A decent bench sander, recycled laptop bags and sharpening stones

John Adams
Thursday, 29th April 2010

John finally gets to test-drive a bench sander, having struggled with simply rotary sanders for years, and discovers that it can bring recycled wood up to a good finish in no time at all...

The first power tool I ever bought was a B&D electric drill which came with a free rotary sanding disk attachment. I struggled on for years with this and its successors because it seemed easier than sanding by hand. I suppose it was if you could stand the wrist strain and didn’t mind the swirl marks and occasional gouge in the work piece.

BTS900x_In_Use_2.jpgOver the years sanders have improved greatly and I now have a portable belt sander and a shuffle sander, both of which work very well for things like sanding down boats but I would never try to use either of them for anything that needed to end up perfectly square.

Having found two other Sheppach workshop tools – the DMT450 Woodturning Lathe and the Tiger 2000s Grinder (reviewed in PM62 and PM63 respectively) – a joy to use, I thought I would try their bts 900x Sander. This is a bench sander with a velcro attached sanding disc at the front and a sanding belt on top, adjustable through 90º. It is solidly made with a cast iron body and substantial fittings. The only bit which I felt was a bit flimsy was the mitre attachment for the sanding table.

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For safety reasons it is supposed to be bolted down, but I had no trouble using it as a portable machine just plonked on the work bench. In fact, one of its great features is that it is big enough for serious work but small enough to be put away when not needed.

The pictures above show it being used to shape the components for my DIY Pallet Chair (see Permaculture Magazine 64, page 7), which it did admirably. The adjustable sanding table allowed angles to be produced accurately along the length of the timber and it was a real joy to be able to squarely sand end grain, something I have never ever achieved before.

This is a well made and highly adaptable machine which will be a welcome addition to any small woodworking shop.

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Eco Laptop Bags

Turtle Bags have increased their range of products based on reused cement bags with the exciting addition of the Lightweight Laptop Bag and an increased range of colours for the very successful Cement Bag Turtle Trolleys (reviewed in PM62).

The laptop bag is well designed; it has a padded coloured cotton lining, two main compartments, several small pockets and a shoulder strap. Available in three colours these bags are beautiful, ethical, comfortable to use and just that bit different.

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Bucket Bags

Another new offering from Turtle Bags is the cavernous Sage Bucket Bag which fills an important gap in the ethical shopping bag market. For serious food shopping most bags are just too small, but this hand woven jute bag has a capacity of over 40 litres (8.8 gallons). It is fully lined and has a zipped purse pocket. They are made by rural women in Bangladesh using only local, environmentally friendly materials. Soft and comfortable to carry, I think this is an ideal large shopping bag.

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Burgon and Ball have come up with a completely different type of bucket bag – a Bucket in a Bag. This is a durable, waterproof, 11 litre (2.4 gallon) folding bucket made from a plasticated canvas type material with a metal and rubber handle which folds away into a nylon pouch. Only 40mm (1.6in) deep by 255mm (10in) wide when folded it can be tucked away in rucksack, boat, car, etc. in a fraction of the space a normal bucket would take. Ideal for taking down to the allotment for watering from tanks, gardening, camping, car washing, using as a portable pet bowl, a wine cooler, and 100s of other uses.

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Potting Riddle

One problem I always seem to have is that my home-made potting medium is never fine enough. In the past I have tried using an old colander to filter out the lumps, stones and twigs, but it’s a slow process. Burgon and Ball have the answer, a proper Potting Riddle. It is much quicker to use and produces a fine evenly graded medium much better suited to my needs.

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Sharpening Stone

Haven’t seen a proper Cigar Sharpening Stone for sale recently?

Nor had I till I spotted this one in Burgon and Ball’s catalogue. At 305mm (12in) long this is a serious sharpening stone ideal for putting an edge on your scythes, slashers, hoes and other large gardening tools.

Products reviewed here are available from the Green Shopping Catalogue

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