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Thread: P-C Belt Sander Questions

  1. #1
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    P-C Belt Sander Questions

    I'm considering retiring my tired two-year-old B&D belt sander. (Don't laugh, it's paid for itself several times over.) It still runs, but the squeal and squawk from the bearings is about to drive me nuts. (It's screetched and hollered since the first time I used it, but no matter how hard I've tried, I can't kill it.) Also, the dust collection is worthless, and I want something better.

    I use my belt sander quite a bit, since it's a relatively fast way to flatten a cutting board glue-up, and I'm still making cutting boards on a fairly regular basis. Even if I use the planer or router bridge to do the majority of the flattening, I generally start with the belt sander to knock off the high spots.

    I've been looking at the 3" x 21" Porter-Cable with the variable speed. I'd like to stay with the 3x21 format since I already have a fair number of belts on hand, and the cost difference between the 3x21 belts and the 4x24 belts seems prohibitive for my needs. Also, my projects are comparatively small, so the smaller size seems it'd be easier to handle. I realize dust collection with any belt sander is iffy, but I'd plan to attach a shop vac hose to reduce the dust as much as possible.

    Do any of you folks have any experience with this sander, or have any recommendations for a different one?

    TIA -
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  2. #2
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    I started with a Craftsman and went to the Porter Cable 3 X 21, night and day difference, the P.G. tracks the belt with out continuous adjustment, is not near as loud and much stronger.

    You will not be disappointed, sounds like a good Christmas present to yourself.

  3. #3
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    I've had one for a decade or more - very stout machine - though the dust collection bag is near useless IMHO. I recently refinished 15 12' long church pews and took all the parts down to bare wood (40 years of dirt and varnish) using my PC. Never skipped a beat.
    “We all die. The goal isn't to live forever; the goal is to create something that will.” - Chuck Palahniuk

  4. #4
    Hi Vaughn. Last year I bought a Bosch 3x21 variable speed belt sander. It does a good job for a butcher like me. I expect it will be the last such sander I will need to buy. I bought I mainly because of multiple postive comments about it over on SMC.

  5. #5
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    Ken, I hadn't really looked at the Bosch, but you're right...it seems to be well-liked by those who have one (and I've been very pleased with my other Bosch power tools). I like the idea of the lower center of gravity (seems less likely to tip and gouge). I also find I use my current sander upside down clamped to the Workmate, so the flat top on the Bosch would allow me to continue that practice. Is the dust port round or rectangular? If it's round, I'm guessing I could find a way to connect a vac hose to it.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  6. #6
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    Hey Vaughn, I don't own a beltsander, I'd like to, but I don't right now, I have used a number at different jobs over the years.

    I have found that they way the fit your hand really matters, when you get to the good quality of the PC, Boschs, or say Makita, the fit in the hand, and the deal you can get comes into play.

    I'd head down to your local Borg and test fit them in you hands first.

    I've heard some good things about the Bosch too, but I've also heard some say they HATED the way it fit their hands.

    Food for thought.

    Cheers!
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  7. #7
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    Unfortunately, none of my local Borgs stock the Bosch 3x21 for a hands-on test. I've handled the P-C (and used one eons ago) and they're built like a tank, but feel top-heavy to me. I'm sure it'd hog off the material real well, but I'm concerned about controllability. Keep in mind I'm used to a little lightweight B&D Dragster, but as noisy as the thing is, it's very controllable and I don't mess things up with it. It's a bit odd to think of belt sanders and finesse in the same room, but the B&D can be finessed and I can get good end results. I did notice the rear handle angle on the Bosch is pretty close to that on the B&D. so at least my right hand would probably feel at home.

    If I get one, it'll be through Amazon, so returning it unused shouldn't be a problem.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vaughn McMillan View Post
    ..............If I get one, it'll be through Amazon, so returning it unused shouldn't be a problem.
    Yeah sure......... rub it in...........
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  9. #9
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    I can only speak of mine Vaughn, but I have a ( Ryobi RE321 ? ) It is variable speed. My wife bought it for me about 15 years ago for my birthday. I use it a bunch not to mention I've loaned it out a few times too. Still running strong and I was surprised to see it listed a short time ago in FWW magazine as one of the tools they would buy if setting up a shop.
    A very wise man once said.......
    "I'll take my chances with Misseurs Smith and Wesson. "

  10. #10
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    vaughn, don`t buy nuthin` till i get back to the shop! i might be convinced to get off a spare 504 p/c..........might...talk to you monday tod
    [SIZE="1"] associated with several importers and manufacturers.[/SIZE]

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