I love it when you can get even more usage from a tool with some slight modifications ... in fact, this tool mod gave me TONS more use from my hand held belt sander that I would have ever got from it as a hand-held unit. This little conversion is known and it's a great way of getting so much more from a belt sander.
Watch it on Youtube: https://youtu.be/9w91rs1SaPc
To start off with, you will need a hand held belt sander with accessory bolt holes in the top. Not all belt sanders have these, in fact, most of the new sander does not have these accessory holes, but check because they may have some other options that would do the same job, or could attach them with a different system that might not be as easy, but equally effective in the end. Others may have some other form of attachment but the bolt attachment works well and is easy to work with.
I made mine from bits and pieces of wood I had around the shop, depending on the sander you have, your dimensions may vary from mine, but mine wooden frame was 15 inches wide and the platen the sander sits on was 8 inches deep. Of course the height of the back and the part the would sit in our vice will depend on the sander you have and the vice you will be using.
Attach the platen piece of wood to the back. In my case, the platen was natural wood and the back was half-inch plywood, but use whatever will work for you.
Next, you will need to lay the sander on its side and mark holes in the backer board in which to mount the belt sander. Before you do that, depending on the belt sander you have, you may want to add a tiny bit of elevation to the sender by setting it on a 1/8th-inch thin piece of plywood, just sot he sand belt sits up off the platen. If you have some hanger bolts the suitable size, these would be good to use, otherwise, you could use a bolt with a sharpened point instead of the head, or if all that fails, just take your time and mark the holes manually.
Next, drill the holes for the attachment bolts and at this time, before you mount the sander, you may want to add a permanent lift to the bottom platen to keep the sander lifted off it's the main base.
Next attach the sander to the backer and basically, the job is done. But there are also some options here ...
Because the sender can now stand on its own, allowing you to work with 2 hands with it, you will need some way of keeping the sander turned on. My sander did not include a trigger lock that would allow the sender to stay on, so I improvised by using a Velcro Strap to keep the trigger permanently on the "on" position. At this point you could use the power cord to plug and unplug the sander, you could attach it to a "switched" power bar, or you could do what I did and attach it to a Foot Switch the then turns the sander on and off.
The other accessory that I like to help give my sanding belts and pads longer life and make them work better is an Abrasive Cleaner, they work like a bit eraser on sanding belts and remove much of caked on sawdust and chips.
Whether you are new to woodworking or an experienced woodworker, finding multiple uses for tools means we get more out of them and probably save ourselves some time and energy and often make a better job too. It's always fun seeing what better offering we can get from out tools
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Copyright Colin Knecht