Posts Tagged ‘klingspor sanding belts’

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In:In the Shop, Vintage Tool Talk

Comments Off on Restoring a Mead Belt Sander- Part 1

FYI- This is probably my most unnecessary and awesome restorations to date.

The Mead belt sander when I purchased it.

About a month ago I picked up a vintage, Chicago-made Mead 1″ belt sander off craigslist for a measly $60.  It was in great shape, the previous owner had it for decades and he took the time to re-paint the body of the sander and the motor as well as grease up all the pulleys.  He did a great job on these parts and I could have just plugged it in and started sanding.  Being ridiculous, however, I decided to take it from classy to world-class.  There were a few minor things that bothered me (the belt wasn’t aligned precisely between the motor and sander pulleys, the wire path was ugly, the wood used for the base and sanding deck was cheap and cracked, and the deck wasn’t square to the belt) and one major point of irritation (the on/off switch).

Ugly switch, clumsy wire path.

Crooked deck.

The first thing I addressed was the tilted table.  The previous owner used a copper shim to correct the table but I wanted to fix it for good.  I painted the body with red layout fluid, then loosely installed the deck.  After pivoting the deck a few times I removed it and could clearly see the high spots in the casting that needed to be knocked down with a round file.  I repeated this process a couple times and after about 10 minutes had the table nicely squared up to the belt.

Machinist layout fluid.

Casting painted with layout fluid.

High spots identified.

Finished filing. The deck was now square, all I did after this was some light sanding to remove any burrs and the remaining fluid.

Next I swapped out the switch with a vintage style toggle switch that seemed appropriate and made a simple wooden box to house it.  I also took the time to inlay the face plate into the housing.

New switch…

…in a new housing.

Face plate inlay.

The last thing I will cover in this post is the new base.  I used walnut that was a little thicker than the original base, but otherwise I left the dimensions nearly the same.  The feet were made from the same board, cut free from either end of the base.  I could have cut long-grain feet instead of short-grain, but then I’d have to deal with differential expansion and the grain pattern wouldn’t be continuous.  The short grain feet aren’t as strong, but given that they’re thick and trapped in a dado I think they will be fine… they certainly look nicer to me, especially when you don’t see end grain on the sides of the board.  I used an old router template I had lying around to cut an arch in the feet and a stacked dado set (that I was already using for a larger job) to dado the base.  One note on dado sets, they leave small V’s in the corners of the cut where the outer blades score the fibers.  This is great for clean cross-cuts, but I don’t like the small V it leaves after the cut.  I correct this is seconds with a router plane set to a depth that aligns to the tip of the V.  Run the plane through the dado and you’ve got a perfectly square recess for the feet to sit in.

V’s in the corners after using a stacked dado blade on the table saw. (They’re a bit more obvious in person)

Planing the dado to final depth, removing the V’s.

Dado squared off after using the router plane.

For the wire path I wanted something as clean and hidden as possible.  The motor wire runs immediately underneath the base where it is captured by a series of custom made wooden hold-downs.  The wires pass through the base where the front foot gets installed, into the switch box, and finally out the back of the base.  Overall I think it will look very nice when finished.

Wire path preview.

Wire hold-downs.

The last operation for the base was laying out the hole locations for mounting the motor and sander.  I couldn’t simply copy the original because as I said before they weren’t aligned very well, but after a few minutes of measuring double checking the belt everything was ready for drilling.  When I went to dry-fit everything I noticed the belt sander had some wobble to it, so I touched that off on a larger belt sander and got the casting dead flat in a matter of minutes.

New base getting the motor and sander holes laid out.

Flattened casting base.

That’s all for now, in two following entries I will wrap up the (improved) deck, overall assembly, detailing and finishing.  I’ll also discuss the belts I use and a few of the things that make this sander so useful.  Stay tuned.

-WMT