I bought an oak bookcase from Wood You and stained the unit and the
shelves in Fruitwood. While staining the shelves, I stained one side,
then turned them over (apparently before the stain had full dried) to
stain the other side. When returning to side one, there were light
stripes where the shelves laid across two boards I was using for
support. I decided to attempt to sand the shelves down to the wood
using a belt sander, but ended up with gouges and deep scratches
in the wood. I'm using a B&D belt sander that was right out of the
box. Is there some technique to using a belt sander so I don't roll
the unit from side to side to create gouges? ( I didn't feel that I
There is a technique to prevent gouging but a belt sander is normally
reserved for lot's of wood removal. You need to hold the sander perfectly
You need to be using a random orbit or finish sander to remove stain. These
are much less aggressive, you really don't want to be removing wood, just
the stain finish.
The wrong tool for the job rarely works except in the most skilled of hands,
and you're using a bazooka when you need a pea shooter. While a belt sander
has its place at certain stages of a project, the "finishing" stage is
generally not one of those.
A finish sander of some type would be a better "tool", but that said,
quality sandpaper of various grits, a sanding block, and some elbow grease
may get you better results than anything.
THE important thing for most usage of a belt sander is to KEEP IT MOVING and
let the weight of the sander do the job. If the sander isn't removing
material as the rate you want you put on a belt with a courser grit.
Obviously, you try to have the belt move in the direction of the grain.
Most of us with belt sanders have violated these rules deliberately when we
are just trying to get rid of as much material as we can as quickly as we
kind or we want to get closer to an edge than the "nose" permits.
In general, a belt sander is meant for aggressive sanding. It is easy
to go overboard with a belt sander. I would try an orbiter sander.
Since you already damaged the wood, you will need to start with a
course sand paper (60-80) then sand again with 100-120, then 150 and
finish with 220. If applying poly, than lightly sand with 220 or 400
The belt sander is one mean mutha. The slightest tilt or skew and you
Yes, an orbital or other sander woul have been better but now that you
have the gouges, the belt is about the only power hand tool that is
reasonable to remove the problem.
First, you should have started with very light grit, 220 or lighter.
Some times kind of hard to find for belts. They want you to use 100
and remove lots o' material at once.
Second, technique. Get the board held in place so it never slips. If
you have access to a real wood working bench you would use a bench dog
and a vice with a pop-up to clinch it, but rubbarized under sheet can
be used also. Hold the sander with two hands, one at each end of the
bel. Most units will have some handle/body setup to allow this. MOST
IMPORTANT Hold the sander at abou 15 to 20 degrees off axis of the
grain. Always move the sander up and down the board in line with the
grain but the sander is skewed across the grain and is not perfectly
in line. It is spitting sawdust off to the side of the board. It is
much easier to control it even 5 degrees off of straigh then sanding
straight forward and backward in line with the belt. This will
minimize the rocking and give much better control. Finally, use lots
of feel. Let the sander float on the board and keep it moving (as
others said) continuously. You can get near perfect flat if you are
A belt sander is too aggressive for this task, unless you are using a
light grit (150 or 220), slow speed, careful control especially near
any edges. A better sander would be a random orbit sander, or you can
simply use a wood block and hand sand which will give you the ultimate
control. Always sand with the grain from coarse to fine grit. Feel
the surface frequently and peer at a low angle to reveal any gouging.
Don't fret too much about the shelves, as they will be covered with
books and dinged up a little anyway. There are sanding frames that
fit some belt sanders to prevent side gouging but I haven't tried this
technique. For book shelves allow a full 2-month cure (patience is a
virtue), wax (Johnson's Wax or Butcher Wax is good) and buff, then
load up with books. Sometimes I use a fine steel wool to rub on the
wax, if you want a matt-finish look.
A belt sander at best can be considered an abrasive cutting tool.
Definitely not for finish work.
Unless you build counter tops for a living, you will have very little
use for it.
I'd try to sell it and get a ROS for finishing tasks.
Absolutely. We have them going all the time. You CAN get a decent
result levelling edgebanded strips on plywood if you are careful, and
that the belt sander is in primo condition.
When we level the countertop edges on a countertop prior to laminating
the top, we use pencil scribbles to indicate where the heel and toe of
the sander is doing the cutting.
A Makita 3 x 24 with a fresh Klingspor 180 grit belt and a fresh
graphite skid pad, is easy to handle and any of us in the shop are
able to do some pretty fine sanding without gouging. (assuming you
don't step on the cord, etc, etc.)
Blockhead, by now you know you have used the wrong instrument to
correct your error. However, the elephant in the room is what you
have now done to the wood you were sanding.
With ruts, gouges and deep sanding scratches in it, it will never,
ever match the other shelves. Give it up now, no kidding.
Theoretically you could sand all the marks out completely, but then
the actual texture you left behind by so much sanding will not take
the stain the way your other surfaces did.
I would sand it down with a ROS or finishing sander and restain. Then
I would find a way to mount the shelf so that the side in question
would not be seen.
Just my 0.02.
First of all, use a fine grit. When in doubt, use the finest grit you can.
It cuts slower, but won't wreck wood as fast.
Second, (for large flat surfaces) I let the weight of the sander do
the work. I hold it with only one hand, so the belt lies flat on the
wood, and let the belt pull the sander forward. Then I pull it back,
and let it go forward again.
I guess I start it with two hands, and once it's flat on the wood, I
remove the hand in the front of the belt sander.
On Sat, 19 Apr 2008 13:54:19 +0000, steve robinson wrote:
Only in the same sense that you could use a chisel to get a straight edge
instead of a plane...
Yes they fundamentally do the same job, but it's much easier with a ROS
than a belt sander to just take the stain off. The chance of digging in
or making 'surface features' with a belt sander is far higher, just
because it is so much quicker to take stuff off. And it has well defined
edges to it's action, which a ROS doesn't.
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