Introduction: BHSB (Big Honkin' Sandin' Block)

Picture of BHSB (Big Honkin' Sandin' Block)

One day I put a brand new belt on my trusty 3x24 belt sander and got to work fairing some things out. Then I hit a snag, literally. I missed a screw that was still poking sharp point out and it cut my new belt into two small belts which then proceeded to slap me silly. After I got done throwing things and swearing, I put another new belt on and finished sanding. Later in the day I was cleaning up a bit and started to throw the ruined belt in the garbage and I decided I ought to find a way to use what remained. The BHSB is what I came up with, they’ve worked out so well that I make them with new unused belts now.

Step 1: Prepping the Belt

Picture of Prepping the Belt

You’ll want to cut the belt in half, and then cut out the taped joint. Believe me when I say this taped joint is NOT strong enough to survive what we are going to do to it later.

Step 2: The Wood Components

Picture of The Wood Components

You’ll need to mill up a top and bottom board and then a couple clamp/spacers. I usually mill everything so that they are about 1/8 of an inch or so narrower than the belt I’m planning on using so that the belt can flex some up both sides by about a 1/16th. The top and bottom boards get cut to about 4” or so less in length than the belt. Cut the bottom board in half, and attach one of the spacers at the joint on one side only.

Step 3: Putting It Together

Picture of Putting It Together

Wrap the belt up and over the end of one of the bottom boards and then clamp it down with a couple screws through the spacer block

Step 4: The Tricky Part

Picture of The Tricky Part

Next step is to attach the other side of the belt to the other board. You’ll want to do it such that there is a slight gap under the joint, this is where the tension will come from later. I’ve found a 1” to 1 ½” gap (ie two pieces of 3/4” plywood) is just about perfect. If it’s too tight the belt will tear so don’t overdo it. Shove a couple scraps under the bottom board's center cut and then pull the belt up and over and secure it with screws and a spacer blcok. Once the belt is attached then line the two bottom boards up and get it set up like this.

Step 5: Tensioning

Picture of Tensioning

Push down in the middle until the middle block makes contact and screw it down.

Step 6: Finishing It Up

Picture of Finishing It Up

Sand the top and bottom edges of the top board so that you have a nice smooth edge to hang on to. Countersink the screw holes and screw it down to the spacers. Make sure that you set your screws so that they don’t run into the tops of the ones holding the spacers to the bottom board.

Comments

spinach_dip (author)2006-12-12

Cool, that looks easy to make. Now tell me what it's good for. Why would I pick this tool over my random orbital sander?

I'm using them to get surfaces flat over large areas, and careful shaping. The random orbital and belt sanders have their places but gentle shaping and taking out the highs and lows aren't them, they tend to ride in and out of the lows whereas a stiff sanding board stays on top and makes depressions easy to spot and thus fill.

That's actually a pretty cool idea. I made a buther block cutting board for a girlfriend a couple years ago without the benefit of a jointer or a planer. To form the butcher block required sanding the top and bottom perfectly flat so I could cut, rotate,and glue them up again. What I had anticipated being a three or four hour project turned into a seemingly endless nightmare of sanding, cursing, sanding, cursing, etc. The belt sander just sank right into the lows rather than resting only on the high spots. This would have been awesome for that.