Sanding belt recommendations?

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Das HandleMeister
Founding Member
Feb 28, 2011
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Hi guys,

I need to stock up on belts again pretty soon and was wondering what and whom you guys use. Since my pieces are mostly hardwood or stabilized wood with an occasioal small piece of metal spacer, I have used pretty standard stuff from in the past. I'm not totally unhappy with that, I just wanted to see if there is anything out there that is better and worth trying. For example, I heard that ceramic belts are great for metal and that gator belts are great. But I am using a 6x48 sander, so a lot may not be available in that size. In any case, I would be happy to get your recommendations. Oh, and just out of curiosity - I am going up from 60- 400 (sometimes 600) grit on the belts, what steps in grit sizes would you use for that?

when I use them at least, my biggest problem with belts on wood is loading up the grit with wood particles and burning the wood.

ceramics are designed around having a stronger bond between the abrasive and the belt which isn't really the problem for wood.

personally I use the cheapest darn 36g I can get for initial shaping and throw them away often. then I use yellow J-Flex 80g and 400g
I also use the cheapest aluminum oxide belts for wood. Files and rasps also take wood off in a hurry and dont cause as much fine dust in the shop.
For hogging out the wood I use new Orange Blaze belts in 36 grit. (Then I can use them for metal later.) For finishing the wood and spacer materials I really like belts using Blue Zirconium. They go up to 220 grit and then I use klingspor brand 400 grit to finish. Also, try stacking 2 strips of leather on your platen for a little cushion (use super 77 adhesive - I actually made a dedicated platen with leather for wood sanding only.) is good for some stuff and I like for the best deal on Blaze belts.
Very helpful, thanks everyone. One thing I learnt along the way is to not over-use the belts, and I use a lot of the rubber cleaning thingies to keep them from loading up too much. I also start with 36grit zirconia for the rough work. Not sure if I understand you all correctly, but I get the impression that I am going through more grit sizes that some of you? I start at 36, move to 80 if I have metal spacers, to 120 if not. Then I move up through 180, 220, 320, 400, 600 and continue on sand paper, usually 800 for everything, 1200 & 1500 for the denser woods, and sometimes even higher with metal spacers. I finish buffing with white compound. I go lightly on each grit to avoid burning, but am I overdoing it here? It looks to me that buffalo horn benefits most from the higher grits as long as I don't burn it in the process.

All you are doing by taking steps between grits is exchanging time with a single belt for more belt changes(and less wear per belt). It's that way with any abrasive. The grand canyon was dug into rock by moving water, after all.

It's up to you if you want to change belts more often or go through them faster. I am about willing to put money that Stephan spends more time on his 400 belt than you do, and goes through them faster--but he doesn't have to change belts 6 times to get there.
That's why I usually wait until I have about a dozen handles at the same level - going through all the belt changes for every single handle would drive me nuts... But I will play around a bit and leave out a few steps. Time to use up some belts with odd grit sizes and start over.