The Triton company has always been known as a
company which produces quality and innovative tools. When the
company came under the grasp of emerging tool giant, Global
Machinery Company, many woodworkers wondered whether the Triton
name and quality would live on. Thankfully, it seems this is
indeed the case. A new line of tools have recently emerged with
many new features and quality construction, and although most
products in the new range have yet to be released (as at Dec
2006) some are now available, including the TBD1500 belt and
disc sander, the subject of this review.
The Triton TBD1500 Belt and Disc Sander
Belt and Disc sanding combination machines are a common site
in many woodworker's shops. They provide the convenience of both
belt and disc sanding operations in one unit, and often with a small
footprint to save space. They are a handy and very useful piece
of machinery for many sanding tasks, and makes particular
sanding tasks easy and quick to accomplish.
The Triton Belt and Disc Sander (model TBD1500)
ships in a nicely decorated, bright box (which is almost a shame
to throw away), but once you get inside it, the box art will
become an afterthought.
The first thing you will notice with this tool
when you try to take it out of the box is its weight. At 35kg
(77lbs) you have to be careful not to go straining yourself
getting it out! It's definitely a good two-person lift, unless
you are a regular gym junkie with a good back and leg muscles...
But the weight is not a bad thing, in fact, heavy bench and
machine tools are often easier to use, built better and run with
less vibration. The weight of the tool is due largely in part to
the cast iron construction of many components (basically all the
grey sections you see in the photos - including the feet!). The
orange-colored parts are made from high-strength plastic, but it
is good to see that all the important sections that affect
accuracy and overall build quality are comprised of cast iron
material. The plastic sections actually save the user from an
even heavier lift.
Under the hood is a 250W induction motor. Like
all these styles of combination sanding machines, the belt and
disc actually rotate together when powered up, i.e. you cannot
stop one from rotating while the other is in use. This usually
presents no problem, although you do need to be wary as to not
go near the unused sanding area, and be sure not to wear loose
fitting clothing that could catch in the machine or on the
sanding surfaces. The motor itself is very quiet and no hearing
protection will be necessary during use. At 250W the
motor is powerful enough to handle all the tasks this type of
machine will handle - face, edge and end grain sanding. It is
possible to bog the motor down a little by excessive sanding
pressure, but if you are indeed making the motor struggle, it is
likely that you are applying too much pressure on the sanding
surface to begin with. Use the motor sound to accurately gauge
how much pressure should be applied in use. And of course, both
the belt and disc sanding surfaces can be quite aggressive with
removing material, so you will generally only want to use a
light touch. Heavy handedness can result in removing more
material than you wanted to, and as we know, it's much harder to
replace wooden material than it is to remove it.
The motor not only powers both the disc and belt
sanding components, but it also supplies an air flow for the
inbuilt dust collection. A bag attached to the rear of the
machine inflates when power is applied to the tool. Inflation is
caused by airflow being directed into the bag, and both the disc
sander and belt sanding sections have dust collection hoods (of
sorts) to try and capture as much of the sanding dust and debris
as possible and direct it into the internal tool's airflow
leading to the collection bag. The collection works quite well,
but if you try to remove too much material at once, it sometimes
does not have enough pull to handle larger volumes of dust. It
could be a bit more powerful in regards to airflow volume, but
with proper sanding technique and a light touch, it seems to
handle dust collection reasonably well. It is handy not to have
to hook up a dedicated extraction unit. However, if you have
extraction permanently in place, you can also replace the bag
with your own dust collection tube, and this will work better
due to the higher airflow and volume a dedicated extraction
system can provide. The dust port is 50mm (2") in size, so you
will need a reducer attachment if you have a standard 4" (100mm)
Power is applied via the simple on/off red power
switch located adjacent to the disc sander. Pull the switch
upwards to apply power, push it down to stop the sander. A
removable yellow switch safety key is attached. Once removed
from the switch, power cannot be applied to the sander, even if
the switch is pulled up into the ON position. The safety key
must be inserted into the switch for power to be applied. A
handy device for those with young children around, or equally
useful when servicing the machine or changing belts - you don't
want any unexpected surprises when maintaining the unit!
The belt sander features a working platen area of 127mm x
230mm (5" x 9"). This is the size of the area that can be used
to sand, or for sanding support. The actual size of the
consumable belts is 100mm x 915mm (4" x 36"). So for all
intensive purposes, the belt sander is classed as a 4" belt
sander. The belt size is very common, so sourcing replacement
belts shouldn't prove difficult at all. Most big box hardware
stores will sell them, and if not, a specialty woodworking or
trades shop will definitely have them on offer. The belt sander
runs at 580m per minute, which is pretty much the same speed an
Olympic 100m sprinter runs down the track (a somewhat
interesting but useless piece of trivia!).
The belt sander is very handy for many surface
and edge sanding tasks. I use it most often to sand smooth box
joins when I make finger-joined or dovetail-joined boxes, but it
works equally well with butt-joint boxes too. It is handy for
face sanding smaller project parts where the whole face is less
than 4" wide, allowing you to sand the surface evenly. In the
photos you can see me sanding the face and edge of
a Silky Oak block that forms the body of a small
mantle clock I was building at the time. It works equally well
or face sanding or edge sanding. It can even be used to round
over sharp edges to prevent chipping in smaller pieces too. And
for curve sanding, you can use the rounded end of the sanding
belt covering the tracking end roller of the machine.
The orange "fence" you see sitting over the belt
sander provides the stop for the workpiece. As the belt rotates
and when you make contact with your workpiece on the belt, it
will pull the workpiece toward the fence stop. It is important
to rest your workpiece against this fence stop before you make
contact with the sanding belt, otherwise the piece can be pulled
from your grasp and sent flying! The fence stop has a series of
holes molded into it. These, I am guessing, help aid in dust flow
and help to pull dust down into the unit, and into the
dust collection system.
The thing to master with the belt sander is to
try and apply even pressure over the face/edge of the workpiece
being sanded. Because belt sanders can take a lot of material
off quickly, it can be easy to round edges or sand unevenly if
too much pressure on one section, or if uneven force is applied. As mentioned
above, a light touch and good technique will produce the best
results. Practice with some scraps prior to using your good
lumber if you haven't used one of these tools before.
The belt sander can be rotated from its
horizontal position to the vertical position quite easily. A hex
screw clamps the belt sander in your chosen position, and it
holds very well. Depending on what type of sanding you wish to do
will determine whether you use the belt sander in horizontal or
vertical mode. In horizontal mode, the belt sander is best used
for face or edge work, as gravity (and your hands) helps keep
the piece against the sanding belt. When you want to sanding the
end grain of a workpiece however, it is often easier to use the
belt sander in vertical mode, and use the supplied cast iron
support table to rest the workpiece on. The movement of the
sanding belt in a downward direction helps keep the workpiece
flat on the support table. It is much easier sanding end grain
in vertical mode, because in horizontal mode you have far less
support, only being able to use the stop fence as opposed to the
larger and heavier cast iron support table in vertical mode (the
support table cannot be used in horizontal belt sanding mode).
Changing belts is accomplished through use of the
belt tension lever on the side of the belt sanding assembly.
Always make sure new belts are inserted in the right way. The
sanding belt should have arrows on the inside surface showing
intended direction of belt travel. Once a new belt is fitted,
you may need to track the belt to ensure it runs true on the
platen. A small tracking adjustment wheel at the far end of the
belt sander accomplishes this. Start the sander up and adjust
the tracking slowly so that the belt runs true in the center and
does not start to move to either side. All instructions are
found in the full-color manual supplied with the tool, so you
shouldn't have any problems with replacing or tracking belts.
Support Table with Miter Gauge
Speaking of the support table, the one included with the
TBD1500 is of excellent quality. Cast iron construction,
including the adjustment and support arms provide a very solid
reference surface for your workpiece. The support table can be
angled from 0 degrees to 45 degrees, and any angle in between.
The angle scale is etched in 1 degree increments.
There is a miter slot milled into the table as well. A basic
miter gauge is included too, and to be honest, I was expecting
one of those light, flimsy plastic ones you often get with cheaper
belt/disc sanders, or sometimes supplied with a smaller bandsaw. Not so
with the TBD1500. While the miter gauge is very basic in design
and function, the miter section itself is metal construction,
being more rigid and holding its accuracy better. It is used in
conjunction with either the belt or disc sander, most often to
sand end grain where the cut is at an angle. i.e. a 45 degree
miter cut. I was quite surprised with the support table and
miter gauge. It is an essential part of the whole tool, and it
plays a big role in sanding accuracy, so I was delighted to see
Triton too had recognized this and built it to be strong,
accurate and durable with little or no noticeable flex in use.
Of course, the other major feature of this tool is the 8"
disc sander. It spins at 3000 rpm and uses adhesive-backed sandpaper
disks. One is supplied to get you started, but again, these
sanding disks are widely available, and quite inexpensive given
how much work they can do before they need to be replaced.
The disc sander must be used in conjunction with
the support table. You cannot really hand-hold pieces when
sanding on the disc. It's very dangerous, and extremely
difficult to do. The disc sander is designed for end-grain work
predominantly, so it can be used freehand to, say, round off an
edge of a workpiece (as shown in photos to the right) or to
smooth end grain on a cut joint using the miter gauge.
Because the disc spins in an anti-clockwise
direction, you can only really use the left side of the sanding
disc, as this is the side where the sanding pad is spinning in a
downward direction. This keeps the workpiece pushing down on the
support table. If you try to sand on the right side, the upward
moving disc will likely grab your workpiece and cause a safety
I prefer to use the disc sander primarily for
edge rounding work. It is the ideal tool for this, particularly
for smaller projects. You won't be able to round the edges on a
large table top with a machine like this. The support table is
just too small for a task like that, so go for a handheld belt
sander instead. But for small project work and end ground
rounding or edging, the disc sander can get the job done fast,
and with a little practice, it will produce a clean and
well-rounded edge for your project piece. With a user-made jig,
it can also be used to perfect perfect circles after being cut
on the bandsaw.
It's not all about the wood!
When you look at this tool, or even mention sanding, wood
naturally comes to mind. And rightly so. This is a woodworking
machine primarily, but it can be used equally effectively with
some metal and plastics work. It is not uncommon to see a
woodworker sharpening chisels or plane blades using a belt sander, or deburring a cut edge. The sander is quite a handy tool when it
comes to tool sharpening. And it can be just as useful for
plastics work. I don't do any plastics work myself, but I have
seen others use similar sanders for shaping and cleaning up cut
plastic edges and it seems to do the job reasonably well.
Triton have produced a great disc/belt sander with the
TBD1500. While the only real "feature" of this tool that stands
out from the rest is the powered dust collection, and perhaps
the easier to use stop fence (some stop fences on other sanders
are flimsy and can bend easily), the overall
build quality and strength of the TBD1500 is something that you
don't often find on similar sized machines from the competition. It
appears that with the TBD1500, Triton has played a subtle trump
card that the other manufacturers will again have to follow if
they want a slice of the portable belt/disc sander market. I am
sure I will be using this tool a lot in my workshop in the
The TBD1500 has a recommended retail price of
AUD$299, although it is possible you might find it a little
cheaper in retail outlets. It can be ordered through Triton
Preferred Dealers (see Triton website for dealers list) or in
Australia via Bunnings special order desks.
For more information, or to find dealers
worldwide of Triton products, visit
Sanding Machine Tip!
Investing in an abrasive belt cleaner is a great way to make
your sanding consumables last much longer. When the tool is
running, simply hold a belt cleaning stick against the sandpaper
surface and apply light pressure. The cleaning stick helps
remove debris from the sanding surface and in between the grit,
cleaning the sandpaper medium and restoring it to a newer
condition. They are an inexpensive accessory that will help
extend the life of your sanding medium. Commercial belt cleaning
sticks are available for a small investment, although I have
found that using the contents from a dried out tube of silicon
that has solidified is equally useful. Others have even used
rubber shoe soles to achieve a similar result!
Abrasive Cleaning Stick|
Increases the abrasive life of sanding belts and discs up to 10 times as long. Fast and easy to use. Cleans while your sander is running. Saves time and money. Improves the finish quality. Prevents bu..
Abrasive Cleaning Stick
Triton TBD1500 Photos
All photos copyright onlinetoolreviews.com. Use without prior
written permission prohibited!
Triton TBD1500 Belt/Disc Sander
Large cast iron feet with screw/bolt holes for greater
On/Off switch with yellow safety key.
Support table bevel adjustment
from 0 to 45 degrees in
1 degree increments.
Support table and miter gauge set up with the disc sander
Support table set up for use with the belt sander in
Belt tensioning lever.
Belt tracking adjustment wheel.
Face sanding silky oak for a mantle clock project.
Working the edge, keeping the piece up against the stop
The disc sander makes light work
of edge rounding tasks!