Timesaver vs. woodworkng widebelt. What's rotation got to do with it?
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    SF Bay
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    Default Timesaver vs. woodworkng widebelt. What's rotation got to do with it?

    HI guys,

    I'm looking for a small timesaver, or similar widebelt sander. Our parts max out at around 12" wide. Timesaver makes a 13, if you can find one. The next are 19's, and they exist, but they're 10K used. Or..... There are a whole slew of 15-16 inch woodworking widebelt sanders. From reading other threads on here, it looks like the main difference is which way the belt rotates, relative to the infeed direction.
    Our parts are mostly 1/8" aluminum, and the goal is simply an even grain, and to knock the laser slag off the cut edges.
    We're getting them hand jitterbugged by the laser house now, and what with the price increases from the tariffs, (American material, damnit!) we're looking to find a way to at least hold pricing steady.

    So my questions are two:
    A) what's the difference? The surface speed of the belt is so much higher than the traverse speed of the feed rollers that I can't imagine the difference is more than about 5% of SFM at the work point. So why would the metal care?

    B) are there any other differences between for real timesavers and the woodworking machines that justifies the roughly doubling in price?

    There's a shop down the road that has a 15" open-sided woodworking sander that I've played with for metal. It'll feed our parts just fine, and seems to do a decent job. I doubt they know about the reversed direction thing, so I'm pretty sure it's still spinning in the 'wood' direction. Seems to work just fine. So why do I want to spend an extra 5-7K on a used Timesaver?
    (I'm serious: what makes them worth that much more?) They all oscillate, so that's not it...
    As long as I'm asking, which way's which? Metal machines spin the belt with the feed direction, or against?

    Help clue me in, eh?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
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    I don't recommend the wood machine. The rotation of the belt is an easy to overcome issue, you can rewire the motor connections to overcome that problem. The more pressing issues would be, In my opinion, is the material of the infeed belting. It appears that the wood machines use a softer material, possibly a PVC type of material. It doesn't grip the metals as good as the vulcanized rubber material used in the metal graining machines. The lack of grip causes the material being sanded to be pushed out of the machine at an accelerated rate causing an uneven finish (if you have reversed the motor) or the part being sanded to stop under the sanding head (if you leave the motor in the original direction) causing trenches being dug in to the part. Also, I found the hold down rollers are farther apart on the wood machines. That doesn't sound like a problem, but if you run short parts through the machine, there could be times when there is no holding pressure being applied to the part on the feed belt. I tried this on a 36" wide wood machine, and it failed miserably on some 12" long x 1" wide stainless bars I build, and the heat generated caused the PVC belt to melt and some of the bars to have trenches across the parts. The wide aluminum panels (36" x 96" x 1/8") came out good as one would expect. The sanding belt on the metal machines rotates to the rear of the machine, the same direction of the feed belt. The wood machine sand towards the front, opposite the feed belt direction.

    If you are interested, I do have a 24" Timesaver with the air tracking setup that is complete but needs work to get running, and I also have a newer 36" wide wood working machine with a dust vacuum system that I reversed the sanding motor direction I'd like to rehome. I'm located in Sacramento so no more than a couple of hours from you.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Eureka, CA
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    I've worked on both large wood versions and small metal versions. Along with (metal) the drum rotating in the direction of feed, there is a whole bunch of coolant stuff that goes along with that. Spray bars and filter boxes with moving filter material. I think it would be a large undertaking to attempt to make a wet sander from a dry, wood sander.

    The wood version would have automatic tracking and if it's optical, your water would probably baffle the hell out of it. The small metal/wet sander I fiddled with has static belt tracking..you set it and it stays there.

    They really are different animals!


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