Wide Belt Sander Platen and Drum Issues

Understanding how the platen and the drum interact can help you get the best performance from a widebelt sander. July 15, 2012

Can someone direct me to a supplier of wide belt sander platen pads? I have a 15" Bridgewood and I think a new pad is needed. I'm getting an irregular (about 1/4" wide) line down the middle of the work piece. I changed the graphite but it didn't help. Any help would be appreciated.

Forum Responses
(Solid Wood Machining Forum)
From contributor J:
I would talk to Uneeda Enterprises. They supply graphite, sandpaper and felt pads. Most of the items are in stock and ready for shipment.

From contributor R:
You can buy felt from mcmaster.com and get the Extra Firm F1 White Felt. Make sure you get the right thickness. The platen should be able to be raised so you are only using the drum for the most part. I've seen too many folks who have their platen engaged too far so it can't be backed off and it ruins the platen in no time. The platen is for finish sanding and most widebelt manuals don't really tell how to use the machine to get the best results. Most folks don't even understand what the platen does, never mind how to use and maintain it. The platen is very subtle and if you sand a piece with the drum and with the platen there is a clear difference in the finish. The roll marks from the drum are minimized to allow one to go right into finishing without further random orbit sanding.

You should know exactly where your platen is compared to the roller. Moving the cam lever should be an exact reference point of platen engaged or drum engaged. You shouldn't be running the platen engaged all the time either.

The best source of graphite is Process Engineering. They make most of the graphite other places sell and have a huge selection.

From contributor P:

Woodworkers Supply is another good source for the graphite and felt.

From contributor R:
No one can come close to Process Engineering for graphite and I doubt any others even know what kind of felt to use. I learned it from 40 years of being in the industry and from using and repairing sanders you don't even see anymore. Machine manuals never give the subtle details of fine tuning a machine. Such info traditionally was handed down from operator to operator.

Uneeda sells the felt in 10 yard rolls. The questioner does not need 10 yards of felt. Get the felt from McMaster and you can buy what you need. I like Uneeda stuff just fine, but for sandpaper try Industrial Abrasives. Lowest minimum for custom size belts. I used to work for a dealer and sold Uneeda paper too.

From the original questioner:

Contributor Rů "The roll marks from the drum are minimized to allow one to go right into finishing without further random orbit sanding."

I've had this for years and you make me think maybe the pad is pressed down to the point of not touching the wood surface as it once did. I'm getting more wavy lines than I used to as if the drum is now more prominent.

I certainly didn't know there was such a thing as a cam adjuster. I'll tell you, this thing has worked so well for so long I was scared to touch anything.

From contributor R:
I recently had a friend with a problem with his widebelt. It was rounding the edges over. Seems his platen was well below the drum, and even backed all the way off it was below the drum. He now knows where his platen is and just drops it down for the last few passes. It will produce better results and last far longer. Between the rarer changes of graphite he can recondition his felt by running the platen and felt under the drum to keep it flat.

From contributor K:
I wonder if the 1/4" line you are getting is from the platen or the drum. It isn't uncommon for the drum to get scored by taking too much material off a narrow work piece, in which case the drum needs to be resurfaced. You should be able to determine this by raising the platen out of the way or removing it and running with just the contact drum. It can be hard to see a small groove in the drum itself, but the results are obvious in the work.

From the original questioner:
Yes, that's what I'm beginning to suspect. I'm going to look into it further. Right now I have a schedule to meet.