Out of flat and unaware

Ever have a serious problem pop up with a power tool, only to realize that itís not a new condition, but something youíve been cluelessly working with for a long time?

My combo sander has served me well for years, or so I thought. Itís not the biggest around Ė itís a 6Ē x 48Ē belt paired with a 10Ē disc Ė but it suits my needs. I use it a lot, but just discovered that the beltís table isnít coplanar; for lack of a better description, thereís a ďtwistĒ in it.

Iíve used this belt hundreds of times over the years without ever noticing the issue until a couple days ago. I donít normally need or use it for truing-up projects, but a box I made last weekend had some rough rabbets on the bottom. I finish up all my boxes with hand sanding, but Iíd made these rabbets a bit too big and thought Iíd level them on the belt first. The task took only a few seconds, but when I set the box on my worktable it wobbled. I assumed Iíd accidentally put too much pressure on one corner while sanding and went back to the belt to flatten it, more carefully this time. No change.

Perplexed, I grabbed a block of 2Ē-thick oak, about 4Ē wide and 6Ē or 7Ē long, from my scrap bin. I checked it carefully for square then set it on the flattest surface in the shop Ė my table saw Ė to double-check. Flat and rock-solid as could be. But after a few seconds on that belt sander that previously flat block of oak wobbled like a rocking chair.

Iíve used this belt for countless projects without once noticing this before. As such, I have no idea when the defect formed or how it occurred. I checked the machine over and all seems in order, so I have no idea how to correct it without doing a bit of research.

Iím sure I can fix this thing so itís flat again, but whatís really bugging me is that itís apparently been this way for a long, long time and I never noticed.

Till next time,

A.J.

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