christine1ca

machine - belt or bench sander edges?

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Anyone use a machine for sanding edges? I was thinking just a regular bench belt sander, but this reviewer says that they sand their holsters on this: https://www.homedepot.com/p/RIDGID-Oscillating-Edge-Belt-Spindle-Sander-EB4424/100061671

Anyone with any experiences using a machine for sanding edges, please do share.

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I have a couple different machines I use depending on what I'm doing. My main machine is a naumkeag (similar 1st pic but a standalone) with 200+ grit. I also use a belt/disc sander from Harbor Freight (like 2nd pic) for rapid removal of material. I would use it more if I got finer belts/disc for it. They work fine for sanding edges though. 

It's real easy to mess up an edge with a machine. So it depends on what you're working on and how fine of grit you're using. But if you take it slow it's fine. If the grit is too course it will cause your edge to become "hairy" so you actually have more work to do than had you done it by hand.

sensorgesteuerte-absaugung-bimser_16_9_teaser_onecolumn.jpg

97181_I.jpg

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interesting, thanks! i have a harbor freight coupon sitting on my desk because i was looking at that exact machine. 

in terms of messing stuff up, i was worried about slipping slightly and sanding the face. so that's what i thought that machine in the link where i could place the product on a flat surface and slide it toward the machine would be better than having it in the air. but maybe you do that same thing with the lip on the harbor freight machine?

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I use a belt sander like the one pictured, mines not Harbor Freight but the same machine.  It works great for getting all of the edges even on holsters but it does leave the edges slightly rough.  Still much easier to finish by hand than to even them up by hand.  I tried that this winter when it was below zero and I didn't want to walk out to the shop to use the sander.  Word to the wise the belt sanders are very messy to use, I don't recommend using them in the house.  I tried it and immediately realized the mess created was not worth the short walk to the shop.

Todd

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I use this one for all my leather working needs, . . . it has a hose connection for a sweeper, . . . I really like that

I use it for sheaths, belts, wallets, badge cases, holsters, key fobs, . . . all of it.

Harbor freight, . . . originally about 40 bucks, . . . about twice that now.

May God bless,

Dwight

belt sander.jpg

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nice! i like that price. not sure how that one wasn't showing up in my searches. which grit do you use with it?

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I use a 2" belt sander (originally built for metalwork/knifemaking) and yes, it is very messy sanding leather!!! You need a light touch, however, or you will remove too much leather and too much pressure can burn the edge of the leather. But it's a very useful tool.

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The answer really depends on whether you want it for hobby use or regular work use. Many of the cheaper products use bushes instead of bearings and I found out the hard way that going with the quality products is often in the end cheaper. A bigger factor also is the dust extraction as that fine leather dust aside from going everywhere also can build up in your lungs. If your thinking of long term production let me know and I'll load some pictures of a few different machines I use that do this type of work.

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I use a dremel with a flex wand and sanding drums. Much smaller, much cheaper and can fit on even the smallest benches. Can even mount it in a work station if you want.

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3 hours ago, christine1ca said:

nice! i like that price. not sure how that one wasn't showing up in my searches. which grit do you use with it?

I use 120  grit on everything, . . . as Dikman said, . . . a light touch is necessary.  

I've actually got 2 of em, . . . switch burned up on one, . . . didn't have time to fix it, so I went and got another one, . . . oldest is about 10 years old, . . . both are a bit noisy, . . . but they work great.  RockyAussie also mentioned the dust, . . . I use a 5 gallon shop vac, . . . have it connected to the sander and running outside my shop so I don't have to listen to the noisy little rascal, . . . but it keeps the dust down pretty well.  I used to do all my sanding outside even in the  winter, . . . but with the vac, I don't have to any more.

I especially like the edge I get on my belts, . . . and my customers seem to as well.  Plus this particular model the sanding belts are fairly inexpensive.  I also have a Dremel like Halitech mentioned, . . . but it does not do as good a job on my holsters and belts, . . . so I just use it in the tight places.

I started to build a 2 x 72 belt sander for some other work, . . . also wanted to use it in the leather work, . . . decided it would be too aggressive.

Hope this helps, may God bless,

Dwight

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Christine,

A belt sander is not the solution.  You need a spindle sander as they have spindles as small as 1/2" diameter, which will get into the tight curves of a holster.  Can't do that with a belt sander.  This Rigid is both belt and spindle, but you will likely use the spindle more often than the belt.  It won't hurt to have the belt though.  You could just get a plain old oscillating spindle sander for less than what the Rigid sells for, like this Harbor Freight model for $145.  https://www.harborfreight.com/search?q=spindle sander

If you have a shop vac, both the Harbor Freight and the Rigid have dust collection ports, so they will work with it.  You may need an adapter to make it fit.  Adapters are common and easy to find.  Here's one: https://www.homedepot.com/p/Think-Crucial-Replacement-2-1-2-in-to-1-1-2-in-Conversion-Unit-Fits-Shop-Vac-Compatible-with-Part-9064900-9064900/305847086

Get some 150 grit and 240 grit sanding sleeves for it.  Finish sanding by hand with 400 grit or higher if you want.

This is a good tool to have if you ever do anything with wood too.

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Thanks, guys! Dwight - I purchased that same belt sander from Harbor Freight and am pleased with the results. (I don't do gun holsters or anything with concave curves, so it worked fine for me.) I'm almost tempted to mark my stitchline a little more than 1/8" from the edge with the plan to sand down even more since that might be a quicker way to get the edges lined up for painting. 

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If you can remove the top plastic "safety" cover then you can sand curved parts too (my large belt grinder dosn't have guards and it's handy having access to the wheels for curves).

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On 5/17/2019 at 12:23 AM, wizard of tragacanth said:

Christine,

A belt sander is not the solution.  You need a spindle sander as they have spindles as small as 1/2" diameter, which will get into the tight curves of a holster.  Can't do that with a belt sander.  This Rigid is both belt and spindle, but you will likely use the spindle more often than the belt.  It won't hurt to have the belt though.  You could just get a plain old oscillating spindle sander for less than what the Rigid sells for, like this Harbor Freight model for $145.  https://www.harborfreight.com/search?q=spindle sander

If you have a shop vac, both the Harbor Freight and the Rigid have dust collection ports, so they will work with it.  You may need an adapter to make it fit.  Adapters are common and easy to find.  Here's one: https://www.homedepot.com/p/Think-Crucial-Replacement-2-1-2-in-to-1-1-2-in-Conversion-Unit-Fits-Shop-Vac-Compatible-with-Part-9064900-9064900/305847086

Get some 150 grit and 240 grit sanding sleeves for it.  Finish sanding by hand with 400 grit or higher if you want.

This is a good tool to have if you ever do anything with wood too.

That is one opinion, . . . not necessarily a well informed opinion, . . . 

The spindle sander of which he speaks also sits on my work bench, . . . mostly gathering dust, . . . as it does a terrible job on anything not curved, . . . and if you are not careful it can totally ruin a curved piece.

And that says nothing about not being able to use the whole sanding sleeve, . . . even with flipping it end for end.  The middle part is still basically "unused" when I toss the sleeve, . . . which is becoming less frequent as we go along, . . . 

The belt sander IS THE WAY to go, . . . or at least has been in my years of service to the leather industry.  For tight curves, . . . a Dremel tool is much, much, much better than the spindle sander.

May God bless,

Dwight

Edited by Dwight

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I concur re- the Dremel-type tool. I have several (:rolleyes2:) and keep a couple in the shed where I do my leatherwork. I have a small drum sander fitting, great for tight corners, and also made a small wooden burnisher, also for tight corners. I bought a cordless Dremel as it seemed like a good idea, and while it's great to take outside the shed for sanding maintaining the batteries is a bit of a pain.

Between these and the belt sander there's not much I can't do.

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I use one like the pic shown of the Harbor Freight one. The brand on mine is Wen but it looks like the same unit. I think I paid $70 for it at Walmart about 3 years ago.

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On 5/25/2019 at 12:08 PM, Dwight said:

That is one opinion, . . . not necessarily a well informed opinion, . . . 

The spindle sander of which he speaks also sits on my work bench, . . . mostly gathering dust, . . . as it does a terrible job on anything not curved, . . . and if you are not careful it can totally ruin a curved piece.

Dwight... you are right.  I totally agree.  It was an uniformed opinion.  Based on the original post, mentioning holsters, I thought that we were talking about holsters.  No mention was made of long, straight edges.  I was recommending a spindle sander for a holster.  I also agree that an oscillating spindle is not ideal.  A non-oscillating spindle would be the better choice but the OP was asking if a specific machine was adequate.  The OP was thinking about a belt sander, which I considered to be a mistake because a belt sander is of little value in making holsters.  It would be very common to ask "What are you sanding" but I thought that to be implicit in the original post.

For straight edges, use a belt sander.  For curves, use a spindle sander.

Nick

Edited by wizard of tragacanth

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Well, my holsters have been made using a belt sander, with the aforementioned Dremel for very tight curves. Works for me, and a lot cheaper than trying to find a spindle sander.

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First off, I have arthritis and other hand issues.  I have the Ridgid oscillating spindle/belt sander and the Harbor Freight 4" belt with 6" disc. The Ridgid is much better at detail work on wood. I've been thinking of trying the spindle on leather, just haven't got to it yet. The Ridgid is a much smoother operating machine with a good stable base/table. The HF is a beast, that vibrates a lot. It works, but I prefer to use the Ridgid for accurate work. I haven't been happy with Dremel results,  or with a flex shaft due to my hand problems.   

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I have used belt sanders, both the 4 inch and the 1 inch for most of my projects for years.  I also use an old, worn out 4 inch belt to pre-finish edges that are relatively flat.  It doesn't make the leather furry.  Once your edges are glued and ready for stitching, I would use the sander to flatten and smooth your edges, then mark them for stitching so your stitches are uniform from the edge all the way around. 

For the inside curves, I use drum sanding bits on my drill press.  I bought these years ago and still have quite a pile of sand tubes for them.  They don't work fast really, but inside curves you generally don't want to get too crazy sanding anyway.  You can get these cheap for a set at Home Depot and lots of other places.  I think I bought mine at Jantz Knife Building Supply.

 

 

drum sanding bits.jpg

Edited by dougfergy
Forgot to mention where I bought mine

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G'Day,  I use a machine similar to the second pic in arashikage 's post, works great, especially when making various tool cases like leatherman type cases etc. in quantity . I also have a sanding block for finer areas on some projects. The block is flat on one side and curved on the other.  The other sanding blocks I have are soft spongy sanding blocks   in various grits . So a bit of both, machine and hand sanding . 

HS

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