Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Dragster

Belt sanders:
those odd tank-tread members of the power tool family that just beg to be plugged in and set free across the garage floor.
I hear that there are people who have organized races using belt sanders.
Of course that's not what they were designed for, but everybody wants to.

I hear they even ride the sanders in some races!

Belt sanders aren't for every sanding application,
but they do fill certain needs quite effectively.
I mostly reach for my belt sander when I'm either shaping something,
or looking to clean up the edges of freshly-cut wood.

And then there was yesterday.
We've got a boat out of the water, and flipped over.
I needed to strip the bottom down to bare wood.
I could spend three days with a disk sander,
or I could just break out my Dragster with a 36 grit belt.

The whole project took about two hours.
It required discipline - because if you handle the tool wrong,
you'll end up with notches and uneven spots, but do it right,
and you'll be amazed how quickly that continuous loop of sandpaper
can get the job done.

Nearing the end of the belt sander's duties.
A quick buzz with the D.A. sander and we were able
to get the whole surface down to bare wood.

Big Wheel in the Back, Little Wheel in the Front.
I don't know why nobody did it sooner.
it works with open-wheel race cars, motorcycles, and dragsters.
This dragster is a little bit faster than mine.

Thankfully, someone in a tool design department thought to do it with a belt sander. 
The model I have found most useful is the Black and Decker "Dragster".
It's not the most expensive, and maybe there are other belt sanders that are built better and last longer, but this design really works for my needs.

My dragster.

I have to admit:
I wonder if they got the idea from those crazy belt sander races.

Whatever their inspiration may have been, they came up with a shaping device that has some really helpful uses.
That small front wheel allows for much tighter sanding inside a corner.
The other day I was able to flip back the top guard and reach down into the buso to shape surfaces where the forcola mounts.
Try that with a big-wheel belt sander.

the top guard flipped back to expose the top side of the belt.

Black and Decker has sold varying versions of this sander for several years.
They call it the "Dragster" with a product code of DS321.
I've also seen it at Sears under the Craftsman brand - same features,
same design.  Different colors, different name, but the same sander.

I don't always need to use my belt sander,
but when I do, I love reaching for this power tool.

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