Review By Dean Bielanowski  Ryobi Website - http://www.ryobi.com.au

 


Ryobi EBS1310VK
Professional Series Belt Sander

 Review

By Dean Bielanowski

Do you always buy dressed lumber "off the shelves" to use in your woodworking projects? If you do, you probably have plenty of money to invest in your hobby, or you haven't yet walked the route of recycled and reclaimed lumber sources. Why do I ask this? Simply because a belt sander's most common use in the woodworker's workshop is to clean up recycled wood, in its many forms. But this is not all that a belt sander is good for, as we will discover.

Today we continue our ongoing look at Ryobi's Professional Series line of woodworking tools with our full review of the EBS1310VK Belt Sander.

"What's in the Box?"
The Ryobi EBS1310VK belt sander ships in its own molded carry case inside a box. You can start by taking the case out of the box, but be warned, this is a pretty heavy tool so don't try to quickly yank it up onto the bench thinking it weighs little more than a sheet sander!

You will notice the carry case it quite large, and when you open it up, you will find that there is not a lot in the case, so everything easily fits in without a problem making packing up of the tool quick and painless. The large size of the case is primarily to fit and store the tool's wide sanding frame. The belt sander itself is also quite large and bulky. A dust bag is also included and some small parts for attaching the dust frame to the belt sander, but apart from that, there is not much else other than a printed operating instruction manual.

The EBS1310VK does come fitted with an 80 grit sanding belt. No extras are included so be sure to grab a pack of suitably sized belts when you buy the tool, or be prepared to make a trip to the hardware store when the supplied belt needs replacing.

"Show me the Sander!"
As mentioned above, the EBS1310VK belt sander is big and heavy. It weighs in at 6.4kg and measures roughly 370mm (long) x 170mm (wide) x 180mm (high). Because of its size and weight, the EBS1310VK is not overly suited to overhead work. You would quickly be fatigued by the tool in this position. The added weight makes it most suitable for bench type belt sanding tasks, i.e. belt sanding with the tool sitting on top of your boards or workpiece, letting gravity do all the work. With a heavy tool like this, you don't even need to apply any downward pressure. It's weight is more than sufficient to apply the pressure needed to remove material. The user simply controls the sander's position and movement on the workpiece. I also own a budget-model belt sander about three quarters the size and half the weight of this Ryobi model, and I use that for any overhead work I need to do, i.e. sanding fascia boards when in place as an example, but it just doesn't compare to the 1310VK for normal board work on the bench and gives poor results, particularly when attempting to use the belt sander as the first stage in flattening a board. The larger weight translates into added stability, and this stability is vital for achieving smooth, flat results.

The EBS1310VK packs a powerful 1350 watt double-insulated motor to tackle just about any task you can throw at it. A nice feature of this unit is that is also offers variable speed control and soft-start. The soft-start feature means that when you first fire up the tool, it doesn't blast into full speed straight away, but winds up gradually to full speed. This allows the user to maintain full control of the tool while it powers up (power up to full speed is still relatively fast) and eliminates any "jolting" of the machine on startup. There are standard plastic screw-out brush cover/springs at the front and rear of the motor casing to allow you to check and change motor brushes as needed.

The main power on / off switch is located on the underside of the rear handle, which features a rubber overmold grip. It is your standard trigger type on / off switch. There is also a power-on lock switch lateral to the trigger that can be pressed once the trigger is activated to lock the trigger in the ON position. This allows continuous sanding to be done without holding the trigger in the whole time. It's very useful for removing grit from recycled boards that need extended sanding to clean them up.

Above the trigger and trigger lock is the variable speed dial. The Ryobi EBS1310VK has a variable speed range from 240 - 400 m/min, i.e. the belt will travel up to 400m per minute at the full speed setting. Having variable speed options on a belt sander is very important if you wish to use your tool successfully for a number of tasks. For example, belt sanding veneers can be very tricky, especially if your belt sander only has one speed setting, and that speed is too fast. Using the sanding frame included, and the low 240m/min speed setting, you can use the EBS1310VK to successfully belt sand thin veneers to give a smooth result. At faster speed the belt sander can remove far too much material, far too quickly, and spoil your day... and your nice veneer! At full speed of 400m/min, and with an aggressive sanding belt attached, the EBS1310VK can remove a lot of material very quickly indeed. I wouldn't say it's the fastest belt sander available in terms of material removed in a set amount of time (I know the comparable Makita model - albeit at nearly twice the price) seems to be a little faster - probably because of its higher 500m/min speed) but it does the job effectively. The variable speed shows six lettered settings (A through F) but you can set the speeds in between these markings as well. The dial 'clicks' over as you turn it so there are some semi-positive stops built in, most likely to avoid the speed dial 'moving' during use.

You can also control how much material is removed by the belt you choose to use on the tool. The 1310VK takes a standard 100mm x 610mm sanding belt, and these are commonly available almost everywhere. An 80 grit belt is going to remove much more material much faster than a 180 grit belt, so choosing the right belt speed and belt grit for the task at hand is an important consideration.

The control handle also features a rubber overmold grip to prevent hands slipping or sliding off the handle. The construction of the belt sander comprises a mix of hard plastic and metal. The majority of the plastic components comprise the motor casing and handles up top and are very firm, hard and ridgid. It almost feels like metal. Thankfully, most of the base and 'working' components down below are all-metal construction, and this gives the tool its extra weight and stability in use. For example, the front roller is all-metal construction, as is the rear drive roller, however, the rear roller does have a rubber covering to help drive the belt and avoid belt slippage. The tracking adjustment knob and the belt tension release lever grip are the only components on the base that are plastic. If you are planning to buy a belt sander, a good indicator of quality is the all-metal base and roller construction. Almost every belt sander available today has hard plastic motor casings, but check the bottom of the tool, that is where you will see the difference between sanders that will last two years, and sanders that will last twenty!

Going back to the tracking knob, this is used to 'track' the belt so it runs centered over the rollers. Turn or angle your belt sander and start it up at the low speed setting. Watch the belt and see if it has a tendency to move to the left or right at speed. Turn the tracking knob either way to correct the tracking so that the belt runs consistently centered over the rollers. Be sure to check the tracking on regular occasions. You don't want that belt flying off in the middle of a job!

Changing belts is quick and easy. Simply release the yellow tension lever on the side of the sander's base (in between the front and rear rollers). This brings the front roller closer to the base to release tension on the belt. Slide the old belt off, slide a new one on, ensuring you line up the arrows marked on the inside of the belt itself with the direction of rotation of the sander. There is an arrow indicator marked on the side of the base at the bottom to show which way the belt will rotate, just in case you forget. Once the belt is on and centered, apply tension by sliding the lever back to its original position (be careful, it is spring loaded, so it can "jump" back fairly quickly when new) and check tracking again before use.

On the base of the tool is the platten. On the EBS1310VK the platten is of cork and metal construction (the cork being protected by the outer metal plate). While this is flexible and can flap outwards from the tool, when placed on a flat surface, the weight of the tool keeps the platten flat. The metal platten can cause some heat buildup between the sanding belt and the platten itself. I didn't find this to be a problem with this model, because of its lower top rotation speed. Heat buildup can affect belt life, but so far, I haven't had any problems with it. Using quality sanding belts will reduce any issues in that department also, plus, quality belts are often more cost-effective because they generally last longer and can be cleaned up easier. You can buy belt cleaners, which are essentially flexible rubber sticks that you press onto a running belt, helping to remove dust and material from in between the grains on the belt. Some people even use old shoe soles!

The machine can be easily disassembled for maintenance or service as all screws to remove covers and gain access to components are readily accessible. While I didn't pull the whole tool apart I did check the belt drive area just to take a sneak peek and ensure all was in order there, and it was. If the belt broke it would be rather simple to replace, no matter how mechanically-challenged you may be.

Just above the belt drive area is the dust chute. The port opening measures a very respectable 35mm (1 3/8") outside diameter. It is circular shaped so fitting to a vacuum extractor should be relatively easy with the right attachments (not included). Ryobi does supply a dust bag with the tool, and it attaches easily and holds well. I think the dust bag is slightly undersized for the tool (in my opinion) but I have seen smaller. It just means you may have to empty out the bag a little more frequently. Attaching a vacuum collection system to the sander will yield the best dust collection results, and in my very unscientific 'guesstimation', I'd say that about 90% of all visible dust is collected when hooked up to a vacuum system. With the standard bag attached, my guess would be around 80-85%, but this does drop substantially (as you would expect) when the dust bag is nearly full. The larger diameter port does offer the tool improved dust collection over other sanders with smaller diameter dust ports.

"From Trash to Treasure"
I like to reclaim old boards whenever I see they are not going to be put to any better use, or even thrown away in scrap piles. I have reclaimed some amazing and expensive timbers that others failed to see the value in over the past few years. The belt sander is my primary method for removing the grit, paint and any other abrasive material that has built up on them over time. Trying to run these boards over a jointer or through a planer would quickly destroy your sharp knives, so sanding them is the preferred method for cleanup initially. Once you have removed the grit, you can then attack them with the jointer or planer. It is also very exciting to discover what lays beneath all those years of paint, dirt and dust buildup. Hidden treasures wait to be found!

Using the EBS1310VK firstly at 45 degrees to the grain for rapid material removal, then finishing with the grain gives the best results. On the many boards I cleaned up using this sander I found the tool to perform very well. It is well-balanced and its weight helps to dull any vibrations the tool produces in use. The large front handle and rubber overmolds make use generally comfortable. The tool's features mean the user is firmly in control of the tool at all times, without having to actually be firm with it!

Another good use of this tool is to round the corner edges of panels, say for a table top, taking the sharp corner off quickly. With good technique you can get a nice even radius on the edge. It does take some practice though. We also used the EBS1310VK to sand back a child's play table top. After years of excessive play-dough mashing, spilt drinks and food, pen marks and bumps and scratches, the original finish had just about worn away. With the sanding frame attached, taking off the finish and a little of the top layer of the table was achieved successfully and with a smooth surface being the end result. It is a bit tricky to get right onto the edges and corners with the belt sander with the frame attached, but for the majority of the surface it worked very well. All it needs now is a few coats of a durable and hard-wearing finish to get it back into tip-top condition.

In terms of noise emission, I don't have the equipment to give you exact figures, and there is no mention of such figures in the manual, but I didn't feel the EBS1310VK could be classed as a 'noisy' sander in my books. It's about average in the scheme of things. At the slowest speed the noise is quite bearable, even without ear muffs, but at the highest speed you might want to put a set on as a safety measure. It certainly does not have one of those 'screaming' motors that you often find in the budget model sanders however.

Overall?
On the whole my experience has been quite positive with this tool. Apart from the size of the dust bag, which could be perhaps 25% bigger, in my opinion, the sander's features in all other areas seem to work as advertised, and at a performance level comparable with its price tag (AUD$289 is recommended retail price), perhaps a little better than the price tag suggests...

We didn't have any really noticeable issues with uneven surface results caused by depressions due to tool imbalance, even without the sanding frame attached. Tracking stayed on center during use and there was no noticeable tendency for it to shift under load, even when sanding at 45 degrees to the grain direction. It would be a good, solid tool for the enthusiast or semi-pro woodworker looking to acquire a new sander for a very reasonable price.

Pros

  • Powerful motor with soft-start for user comfort and safety.

  • Variable speed makes the tool more versatile.

  • Sanding frame allows consistent, smooth results and versatility with use on table top re-surfacing and veneer sanding.

  • Common sanding belt size makes sourcing replacement belts simple.

Cons

  • Dust bag could be a little larger.

  • Tool weight prohibitive for extended overhead use.

The EBS1810VK is available in Australia through Gasweld stores, TotalTools, and can be ordered through Mitre 10 stores nationwide.

Available to Order Online through these companies...
Click graphic to go to their direct product page for this item

In the United Kingdom

 

Ryobi EBS1310VK Photos
All photos copyright onlinetoolreviews.com. Use without prior written permission prohibited


The EBS1310VK
with dust bag attached.


The tracking adjustment knob (yellow) on the front of the base.


The power on/off trigger, trigger lock, variable speed dial and dust port all shown here.


Changing belts is very simple...


Here you can see the rubber molded metal drive roller and cork/metal combo platten.


Easy access to all working components.


The sanding frame attached...


Adjusting the height of the belt sander in relation to the sanding frame is achieved using this adjustment screw.


Letting gravity do most of the work...


Hidden treasure! Look what was under the grit and grime-covered board... Nice, straight-grained hardwood, saved from certain doom!


Here we sanded back a child's play table. The finish was wearing away and needed attention. A perfect task for using the sanding frame for smooth, even results without removing too much wood.


The EBS1310VK is not terribly well-suited for overhead tasks because of its weight, but it does the job if you have no other 'lighter' alternative.

Information contained on this page is copyrighted to onlinetoolreviews.com.
Reproduction in any form prohibited with express prior written permission. Copyright 2005