Tipping prohibited. A sanding frame, which adjusts for amount of stock removal, acts like the sole of a plane, skipping over low spots and removing the high ones.

stock. Slower speeds will also help prevent burning of the workpiece when using fine-grit belts. Most electronic variable-speed tools have

"smart" electronic feedback circuitry

that maintains a constant bell speed under varying loads.

As a rule, larger sandcrs have more powerful motors. Within any given size range, however, it's best to have the most powerful motor you can get. While similar sandcrs may run at the same no-load speed, the one with the more powerful motor will maintain speed better under load without bogging down. Look at amp ratings rather than HP ratings to get an accurate idea of motor power.

Belt sandcrs weigh anywhere from \ to 16 pounds. When sanding horizontal surfaces, the weight of a heavier machine provides stability and a more aggressive cut. If you need to do much vertical sanding, though, you would be better off with one of the lighter models. The use of light, tough plastic components in modern belt sandcrs has enabled manufacturers to pack lots of power in a relatively small, lightweight package.

All platens are at least as wide as the belt, but some are longer than others. Longer platens put more of the belt surface in contact with the work, removing stock more quickly. While the 3-in.-wide and 4-in.-wide platens have nearly the same surface area, the wider base on the latter makes the tool less tipsy when sanding wide, Hat surfaces (and more tipsy when sanding narrow work such as face frames). Some sandcrs arc designed so that one edge of the belt is flush with the side of the tool. This is useful for sanding right up next to an abutting surface, such as inside a cabinet.

Other Features to Consider

Here are a few other considerations when shopping for a sandcr:

Handles—If possible, get your hands on the tool to check out its feel and heft before buying it. A sandcr s handles should feci comfortable and should balance the tool so the platen area lands flat as it is lowered onto the-work surface. The front handles on some models detach, allowing you to squeak the tool into tight spots.

Switches and controls—The switch on anv sandcr locks for contin-

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