If you own or plan to buy a Stationary Belt Sander, one of the first accessories you will want to make for you sander is your own fence that you can easily take off and install.
Many of the higher end Stationary Belt Sanders allow you to flip the cast iron table upward so you can sand smaller pieces perpendicular to the belt direction. I do not know of any that provide a fence that allows for sanding parallel to the belt travel.
Sanding horizontal to the belt travel is how I spent about 90 percent of my sanding on this piece of equipment. Now, I do have a steady hand and a good eye, but being able to edge sand a piece of wood on a 6″ x 48″ belt is difficult to say the least.
So, I came up with this handy little fence device that will allow you to sand with confidence on your belt sander and get a perfect 90 degree joint every single time.
Tools and Materials:
Standard Metal Drill Set
Tap and Die Set
Hex Head Bolts (5/16″)
1-1/4″ x 1-1/4″ x 1/8″ x 18″ Long Angle Iron
Hardwood Fence Material 1″ x 4″ x 20″ Long
How to Make It:
Start out my doing a careful layout. If your Stationary Belt Sander will not accept a flat angle iron or you don’t have room for one you may need to make some compromises or re-design of this installation. This method will work with the DELTA 31-300, The DELTA 31-735A or the Powermatic 1791291K. I’m sure it will work with others, but you would have to investigate. What you need is a flat surface beyond the belt travel width of approximately 3/4″ in width to surface mount the angle.
Set the angle iron on the belt travel plate, about 1/4″ beyond the polished travel path. Mark its location with a scratch awl. Next drill (2) 5/16″ Holes in the angle about 3″ from each end. Set the angle back on the sander and mark the holes on the sander surface. Mark these holes clearly and punch with a Center-Punch.
Take your Hand Drill that is properly sized for the 5/16″ bolt thread and drill down through the table surface. Tap the holes with the 5/16″ Metal Tap – You can decide if you want coarse or fine thread, depending on the bolts you purchase. Drill about (3) 5/16″ Holes in the upward leg of the angle. Bolt the angle firmly into place on the sander surface. Place a 1mm to 2mm shim beneath the wood fence and hold that into position. Clearly mark your holes from the angle onto the backside of the wood fence. Drill the holes in the wood fence and countersink the bolt heads on the face side of the fence so the bolts are completely beneath the face of the fence.
Bolt the wood fence to the angle and be sure to use lock washers on the nut side of the bolts. Tighten everything down good and tight. Next take a good, accurate woodworkers Try Square and check the fence to sanding surface squareness. It should come out perfect if your machinery and angle are made correctly. If not, adjust the angle my using very thin wood veneer strips between the angle and the wood fence, or better yet, sand the back side of the fence to ensure perfect squareness.
GLS Tip #1: If you wish to change your fence out more quickly, you can use Threaded Free-Spinning Knobs that you can hand tighten. That is what I have gravitated to, since you only need the fence for certain operations and it is in the way for others.
GLS Tip #2: I started out on an old Craftsman 6″ x 48″ Stationary Belt Sander. The side of the belt travel plate angled outward, so I mounted (2) 1″ x 1/4″ x 6″ Aluminum Bars on the side and bent them to the correct angle on a mechanics vice. This served me quite a while, until the belt ripped right through the soft aluminum and I had to start over. The nice thing about this arrangement is you can use brute force to bring the wood fence plumb with the sanding surface.