A sanding belt is an elongated flex belt sander specifically designed to hold power sanding tools. The “cycle” of the sandpaper travels at high speed with a lot of torque, making it quick and easy to handle otherwise time-consuming jobs. Belt sanders are great for smoothing rough surfaces, removing paint, and generally removing blemishes. For decades, belt sanders have been an integral tool in the woodworking and construction worlds, single-handedly revolutionizing the way the world uses wood. However, even the most advanced belt sander is only as powerful, consistent and versatile as the belt it is equipped with.
Types of sanding belts
There are hundreds of different belts on the market today to suit all types of power tools and projects. However, the vast majority of abrasive belts use one of the following four materials to achieve the desired abrasive action:
Alumina: Alumina belts are arguably the most versatile of all belt abrasives and are suitable for almost all sanding applications. Alumina particle sizes range from 36 to 400 and are ideal for processing metal, wood and other materials.
Zirconia: 100% synthetic and exceptionally tough zirconia belt is sharper and more durable than alumina. Zirconia belts range in grit from 36 to 120 and are commonly used with plastics, rubber and fiberglass, as well as all types of ferrous and non-ferrous metals.
Ceramic: Ceramic abrasives have excellent long-term performance and can be used on ferrous and non-ferrous metals as well as similar products. Ceramic belts are a particularly popular choice for stainless steel machining.
Silicon carbide: Silicon carbide is the sharpest and hardest of all commercially available abrasives, ideal for tackling the toughest jobs as quickly as possible. It is also available in a variety of coarse grains, from 24 all the way up to 600.
Choose a sanding belt
Most importantly, the key to choosing the right sanding belt is to check the belt sander’s specifications and requirements. If you don’t have the manufacturer’s instructions, you can simply cut the sander’s current belt and measure its length and width. Alternatively, enter the make and model of your sander online to find out the exact shape and size of the belt you need. After that, it’s a case of choosing the right grit to meet the job requirements.
Abrasive belt particle size value
A high particle size value equates to a smoother surface, with a particle size of around 600 being the highest. These are great for final polishing, but not for stripping paints and varnishes. On the other end of the scale, a granularity value of around 40 is suitable for heavier and more aggressive applications. Regardless of the material, most abrasive belt materials will
Classified as one of the following four headings:
Extra Coarse Sandpaper – This usually refers to a 24 to 36 grit abrasive belt, ideal for removing the most stubborn paints and varnishes.
Coarse Sandpaper – While still durable, but slightly less abrasive, a 40 to 50 grit grit is suitable for most everyday paint and varnish removal.
Medium Sandpaper – Typically a grit value between 60 and 100, can be used to initially smooth rough and uneven wooden surfaces.
Fine Sandpaper – This is the most common sandpaper in home toolboxes and workshops, with a grit of 120 to 220. Versatile and versatile.
Superfine Sandpaper – Great for those all-important finishing touches and finishing touches, with grit values ranging from 240 all the way up to 600.
It’s important to note that for many, if not most projects, you will need to use a variety of different grit sizes in succession to achieve the desired results.