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  • Belt sanding a painted surface

    I have made it many years without having to do a lot of sanding, but it's catching up with me. Part of the refacing gig is sanding the existing cabinets so they are flat, even, flush with panels etc. I have put in my first few hours with a belt sander and am noticing that on painted surfaces (some more than others) the paint seems to melt and gum up the belt as well as rehardening on the surface in sharp little ridges rather than strip. Even when I don't need to take it off, just rough the surface and knock down high points it still happens. I have been using 60, 80 and tried 120 grit belts.
    Is this normal? Is my lil belt sander too slow or something?

    Also, how does one clean a belt after it gets gummed up with paint or adhesive?

    PS When sanding I get in my complete alien 'fit--safety specs, hepa respirator, ear muffs, and ridgid pro pac hooked to the dust port in case of flying debris, lead, or cell phone ringing.
    A good carpenter makes few mistakes, a great carpenter can fix his own.

  • #2
    Re: Belt sanding a painted surface

    If the paint was that thick I think I would try using a paint scraper first and get off what I could before hitting the sander. You might try using one of those abrasive sanding sticks to clean the belt, but if the paint is gummed up on there I am not sure it will work or if there is anything else you could try. I think there are also some chemicals out there you can use (in a well ventilated area or outdoors), but I have never used them. I'm sure some others on here may have some better suggestions.
    Still enjoying all 10 fingers!

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    • #3
      Re: Belt sanding a painted surface

      I've done it fairly frequently and just use one of those gummy belt sander cleaning sticks. I clean it out with enough frequency between work so that the gumming up doesn't get too thick on the belt. Otherwise the stick looses its effectivenes.

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      • #4
        Re: Belt sanding a painted surface

        It sounds to me like your belt sander is actually moving too fast, not slow, and the friction is literally melting the paint.

        From my experience trying to remove old paint is not only very messy, but can be rather dangerous, unless you know exactly what kind of paint is in all those layers. I much prefer to scrape it off or even use a chemical paint remover. However, paint remover is even more nasty and messy than sanding.

        For kitchen cabinets, I remove the doors and drawers and do the removal work in the garage or elsewhere. The frame sides and face you have to do in the kitchen, but again I'd go with a scraper and maybe even a heat gun (not torch). Properly applied, the heat gun should melt the paint only to a point where it is easy to lift. But be careful!

        If lead paint may be in the mix of layers, about the safest way to remove it is with one of the chemical removers. Despite its caustic nature, it's less likely to introduce lead dust or fumes into your kitchen and general living area. There are some paint removers that are less caustic, and rated to be environmentally friendly.

        I hope this helps,

        CWS

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        • #5
          Re: Belt sanding a painted surface

          If anyone needs to hog off thick paint (put on think or several layers), you might try 24 grit belts. 3M makes them and for most other types of work they remove too much material fast, but they don't load up as fast as finer grit belts do. I call them "gravel coat" as the grit looks almost like fine gravel next to a 60 grit belt. You'll still want one of the gummy rubber belt cleaners.

          Please make note of the safety issues that CWS brought up. Having a class ABC fire extinguisher handy is a good idea too and if you can, have another adult around just in case you need help fast.
          Last edited by Woussko; 02-09-2007, 12:41 PM.

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          • #6
            Re: Belt sanding a painted surface

            Aluminum oxide sandpaper is what you need, Industrial grade not usually sold at a hardware store. Do a little research on the internet and you can find a business in your area or order on line. Aluminum oxide commercial grade you can find at any hardware store, but just doesn't last very long, however it does work a lot better then normal sand paper. Good luck.....
            Great Link for a Construction Owner/Tradesmen, and just say Garager sent you....

            http://www.contractorspub.com

            A good climbing rope will last you 3 to 5 years, a bad climbing rope will last you a life time !!!

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            • #7
              Re: Belt sanding a painted surface

              One quick word on the sane paper: Be sure to get OPEN COAT and not Closed Coat. Depending on how much sanding you need to do, it might be wise to get a rubber sanding block (hand use) and some very very corse open coat sand paper of industrial grade. 3M and Norton along with others make it. An idea came to mind, but you might try a 7 or 9 inch disk sander with super corse 24 or 16 grit open coat disks. That would really HOG off the paint. You'll need to wear all manor of safety gear and please think Safety if you go this route.

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              • #8
                Re: Belt sanding a painted surface

                If you can't slow the RPM of the sander itself you can accomplish the same thing by moving the sander around the work surface faster. The idea is to have less time in the same spot so less heat is created and therefore less paint melting, cleaning the belt often with a crepe stick will also help as paint emended on the paper causes more heat that the sandpaper alone.

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                • #9
                  Re: Belt sanding a painted surface

                  Thanks for all the info and advice. I have that mini pc belt sander so I have no choice for belts or variable speed, but I will try the other ideas.
                  Last edited by woodenstickers; 02-13-2007, 02:56 AM.
                  A good carpenter makes few mistakes, a great carpenter can fix his own.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Belt sanding a painted surface

                    Maybe you can try hand scraping and sanding with some 16 grit sandpaper.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Belt sanding a painted surface

                      I found out this weekend that a light sanding is all that is needed before applying the glue--as long as the surface is flat. Sadly I found out because I had to replace a large square of formica I marked up while routing a perpendicular surface and then had to remove it. It didn't come easy, even with heat gun and lots of elbow grease. I still will have to try the sanding tips for times I have to take down one surface to flush it with another, or to knock down bumps, so I'll let you know what worked for me.
                      A good carpenter makes few mistakes, a great carpenter can fix his own.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Belt sanding a painted surface

                        Well I faced off with about 5 or 6 homeowner style thick coats today. I tried moving my sander quicker, but couldn't keep it from sucking that paint into the belt. I also got a gummy stick which worked for the small stuff, but the big ribbons of paint wouldn't budge. Since I have that new size pc belt sander I don't have a lot of choices for belts so I went for the ol elbow grease method of scraping, hand sanding with a block and then hitting some spots with the sander if needed to make the corners sharp etc. What a pain in the butt! I wish I could have just glued some 1/4" mdf to the face of this beast (floor to ceiling out of square and ugly as sin) and laminated over that--but I wasn't prepped for it. Next time I'll do that because it took me about two hours longer than it would have build new face frames from scratch.

                        Anyway, thanks for the tips and letting me b*tch about it (if you made it this far).
                        A good carpenter makes few mistakes, a great carpenter can fix his own.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Belt sanding a painted surface

                          No matter how advanced the tools and technology, for some things a little elbow grease is still the only answer!! I was hoping to hear you'd managed to find a way to get a belt sander to do this job. I guess it's still a job for scraper and stripper though! Congratulations on getting it done.
                          I put it all back together better than before. There\'s lots of leftover parts.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Belt sanding a painted surface

                            Thanks sandy! Whenever I go back to truly cordless tools it makes me wonder how they ever got anything done back in the day (and to such a solid and high standard at that a lot of times)

                            One thing I wondered about is if there would be negative effects on my sander if I were to install an inline dimmer switch to create variable speed capability. I'd probably actually install it in a small section of extension cord so I could use it when I need it and not have it hanging all over the place when I don't. I'm not certain that it would be okay to run the motor slower by allowing less juice to it, or if that is how variable speed switches work when they come standard. Anybody know if this is a bad idea?
                            A good carpenter makes few mistakes, a great carpenter can fix his own.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Belt sanding a painted surface

                              I know that variable speed controls on routers is NOT a good idea. It all depends on the motor, whether it's designed to be used that way. For a normal motor, when you reduce voltage, amps goes UP and so does the load on the brushes and heat. Usually, they don't last long.

                              As far as de-laminating Formica, lacquer thinner works fine. I knew one place that did tops but did not send end caps, You had to peel off the laminate from the sink cutout for the caps. (the guy was a real tightwad!) Lacquer thinner cut the glue in seconds and off it came! Let it dry for a few seconds, spray some 3M 90 on it and slap it on.

                              Mark
                              Congratulations to Mr. "the sky is falling" Al Gore, nominated the new Village Idiot!

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