I don’t normally like to part with anything in my shop. I have tools, gadgets and ge-gaws that I bought, used once, hated and chucked on a shelf to collect sawdust. In fact, one day I really do need to take a full block of shop time, pull everything off the shelves and just make a purge of the stuff I will never use again.
However, there are some times I don’t hesitate to part with items. I have given a few older routers to friends struggling to get a start in woodworking. I sold my bench top table saw. My first drill got cooked while installing hurricane shutters on my house.
I knew that soon I was going to make another move to dispose of a tool. I have a belt sander. A Black and Decker light-duty model I picked up at a local WalMart five years ago when I was building a series of banded boxes as Christmas presents. It worked well for that project, served me admirably for more than a few others. I eventually came to like the tool’s utility and handiness. It was as if I had made my peace with the tool and was hoping that it would last forever.
But, who was I kidding? I knew the day was going to come when it was going to give up the ghost. It was just a matter of time.
I was using the tool to sand down some excess dovetail spline material when I noticed some strange behavior. First, when I hit the trigger, I could hear a clicking as the belt rotated. I removed the belt and replaced it with a fresh one, but it didn’t change. I ran it without a belt on, and still heard the ominous clicking. Shot bearings? Hmmm…
I also noticed the rate of rotation of the belt would vary… very fast, then slower, then faster. The motor would struggle during those periods of slow running. Hmmm…
And, there was no mistaking the scent of burning when I used the sander for a few minutes. Hmmm…
Yeah, the time has come.
So, I ordered one of these. It’s heavy duty Ridgid belt sander that uses the same size belts as the Black and Decker. That’s good – at least I’m not wasting any of the belts I have on hand. It’s heavier that the old one, indicating to me that the motor is beefier. The dust collection port actually fits a standard reducer for my shop vacuum’s hose.
And, for me, this is my first foray into the world of reconditioned tools.
I was looking at the brand new models, and they were very impressive. But, for our family’s finances, maybe just a little bit too much – especially as my wife and I look to pay for summer camps for our boys and save for some brief-yet-exciting family vacations. The reconditioned model was half the price and still had a warranty as long as many as some of the other brands I saw in stores.
I plan on putting the sander to the test soon and giving it a serious work through.
In the meantime, well, sorry, little red. You gave solid service for a number of years, but the time has come. It’s time to move on to where good power tools go after a long and rewarding life.