Matthias Builds A Belt Sander

[Matthias Wandel] is the preeminent YouTube woodworker, with dozens of machines constructed from wooden gears, amazing machines that produce perfect mortise and tenons, and home-built table saws and jointers. Actually building something instead of buying it is a hallmark of [Matthias]’ channel, and he’s at it again, building his own woodworking machines. This time it’s a 1″ wide belt sander. Of course anyone can go out and simply buy one of these sanders for under $100, but what’s the point in that when you can build one out of plywood and a motor you picked out of the trash?

The design of this belt sander – just like the commercial version he’s improving upon – uses three wheels to guide the 42″ long strip of sandpaper around its course. [Matthias] is using rollerblade wheels for the front wheels. Rollerblade wheels aren’t the best shape for bearings, this can be fixed by using a table saw as a lathe. Yes, [Matthias] lathes with a table saw. He’s just that good.

The rest of the frame was carefully constructed out of plywood and powered by a 1/3 horsepower furnace fan motor pulled from the trash. There are a few interesting features that make this belt sander exceptionally useful: a rounded platen behind the belt makes sanding interior corners very easy, and is something that isn’t usually found on commercial belt sanders.

You can check out [Matthias]’ video below.

26 thoughts on “Matthias Builds A Belt Sander

  1. His clever, metal ‘clip on’, rounded back, attachment could be implemented on the commercial version easily too. I have one in my garage as the disk sanding attachment fell apart so work scrapped it :D

  2. I like the , “oh the bearing doesnt fit quite snuggly let’s just add some paper.”

    thing is, it will probably work cause the sawdust is going to work it’s way in there and make it solid.

  3. I do have a question: why does Americans always use metal junction box where a plastic one could do just fine? Every electrical conduits and socket are made of metal, but I cannot understand why.
    Here in Europe, all theses stuff are made of plastic, non conductive, non corroding, easy to drill/customise and of course non flammable. Metal is only used for industry where it has to withstand harsher environment.

    1. we have plastic electrical boxes as well.
      Are you sure your plastic boxes are non flammable or self-extinguishing?
      Plastic boxes seem to get brittle over time, have thin walls, usually cost more or on par with metal (somehow) and take more space.
      Metal boxes allow for a ground, have better knock-outs, and rigid walls (sturdy mounting).

      1. With automation metal boxes suck as they reduce the RF range of the switches. I know all mid to high end homes are specced for Plastic boxes as it does not destroy the RF range for the mesh network. really high end homes has everything home run to a main control panel full of dimmer packs and relays.

    2. Plastic boxes are common for residential / light commercial construction here in America, too. Things may be different in Canada (Mattias is Canadian) but I’d imagine that he had the box laying around or he picked it from the trash somewhere. (Just guessing really from watching Mattias’ other videos).

      1. It’s an aesthetic choice as well, and I think it looks great, like all of Wandel’s homemade tools. White/beige/gray/blue plastic doesn’t look as nice (to me) as this simple metal case. A plastic box in the middle of a heavy duty tool wouldn’t look as heavy duty as this does, and a metal face plate won’t crack when you really tighten the screws holding it to the box.

    3. The plastic boxes you can buy here have all kinds of ribs, tabs, and nails sticking out that get in your way. Plus there is typically NO way to clamp the wire securely. They are made for speedy installation on new wood construction.

      1. Thank you, I learned something today!

        As a woodturner, I guess we’re not as exact with the terms as a machinist. We use terms like “taking a facing cut” or “facing off” when faceplate turning. But both operations fall under “turning” to me.

        Also, thanks HAD for eating my cutesy html-like tag in my original comment to indicate that I was not trying to be a pedantic jerk. :( (less-than fwd-slash sarcasm greater-than )

        What about hashtags?

  4. As long as it tracks and you don’t have to spend a lot of your time fighting it rather than using it. I see machines made out of plywood as iffy when it comes to having to fight the tool rather than getting use out of it. Humidity could be a major issue. But if it works well and you aren’t wasting your time, who cares.

    1. He’s been using his wooden bandsaws for a couple years now with no issue. If you watch his video where he compares them to his metal ones you’ll see that they are even more sturdy. He also uses plywood which isn’t really affected by humidity swings.

      1. As long as you use high quality plywood. Cheaper grades skimp on the glue, so a few years down the line after abuse you may experience delamination. Shop grade and ‘Baltic birch’ shouldn’t fail like this in any short amount of time.
        Lastly a coat of enamel (as in [Matthias]’ example) or polyurethane should sufficiently protect your creations.

  5. “Of course anyone can go out and simply buy one of these sanders for under $100…” unfortunately, this is not true – even for many of the the “developed” Western countries. In Germany (where I believe Matthias originated from), the ONE and only ONE type available and with around EUR 100 it’s totally overpriced. is listing ONE 1″x30″ belt sander for around the same price…

    About the metal vs. plastic boxes: unlike in the US, most houses in central EU are cinder block/brick/concrete constructions with the mains wiring runnig in plastic tubes / plastic junction boxes that are embedded in the plaster layer of the walls (or in grooves in the walls that are later filled with plaster). I have never heard of a case where this type of wiring has led to a house fire… However, In a timber frame construction, the US way with zinc-plated conduit and metal boxes makes more sense: plywood is the insulator, the metal prevents a fire in case of a short-out.

    On machines I would always use a plastic box. Machines vibrate and sometimes a wire comes loose … or you trip over the cable and a live wire pulls out of the terminal block and touches the metal box – not good. It’s important to ground the metal box properly and use 3-pronged plugs. Also, I am retrofitting my old machines with FI-protection switches/plugs when their wiring is running inside a conductive case…

  6. I see a lot of unsafe shop practices there. Long sleeves aside, the bandsaw has way too much blade exposed; what could be a nasty nick, might instead be a lost finger.

    Same with the excessive height of the table saw blade (in some shots). “Lathing” on the table saw seems a dubious proposition at best.

  7. I see a lot of unsafe shop practices in the video. Long sleeves aside, the amount of exposed bandsaw blade is excessive. With that, a minor slip might result in a lost finger.

    Same goes with the exposed table saw blade (in some shots). “Lathing” on the table saw seems a dubious practice.

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