What widebelt sanding capabilities are on woodworkers’ wish lists? Here’s what the experts report:

All in one machines like planer/sanders, widebelt heads with orbital heads, widebelt and orbital heads with brushing heads, and widebelt heads with veneer segmented heads and orbital heads. Also, automation linked with the setup of the machine, and automation with material handling equipment, where only one operator is required to run entire sanding line. Gary Besonen, national woodworking sales manager, Timesavers Inc.

We see requests for ease of setup, especially on multi-head machines. Also, the ability to adjust the drum and platen positioning automatically when changing grits, or belt wear, so you can get longer life out of the sandpaper. Tim Sermonet, product manager at SCM Group USA

Many manufacturing companies today are striving to differentiate themselves from their competitors. One way of doing this is to increase not only the finish quality of their product, but to increase the variety of finishes and textures to their product mix. Structured rustic texturing, high gloss polished and hand-sawn appearance are just a few of the applications that we see being added to traditional sanding requirements. Mike Johnson, brand manager at Biesse America

Flat panel processing is still an important, vital part of our manufacturing world, but more parts are becoming much more intricate and multi-dimensional. Right now there are very few options available to sand these parts. Parts like moulding, hand-scraped flooring, curved cabinet doors, etc. are becoming more popular every day, and are very difficult to sand with a feedthrough machine because of multiple issues, not least of which are the set-up times. There are machines available today to do these production runs, but often the costs are prohibitive. Brush sanders are normally not aggressive enough to give a strong uniform sand across a flat surface without obliterating the corners and edges of the workpiece, while profiled belt sanders can have long setup times or extremely high price tags. Many sanding manufacturing companies are spending significant research and development dollars in this area. Tim Middleton, product manager at Stiles Machinery Inc.

Existing customers would like to see us offer multiple head sanders so that as they expand and require more efficiencies, they can grow with the line of products. Shawn Larkin, sales manager at Safety Speed Mfg.

I’ve been in this business for more than 25 years and this is always the $64k question. For the most part, most customers want machines that they can “ignore,” but will run for 15 years without maintenance. I’m being facetious of course, obviously this will never happen but [equipment manufacturers are] always striving to build machines that require less and less maintenance, other than some light daily cleaning. Eric Johnston, sales manager for Costa Sanders/Costa & Grissom Machinery

A highly requested “wish list” for future development would be the design and manufacture of a feedthrough orbital sander/brush machine with forgiveness of thick and thin product and ease of operation. The second wish list development would be an economical, portable and compact widebelt sander for the small to medium users, with many of the features of the larger widebelt sanders. Harold Kapaun of the Apex Machine Group, a division of SlipCon

Reducing operator errors and the ability to achieve sanded surfaces without defects from belt loading and other belt damage. They are also looking for simplicity in setting the sander and for diagnostics connected directly to the supporting company. Keith Paxton, product manager at Holz-Her U.S., a division of Michael Weinig Inc.

The ability to be able to run very short stock, with or without holes, under 10 inches long. Also on the list is the ability to run very thin stock, less than 1/8-inch thick, and thick stock, up to 12 inches thick. Warren Weber, manager at SuperMax Tools


Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.