How to Use a Belt Sander | Technique & Safety Tips

How to Use a Belt Sander

Belt sanders are a great addition to your workspace inventory for their efficiency and the ease with which they can be handled. Not only are they suitable for beginners as well, but they will also require much less effort and time on your part when compared to other kinds of sanders.

However, knowing how to use a belt sander might be confusing to some, and that is why we have decided to dedicate this article to all those who own a belt sander but are wondering how to use it.

This walkthrough consists of 7 easy to follow steps followed by five safety procedures that should be followed when sanding and will not take up much of your time.

How to Use a Belt Sander?

Let’s go through the steps of using a belt sander.

1. Fit the Belt

Before we get started, remember that this step is entirely for beginners or users who need to change the belt on their belt sanders and should be avoided by people who have been using their sanders for a while now and have experience in this field.

Belts for electronic sanders are assigned with varying values for their coarseness ranging from 40 up to 360. Depending on what you wish to sand, you should choose your sanding belt accordingly.

If you are lost on how to determine which grit to use, then you should contact your local hardware store and ask them for advice.

To fit the belt on to the sander, pull on the lever (usually found at the side of the device), and then slip the belt on the wheels following the direction shown by the arrows at the back of the belt. Once you are done, push the lever down to return the sander to its original position.

2. Lock Your Piece on Your Workbench

Your specimen will tend to slip away while you are sanding it, thus making the result look uneven and so, by securely placing the piece that you will be working on between clamps and your workbench, you will be ensuring that it will stay in one spot while sanding is in process.

Conversely, a lot of sanders come with clamps as well. If your sander is like this, then you should secure the sander on your workbench before turning it on and then use it as a fixed sander. This trick is especially useful for smoothing intricate designs or sections.

3. Turn on the Sander

Before proceeding to do this, make sure your sander is well away from your workbench. You need to give your device some time for it to reach its maximum speed after turning it on because these sanders tend to gain momentum gradually.

Hence, using it right from the get-go will only prove to give your work a more irregular finishing.

Similarly, if your sander is equipped with clamps, wait for some time after turning it on before bringing the piece that needs to be sanded close to the sander. Also, you should always start sanding with a belt that is rougher and then changes to a belt with a higher grit when you are nearing the end.

4. Start Sanding

Once your device has reached its maximum speed, start by bringing the rear end of it down close to your work area and hold on steadfastly to the back handle as this is what mainly controls the sander. Afterward, slowly move your sander forward and gradually bring the rest of it down as well.

Do not stop at any one spot during the entire process and instead move it back and forth, parallel to the grain of the wood, by controlling the movement of the sander with the front handle.

We would advise you to move your sander side to side while staying parallel to the grain of the wood, and so before you get started, stand perpendicular to your workbench and project.

5. Do Not Apply Additional Pressure

The pressure from the weight of your sander paired with the weight of your two hands is sufficient enough for the whole process to go smoothly and so please refrain from pressing down too hard on your device.

Likewise, do not try to lift the sander or lessen the pressure while you are still halfway through the length of your piece, as this will also lead to uneven sanding and might even ruin your whole project.

Add Some Finishing Touches

After you are done sanding and feel like your project does not need to be smoothened any further, gently take the device off the workbench and look inside the ventilation bag. If it is full, then detach the bag from the machine, empty its contents into a garbage can and then fix it back on the device.

Next, replace your belt with one that has a finer grit following the procedure described in the first step, and then move on to sanding your project one last time just to give it some finishing touches.

Clean up

Once the whole process is over, grab your cleaning stick and place it on the sandpaper belt before turning the machine on once again. Since the stick is made out of rubber, it works perfectly with belt sanders, and you do not have to worry about ruining the product.

Tidy up your workstation afterward and dispose of any wood shavings produced, and you are done!

Safety Tips

Now that you know the process of using a belt sander, we would like to share with you some safety tips that you should maintain before and while sanding with a belt sander. Remember that this list is not limited to the ones we are about to mention, and stay mindful of hazardous situations.

1. Keep Clothes Away from Your Workbench When Working

We would advise you to wear tight-fitting or semi loose-fitting clothes when working with a belt sander so that it does not get in the way of your work.

2. Use Both Hands While Sanding

Both hands should be used while sanding since one needs to be kept on the back handle where the switch is located, and the other needs to guide the front handle.

3. Use Protective Gear When Working

Protective gears include respiratory masks, goggles, and/or a face shield and earplugs. The dust respirator masks will protect your respiratory tract from dust accumulating in the air when sanding is in the process. In contrast, the goggles or face shield protect your eyes from flying splinters and other tiny sharp objects.

4. Keep Your Work Station Clean

Stay mindful of stray items and wires or cords that may be found lying around in your workplace as you might trip over them any time.

5. Keep Your Sander Clean

By regularly cleaning your sander, you will prevent any harm coming to it, such as clogging the motors and vents. Side by side, this will also help lengthen the lifespan of your belt sander.


With the five safety tips out of the way, we will be concluding our article for today. We hope you now have a much clearer understanding of how to use a belt sander along with the safety measures that need to be followed. Thank you for reading till the end, and we hope to see you again soon!

About the Author Daniel Patrick

Hi. This is Daniel. I have nearly 5 years of experience in writer and technician specialized. Having been a project manager at an engineering firm. Currently working as the Writer and Chief Editor at ToolsLord.

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