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15" Grizzly Wide Belt Sander Review
After several inquiries regarding this tool I finally purchased one and just received it. Since there was little feedback regarding this tool or other tools of this class I figured I would throw my 2 cents in as a review. Please note at this time my review is without significant use, but I have have nearly 1,000 bf of wood to send through the machine over the next month or so I will update it after I get more use.
I had researched these style machines for a few years and found a few reviews on them, all of which were fairly positive. For my situation I have a small shop and do a few project a year. Woodworking is not my primary occupation. After review I decided that the 15" open ended sander would fit the bill for my use. I liked the footprint of the 15" machines which is relatively small at about 24" by 30" and the machine is single phase 5 hp. There were several machines in this category that I considered and they all seem to be of similar design and in about the same price range between $3K-$4K. Sunhill, Grizzly, Bridgewood (no longer manufacturing I'm told), Shop Fox and I believe Powermatic. I was able to see a Shop fox machine locally so I had a good idea of what the Grizzly would look like. I decided against the Sunhill as they do not have a platen. I called Wilke machinery which distributed the Bridgewood machines. I was told they no longer make this machine, but they stated that they used the same machine as the grizzly, but put a Baldor motor on the machine (that would have been a sale for me). I went with the Grizzly over the Shop Fox and Powermatic based on price for what appeared to be the exact same machine.
I was able to download the Grizzly manual for this machine before shipping. I wired a 40 Amp 220 Volt outlet, wired a cord and ran a compressed air line to the location of this machine before delivery. I had also set up a 6" dust collection line to the machine. The machine has a 5" dust port so a reducer was necessary. Having the manual before hand does help to get things set up if you want to get things running in a short time.
My delivery came three days after ordering the machine and it came by semi and I was responsible for unloading the machine. The machine weighs about 900 pounds so forks are necessary or you would need to request a lift gate. Forks are also necessary to get the machine off the pallet. I built mobile base for the machine to allow for movement in the shop. I also sized the electrical cord, air and dust lines to allow for about 10 feet of movement.
The machine arrived in perfect condition. There were very few items to assemble on the machine so set up goes very quickly less than 1 hour if you have all of the cords, wire, DC and air set up. The machine came with two fine grit 220 16"x48" sanding belts. I had also ordered three of each of the 80, 100, 150 grit sanding belts from Grizzly.
The machine tensions and tracks the sanding belts using a pneumatic system. Air pressure required for the machine is 75 psi. Air is turned on and pressure is set on the belt automatically. There is a slight noise from the air system, but less noise than what I had expected. The air requirement didn't seem to take much.
Once the DC and the air is running the conveyor belt is turned on by its own switch. The motor is so quiet you don't know it is running other than the movement of the conveyor. Even without the air and DC running it can't be heard. Next the main motor 5 HP which powers the sanding belt is turned on by its own switch. This motor again was surprisingly quite for its size. I checked the belt tracking and found there to be no problems. The belt was smoothly oscillating from side to side. There are limit switch that would shut down the machine if the belts go out of track. Mine was oscillating about 1/2 to 3/4 of inch.
In all I was very impressed with the finish of the exterior of the machine the height adjustment wheel is very large and smooth, and the post holding the conveyor is very substantial.
With the cantilever design the machine has a outfeet post that slides out to accommodate wider work. This was another nice feature that sold me on the Grizzly. My only complaint is that the height indicator gauge scale should be finer. owning to the fact that the sanding should be taking about 1/64th of an inch per pass, 1/8 inch sale and indicator doesn't provide for overly accurate readings.
I have sent a few boards through the machine and the machine effortlessly turned out extremely smooth boards. The 80 grit quickly took planer marks and indents in the wood. I will provide more comment after I get through some more finish sanding. I have about 500 BF of cherry for cabinet doors that will be going through so I will provide more information later.
This was my first Grizzly machine and I think that this machine offer a great balance between quality industrial machinery with a value price.
Edited 7/9/2007 11:38 am ET by aaronb