Getting a smooth or consistent line along a lame edge or other end of sheet can prove tricky when rushed or tiresome for those that would prefer to get the job done speedily. Hand filing is a skill like any other and the hand and eye require constant training to get them working together to produce a nice, smooth, consistent line pleasing to the eye.
One way to help with this is a belt sander. The broad edge, steady speed and filing action of the sander can help make nice lines along the edge of a piece; however this still some effort to learn to do well and not sand in ‘flats’ or too much material and finishing with a hand file will bring you more accurately to the desired shape.
Large 3 phase sanders will cost anything from a few hundred pounds to several thousand depending on the make, build and age. For others there is the constant worry of whether or not a sander clone such as the one offered by Axminster at the moment are worth the money.
I use a single face belt sander of most edge removal, finishing with a hand file. Early days I struggled on using hand files and power files to create lame edges and found the results to be unsatisfactory when compared to the neat edges I coudl see in museum pieces and some fellow armourers.
Eventually I bought an Axminster belt sander clone similar to the one above. Once mastered it helped significantly with creating smoother, cleaner edges that light could play along well and that look pleasing to the eye. I believe I paid almost £300 for mine, first hand from Axminster.
The tool has served me very well and barely a day doesn’t go past that it is not used; in that respect it has proven to be worth every penny I paid for it. However, given ebay and other auction and sales websites I probably paid well over the odds for it as similar second hand ones can be found for £30 – £60 ranges.
In conclusion, I would heartily recommend one of these sort of sanders if you have nothing and only single phase power, but I would consider caution buying them new as they are very highly priced for what they do and second hand ones can be found (with effort) at a tenth the cost.