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Thread: 6x48 belt sander (under $350): upgrade old one, buy Rikon 50-120, or keep saving?

  1. #1

    6x48 belt sander (under $350): upgrade old one, buy Rikon 50-120, or keep saving?

    Folks -

    I'd appreciate some input regarding a belt sander conundrum. I have a very old Craftsman 6x48 that runs pretty well, with a 1/3 hp motor. The rubber sleeves in the spindles are shot, and I haven't been able to find any new ones. Dust collection is non-existent, and this machine is probably the worst offender in my shop for fine dust air pollution.

    I am an advancing hobbyist woodworker The belt sander is used several times a week in my shop for less than a half an hour each time. I am considering two options:

    1) somehow source new rubber spindle sleeves, and build a custom cart with a built in dust collection shroud for the old Craftsman;

    2) dump the Craftsman, and buy a new belt sander. Criteria for a new one are: a) 6x48 if at all possible; b) less than $350, c) if the machine has a disk (not imperative), it must be below the axis of the belt.

    So, the price rules out most of the nice Grizzly and Jet belt sanders, but I saw a Rikon on the Woodcraft site that looks good, Model 50-120:

    6x48" belt
    10" disc
    Disc is below axis of belt
    2.5" dust port
    Machine weighs 104 pounds (seems pretty burly for a cheapie)
    Cast iron table
    3/4 hp 110V motor

    I haven't been able to find any information on this machine, like:

    1- How powerful is it?
    2- How is the overall build quality?

    I also looked at the popular Ridgid oscillating belt and spindle sander, but I'd like a larger belt, and the Ridgid does seem a little light duty. the oscillation facotr is very nice, though.

    The table for the disk on the Rikon looks nice. The support for the belt on the Rikon looks like an afterthought. Maybe I should just keep saving and get something in the $500-700 class?

    I haven't been able to find much in the way of user reviews of the Rikon tool. Any input would be appreciated.

    Link to the Rikon website for this tool:
    http://www.rikontools.com/productpage_50-120.htm


    Thanks-David

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    South Windsor, CT
    Posts
    3,304
    David,

    IMO, a "very old" Craftsman sander is likely to be better built than a low end Taiwanese import. You might contact Western Roller to see if they can retire your drums.

    Beyond that, I'd probably save the $ to get a better machine that you'll be happier with.

    The Rikon strikes me as a machine that's good for occasional use. If you're using your sander "several times a week", that's more than "occasional" use to me.

    Rob

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Charleston, SC, USA.
    Posts
    289
    There are definitely better sanders on the market but I've been using the Rikon for a little over 6 months and it gets used a lot. Dust collection is far from satisfactory but that's the nature of any open base sander.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Annapolis, MD
    Posts
    282
    I came very close to buying one, but changed my mind. Why? It has a plastic shroud around it. For no good reason that I can see, since most of the other 6x48 has a cast iron body. It just says "cheap" to me.

    Instead I bought an edge sander, but that is a different story...

  5. #5
    If it were me..., Id dump the Craftsman and get this Jet:

    http://www.amazon.com/708596K-JSG-96...4667939&sr=8-2

    I have it and its excellent. I consider myself a serious hobbyist like you and have used this sander for several years. It has plenty of power and is quality all the way. Its just above your budget by a few $$, but I feel its worth it. The main reason Id get this over fixing your Craftsman is dust collection. It has a 4" port and although it doesnt get every last drop of dust while sanding, it get almost all of it. Working in my basement, dust collection is very important to me. Hope this helps in your search.

  6. #6
    I've been interested in the Ridgid sander too, so went to e-opinion and looked up some feedback. Some buyers liked the machine, but the following buyer's comments turned me off on the Ridgid.


    "I tried to buy sanding sleeves for this product and H-D no longer stocks them! H-D is the only seller of Ridgid power tools - so where do you go from here? You must special order them from Rigid. (see update below) H-D wanted to sell me a RYOBI sleeve kit. With this kit you get a series of various size sleeves some of which will not fit the Ridgid. And you have no choice of grits. When I bought the Ridgid, H-D sold fine/med/coarse of almost every size sleeve. Sears would never leave me high and dry like this. My mistake. The REALLY strange part - H-D is still selling this model sander. DONT BUY IT!!!!

    UPDATE: You may be able to find individual sleeves at Sears and Rockler. To H-D's credit, they did take the sander back after I expressed my dissatifaction with them. But I'm still not buying any more Ridgid nor tools from H-D that aren't widely available elsewhere."

  7. #7
    Thanks for the help, guys. This new member appreciates it. Lance, I found that very Jet this morning, while doing some additional research, and thought it looked good. I think it is worth the extra $$.

    My current sander clouds the air with fine dust almost as soon as I fire it up, so any DC help will be most appreciated. I reckon I'll just drag my feet for another couple of months, then I can convince me that I have "saved" enough to go ahead and get the Jet "guilt free."!

    Thanks again - David

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Escondido, CA
    Posts
    5,223
    My own search led me to the Grizzly G1014Z.

    It is very solid. $295 plus shipping. One feature very important to me is the quick belt change: pull a lever and slide off the belt. I change the belts frequently when I am sanding boxes.
    Veni Vidi Vendi Vente! I came, I saw, I bought a large coffee!

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