new belt sander for the first time this morning. Wow! It's been nearly 30 years since I last bought one of these, and I was very surprised at how much they've improved. A belt sander is a pretty uncomplicated tool: a motor, a drive (usually a belt), a couple of rollers, a metal plate, and that's about it. What could they do to improve that?
There are two huge differences between this sander and the one I purchased last century. The first one I noticed was the noise: this one is much quieter than my old one, and blessedly free of the loud metallic rattles that my old one emitted constantly. The second thing I noticed as soon as I applied pressure on the wood: virtually no sawdust escaped it. My old one filled the room with fine sawdust in seconds. This one emits so little that I don't even need to wear a mask! I have no idea how they did this, but whatever they did seems to actually work. Very nice, that is. Then there is one slightly subtler improvement. My old sander, when you turned it on, would generate so much torque that it would jump uncontrollably in your hands. Because of that, I always started it in the air, then lowered it onto the work. This sander starts much more gently; so much so that I can safely start it while resting on the work. This isn't really terribly important, but it's a nice thing that I appreciate.
On the right bottom side of the photo above, you can see an area I sanded with a 60 grit belt. In under a minute I removed all objectionable edges in about 1/6 of one side of that landing piece. Even going through three finer grits it's only going to take me an hour or so to sand the whole piece down. Very nice!
Until this morning, I was annoyed at myself for leaving my old belt sander in California. Now I'm actually happy I did!