A tip on cleaning thickness sanders....

David Lynch
05/18/14 05:03:32PM

Anyone who has uses a thickness sander a lot will understand this: There you are, merrily going along and all of a sudden you get one of those dreaded brown streaks.....the one that tells you the belt loaded up and has burnt in one spot. And once it happens you can just about kiss that belt goodbye, right? Sure, you can try to avoid that area of the belt but sooner or later it pops up elsewhere.

I use a sander quite a bit in my work and with the price of the belts going up and up I try very hard to avoid this......smaller "bites", using an eraser on a regular basis etc etc. But it still happens, especially when working with extremely hard or oily woods such as ebony or rosewood. There are even some maples and mahogany woods that seem to be prone to this. Awhile back though I noticed that one wood seems to clean up the belts instead.....

I had been running Bloodwood through the sander and ended up with some burn marks on the belt. Because there was still an area on the belt wide enough for some Butternut pieces I needed done, I figured I would run them before swapping out the belt. I was dong just fine avoiding the bad section of the belt until I was almost done, then I accidentally let one piece go through the bad spot. I realized as soon as the piece went in that it was in the bad spot but was surprised that as it came out the burn streak was fading. I popped the cover open and saw that the burned streak was gone from the belt.

Since then I have experimented a bit on this and found that Butternut does really well in removing those burns marks from belts. It doesn't work if the burn is really deep but if you can catch one early it will help salvage the belt. So now I keep all my Butternut scraps by the sander just in case it happens.