One of the handiest tools I own is my Ridgid Oscillating Belt and Spindle Sander that was recommended to me by a friend, many years ago and it has given me years of good service, but as I use it I find it has a couple of items that could use some updating, and thanks to a suggestion from Bill in Wichita, I finally go around to making these changes.

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The first update was to that annoying, reverse thread knob on to of the oscillating mechanism that allows you to change and secure spindles and the belts ...

 If you own one of these sanders or even something similar, you will find that those little bolts get VERY hot after a little bit of use, and they because of the heat expansion, they also tend to jamb themselves on to that steel rod they are threaded to, so between the heat and jamming, they can be hard to get off without using some sort of tool ... or even a simple wooden knob extension, which is what I am going to make. 

wooden knob extension for belt sander

wooden knob extension for belt sander

I started off by using my hole saw to quickly make a round knob with a hole perfectly placed in the center. Next, I used one-inch washer to draw a line around where the knob will sit on the new wooden extension, marked the 5 knob bumps, then used another smaller washer to a position where the inner holes will need to be drilled that will allow the rubber-coated knob to drop into the new wooden extension. After drilling the holes and doing a bit of round and flat filing to get a good fit, the wooden knob easily covers the sanders rubber-coated knob and makes it much easier to take on and off, and you don't have to worry about burning your hand as you do remove it. 

Next, I moved on to dust collection ...something I have wanted to so for some time. The sander has a dust port but it doesn't work that well ... at least on mine as I have the vacuum out the dust manually to keep the buildup of dust in sander motor and fan. 

To keep things simple in my shop, I only have 2 sizes of dust collection, 2.5 inches and 4 inches and of course, adapters to go from the small to the larger. To make the new dust port, I purchased a 2.5 inch angled adapter that will attach with screws to a wooden base and I checked to makes sure it would fit my existing hoses before going ahead with the build. 

dust collector fitting

I found some cut-off wood that was half and inch thick that would be perfect for the holding the plastic dust chute, I figured out where I needed drill a hole in it, the also trimmed it to size. While I was at it, also made wooden brace that would help to keep the whole dust collection structure sturdy a proceeded to glue them together using 5 minute epoxy glue ... for a couple of reasons 1) didn't want to wait for my carpenters glue to dry and 2) I was gluing end grain at one point and yellow carpenters glue is not always the best for this, where epoxy glue often is.

Oscillating Belt Sander

After the wooden structure was glued and the plastic dust port attached, I then positioned it so that the dust port would not interfere with any long wood that I might want to sand. So the dust port needed to be behind the "sanding plane" of the belt sander. When I positioned the new dust collection structure I found that my positioning for the attachment bolt was a bit cramped, so I opted to use a plain 1/4 inch bolt and washer which actually works even better. I also added anti-skid material to the dust collection structure so that I could position it anywhere in its pivoting area and get the maximum dust collection from having different positions if needed. 

Lastly ... comes the testing. I turned my bit dust collector on and hooked up the new sander's dust collection port to it. I tried sanding a piece of scrap wood to see how the dust would flow off. The dust immediately was drawn into the new dust port regardless of the position of the wood on the sanding belt. This now sanding port was work far better than I ever imagined it could ... what a great addition to the sander. Not only does it pick up the sawdust in the workshop better, but it also keeps the sander cleaner too. 

A quick and easy upgrade for my oscillating sander 

Copyright Colin Knecht


Ridgid Oscillating Belt and Spindle Sander