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I'm going to break down and buy a belt sander this week.  I've hand-sanded my last node!  Any preference as to which model and what grit belt for node work???  (Joe West)

    Get a belt and disc combo sander. The wider the belt the better. Mine is 3" or so. The 1" ones can go too far into the enamel surrounding the node (or so they tell me!).  (Bob Maulucci)

      It's true, you do have to be careful. It's easy enough to control though by just paying a little attention and reducing the abrasive down to 220 or so. Actually the more worn the better. I can see where a wider belt might certainly help.  (Mike Shay)

    I have been using a combo belt/disc unit that was very cheap made by Delta.  Never have had a problem and what was said about worn belts is very true.  (Doug Hall)

      I have the little Ryobi that sells for about $90 at Home Depot.  Like it.  (Carey Mitchell)

    I have the cheap Delta with the 1-inch belt. It is pretty easy to sand too far if you are not careful.

    I made a simple wooden "fence" with 2 vertical pieces of wood on either side of the belt.  It clamps to the sander "table" and lets me sand off the node protrusion without going too far.  (Frank Stetzer, Hexrod, Taper Archive, Rodmakers Archive)

      Are the fence sections in the same plane as the belt?   (Brian Creek)

        Yes, that’s the idea.  You need a scrap piece of cane to test it with to make sure both sides are right.  If you want to go a little deeper you can just flex the strip when you press it against the belt and the fence.  (Frank Stetzer, Hexrod, Taper Archive, Rodmakers Archive)

    Grizzly has a very nice oscillating spindle sander for around $120 that really works well, both for strips and culms.  It comes well equipped with about 5 different size spindles and drums.  When you sand the nodes on the culm, splitting is much easier to control.  I love the tool.  (John Long)

    I sand the nodes with a "flap disk" that I put on my 4.5" hand held grinder.  The Flap Disk has a slight conical shape the allows me to just "catch" the high parts of the nodes as I rotate the culm.  I can than flame the culm after to get a more uniform color.  (David Van Burgel)

    I have been using an even cheaper and just a efficient fix to sanding nodes.  Forget spending big bucks for more gizmos, just go to your local hardware store and buy a spindle sander attachment and put in on the drill press.  It gives great control and will only set ya back about $5.  (I got the idea from Tony Spezio)  (Mike Brown)


I've finally had it with my $89 4x34 belt sander from Harbor Freight. Underpowered on the day it arrived, it finally seems to be dying.  And I'll happily bury it.

Any recommendations on a nice, medium sized stationary belt sander?  I use it for all kinds of jobs in the shop, from removing pith sides of nodes after splitting to cleaning up joints in poor woodworking jobs.

I'd like to stay with the smaller footprint sanders, and keep in less than $250.  Any ideas??  (Harry Boyd)

    I bought a 4x36 Ryobi from Home Depot for about $100.  I can sure slow it down if doing some heavy sanding.  I use it mostly while sanding off the pith side of nodes and it does the job.  It has a 1/2 hp motor.  Not sure what your had but this one has served me well and is a lot less than $250.  (Greg Reeves)

      I had a Sears for many years and it worked well.  (Ren Monllor)

      I, too, have the Ryobi and it is compact and performs well.  The only way I can stall it is if I'm pushing really hard against the full width of the belt.  For bamboo work, it's great.  (Al Baldauski)

      Was going to recommend the same one.  Had it for about 5 years and it has served well.  Use it for everything form sharpening lawnmower blades (better than grinder) to various woodworking chores.  Never a problem.  (Carey Mitchell)

    I don't know what it's like in your area, but I've found Craig’s List to be a life saver on things like this.

    First, you can unload the HF sander you have. Next, you can pick up a quality older sander (back when they used good metal instead of crap) for less than a new one.

    I just bought a belt/disc sander for $80.00.  Big Baldor motor, must weigh 250 pounds. WORKS GREAT and when compared to the garbage they sell at the big box stores for a "reasonable" price, or the "arm and a leg" they want for a decent piece of equipment, there's no comparison.  (John Dotson)

    I have been using that sander for  quite some time.  The first one I had gave up the ghost and the second one is still gong strong.  The first one died because the drive belt shredded. It was a rubber belt that looked like a caterpillar tractor tread.  Easily replaced.   (Ralph Moon)

    I have been using a Ridgid for many years.  It has the option of belt sanding or spindle sanding.  I think the belts are 4 x 24 and there are a set of spindles.  I don't recall the price but i think its in your range.  the warranty is great.  (Jim Sobota)

    I bought one from Sears over 15 years ago & it is still going strong.  (Bret Reiter)

    I have the same model. I agree its not the greatest. Have you considered buying a new motor for it instead of retiring it to the land fill? A new and better motor would breathe new life into it. My biggest complaint for this model is a lack of a dust collection port. I drag my belt sander outside every time I use it. When it is raining I have to wait.  (Scott Bearden)

      I thought of that, but besides the motor I have constantly battled problems with belt tracking.  No matter what I do, the belt wants to slide one way or the other.

      I'm through with this machine -- though mine may be different than yours since it has a dust port... not very effective, but it's there.  (Harry Boyd)

        Check the platen underneath the belt (the piece of sheet metal under the work area, should have a piece of sheet cork under it), if it has dust buildup, or is worn out and part of the cork missing it will never track right, cleaning it or replacing it should fix that problem. But it will still be underpowered.  (John Channer)

    I was just looking for a belt/disc sander myself but I couldn't bring myself to buy any of the ones available in the big box stores.  I've spent most of my life in construction and buying cheap tools never worked for me so I buckled down and bought a "small" Delta model 31-695.  It uses a 1 HP motor to drive a 9" disc and a 6"x48" belt and comes with a stand so I don't have to build one. have them on sale for $239.00 plus shipping.  Here's the good part; shipping is only $6.50!  If you want a machine instead of a toy, you might want to check this out, and just so you understand, I have no interest in either company and it's just a suggestion.  (Bill Ernst)

    I've had great luck with my Delta 4" and also a 1" Stationary belt sanders.  (Doug Losey)

    Best one I have found is the Kalamazoo Industries S4S.

    No drive belt to break, built like a tank.  I went through a few delta's and others then found this one.  (Larry Tusoni)

    When in doubt and you can't find one made by Milwaukee, buy Delta.   (John Channer)


Need some tutelage here. I have only built 2 blond rods and they both turned out to be more of a honey color. I really prefer flamed or ammonia toned rods but need to build blond baitcaster and would like to keep the color as near to straw as possible.

For those of you who build blonds, at what temperature and for how long gives you the best results?  (Will Price)

    You could flame the pith side out of the bamboo for your heat treating regimen and you will have about as blonde a rod as you can get.  (Greg Reeves)

      There's a tutorial on Todd's tips site here.  (Neil Savage)

    Depends on how you heat treat.  in my convection oven with the M-D fixtures, 360 degrees for 30 minutes gives me the blonde color I look for.  This gives me a color between straw and honey.  (Mark Wendt)

    I do it with my heat treating regime. I like Honey Colored rods. I heat treat  @ 375 for 12 minuets for Honey color. For straw color, 10 minuets and darker Honey for 15 minutes.

    That works for me.  (Tony Spezio)


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