Please note: Since this review was published,
Global Machinery Company (GMC) has gone into receivership and is no
longer operating. As such, spare parts or technical support cannot be
obtained directly through them. Their website at www.gmcompany.com
appears to still be available online and offers some product information
and manuals but contacting them will receive no reply. Note that
OnlineToolReviews.com does not work for GMC, nor do we offer any support
or spare parts for their products.
At present, Global Machinery
Company (GMC) have produced two types of Belt/Disc sanding machines - The
BD1500 (Reviewed here) and the BD2000, which is the more advanced and
feature rich brother of the BD1500. Both machines essentially perform the
same functions of course, and this is taking the effort out of sanding
We must first say
that this machine is not a top of the line model. It was never intended to
be, so comparing it to higher end models/brands is not the intention of
the review. We are reviewing it the context of a budget model machine
suited to the woodworking hobbyist. Let's begin.
Assembly is fairly straightforward and
involves fixing and mounting the included worktable, workpiece stop for
the belt sanding component and attaching the adhesive sanding disc
included. It involves the use of a few common tools (most not included)
but which should be standard in most basic woodworking shops/setups. You
will need a 10mm wrench, Philips head screwdriver, Standard head
screwdriver, Combination Square and a 6mm Hex wrench (the hex wrench is
The English manual outlines all the
necessary steps to assemble and fix the worktable support and the
workpiece stop in easy to follow step-by-step instructions. Once you have
assembled the items, you are shown how to align and square each component
to the machine for improved accuracy.
When aligning the worktable to achieve the
required 1-2mm gap between the worktable edge and the sanding disc, I
found it easier to do this with the worktable attached to the machine.
The worktable and locking mechanism are not as solid as ones found in
higher end machines, but again, this is not a high-priced machine, so
sacrifices have to be made. The worktable can also be angled from 0-45
degrees downward for beveled sanding purposes.
Instructions are provided for adjustable
the belt drive system at the back of the machine if needed. I found that
the tension out of the box was perfect and no adjustment was needed.
The front mounted switch (complete with
removable key for added safety) is similar in style to the switch found on
GMC's earlier model 5-speed 1/3HP benchtop drill press. It is made of
plastic, but does its job adequately. If you have young ones around, the
removable key component is a handy feature. Simply take it out of the
switch will not cause a startup, even when flicked to the on position.
Location of switch is suitable for quick and easy ON/OFF operation of the
Both the sanding disc and belt sander
components are operated from the same motor (common with almost all
belt/disc combo machines), so both belt and disc are in operation
simultaneously. Caution must be taken at all times of course to be aware
of this fact, no matter what brand/model you may have. Accuracy of the
machine when using the sliding protractor or worktable guide is dependant
on how well you have adjusted the machine. I found the plastic protractor
a little off square itself, but only slightly and is best used as a rough
guide for sanding angles rather than a foolproof method of obtaining an
angle. For the hobbyist who is just trying to sand off rough pieces or
angled cuts, this is an ideal machine.
150mm Sanding Plate/Disc
The 150mm diameter sanding disc is
sufficient for sanding smaller workpieces or for rounding off square
edges. I had no trouble rounding off pine edges and even hardwood without
placing any major strain on the 1/3 HP motor. Use of the left side of the
sanding disc (the side which present a downward 'pushing' motion) when
operational is safest, as it stops your work climbing up the disc, which
could result in a kickback or 'throw' of the workpiece.
The sanding disc component is more than
adequate for rounding off square edges or cleaning up small, rough end
grain on sawn edges. The rotational movement of the disc will also impart
a nice curved effect on end grain, adding a slight decorative touch.
On to the belt sanding aspect, and here we
have a 100mm x 914mm P60 belt ready to go! (comes pre-installed).
Instructions are provided for attaching the top workpiece stop and for
centering the belt tracking to stop the belt moving off the drive or idler
drum left or right. A quick test and tune of the tracking knob will solve
that issue. At the back of the machine is also the belt tensioning lever.
Release tension to change sanding belts or adjust position of belt on
drums. Apply and lock tension to provide tension to the sanding belt
before operation. Fairly simply and effective tensioning system on the
BD1500. A dust catching plate which leads down to a 2.5" dust extraction
port at the right end base of the machine catches a good deal of dust
produced when using the sanding belt. Only light pressure is needed to
take off material when belt sanding. To preserve the life of any machine,
care should be taken not to overload the machine or to attempt any work
the machine was not specifically designed for. Take your time when taking
off material on both the belt and disc sanders... trying to take too much
material off too quick can often result in an unsatisfactory result as
One of the nice features of this budget
priced machine is the ability to tilt the belt sander to an upright 90
degree position. The worktable can also be removed and fixed to the belt
sander in this mode to allow end grain sanding of wider pieces which
cannot effectively be handled by the disc sanding component. You could in
fact set the belt sander at any angle from 0-90 degrees as it can be
easily clamped in any position using the hex-bolt type clamping mechanism,
although using it at angles other than 0 or 90 degrees is not recommended
and not really needed for that matter!
The belt disc is, of course, perfect for
sanding long/wide pieces of material. It is great to clean up
dirty/stained wood and for rough sanding purposes. Of course, you can
easily fit a finer grade belt to the system if available or any grade you
require for your needs. GMC also makes replacement sanding discs/belts at
P40, P60 and P120 grades. Many other manufacturers produce 150mm disc and
100mm x 914mm sanding belts, so finding replacement belts/discs if your
retailer does not sell the GMC brand is not too difficult a task.
The idler drum side of the belt sander can
also be used to sand inner corners of workpieces. A handy thing to know if
sanding corners by hand is not your cup of tea!
For around AUD$150, the BD1500 offers good
value for the beginner/hobbyist woodworker. I certainly get great use out
of it for a variety of sanding/cleaning needs. If the accuracy of the
protractor is not a major factor in your choice, then you can save a sack
full of money going with the GMC BD1500 over a more expensive model. And
with GMC's 2 year home use warranty, you are fairly safe in knowing that
if anything goes wrong in the first years of operation, you can invoke the
warranty and have yours fixed or replaced free of charge.
A solid little machine that I would
recommend for the hobbyist/beginner/amateur woodworker! GMC's homepage can
be found online at
All photos copyright. Use without prior
written permission prohibited
The GMC BD1500 belt/disc sander shown here mounted to a portable stand
Close-up of the worktable
The sliding protractor guide seated in worktable slot
Using the protractor as a guide for angled sanding
Close-up of the front switch showing removable yellow
Reverse side of the BD1500 showing yellow tracking adjustment knob and
belt tensioning lever
Belt Sander in upright position
Upright belt sanding with worktable in place for support