Monday 9 July 2018
I love carving. Just picking up a tool and seeing how a shape begins to emerge from a piece of lime is a very satisfying way to spend a spare evening, but the process doesn't just involve the use of wonderful steel gouges. We also need to use abrasives to help with the shaping of detail, and hand sanding can be a bit laborious. There are simply times where we would like to get the job done a little quicker than human power alone can offer.
Someone in the workshop mentioned looking at a dedicated belt sander so after a bit of digging, I discovered a couple of recommended models, one of them being the BSL 220/E from Proxxon. The spec looked promising so I called one in for testing.
The belt sander arrived in a dedicated and rugged polypropylene storage case so should withstand the bumps of being transported from home to club, and will be well protected in a busy workshop setting.
Supplied in the box is one corded belt sander, plus four sanding belts: two at 80 grit and two at 180 grit. There isn't a lot more that's needed, so set-up is easy enough: just load on the required belt which just slips on, plug in and away you go!
The head of this tool can be angled at three different settings: 0, 45 and 90 degrees to the body through pressing a dedicated button at the top and moving the slimline head to the desired position.
I'm still working on my European kestrel started in issue 114 and decided to try the sander on this piece, as it offered plenty of opportunity to smooth out various tool marks and shape intricate areas.
Positioning the head to the required position was a doddle, after which, I was ready to plug in and turn on.
The sander started up satisfactorily enough and speed is controlled through a dedicated dial on the bottom of the casing, next to the on/off switch. Belt speed is 300-700rpm and whilst this seems pretty adequate, I was expecting something which delivered a little more oomph.
I began with the 80 grit loaded and maxed up the power, carefully guiding the sander around tooled marks and obvious bits that needed refinement. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised with how easy it was to shape and smooth out large and intricate areas using the Proxxon. Even the precarious area under the beak was able to withstand power sanding.
The belt sander is a nice little power tool to have: it will adequately handle shaping, even in the most delicate of areas, and the angled head is a nice little touch for getting into tight spots.
The only niggles I have with this tool is that I would have liked a bigger speed range, and the dust port which you attach to a dedicated extraction unit is positioned in a way that makes use a bit cumbersome, otherwise this is a very nice way of sanding and shaping.