Review By Dean Bielanowski  GMC Website - http://www.gmcompany.com


By Dean Bielanowski

Quick Specifications

  • Motor: 1/3 HP
  • Belt Size: 100mm x 914mm
  • Disc Size: 150mm Diameter
  • Includes Adjustable Worktable, plastic adjustable sliding protractor, 1 x P60 Sanding Belt and 1 x Adhesive Sanding Disc
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 your workpieces.

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

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 included).

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.

Operation

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 BD1500.

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.

Belt Sander

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 well.

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!

Conclusion

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 http://www.gmcompany.com

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BD1500 Photos
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The GMC BD1500 belt/disc sander shown here mounted to a portable stand with C-Clamps


Close-up of the worktable
angle gauge


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
safety key


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

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