Ryobi’s ONE+ cordless system has gained lots of new tools since our last review around a year ago. But one in particular caught our eye, their new Belt Sander (R18BS-0), and we thought we'd try it out on our summer project of restoring a farmhouse style solid wooden table back to stylish health.
The design of this Ryobi belt sander is extremely rugged, the outer casing being made of particularly strong and scuff resistant plastic-type material. The main trigger-handle has a softer rubber-like grip material and the front handle is adjustable for comfort and use. The trigger can be locked on when in use and there is a very easily used adjustment knob to keep the sandpaper belt centred - important, as each belt can vary in this regard. The overall weight of the sander, with the battery attached, is around 3.5kg, so it's a solid piece of equipment that needs a little strength when handling, but of course this weight can help in the sanding process.
There is no doubt that a belt sander is ideal for dealing with large flat areas, so our well-worn wooden table top, with a plethora of deep claw marks from cats jumping onto it and many other scrapes, cuts and stains all well ingrained into the wood's surface, was an excellent test for this Ryobi battery driven version. To make matters worse, the table top also had the remains of its original old uneven vanish. Whilst we might have started the process of rejuvenation by first using a varnish stripper to make the job a little simpler, we decided to truly test the raw power of the ONE+ Belt Sander by using it to clean all the old varnish off as well as removing all the other damage that had accrued over the years to this table top.
Using P60 rough grit sandpaper in the first instance, we found the Ryobi cordless belt sander truly powered through the old varnish and soon smoothed out the deep scratches and other marks to reveal glorious fresh pine wood underneath. Sometimes this sander can be a bit of a monster to hold back due to the excellent torque of the motor, but importantly the cordless power didn’t let up despite the considerable stress we put it through.
We found the handling comfortable and the trigger-lock was essential, otherwise our forefinger would have become very tired!
Following the first 'cutting' back to the pine and removing the deep marks and blemishes from the table top we then fitted a P120 finer grit sand belt and the Ryobi produced a smooth and beautiful finish to the whole table top very quickly.
Changing the belt is a very simple process where a sprung lever is pulled out to loosen the front adjustable roller, the old belt is removed and the new one slipped on (making sure it is travelling in the correct direction) before pushing the sprung lever back into place.
We used the sawdust collection bag and this needed to be emptied occasionally during the sanding process. It collected the dust quite efficiently, but obviously there is always a good deal of dust that fails to reach the bag. There is also included an extension pipe to fit into a vacuum cleaner instead of using the bag and this is obviously a more efficient way of sucking up the sawdust.
We are honestly big fans of the stamina and performance paring we’ve experienced from the 18v Li-Ion battery that powers the Ryobi ONE+ tools. However, this Belt Sander drains the battery rather more quickly than other tools we've used and it was helpful that we had a standby battery for this particular job. It would seem that the heavier the work needed from the sander, the quicker the battery flattens, and this does make sense, but we never reached the claimed longevity by Ryobi - more like 30 minutes, we would say, when being used for serious sanding. Nevertheless, you can do a lot of sanding in 30 minutes and the Li-Ion battery does not lose power during use and always charges efficiently.
The Ryobi ONE+ Belt Sander made quick work of our up-cycling project. The battery driven motor coped easily with our very challenging task, and in this and other uses we have put it to it is reliable and efficient. With a three year guarantee from Ryobi, the fact is that its rugged build and solid consistency when in use would suggest a tool that could last a lifetime of normal use.