While I do believe that my workshop is fairly close to being ‘complete’, as far as having all the right tools and machinery goes, I’m also open to the idea that certain pieces of equipment may need to be upgraded, as your woodworking progress. One can certainly have ‘enough’ tools but, that should never come to mean that he who has all the tools should stop thinking about buying new tools altogether…
Quite recently, I’ve been thinking along the lines of introducing a small edge sander or linisher in to my workshop, as a replacement for the disc sander.
When it comes to buying a brand-new edge sander in the UK, we really don’t have too many options available to us, unless you’re prepared to spend some serious money. I’ve moaned about this sort of thing before; how the US and other markets around the globe seem to have access to a wider range of machinery available – for example, we have to pay more than £1,000 for a surface planer (jointer) with a cutting width capacity off more than 6in (150mm). Likewise, with thicknessers (planers); quiet, smooth-running machines with induction motors aren’t as readily available as their noisy, brush-motored, portable cousins.
While there are plenty of belt and disc sander combination machines available, just like this one:
…That’s not quite what I am after. What I want is a sander where the belt runs horizontally but, crucially, it sits perpendicular to the level support table. Like a disc sander except, you replace the revolving abrasive disc with a continuous length of belt; keeping the abrasive surfaces running in the same plane. My one gripe with disc sanders is that they do leave scratches running across the grain on solid timber. As safe as they are, they’re never going to leave you with a finish that’s even nearly clean enough for polishing. An edge sander though, runs parallel to your timber.
That’s the AWHVS sander, available from Axminster Tool Centre in Devon. It’s the cheapest sander of it’s kind available in their range and, as far as I can tell, there’s nothing less expensive currently available in the UK market. For £509.99 though, you appear to get quite a lot of machine for your money. My main concern though, is that it is a bit big for your average workshop (certainly, for a hobbyist or, someone working within a small space). Also, anything over £300 can appear quite excessive to someone who isn’t perhaps able to devote too much of their time to the craft of woodworking. That’s the kind of figure we would rather spend on a machine that’s going to get an awful lot of usage – say, a combined planer/thicknesser, which would pay for itself in no time.
Right now, I’m thinking about purchasing a set of downloadable plans from PlansNow.com, so that I can see for myself just how easy it would be to build a machine like this. I neither want nor ‘need’ a long edge sander; something than accepts 1200mm belts (<600mm capacity) should be more than adequate. If I can keep it compact, I may also be able to sit it on my lathe – which is where my disc sander has been for almost three-years now! 😉
An oscillating feature (as on the Jet OES-80 CS, below) would also be an advantage, as the movements of the belt would distribute wear across its width more evenly and, it may also reduce the risks of timber burning (which is a common problem I have shaping hardwoods, particular the end-grain, on a disc sander). I don’t know much about mechanics or engineering although, I do imagine this would complicate the construction of such a machine somewhat.
I also like the fact that you can use the end of the belt like a large bobbin sander, to sand internal curves and concave surfaces, for example. In the past, I have tried standing my portable belt sander on edge but, it just wasn’t quite the experience I was hoping it might be…
Very occasionally, small edge sanders do appear on eBay, too. Like a lot of sanding machines though, you may have to try several search terms (“linishers”, “edge sander”, “belt sander”, etc.) before you find what you are looking for. Even then, I’ve seen even a reasonably small sander go for over £300. But, I’ll keep my eyes peeled, just in case the right purchase comes along. Failing that, I could always have a go at making one myself, provided I could source the motor and any necessary parts. Apart from that, it really doesn’t look too complicated (without having seen the plans…). Whatever happens, you’ll read about it here, on my blog. It could develop in to a nice project to keep me warm (and occupied) during the winter months… 🙂
Thanks for reading this evening’s ramblings!