Polishing wooden surfaces only appears easy and safe, just rubbing surfaces here and there. But in truth, the task requires skill and precaution. Particles of grain may get inside your eyes and many tales were heard about chipped skin, only because of a belt sander. So just as you invest in knowing how to correctly polish surfaces, also take time in researching for the best belt sander in town. The efficacy of a handyman is only as good as the quality of his tool.
That said, in this page, you will find belt sanders of various sizes, colors, and shapes. Some are equipped with dust collectors, extended bases, double insulators, lever controls, among others. The key is to find which brand or design suits your preference better.
The Best Belt Sander
Makita 9403 4×24 Inch Belt Sander
Featuring a wider and longer belt than conventional belt sanders, this Makita belt sander empowers you to make real quick work of your sanding job. But what really makes it one of the best belt sanders around is its powerful 11-amp motor that delivers an astonishing speed of 1,640 feet per minute. It’s fast. It’s powerful. And it covers a wider area in less time to get the job done much quicker.
Surprisingly, it may have a very powerful motor yet its operation is more like a soft purr. You don’t need any ear plugs to help prevent noise-related deafness. Part of its remarkable low noise capability is the labyrinth design of its motor housing, effectively sealing both vibrations and noise emanating from the motor. This is the perfect belt sander for folks who dislike really loud noises while getting the job done quicker.
11-amp motor, delivering 1640 fpm
Motor-sealing labyrinth construction
Large front grip
Low noise operation at only 84 decibels
With 360-degree swiveling dust bag; can be connected to vacuum cleaner hose
- Weight16.01 pounds
BLACK+DECKER DS321 Dragster 3×21 Inch Belt Sander
With its characteristic black and orange color theme, there’s no missing this Black and Decker belt sander. Aptly named the Dragster because of its ingenious design that is powered by a 7-amp motor, it can smoothen and rough edges and surfaces with its wide-enough sanding belt.
The ergonomic handle of this electric sander can be easily adjusted to three different positions while also giving you the chance to work even in the tightest corners by retracting its hood. Its low profile and flush body design also help in the sanding of other surfaces that may be quite challenging for other systems. Smaller than most power sander systems, the Dragster is the perfect tool for those who require greater precision that more compact and lightweight systems can provide.
Integrated front roller mechanism
3-position fully retractable handle
Low profile and flush body design
Dust collection bag
- Weight6.5 pounds
PORTER-CABLE 352VS 3×21 Inch Variable Speed Belt Sander
What makes this electric belt sander quite interesting is the way in which its 8-amp motor is housed right in the center of the platen, giving you a more balanced and more stable feel of the device while you manipulate its dial to run at a low 850 fpm or as high as 1,300 fpm. The Porter Cable belt sander looks like a miniature tracked vehicle when viewed from the side.
While this portable belt sander promises to get the work done in a flash, there have been quite a number of issues related to the gadget’s reliability with a number of folks saying it broke after only a few weeks’ use. Of course, there’s a greater number of belt sander reviews saying that it works exceptionally well.
8-amp motor with variable speed technology
850 to 1300 fpm speed
Belt tracking knob with quick-release belt-change lever
360-degree swiveling dust bag
All-metal housing construction
- Weight10.75 pounds
Hitachi SB8V2 3×21 Inch Variable Speed Belt Sander
This Hitachi belt sander comes with a 9-amp motor that delivers highly variable speed with a simple twist of a dial. From a low speed of 820 fpm to as high as 1.475 fpm, you can easily select the right speed settings to get the job done perfectly. It may be a little bit pricier than most, but given its intuitive design, it’s well worth it. The clear front cover should give you an unrestricted view of this cordless belt sander.
It also features a V-belt drive that comes with excellent water resistance which can help prolong its service life. Holding the Hitachi hand held belt sander is quite a joy, too. It feels neither too light nor too heavy. With the addition of an elastomer grip surface, you’ll never form calluses on your hands.
9-amp motor with variable speed technology
820 to 1475 fpm speed
Trigger lock mechanism
Ergonomic, soft-grip handle
Dust collection bag
- Weight9.5 pounds
WEN 6502 4×36 Inch Belt and 6-Inch Disc Sander
For those looking for a belt and disc sander, WEN’s 6502 model is a worthy choice. Powered by a modest 4.3-amp motor with a maximum speed of 3500 RPM, this bench belt sander can easily be transformed into a venerable workhorse as its belt platform can be easily angled up to a maximum of 90 degrees for those really tricky jobs.
It also comes with a support table that can be easily attached to its cast iron base, just in case you’d want to use its 6-inch disc sander. The support table comes with a slot for inserting the miter gauge for those angled projects you need to smoothen. The WEN stationary belt sander looks mighty stable especially since we’re talking about cast iron here.
4.3-amp, 0.5 HP motor delivering 3600 RPM
Combination of belt and disc sander
Fully adjustable belt platform from 0 to 90 degrees
Heavy-duty cast iron base
2.5-inch dust collection port
- Weight39.1 pounds
SKIL 7510-01 Sandcat 3×18 Inch Belt Sander
One thing you’ll love about the Sandcat hand held belt sander from SKIL is that it comes with an integrated pressure control technology allowing you to be alerted if you’re already exerting excessive pressure on the device. This helps prevent unnecessary damage to its 6-amp motor and maintain the optimum operating functionality of the belt sander.
A lot of belt sander reviews speak highly of the Sandcat, most especially its micro-filtration technology that effectively traps minute particles so you don’t have to worry about such things anymore. Its clear dust canister is also noteworthy as there’s no second guessing if it’s already time for emptying or not yet. Overall, it’s a worthy power sander especially if you look at its price tag that is about 5 times cheaper than other brands.
Auto track system
Pressure control safety sensor
Built-in microfiltration mechanism
Clear view dust canister
Single lever quick belt change
- Weight7.5 pounds
Genesis GBS321A 3×21 Inch Variable Speed Belt Sander
The small and low profile in the leading edge of the Genesis belt sander is what gives it a remarkable advantage over other electric belt sander systems as it can effortlessly work in tight spaces or under certain structures. The handle can be easily adjusted to give you optimum comfort and stability while working on your project.
The 8-amp motor is modest yet fully capable of sanding any surface with its remarkable 390 to 1180 fpm variable speed settings. The motor housing is flushed so you can use the lateral edges of the sanding belt for those difficult-to-reach areas. This hand-held belt sander also comes with an easy-access lever that allows you to change the sandpaper in a jiffy and without the need for tools.
Variable speed: 390 to 1180 fpm
Fully adjustable handle
Single lever quick belt change
Low profile design
- Weight8.5 pounds
TACKLIFE 3×18 Inch Belt Sander
What’s adorable about the TACKLIFE electric sander is that it can be turned upside down and securely clamped onto your work bench to give you a stable sanding platform. And when you’re done, you can easily loosen the clamps and use the TACKLIFE like any other power sander in the market.
It also comes with variable speed settings of up to 560 RPM while setting the minimum to about 360 RPM. It is not as powerful as other portable belt sander systems, however, since it can only produce a modest 14 fps or roughly 840 fpm. Most systems we’ve seen have already breached the 1000 fpm barrier. Regardless, it is still one of the best belt sanders if you also factor in its price, design, and overall value.
5 amp motor delivering up to 14 fps
6 speed settings: 360 to 560 rpm
Detachable dust box
Can be connected to vacuum cleaner hose
With 2 screw clamps
- Weight7.55 pounds
Jet J-41002 2×42 Inch Bench Belt and 8-Inch Disc Sander
This stationary belt sander from Jet is not really a permanent fixture in your workshop. You see, the platen can be easily removed to give you a portable belt sander that is perfect for working on smaller projects or those tasks that require greater precision. It’s a belt and disc sander that is powered by a ¾-HP motor.
The belt sander can easily take on the function of a hand file, a coping saw, or even a jig saw while the disc sander comes with a support table upon which the miter gauge can be mounted for more efficient work on angled surfaces. The cast iron construction gives this behemoth stability and durability that will last many decades. As powerful as the Jet is, you’ve got to be ready to shell out several hundreds of dollars for this bench belt sander.
0.75 HP combination belt and disc sander
With lockable miter gauge
Abrasive belt unit
Heavy-duty cast iron construction with steel base and rubberized feet
Adjustable dust chute and deflector
- Weight60 pounds
Ryobi ZRBE319 3×18 Inch Belt Sander
This belt sander from Ryobi looks a lot like the other power sander systems we’ve featured on this list. It comes with a modest 6-amp motor that drives the belt at a top speed of 820 fpm. It hasn’t breached the thousand-fpm barrier, but it can get the work done with its low-profile design and a lockable trigger switch for optimum security and safety while at work.
The only issue is that it comes not as a brand-new unit, but rather as a refurbished product. And considering its price, it would definitely make more sense to spend it on a new one rather than a refurb. Nevertheless, for fans of the brand who may have difficulty getting hold of such a device, this should be a welcome addition to one’s growing collection of Ryobi power tools.
820 fpm no-load speed
Lockable on-off trigger switch
- Weight9 pounds
Best Belt Sanders Buying Guide & FAQ
What to Look for in the Best Belt Sander
Picking the best belt sander can be quite frustrating if you do not know what to look for. And while belt sander reviews can give you a glimpse of how such products perform in the real world, it is still best to be cognizant of the essential features or specs that the best belt sander should have.
- Power of Motor
More amps, more power; this is what we always think when it comes to power tools. And the belt sander is no different. Belt sanders can come with electric motors that run anywhere between 4 to 10 amperes. Obviously, if you’re working on really hard surfaces, then you will need more power to drive the sandpaper belt. But if you are more concerned about working with relatively small and softer projects, then a 4- to 6-ampere belt sander should suffice. If sanding is part of your job, then getting a device with a higher ampere, preferably greater than 10 amps, makes perfect sense.
- Size of the Sanding Platform
The length and width of the sanding platform are two important considerations when picking the best belt sander. The wider and longer the belt, the faster you can finish a particular job since you will only need shorter sanding passes (forward and backward movements) and fewer lateral movements. However, if you’re talking about a project that requires greater precision, having a narrower and shorter belt would be more ideal than one that is wider and longer.
- Variable Speed Settings
While having the most powerful belt sander can get the job done, if you can add to this power the capability to choose the right speed for any given job, you’ll be able to greatly improve your versatility. While not really a must-have, it would really be interesting if you can select the speed of the belt so you can easily turn it into a powerful belt sander or even a tool for more delicate finishes.
- Optimum Control and Comfort
Hand-held belt sanders need to have components that will allow you maximum control as you glide the unit over the surface you’re working on. This is where handles can be quite useful. When looking at the handle of these sanders, it is best to look for optimum grip and fit. You don’t want your hands to develop calluses after your project.
- Dust Extraction
Dust is a natural byproduct of sanding wood or any other material. This can be inhaled or get into the eyes. It is thus imperative that the device has a mechanism with which it can extract dust.
Benefits of Using a Belt Sander
Professionals call belt sanders as the sanding world’s powerful gorillas, using mostly brute force and speed to get the job done. But what are the benefits of using a belt sander? Let’s find out.
- Flattens and Smoothens Rough Surfaces
When it comes to flattening, leveling, or even smoothing of roughened wood surfaces, the belt sander is obviously the go-to device. When leveling a surface, a belt sander can be angled to the wood grain for more aggressive leveling, usually starting off with either a 60- or 80-grit. Once done, you can use a 120-grit to finish it off along the grain of the wood.
- Trims Scribed Lines
Small belt sanders can provide the added benefit of scribing. This is especially true if the scribed line is somewhat curved. The equally-curved leading edge of the belt sander can be used to trim scribed lines in a near-perfect manner. It is a painstaking process, but one that always brings remarkable results.
- Rounds and Shapes Wood Surfaces
In addition to leveling, flattening, and smoothening rough surfaces, belt sanders can also be used in finishing many wood surfaces by rounding edges and shaping wood. Of course, one has to choose the correct belt sander that has the qualities needed for such a job.
Types of Belt Sanders
Belt sanders come in two fundamental types.
Hand-held belt sanders are exceptionally portable and they are best used for working on materials that cannot be moved. For example, working on your wooden floor that is already fixed onto your floor is best sanded using a hand-held sander. These are lightweight and very portable so you can easily use them on almost any other fixed surface. Hand-held belt sanders are typically powered by electricity via a power cord plugged into an outlet. However, there are also models that come with cordless designs. These typically have batteries that need to be charged after some time.
As the name implies, these are immovable or semi-permanent belt sanders that are mounted on a stable, sturdy base. They are heavyweight sanders and are typically used for movable materials – you bring the material to be sanded onto the belt sander (by comparison, a handheld belt sander is what you bring TO the material you want to smoothen). Stationary belt sanders are generally mounted or clamped onto a work bench. It is also for this reason that these sanders are also known as bench sanders. Some models even come with a rotating disc sander for other jobs that the belt sander may not be able to fulfill.
How to Use a Belt Sander Safely
Like all power tools, you should always observe safety whenever working with a belt sander.
Always wear protection for the ears, eyes, and nose. Some devices can make really loud noises that if you get exposed to the noise for too long or very frequently, you will run the risk of becoming deaf. The sanded material can also get into the eyes or even into your nose and be inhaled. And while most belt sanders today come with dust collection mechanisms, it is still better to err on the side of safety.
If you have to replace or change the sanding belt, it is imperative that you unplug the device. The same is true whenever emptying the dust collection canister or cup. The device should be in the OFF position before removing any component.
If you have to use the belt sander on non-ferrous metal like aluminum, make sure to empty the dust bag first to remove wood debris or sawdust. Sanding metal can produce sparks which can easily ignite sawdust.
Before plugging the belt sander into the electric outlet, make sure that it is first turned off. Some devices come with a lockable trigger so you don’t inadvertently turn it.
Best Belt Sanders FAQ:
Q: What is a belt sander?
A: This is a power tool that is used in both shaping and finishing wood surfaces as well as other materials that can be sanded using a particular grit of sandpaper. It consists of an electric motor that is powered by batteries or plugged into an electric outlet. A pair of drums is located on opposing ends of the device and which is turned by the motor. Sandpaper is wound continuously around these drums to form a loop. As the motor turns the drums, the sandpaper also moves in one direction at a fixed or variable speed often depending on the type of the belt sander. If you’ve ever seen a treadmill or even a conveyor belt before, the belt sander operates in the same way, except that it is smaller and the rotation of the drums or wheels is definitely faster.
Q: Are sanders difficult to master?
A: If you have worked with any power hand tool before, the belt sander is not that different. With a little practice and understanding of the basics and principles of sanding, you can easily master the art of belt sanding. Since the sandpaper moves in one direction, it is imperative to follow the grain of the wood by moving the sander back and forth. After one sanding pass, simply move the platen about half its width (if you have a 3-inch wide sander, then move the sander about 1.5 inches to either left or right) where you can start another sanding pass.
Q: Can I use a belt sander for hardwood floors?
A: Yes, you can use a belt sander for hardwood floors. The trick here is to use the correct sandpaper grit. Always start with a coarser grit, say 30 to 40 before moving on to 50 to 60 and finally finishing your project with an 80 or 100-grit sandpaper. However, since hardwood floors have generally larger surface area you’d have a much better chance of getting the job done quicker if you use a finishing floor orbital sander. Handheld belt sanders are perfect for smaller projects. But if it’s the entire hardwood flooring system you’re talking about, a bigger sander may be necessary. Of course, you can still use a belt sander, but you’ll be spending more time. Plus, there’s no guaranteeing you’ll have an evenly-smoothed surface once done.
Q: How do I change sandpaper on a belt sander?
A: Changing the sandpaper loop on your belt sander is relatively easy. Most manufacturers already put easy-access mechanisms in their products that will make removal and replacement of the old sandpaper with a new one a lot easier. First, you’ll need to release the tension on the belt by releasing or unlocking a lever on the belt. Second, remove the sandpaper loop. Third, put on a new loop of sandpaper and make sure that it is properly aligned. Make sure you also got the correct width and length of the sandpaper loop commensurate to what your belt sander requires. Fourth, reapply the tension and you’re done.
Our Top Pick
With a powerful 11-amp motor that pushes its 4-inch wide sandpaper loop at a blistering 1640 fpm yet with a remarkably quiet 84-dB noise level, the Makita belt sander easily wins the plum for the best belt sanders. Its unique motor housing construction plus a 360-degree rotating dust bag are also noteworthy of the belt sander. The handles are fully ergonomic while offering optimum control in sanding and finishing chores.
Belt sanders are powerful devices that can make your work a lot easier. However, choosing the right belt sander is crucial since your productivity and effectiveness are hinged on how well the gadget can perform the task you expect it to do.
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