Choosing and Using a Wet Belt Sander

Covington’s Sanders are high-quality, multipurpose units. Available in a variety of sizes and compositions, there is something in this line of units for a range purposes. Sanders can grind and polish small and large pieces of glass and stone. These units are also excellent for deburring, shaping, cleaning, sharpening, and smoothing work pieces. Every sander comes fitted with a 220g silicon carbide sanding belt. These versatile units are an excellent choice for beginners and professionals alike. Glass customers believe every coldworking shop should have a Covington Sander!

Basic Wet Belt Sander

Covington’s Basic Wet Belt Sander  is the base unit for the Mounted Wet Belt Sander (#466). This unit features approximately six usable inches of workspace, but longer pieces can be worked across the belts three-inch face by moving left and right across this work area. A two-inch high back plate is installed to allow the user to make a hard edge. The space above the back plate is more forgiving and allows for softer edges and curves.

These units accept 3” x 24” belts. Belts are available in silicon carbide and diamond for grinding, cork for pre-polishing glass, and felt for polishing glass. The Basic Sander does not feature a motor or a baseboard for mounting. This unit is designed for the user who already has a motor and a place to mount the unit. The Mounted Basic Sander is a complete unit that can just be plugged in and started.

Large Basic / Commercial Wet Belt Sander 

Covington’s Large Basic Wet Belt Sander is the base unit for the Commercial Wet Belt Sander and the Deluxe Commercial Wet Belt Sander (#761). These models feature approximately thirteen usable inches between drums. The Basic unit and the Commercial Unit both come with a four-inch backing plate installed; the Deluxe Commercial unit comes with a thirteen-inch backing plate installed and a four-inch backing plate which can easily be substituted for the larger

The backing plates are designed to give a solid grind to your piece. The belt above the backing plate is softer and more malleable which allows for smoother curves and shapes. Pieces larger than thirteen inches can be worked horizontally across the face of the belt. These units accept 3” x 41-1/2” belts that will give you approximately twice the wear life of the 3” x 24” belts for the smaller sanders.

Basic vs Commercial 

When deciding between the sanders, it is important to know your work. If you are only ever working small pieces such as jewelry then the small sander will probably suit your needs. However, for a little more you can purchase the Commercial Sander, which provides more usable workspace and longer belt life. It is important to remember the price of the consumables when pricing your purchase. The belts will add additional cost throughout the life of the unit. The advantage to the Deluxe Commercial Sander is the 1/2hp motor with a capacitor; this provides more than sufficient torque for working large pieces and pressing against the belt.


The most common question we receive is about tracking the belt onto the drums. This is easily accomplished by adjusting the triknob on the top left hand side of the sander. Turning the knob towards yourself brings the drum up and tightens the belt driving the belt to the left. Turning the knob away from you tilts the drum down and drives the belt to the right loosening the belt. You may need to adjust the tension on the belt if the belt is new or if the belt has become saturated with water. Dry belts tend to be tighter and the tension bolt underneath the upper drum may need to be loosened. As the belt becomes wet you will probably have to tighten the tension to keep it tracking true. Adjust the tension by turning the bolt to the right, lifting the drum up, and tightening the belt.

When you want to change the belt altogether, grab the switch and spin the tri-knob towards yourself. When the belt is hanging off the right hand side, turn the switch off and finish working the belt off the drums by hand. Work the new belt onto the drums by hand. Tighten the tri-knob by turning it towards yourself and then turn the switch back on. Using the tri-knob only, adjust it until it tracks straight using the guidelines above.

NEVER adjust the nylon lock-nut that is below the tri-knob and above the tensioning bolt. This lock-nut is factory set and if over-tightened it will snap the upper bearing casting. This is a user mistake and any damage to the casting is NOT covered by the warranty. Always leave this nut alone.

Water Hook Up

There are a few options available for water hook-up to your new Covington Sander. The two most common are the pressure tank, which provides water to the belt with only a few pumps of pressure, or the water pump, which provides constant water to the belt. Both methods are efficient and inexpensive. The Pressure Tank will hook right into your sander valve and must be tightened down sufficiently for the aluminum tubing to remain in the valve. Simply give the pressure tank a few pumps and the water will begin to spray onto the belt. You

will occasionally have to pump the handle to keep pressure in the tank and keep the water flowing. The water pump is a submersible unit that must be placed into a bucket of water. The pump has a quick connect attachment for the ¼” plastic tubing. Simply press the tubing into the quick connect and it will stay in place. The other end of the tubing must be placed securely into the sander valve using a copper fitting with the tubing. This fitting prevents leaking. Once the tubing is connected, simply plug the pump into an outlet, make sure the valve is open and it will begin putting water onto your belt.

We usually recommend purchasing a drain kit with your sander to eliminate dirty water as it accumulates in the pan. Simply remove the drain plug, attach the drain kit, and put the remaining tubing into a bucket. By removing the water from the pan, you prevent over flow, cross-contamination, and scratching of your pieces.