In Projects, Shop Blog, Techniques

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Starting today, and continuing each Friday, I'll be posting tips from the American Woodworker archives. This first one, however simple, is one of my all-time favorites, and one of the most-reached-for tools in my shop.

Belt Sanding Block

I do most of my sanding by hand, so I made this convenient wooden sanding block to fit 3" x 21" sanding belts. The block is split for two-thirds of its length, and the belt is tensioned with a removable dowel. A softer wood, such as poplar or white pine, gives the best results. If the belt stretches and becomes loose, insert a slightly larger dowel.

Bill McCarthy


My Take

I've found that while the dowel tensioner is nice for applying and removing belts, it's not completely necessary. Generally, I just use a piece of 3/4"-thick mdf or plywood that's 10" long for a 21" belt, or 11-1/2" long for a 24" belt. Round the corners until the belt slides on, and you're set. 

Product Recommendations

Here are some supplies and tools we find essential in our everyday work around the shop. We may receive a commission from sales referred by our links; however, we have carefully selected these products for their usefulness and quality.

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