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Thickness sander

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Kurt, I found taking small amounts each pass worked best as there is less chance of the 'kickback' especially with small pieces.  I use about a 1/3 turn of the front wheel -usually works for me.  If you do try to take more off make sure you are not standing behind the entry/feed side just in case of kickback - I usually work with the sander across my body so it feeds right to left.

With very thin and small pieces try using double sided tape (such as carpet tape) to hold the piece to a larger carrier piece.





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Hey Group,

I too am wondering how to use this tool - I've only used it a few times - but soon I will need to reduce some 1/4 inch thick blanks to 7/32nds thick and I want consistent results.  I hope Kurt doesn't mind me jumping on this thread - but I think his question is similar to mine.  What is the step by step way to carry out this operation ?  A tutorial for using this sander if you will - that will address amongst other things - how much do you take off per pass to get to close to final dimension before using the finishing side of the drum.  Also I read somewhere on this site the sander feeds better if you rest the front of the machine on a 2x4 so the table is more horizontal.  



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Join in. It always amazes me how some threads seem interesting and die with one response and others seem to take off. I know it's just a matter of doing it and getting the feel of the process, but I won't have the opportunity for a couple of days. I was wondering if anyone had any pearls to share in the meantime. I read the 2 x 4 trick a while back. I guess it doesn't matter going with or against the grain unless you want the last pass with the grain? Enquiring minds want to know.



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I've used this sander for about a year. Here are my thoughts:

1) It will take many swipes to get even a 1/8 inch reduction. Don't be in a hurry and try to shorten the number of swipes by increasing the turn of the adjustment knob too much.

2) To avoid a potential injury from kickback do not position yourself behind the machine.

3) In order to prevent kickback I use both hands...pushing in and pulling out simultaneously. On the pulling out side, for safety sake, don't grasp the wood until you can get a very good grip.

4) Make sure the wood is completely flat on the platform during the entire process....especially avoid accidental lifting at the end on the pulling side.

5) After a swipe, turn the piece over and swipe it again before changing the adjustment knob. 

6) Check your sandpaper occasionally to make sure there aren't uneven places across the width

7) Usea good micrometer or measuring tool.

8) Once more.....don't be in a hurry.

9) Once more...always be extra careful.

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I have been using Jim's sander for about 12 years or so. Here are some observations:

- Each mark on the adjustment wheel is .002 in. Use a micrometer and measure more than one place on the strip.

- I use one course and one fine grit on the sanding drum. Sand close to finished thickness with the course paper and sneak up on finished thickness with the fine paper. (I just got the 6 inch hold down bar from Jim and use that with 6 inch paper to mill billets wider than 3 inches.)

- +/-  .005 in is good enough for almost all applications. You won't see the difference and you will save a lot of wood.

- Turn the strip over with each pass. This will help to relieve internal stresses and prevent bowing.

- Be careful with boxwood. It's edge will cut you like a razor blade if it slides through your fingers. Don't ask.

- Save all your errors. You will always need a thinner piece somewhere down the line. This goes for the saw as well. You will always need a narrower piece somewhere down the line.

- Try and estimate how much of each size you will need and mill it all (+ 10%) in one set-up. Makes for good consistency.


- Mill ebony outside. You will never get ebony dust out of you shop or off the machine and ebony is toxic.


Hope this helps


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For me: the first fix is to remove the set scars from the bandsaw blade on

both surfaces. 

Mine is an under powered 3 wheel bandsaw and my skill in resawing could be better.

Two inch hardwood - especiaaly Hard Maple - strains the 3/4 HP motor and 

dulls the blade more quickly than I like.

My sander is home made using plans from NRG  from years ago - the drum is 11 inches

and the circumference is 8.5 inches - for standard sanding sheets - now I would make it

12 inches - so that I could fit 3 grits of 4 inch cloth backed sanding medium  Klingspor  80/150/220

For the thickness sander =

The goal is to start with a stock thickness that allows a clean

220 finish on both sides - without having to waste much wood to get the

target thickness.

I flip and rotate end to end.  This is using 80 grit.

When I have a clean surface, i sand one side down to 220 and use it as the

table contact.

The other side gets 80 grit passes - with end to end rotation until close to target 

then finish to final with 220.

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You have some pretty definitive advice from the "floor". All good recommendations. I would only add to the comments that most professional sanding machines either have a moving platen or a power feed. Of course the Byrnes sander relies on hand feeding. I have noticed that if I have an unsteady feed rate that I can get slight gouging in the material. So I would only add that a constant feed rate is important.

Edited by Thistle17
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We survived the storm ok, no damage to the house other than a few screens blowing off the porch.  A few of my neighbors trees came down, one across the driveway which I turned into small logs by 9am with the chain saw and one on his neighbors house which was next.   The power went out at 9:45 Sunday night and finally came back on Thursday evening.  It was a miserable few days with the heat and humidity.  We have a 5000kw generator so we were able to power our fridges,  a few lights, a fan and a small window ac I took out of my model shop window.  Some people still don't have any power and then there's the flooding.  The machine shop fared pretty well also.  The only damage was a little water blowing under the doors and of course no power until late Thursday night so the CNC's got a mini vacation.  The major damage was caused by me.  i needed an extra sheet of plywood to cover one of our sliding glass doors and there was none to be found at the stores so I removed a piece of the plywood floor I put over the office at the shop. Forgot that I connected all the supports for the suspended ceiling to the underside so when I slid the ply off the ceiling came down.  Spent all day yesterday putting it back up.  The office needed a good cleaning anyway.



Edited by jimbyr
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By flipping, I mean the surfaces that are being sanded. Also, try to identify the grain direction and always sand with the grain. This will help to prevent gouging or catching the sanding paper in the wood and tearing the paper on the drum.

Edited by ca.shipwright
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Both machine will "thickness" a billet of wood. As the photo shows, the Proxxon, as are all thickness planers, are used for pieces that are thicker. As stated, it goes down to 1mm on a sled. The Byrnes' thickness sander has a adjustment increment of .002 inch. Since most of the final thicknessing is going to be of wood strips which are both thin and narrow, the thickness sander will do a much better job. Also there is no danger of snipe of the ends of the pieces due to the out-feed roller of the planer. (Snipe is a concave depression on the top surface of the end of the work piece. It is very difficult to eliminate.)


In summary, you can thickness both large and small billets with both machines. The sander will do a much better job on strip wood.

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Hi Michael,

This is very helpful - I too have wondered about Thickness Sanders vs a Planer.  I have an operation near where I live that mills my flitch of Pear to billets of standard dimensions - 1/4 or 3/8 thick by 2 inches wide by 24 inches long - I have no desire to do the heavy lifting here.  I do want the best tool for precision work for final dimensions.  It sounds like if I can get a hang of it - the Byrnes tool is the right one for my purposes.  



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I can only comment on the Micromark...  There's some issues such as setting the thickness is a hit-and-miss proposition.  If you take off too much wood at once, it will bog so it'll need more passes.  To overcome this, I thickness (or try to) schedule such that if I'm gong for 1/16" wood, then I do all of the different types at once.  with some patience and practice, the results can be good.  If I were buying again, I'd go for the Byrnes.


As for sleeves... look online via Google.  There's lots of sleeves out there and many available in the size needed for less cash.

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The difference I see is the MicroMark does a 5 inch wide board and has 120, 240 and 320 grit sanding sleeves.

The Byrnes will work 6 inch stock.  The medium mounts as sheets.

The clamps come shown as two 3 inch pieces.  This allows one to be

replaced - leaving the other alone - if two 3 inch sheets are used.

Standard sandpaper sheets look like they would fit - but their duration of use

may not be practical.   There are cloth backed media - as continuous rolls -

cut to fit for length and they come as 3", 4", 6"  widths -  variety of grits -

Norton and Klingspor are two.  I get Klingspor from my local WoodCraft,

but  i do not see this on the chain website 

It holds up well and is essentially the same as what makes up the sleeves.


In my view, the Micromark is more of a toy when compared to the Byrnes.


220 grit may be as fine as should be finished for working stock - wood pore

blockage and reduced PVA bonding may be a side effect of a finer finish.

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