I have been wanting to do this for a long time with my sander. I have an old bulky 4″x24″ belt sander that doesn’t get much use anymore. Mainly because the stock dust collection bag is gone so it just throws dust in the air when in use. A LOT of dust. I previously tried to make a bag or shop vac connection for it but I didn’t have any success.
I got the idea from John Heisz at ibuilidit.ca a few years ago. He made a really nice platform for his. Luckily for him his sander had good dust collection built in. His design also featured a folding platform to allow use in a horizontal position or a vertical position with the help of a plywood table. I decided to make mine a bit more simple and keep the belt running at a fixed vertical position.
My sander is a conglomeration of weird shapes with everything sloping down from the middle. This means I can’t mount it on its top side like John did. I ended up mounting it on its side covering up the belt release mechanism. I will probably get a lot of questions regarding why I covered up the belt release and how difficult it will be to change the belt. It’s really not that bad. With a cordless drill I can remove six screws to change the belt. It takes less time to change this belt than it does to install and remove a dado stack on my table saw. I’m perfectly ok with that.
To add dust collection I made an easy 1/4″ plywood enclosure with a 4″ dust collection port in the rear. I got the port from breaking a Harbor Freight blast gate in half. It’s a pretty efficient use of materials as a blast gate is about as cheap as an actual dust collection port. And, now I have another port to use on something else.
The table surface itself is just a scrap piece of laminate countertop. I really wish I had a lighter solid color piece of laminate for this but I was reusing scrap so I really can’t complain. I first rough cut it at the band saw and then gave it a nice zero insert profile by pushing it into the belt with it running. During this I was able to verify that the dust collection works GREAT!
In the end I’m very happy with the results. I no longer have a mobile hand held belt sander but that’s ok. I didn’t like using it anyway. The entire setup is a pleasure to use and I can see this thing getting a lot of future use. The best part is it didn’t cost anything. I had all the scrap materials on hand in the shop already. Below is a video of my build followed by the original idea build from John Heisz.