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Belts gone wild

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  • Belts gone wild

    I recently purchased the Rigid 2720 belt sander. Since my experience is limited on belt sanders I have come across a head scratcher. I'm refinishing old stair treads and I'm using 36,50,80grt belts(Norten-Home Depot). I'm running on the highest speed (F). The belts are hardly worn by the time they bust at the seem. They are bidirectional because they do not have an arrow. I do notice the platen gets really hot,could this be the cause? Has anyone replaced the stock platen w/a graphite one (How,why,results)? Does Rigid make a graphite platen? Are the belts I'm using worthless? I do not force the sander nor exert additional pressure because there is no need to, plenty of power and weight to spare. I don't think I should be running at a lower speed due to the belt issue. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  • #2
    My first question to you is, are they breaking at the seam in a clean manner or is it ragged? OR are the belts tearing and shreading? As for the platen getting hot, yes that's going to happen with all the friction how-ever I have never had any belt fall apart because of the heat. I have the same sander. The last possibilty just may be you got a bad batch of belts. No idea about the other type of platen.


    • #3
      They break cleanly at the seam, as if the joining tape (that mesh sort of tape thingy that joins the belt together) just failed. I've had belts shred on me before -usually -OK all of the time being my fault, but nothing like this. This separating at the seem is getting on my nerves, not to say expensive. Today I had four failures using 36grt and 1 80grt.


      • #4

        I haven't used my old belt sander to the degree that you have described, but I've never had a belt come apart on me. My single-speed, belt sander is a Ryobi-made Craftsman that is about 30 years old. I recently purchased some 120 grit belts (Norton) from Home Depot and used them to flatten the backs of the oak boards that had been glued to the walls of the kithchen. I used a chisel to remove most of the hardened adhesive and then the belt sander to finish the job.

        I can testify to the "heating" of the platen, but the only challenge that I faced was the gumming up of the belts, due to the nature of the adhesive. The belts remained in one piece however. I do notice that the binding strip on the belts does appear rather thin and I'm wondering if hard application may cause it too much stress. I used 120 grit belts against oak and it took off a lot of material (reason I don't use the belt sander all that much). I cant' imagine what 36 must do.

        In any case, have you considered taking these back to Home Depot and asking their thoughts, or perhaps even calling Norton. It seems to me that sanding belts should remain in one piece no matter how much they are used, especially if there is still useable grit on the belt.



        • #5
          sounds like a bad batch to me. I have used a belt sander to strip a buddies living room floor (we were students and poor) and trust me the belts got hot and we used every bit of grit, no sepparation and no shredding. Take them back for refund.


          • #6

            From your post, I'm assuming you are having trouble with more than one of the grits you mention. If you only had trouble with 50s, for example, I would think you had a bad batch of 50s. If you are having trouble with more than one type, something else is wrong.

            Either Norton belts are very poor, which is possible, or the Norton belts are reacting to something about your sander.

            Try this:

            Go to another retailer and try a differnt brand. I use the purple 3M belts from Menard's and have good luck with them. If the other brand of belts works...take your problem with Norton back to the Home Depot store for a refund. If the new belts also have problems, you may have a tracking problem with your sander.

            Look in your sander's manual for how to adjust belt tracking. Some sanders self adjust, others need to be adjusted. Perhaps the Norton belts just can't handle mistracking.

            Beyond that, I'm not sure what you should try. Please post your progress.


            • #7
              Thanks to all for the info. Unfortunatly I've used up(busted) the remaing belts but I will try a different brand and forward my results. One thing I did notice and forgot to mention was the "wearing down" of the mesh tape that connects the belt together. It starts at one end (forgot which end) and about half inch in is when the failure occures.
              Should there be any side to side movement on the belt when sanding? I get that when going in a side to side motion but not in a front to back motion. I adjust the belt according to the manual -flip the sander over and run while turining knob to center belt.


              • #8

                My experience with belt tracking is that the belt will usually run to the outside or inside if the tracking isn't adjusted properly. This is pretty rare though and some minor turning of the adjusting knob gets the belt to track centered on the rollers.

                I've never had a problem with the belt moving side to side on the rollers though. Almost sounds like the tension is off. You mentioned earlier that you don't apply a lot of pressure when you are sanding (you shouldn't, the weight of the sander alone should be enough).



                • #9
                  "I get that when going in a side to side motion but not in a front to back motion"

                  Leonard, a belt sander is designed to work best in line with the belt travel, "front to back", and with the direction of the grain in the wood.
                  Moving it side to side makes the belt "walk" on the platen, especially if you're putting any pressure on it.
                  I've never personally had any problem with Norton belts, but I prefer the 3M.
                  They just seem to work a little faster if they're kept clean and last longer.
                  Good luck.


                  • #10
                    Thanks to all for the info. Over the past week I went ahead and switched brands on the belts(from Norton to gatorsomething or other(Lowe's)). Low and behold they still kept busting even though I "babied" the belts as much as possible. I kept on a front to back motion and reduced the speed to midway on the dial. I made sure there were no stray pieces of wood to catch on the belt and pretty much took my time. After three belts in less than 15 minutes I called customer service who referred me to the nearest service center which does not take Rigid anymore due to a change in warranty policy(?). So I ended up taking a 30 minute drive to the next S.C which turned out to be a lawn mower shop. I saw a few Rigid tools there so that made me sort of at ease. To make a long story less painful - 2 to 4 weeks!
                    I'll post when I get and test the sander back.
                    Where can I find 3m belts?


                    • #11
                      Re: Belts gone wild part II

                      Well after waiting about twelve weeks for parts to come in I finally got my sander back . The repair shop replaced the platen which didn't look bad to begin with! Didn't get a chance to speak to the repair guy-wasn't there. Brought it home and started to finish the rest of the stairs I had started a few months ago. On the first stair I busted two belts which is better than before but for a $179.00 not good enough, especially after hearing you guys have used the same belt for years.
                      I tried to take it back to HD stating that it was in the shop prior to the 90days but that didn't fly. Fortunately I only had two steps to do and went through three belts 1- 40gr, 2-50gr.
                      Every time I walk through the tool bin @ HD and see the PC I kick myself ,next time I won't be suckered in by a free bag and such!
                      Any suggestions would be appreciated.


                      • #12
                        Re: Belts gone wild


                        To me it sure seems like something is wrong with your sander or something is snagging the belts and pulling them apart. I've used Norton and 3M for a long time on my old Porter-Cable 360 and several friends own other belt sanders of several makes. None of us have had the problems of belts busting at the joint. Try this and please post. Install a new belt on your sander and let it run in the air on low speed for about 5 minutes. Then unplug the sander and try to slide the belt off without releasing the tension. Does the belt seem really pulled super tight? Rather loose? Did the seam start to come apart from just running the sander in the air? The only things I can think of that would bust the seam (if not defective) would be far too much tension in the belt or that something is really snagging the belt. 3M is all around and very popular. Look under woodworking machinery or power tool dealers in your yellow pages. There are many online dealers for them too.

               (3M - Amazon has other grits too.)

               (Makita is the name on them. I'm not sure who makes them.)

                        Here is the main site of KLINGSPOR a manufacture of coated abrasives. Normally their quality is pretty good. This is where you can download their main catalog as a .PDF file.

                        Here is where to find and buy all manor of Klingspor products and loads more for the woodworker.
                        Last edited by Woussko; 02-03-2007, 12:56 AM.