Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How much stock can I remove in one pass?
A: Stock removal on a wide belt sander is determined more by the abrasive belt than by the machine. Each abrasive belt is designed to remove a certain amount of stock, and if that amount is surpassed, the life of the belt is affected. As a rule, you will need to use the lower grit belts for heavy stock removal (36-80 grit belts can remove approximately 1/8” to 1/32” respectively) and medium grit belts for lighter stock removal (100- 120 grit belts can remove approximately 1/32” to 1/64” respectively). Belts in grits from 150 on up should only be used for finishing and are not considered cutting belts. Other factors effecting stock removal are: abrasive belt speed, type of sanding head, feed speed, and available horsepower.
Q: Are there advantages to a planer/sander over abrasive planning?
A: Yes. They are mostly related to power consumption and media costs, which are lower with a planer/sander. An abrasive planer will use high horsepower motors with very coarse sanding belts. The latter are expensive, and usually need to be replaced two or three times a week (depending on the type of product being sanded). On average, a planer/sander uses about half the horsepower of a conventional abrasive planer, and the cutter inserts will last several months. These replaceable carbide inserts have four sides/cutting edges; one edge will produce around 150,000 board feet of product. An abrasive planer uses 24 or 36-grit belts, which leave very deep scratches. To remove these scratches, an additional sequence of 60-, 100- and 120-grit sanding belts must be run to achieve the same finish as that produced by a planer/sander running one knife head and one sanding belt.
Q: How many sanding heads do I need?
A: The number of heads required depends on a variety of factors; with some of the most important needs to be considered: the type of wood being sanded, amount of stock to be removed, finish requirement, and feed speed needed to meet production rates.
Q: Should I sand with a drum or a platen?
A: Generally speaking, a drum is used for stock removal and a platen is used for finish sanding; however, drums are also used for finish sanding in some applications. A rule of thumb would be, if you need to remove more than 0.003 to 0.004 inch, you should use a drum, otherwise a platen may be used. The difference between the two is also seen in the finish. A drum will produce a short scratch pattern, but it is deeper on a given grit. A platen will produce a longer scratch that is not as deep. You really need to determine stock removal requirements and desired finish to decide which will fit your needs better.
Q: What is a segmented platen?
A: When sanding veneered panels or sealer/lacquer, utmost control is required. To accomplish this, the platen is made up of individual segments; each of which receive sanding pressure separately (pneumatically or electronically). These segments are controlled by a CNC controller that, along with a sensing unit, can be programmed to activate only when needed. By doing this, you have the ability to conform to the irregularities of the panel to prevent sanding through the sealer or veneer.
Q: What is sealer sanding?
A: Sealer (lacquer) is the first coating applied to your product after finish sanding or staining. The purpose of this is to fill in or "seal" the wood pores and protect the wood. A negative effect to applying sealer is, that being a liquid, it raises the grain of the wood, producing a rough surface. Sealer sanding is performed to create a flat, smooth surface with the proper texture, so that the next coat (also known as the top coat) will adhere properly. Methods used for sealer sanding are: hand sanding, wide belt sanding, brush and orbital sanders (both hand held and feed-through).
Q: When should a cross-belt sander be used?
A: A cross belt sander is used primarily in veneer tape removal applications. The cross belt sander is designed to run across the grain of the wood, which is an aggressive sanding method. Because of this design, veneer tape is removed with one head, whereas two heads are needed with other wide belt methods. Cross belt sanders also are used on long panels in which the grain runs in the narrow direction, such as desk tops and front panels. In processing these, the cross belt is located on the out feed of the machine, so the scratch pattern produced by the belt goes with the grain.
Q: How do I prevent irregular color matching on sanded pieces?
A: There are two primary causes of irregular color matching on sanded wood: excessive pressure and improper stock removal amounts. When a piece of wood is subjected to too much force while being fed through a sander, its cell structure is damaged, causing uneven penetration when stain is applied to it. Utilizing incorrect stock removal amounts (based on the abrasive grit in use) can cause similar issues. You can quickly and easily resolve the pressure issue by evaluating your machine configurations to ensure they are set properly for the applications currently being performed. (In a majority of cases, workers simply forget to change the sander’s settings when changing to a new application). Also, be sure to check with your abrasive supplier to guarantee your team is using the recommended stock removal amounts.
Q: The stain on my final product is blotchy. Is my sander causing this issue?
Possibly. Blotching occurs when areas of differing wood density absorb liquid stain differently, creating an unevenly stained surface that compromises the look of the grain. There are a wide variety of factors that influence how effectively stain is applied to wood. In many cases, using a final grit that’s too fine prevents the stain from penetrating evenly, causing blotching. But before you look into picking up a different grit, we highly recommend checking your final sanding unit’s abrasives to ensure they aren’t clogged up. Clogged belts can burnish the pieces being sanded, leading to poor penetration of the surfaces when it’s finished. Fortunately, you can easily fix this issue by changing out the compromised belt.
Q: Is there any way to prevent parts from slipping on the feed mat?
Absolutely. Over time, conveyor belts naturally become glazed and slick due to oxidation, causing parts to slip. If you’re experiencing this problem, check your hold-downs to make sure they’re set correctly. Also, make sure a sufficient amount of force is being exerted on the parts to rule out pressure setting issues. Another potential solution is to grind the conveyor belt. Using an abrasive belt on the sander’s mat will refresh the grip of its rubber. However, it’s imperative to use proper procedures and precise belt settings when utilizing this tactic. You can also contact Timesavers if you want an experienced service technician to examine your machine and correct the problem.
Q: Can I increase productivity by running my sanding machine at higher speeds?
No. Processing parts at higher speeds typically necessitates higher horsepower, an upgraded frame and the implementation of additional sanding units. Pushing your sanding machine to do too much at once usually results in an inferior finished product. By running your Timesavers sander at significantly higher speeds than intended, you’ll see a marked decrease in finish quality. Boosting speeds too high can also result in shorter belt life and issues with effective stock removal. In most cases, it’s a better idea to invest in an additional sander (rather than pushing your current machine beyond its limits) when you need to increase your shop’s productivity.
Q: How can I increase the lifespan of my abrasives?
Even the highest quality abrasives can be quickly worn down by frequent or intensive use. Luckily, there are a number of strategies you can use to enhance their lifespan. The first and most important step in optimizing abrasive life is to ensure you’re using the proper mineral for each specific application. For example, ceramic abrasives are incredibly durable and offer some of the highest cut rates available, making them ideal for stock removal and other applications in which the grinding tool needs to last for a very long time. Ceramic aluminum oxide is also a perfect option when performing precision grinding and applying a fine finish to tough steels and alloys. By using the best abrasives for each job, you’ll substantially increase their lifespan. This same principle applies to the backings you utilize for each product.
Another simple and effective way to boost the lifespan of your abrasives is by staggering the components you’re sanding across the width of the belt. This tactic ensures the entire width of the belt is being used in equal measure, meaning that you’re getting full value out of each abrasive mineral (as opposed to just the center or sides). Lastly, if your application requires, be sure to clean your abrasives regularly. This simple process can be done in-house or professionally and can play a huge role in keeping your abrasives performing at peak levels for longer. If you’re having trouble finding the right cleaning products for your machine or need more advice on increasing the durability of your abrasives, then please feel free to send us a message. We’d be more than happy to help.
Q: Is it OK to skip grits while sanding materials?
At first glance, skipping grits might seem like a great way to increase production and save on consumable cost, but this doesn’t always work. For example, it’s certainly possible to remove the scratches left by 60 Grit abrasive with 100 Grit, but doing so will put more demand on the 100 Grit belt and requires a slower feed speed than if you had just used 80 Grit. Moreover, most finer grits just aren’t capable of cleaning up the large scratches and imperfections left by coarse abrasives. Each unique application will dictate which grit(s) can/can’t be skipped to achieve the desired results.
Q: What’s the purpose of your wet dust collection machinery?
As you know, deburring, finishing or grinding ferrous and non-ferrous metals causes metal contaminants to be released into the air. Regrettably, this dust can create dangerous thermal events when it isn’t contained, including fires and explosions. Our dust collection solutions use water to filter these hazardous particulates out of the air, which is much safer than using a dry filter/cartridge. They also have a low operating cost and are easy to clean, making them a natural choice for almost any dry metalworking application.
Q: What are hold down shoes, and when do I need them?
A: Hold down shoes in a wide belt sander are similar to chip-breaker shoes in a planer. They are used to control the part as it passes through the machine, prevent dubbed or sniped leading/trailing edges, and to allow for shorter parts to be run. Specific uses are: short or narrow parts, parts under 1/4 inch thick, veneered panels, or any time you need to hold tight tolerances.
Q: When should a vacuum belt be used in feeding a sander?
A: There are two circumstances for which the vacuum belt is appropriate. The first one occurs when you need to run parts that are shorter than the distance from the infeed hold down rolls to the outfeed hold down rolls; these parts may slip or stall in the machine without using vacuum. The second situation is when sanding very thin or flexible parts; parts with a thickness of less than ½” will have a tendency to bow and curl, while flexible product can be lifted into the sanding head. The vacuum belt assists the pressure rolls to flatten and hold the parts during the sanding operation.
Q: My sanding machine isn’t working properly. What can you do to help?
If you are experiencing any issues with one of our sanding machines, then be sure to call or message us as soon as possible. Here at Timesavers, we pride ourselves in offering the finest industrial sanders and customer support in the industry. We maintain a staff of seasoned phone support technicians for any and all parts/service related questions. We can also send a factory-trained service technician to your facility to service your Timesavers machine and get your production process running properly again in no time. Moreover, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for advice, support or additional information pertaining to your machine or applications. We’re always here for you.