Sanding belt/drum sander cleaner

Help Support

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.


4 Apr 2018
Reaction score
Hello one and all!

I’m hoping this will be a quick and easy answer for somebody here?

I’m looking for something to clean off the build up of burn lines for my drum sander.
I’ve found plenty of videos of people over in the US using stuff like Simple Green and other serious chemical stuff that they can’t even buy anymore.
The idea being that I either spray or soak the sanding strip and then give it a jet wash to clean everything off... then leave to dry. (Ideally in the next few days while the weather is going to be nice)
I’ve tried the thing where you use a piece of polycarbonate. Kind of works, but then I’ve got bits of it burnt into the belt like the wood.

I’ve searched “Simple Green UK alternative” and it brings up a toolstation degreaser, but thought I’d ask here first in case some bright spark has something they use that works wonders.

What do you use?
I've seen this (abrasive-belt-cleaner) but I haven't used it myself, I use a dried up tube of silicone sealant (with the outer tube removed), saw this tip on here a few years ago and been using it on belt and disk sander ever since.
+1 for the crepe rubber block. Lasts for years (though the shape does change a bit as time goes by) ;-)

I bought mine from Axminster Tools. Afterwards I heard that a short length of black rubber garden hose pipe works too (must be rubber, not plastic). It does work too, and it's free (I had some lying about) but doesn't work as well as the "proper" Axi stuff

I use mine after every use of the belt/drum/disc..
Like the others I've used the belt cleaner for years, do a google search as there is loads of choice even Screwfix sell it and if you look hard there will be videos around somewhere.

I like the idea of the dried up silicone, just chucked out 3 tubes only last week though. #-o

Check around carefully and compare sizes as well as there is a big variation in price, Axminster version isn't cheap, e.g. you can get a small version 150 x 25 x 25 on Amazon for less than £2 if you want to try it out ... B00GY4F3RQ
Phil Pascoe":3ithwzbi said:
Yes, dried silicone works just as well as crepe. And that's crepe, not a euphemism for cr@p. :D

That could be a very cheap solution then as you could buy cheap silicone from the £1 shop cut the top and bottom and let it go off. Does it last like the crepe bars?
Lons":l3tcyfxz said:
Phil Pascoe":l3tcyfxz said:
Yes, dried silicone works just as well as crepe. And that's crepe, not a euphemism for cr@p. :D

That could be a very cheap solution then as you could buy cheap silicone from the £1 shop cut the top and bottom and let it go off. Does it last like the crepe bars?
It's slightly softer, but there's not too much difference.
Hello again!

Thank you for all the replies.
I have one of those abrasive cleaning blocks, but it doesn’t work in the slightest on the burn marks.
I use it regularly to generally clean the drum, but it doesn’t work on the baked lines.
If I take the roll off the drum I can bend the strip and some of the baked stuff then comes away, but this is by no means any kind of solution as it would take me all day to do one strip.

I’ve used the Trend and CMT blade and bit cleaner in the past, but at over £15 for a 500ml bottle it requires quite a bit and makes it very pricey!
I’ve found a UK supplier for Simple Green, so will maybe try and get some and see how well it works.
I’ll do a video, just in case it helps anyone here in the future.
What exactly is it that you're sanding JamieNE? And with what grit?

If as you say you're getting lumps of "burn mark material" clogged onto the sanding medium, are you perhaps pushing the job against the sander with too much force?

And what is that "burn mark material" that you're having trouble getting off the sanding media? Half-burnt glue or paint perhaps? Or could it be an excessive amount of resin in some pine or something?

I dunno (of course), but as well as endorsing Acetone (which I can buy in Litre cans in the local DIY place, but not sure about UK), also cellulose thinners (car sprayers) and/or meths should do the trick.

As said, without knowing what you're sanding with what grit (and how hard you're pressing the job against the sander) can I suggest that A) if it's paint or glue then you wait until it's fully hard (overnight?) before starting to sand, and B) if it's resin then you give the work piece a really good going over with rag soaked in any of the 3 above "thinners" before starting to sand.


Edit for a P.S. As well as the above ideas, I've also found that when shaping some ply parts (cheapo ply) I managed to partially melt the glue holding the ply laminations together. That produced burnt-on "stuff" on the sanding media which was a real problem to get off. The reason was because I was in a hurry and pressing the job against an 80 grit drum with too much force.

Not saying you "guilty" of any of the above, just possible ideas.
Hi! Thanks for your reply.

So, it’s all hardwoods. But the main culprits are usually Iroko or Keruing, both of which have quite a high silica content. Also oak.
Quite often I glue up several different species and then run that through it. It’s always the Iroko and/or keruing that burns first.
I always make sure each pass is only taking of a little at a time, but it’s always the same.
I don’t think I’ve ever put anything painted through it, so that won’t be an issue.
I have 2 grits that I normally use. 32 for “stock removal”, this never gets clogged.
It’s the 80g that does get clogged.

I’ve thought about using acetone, but was told that it could effect the bonding onto the cloth back. I’m happy to be told different though if somebody uses it regularly.

I honestly don’t mind the cleaning, as long as I’ve always got one I can use. It’s just getting the clog off that’s the issue.
guineafowl21":1bb2qfyi said:
I found acetone works a treat on very stubborn clogs. The most common form is nail varnish remover.

I’ll give this a go. I know somebody with a fair bit of actual acetone to hand.
Do you soak it or spray it when you clean yours?
Does it have any effect on the bond to the cloth?

I just spot-treated the clogs, like killing weeds. Wire brush got the stubborn ones off, but watch for sparks!

If your dust extraction isn’t good enough, the dust will pressed into the drum and form high spots, which then burn.

Also check if your roll is antistatic.

Regularly clean the drum with rubbery things, as above, rather than waiting for it to get bad.

With the finer grits, I occasionally pass the piece through twice on the same setting. This seems to clean up any high spots of dust and prep for the next pass.
When I get clogs that the rubber cleaning block won't shift, I take the belt off and soak it in some hot water and washing up liquid. After an hour or two I give it a scrub with a stiff brush (or brass wire brush) and leave to dry. A time consuming fix.. but it works really well.
I THINK it depends on the maker of your sanding media - Acetone is pretty powerful stuff and certainly COULD attack the "glue" that holds the grit onto the backer in at least some cases I think. I'd be inclined to soak a bit of cloth with the Acetone, then dab that onto patches then work it gently with a wire brush.

ALSO, both Acetone and cellulose thinner are A) highly inflammable, and B) a strong de-greaser, so no smoking, etc, and wear gloves to make sure you don't inadvertently remove the natural oils from your skin.

(Not trying to teach granny to suck eggs).