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JET JSG-96 Disc/Belt Sander
Power, versatility and ease of use
Text, photos & video by Tom Hintz
Posted - 9-6-2007
Sanding machines, particularly disc/belt combinations are increasingly popular with woodworkers because they handle a wide range of tasks with a level of accuracy speed that is impossible to match with handheld machines. With the wide range of belts and disc grits available, these machines can produce super-smooth, accurate surfaces that enhance our projects in many ways. The JET JSG-96 Disc/Belt Sander embodies all of these traits plus sports a price tag that won't do permanent damage to the budget.
The JET JSG-96 Disc/Belt Sander features a true 3/4Hp (110V only) motor that produces stable speeds of 2,258 SFPM (surface feet per minute) at the belt and 1,725 RPM at the disc. This amount of power virtually eliminates the substantial loss of surface speed during use that I have seen with many other sanding machines over the years. That makes it much easier to be consistent. It also means that the motor is not laboring which always translates into a longer life.
A simple but effective lift on - push off switch controls the JET JSG-96 Disc/Belt Sander. Located on the front of the base, this no-nonsense switch is easily accessible from either the belt or disc portion. The switch has a removable "key" that can be used to disable the JET JSG-96 Disc/Belt Sander when you are not in the shop.
In-Base Dust Collection
The JET JSG-96 Disc/Belt Sander base is generous in size and makes for a very stable benchtop machine. Handholds are built into the base to make moving the JET JSG-96 Disc/Belt Sander easier and accessory stands are available and described later in this review.
The size of the base also allowed JET to build in an effective dust collection system. Internal passages route suction to the belt and disc sections. A 4"-diameter port on the rear of the base makes connecting a true dust collector simple and adapter free.
A nice touch is the gates at the belt and disc that allow shutting off the unused section to maximize the effectiveness of the system itself and your dust collector. Though no dust system is 100% effective, the JET JSG-96 Disc/Belt Sander comes very close when connected to even mid-level dust collectors.
The 6" by 48" belt system is as stable as it is versatile. Also, this belt size is very popular making it easy to find the exact grit needed virtually anywhere sanding tools are sold. The arm supporting the belt has a generous platen that provides a large area on which to sand accurate, straight edges. It also supports the belt well for hand shaping and sanding.
The belt drive system is conventional overall but features an unusual rubber-covered drive drum that virtually eliminates belt slip. Belt tracking is adjusted with an easy to use thumbwheel. The thumbwheel is unusual in that it has a finger-operated lever that locks that adjustment. A quick release lever and a set of hinged doors surrounding the drive drum make changing belts tool free and fast.
The belt arm can be positioned horizontally, vertically or anywhere in between that best fits the job at hand. A simple hex head screw locks the arm in the desired position. An adjustable stop allows fine-tuning of the horizontal position and allows returning to the setup easy. Incidentally, the position of the belt arm has no impact on the effectiveness of the dust collection or drive systems.
A 5 1/2" deep by 11" wide table mounts at the belt and can tilt up to 45-degrees. This table has a full-sized miter slot running parallel to the belt surface that accepts the included miter gauge or shop-made jigs. Because the table is mounted directly to the belt arm, it moves with that assembly when it's angle is changed. The table can be used as a backstop when sanding with the belt in the horizontal position.
The JET JSG-96 Disc/Belt Sander uses 9"-diameter, adhesive-backed abrasive discs that make it easy to change grits as the job changes or progresses. The heavy aluminum drive plate they adhere to is well balanced and resists flex or distortion very well.
The lower portion of the disk is covered by an easy open door that provides access for disc changing. When closed, this door enhances dust collection.
The JET JSG-96 Disc/Belt Sander comes with a large 10" by 12" cast iron table with a special shape that makes holding odd shaped and large pieces easy and secure. There is a duplicate mount at the belt section that allows using this cast iron table there also.
The table has full miter slots running parallel and 90-degrees to the disc. The parallel slot makes using the included miter gauge accurate and easy but the 90-degree slot has special intentions.
The JET JSG-96 Disc/Belt Sander comes with a specially designed slot insert with a point at its center, flanked by two hex head set screws. The point is used to hold blanks that are to be sanded perfectly round. The diameter of the circle is controlled by how far from the abrasive the point is set. This is a simple but very effective way of making circular pieces that need virtually no sanding on the edges when done.
In the Shop
The JET JSG-96 Disc/Belt Sander proved to be a very capable machine with lots of power to handle whatever sanding task I brought to it. The 3/4 Hp motor easily maintained belt and disc speeds under all reasonable loads with abrasive grit size having virtually no impact on surface speed.
The tables supplied with the JET JSG-96 Disc/Belt Sander are sized nicely, stable and make sanding clean edges very easy. The cast iron table is obviously the most useful and I especially liked being able to move it to the belt section so easily. Despite its single post mount, the cast iron table is surprisingly stable and vibration free. Throughout the testing I could not make it vibrate or do anything detrimental to the sanding process or finish this machine leaves on the wood.
The dust collection system is first rate and made even better by the gates that focus the dust collector power where needed. On more than one occasion I forgot to close the gate not being used and even with both wide open, dust collection was very good.
The sanding point for making discs is a great idea that opens a new door for many stand-alone woodworking projects and accent pieces. Setting the right distance from the abrasive disc and then getting the blank onto the point takes a little getting used to but quickly becomes easy. The results are first rate, leaving a perfectly round edge that needs no further sanding when the correct grit for the job is used.
The common sizing of the abrasive belt and disc makes finding replacements or the grit you need easy.
Though designed as a benchtop unit, at 91 lbs the JET JSG-96 Disc/Belt Sander seemed better suited on a stand-alone base in my shop. It's power and capabilities mean you are likely to be sanding larger pieces, which also makes being on its own base a good idea.
I chose the cabinet style base, (an open leg base is also available) in part because it has wheels built into it. A pedal-operated wheel lock is handy and effective. This base also has storage within and a belt rack on the back. In use the JET JSG-96 Disc/Belt Sander on the cabinet-style base turned out to be very stable and easy to move around the shop.
Throughout the evaluation, the JET JSG-96 Disc/Belt Sander consistently produced a very fine surface that needed virtually no additional sanding before applying finish if the correct grit abrasive was used. The smoothness of operation and stability of the tables contribute to that finish as well.
The JET JSG-96 Disc/Belt Sander is a very well built, powerful sanding machine with lots of capabilities. The combination of tables it comes with extends those capabilities even further. The miter slots in both tables opens the door for many shop-made jigs to handle your special jobs.
With a street price of $369.99 (9-6-2007) the JET JSG-96 Disc/Belt Sander represents an investment to be sure, but one that will pay dividends for many years. The construction and simplicity of the JET JSG-96 Disc/Belt Sander suggest that with minimal common sense care it can easily be the last sanding machine you ever need to buy.
If you are in the market for a disc/belt sander, you need to check out the JET JSG-96 Disc/Belt Sander.
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