Selling Wide-Belt Sander Time on the Side

Other Versions
A wide-belt sander can help pay its way with occasional odd jobs for other woodworkers. May 13, 2005

We are thinking of upgrading our 24" drum sander to a 37" widebelt. The upgrade is more of a capacity issue, but the obvious benefits of a widebelt will be enjoyed as well. As a small shop, we will be looking for any way to leverage this purchase to our advantage. It will not run all the time (far from it, in fact), but the convenience of having it on-site makes the purchase tempting. Do any others have experience with selling time on a widebelt machine to other small shops/hobbyists? How do you get the word out that you offer such a service? Is it overly disruptive to your own work or schedule? Even generating a few hundred dollars a month to cover abrasives, etc. would be helpful to make this purchase "'pencil out."

Forum Responses
(Solid Wood Machining Forum)
From contributor B:
I just paid a buck a minute for the use of another shop's wide belt and I help run the material. It was worth it to me and the wide belt made a few extra dollars. This was done at the end of the day so the shop was not disrupted.

From contributor J:
In my opinion, this would be an accident waiting to happen. There is no way I'd let someone else use my high dollar equipment. The liabilities are too great as far as someone getting hurt. They will also tear up your sander and leave you holding the bag. Keep all non-employees out of your shop.

Now, you could do custom sanding for other shops, charge a square footage rate and price it where you can make some money. Do the work with your own employees, though. In the 80's we ran a jillion feet of pine flooring through our wide belt and pretty much paid for the thing doing it. This is a very versatile machine and I have done some non-cabinet jobs with mine, such as resurface used butcher block table tops for a local restaurant supply co., sand door/window jambs, presand T & G flooring, sand beaded ceiling, sand stair parts, sand glued up table tops and panels for trim carpenters/hobbyists. My lumber supplier/lumber yard sends a lot of folks my way.