish with 1/8" ridges to a surface ready for the 6 coats of shellac I put on it. Never burned up, will stand up to any abuse. Price is also a plus, less than $100 ( I got mine at Home Depot for about $60US)
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wrote:

I've been using an Elu 3x21 belt sander for a little over ten years and it's still going strong. The model is exactly like the DeWalt DW431. I've replaced the dust bag twice with ones from DeWalt.
Max D.
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Dica wrote: ....

I have no suggestions at that price point, I think. My old B&D died finally after 30 yrs and I have found no really satisfactory 3x24 replacement. I finally bought a Makita (sorry, can't tell you the model number ottomh). It's ok, but the balance, while not real bad, isn't as good as the motor-between-the-wheels B&D and despite representations by the vendor to the contrary, it's one of the 4" models cut down to be a 3" sander so there's a lot of overhang--which contributes mightily to the imbalance. It works well, however, and the P-C models all seem to be either huge or have the really tall handle/bag arrangement that I just do not like.
If it were 3x24 instead of 3x21, I would probably have tried one of the 3-wheel DeWalt guys...it probably isn't too much higher than what you're talking about and I'd suspect would be at least as reliable as those you mention which to me at least are "no names", not being a northener, of course...
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Dica wrote:

<snip>
At that price point, "good" and "belt sander" are mutually exclusive terms.
After destroying at least 6 belt sanders within 18 months, you name the brand, I destroyed it including the cheap Porter-Cable units, I will offer the following:
If you truly need a belt sander, there is only one, the Porter Cable 5** series. (Model depends on whether you want dust bag)
Every thing else will fail before the 5** is getting warmed up.
Cost these days is about $450 USD.
Lew
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Lew Hodgett wrote:

Far too big/heavy for what I would want....as noted, my B&D 3x24 lasted 30+ years and if I can find someone to make a new drive gear for not too much, it should be good for another 20 or so...
I expect the Makita to last quite some time, it's just "clunky" in comparison to the B&D design...and, as noted before, all the P-C models are of a design I just would not find comfortable to use.
YMMV, IMO, $0.02, etc., ... :)
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FWIW, wish B&D would reissue that motor between the wheels design of 30 years ago. Of course then their tools where being made for the professional, not the homeowner, and I can understand why it lasted so long.
To Porter Cable's credit, they have continue to make, or reissue, their best. Come to think of it maybe there is a 5* in my future. The Bosch 2x24 I bought to replace an old Makita can't get the job done without forever twiddling with the belt.
ray
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Ray snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

If you need a serious piece of equipment, the P-C 50* has no equal.
I call it the "cho-choo". Looks like the American Flyer model train of years gone by.
Just make sure you blow out the crap on a regular basis.
Lew
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Lew Hodgett wrote:

Just what do you use it for?
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Duane Bozarth wrote:

I use it as an abrasive cutting and forming tool.
Equipped with 24 grit belts, it gets the job done.
I'm building a fiberglass boat so in addition to wood (ie: clean up dirty wood before machining with other tools), it also gets used om fiberglass and fairing compound which is very abrasive.
Lew
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Lew Hodgett wrote:

Lew Hodgett wrote:
"I use it as an abrasive cutting and forming tool."
That's what Maloof used them for.
best wishes,
ray
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Ray snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

For such that would make some sense...not my thing so I understand the difference in choice...
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I have had a Ryobi for several years and love it. It seems to be what you are looking for. It is compact, easy to handle, and belt tracking is easily adjustable. I have used belt sanders that cost more than twice what this one does and have been disppointed. Bosch makes one that looks identical to the Ryobi.
Dick Durbin
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I appreciate all the information thus far. Any recommendations on a model Number. I know that most brands have good and bad models/types of sanders. Thanks again, Randy.

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The Ryobi is a BE321.
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I bought a refurbished royobi at a travling truck sale. Got it pretty cheap. Its surprisingly pretty well built. I like the fact that it lays flat, upside down. it 3x21, has dust bag, vari speed.

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wrote:

I've been plenty happy with my DeWalt DW433.
Barry
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