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by Steven D. Johnson
Racine, Wisconsin

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Mobile Sanding Center – Design Criteria

Click on any picture to see a larger version.

Specific needs related to some upcoming projects have me shopping for a combination stationary belt/disc sander. While any tool purchase requires research and forethought, adding a new bench top tool to my shop requires even more planning, due to space constraints.

Figure 4 - Sanders and supplies seem to be stuffed everywhere!

In an otherwise fairly well organized shop, the helter-skelter scattering of sandpaper, sanding discs, and sanding equipment in the Down To Earth Woodworking Shop might be a subconscious reflection of my attitude toward the task. It may also be an outgrowth of a steady, and seemingly unending, stream of purchases intended to somehow ease the ordeal of sanding.

Figure 5 - This sandpaper supply cabinet was okay, but
I've outgrown it and it is mounted too high up on the wall
Whatever the reasons, I have disc, pad, and belt sanders on top of cabinets, in Systainers, and even upstairs; sandpaper is stuffed in drawers and cabinets; and yes, there is even an outdated, outgrown purpose-built sandpaper storage cabinet I built years ago.

Figure 6 - The only "store-bought" stand left in
my shop, and it has been heavily modified
An oscillating spindle sander sits atop the only commercially made work stand still in my shop. And now, as I contemplate the purchase of yet another sanding machine, I know that something must be done to get this mess organized.

The new stand should be built like all the others in my shop, but with some modifications to accommodate two bench top sanding machines. First, the cabinet and top will need to be large enough to handle both the oscillating spindle sander and the combination belt/disc sander. I would like to be able to work with either machine without moving them, so I am considering placing the machines "back to back." With the full swivel wheels I typically use on shop cabinets, I can spin the cabinet in order to work comfortably at either machine. This design will require that all four casters be capable of being locked in place.

Under each machine should be storage drawers. I would like the drawers to be sized for specific supplies, and to open toward the operator position for both machines, which means I will need to build drawers facing two directions in the cabinet.

My oscillating spindle sander is currently a little too high for comfortable and accurate work. I can easily build the cabinet to make the working height more comfortable, but I am not sure if the same height will also be ideal for the combination belt/disc machine. A little more research is necessary. I will probably wind up purchasing the Rikon 6 inch X 48 inch belt / 10 inch disc sander, as it seems to have the specifications and features I am looking for. But determining a comfortable working height and position from a picture and web page description is difficult. I may have to purchase the new machine before I can actually build the cabinet in order to complete my design.

I want to be able to connect both sanders neatly to dust collection, perhaps with blast gates, and have it appear well organized. Instead of two cords to deal with, I would like to connect both machines to one power cord. Ideally I would like a couple of extra drsawers that could hold the two dozen or so boxes of Festool sanding discs I seem to always have on hand. For sheet sandpaper, the sorting bin in the old storage cabinet worked really well, and I will probably replicate that.

If you have built a sanding center for your shop or have suggestions please send them along! I could use the help!

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