A belt sander is a useful power tool to have if you are a do-it-yourself craftsman or a professional carpenter. It is ideal for smoothing wood surfaces for an even and smooth finish ready for painting or varnishing. A fine grit and a moving belt, with a high speed motor, are all you need to give a professional finish to your projects.
What size belt sander you need will depend on the type of job you do. If you are planning to sand the deck, then you will have to look into one of the bigger industrial size belt sanders. If however you are a hobbyist and you want one mainly for smaller projects then the inexpensive smaller sanders are ideal for you.
There are many uses for a belt sander. They are handy for trimming, levelling, sanding, shaping and smoothing rough edges. Whether you want to remove old paint, or rust and paint from metal, there is a right belt sander for you. How much you pay for a good belt sander will depend on the materials used in the manufacturing of these power tools. Prices start from around $60 and as with everything you purchase, you get what you pay for.
Top 10 Belt Sanders
How to choose the best Belt Sander
If you have decided to purchase a belt sander, then there are a few points that need to be taken into consideration.
Belt sanders come in different size which are normally measured in inches, which refers to the size of the belt. A 4 x 24 inch is considered to be an average size that will cover a good area of wood. If you want something lighter then go for a 3 x 21 inch belt which would also be easier to control and is a better size for most home users.
Manual 0r Automatic Tracking
The tracking keeps the belt centered on rollers while the machine is operational. This can be done manually or automatically. There is usually a knob that needs to be tightened once you have centered the belt on the tracking. If your tracker has automatic tracking you won’t have to mess with any knobs, it is all done automatically.
Most belt sanders will include some sort of dust bag that is built in to collect the dust that accumulates from this type of work. Some models have an attachment which you can connect to a vacuum cleaner.
Make sure that the machine you choose has a flip lever that is easy to use when changing worn out belts. Aluminum oxide is traditionally what grit is made of, this is fine for finer grits. If you go to 80 grit or coarser then the preferred material would be a zirconia belt which is stronger. An 80-grit sandpaper is a good starting point before progressing to a 120-grit for a smoother finish.
Consider your workspace, if you are looking for a belt sander that can be mounted on your work bench, make sure that this is possible. Some models will give you the option of hand held or mounted. Variable speed is also important when using this power tool. If you can control the speed you will be able to set it to the correct speed for the project you are working on. Another consideration while operating this machine, is the noise level. You will find some models quieter than others.
Maintenance & Warranties
Making sure that your rollers are lined up before using is important. The platen, which is the metal between the boot and the belt, will eventually wear away and need to be replaced. It is also good practice to clean out the belt sander after each use. The belts will also need replacing from time to time. As with all power tools it is important to have a warranty when purchasing this product. This is a detail that must be checked.
These machines can be loud, so wear hearing protection if you are using for an extended period of time. Even with a dust collector, fine particles in the air can cause health problems if breathed in. Wear a dust mask while sanding is the only way you can ensure your safety. Make sure you unplug the power tool before changing belts and if you are using on metal make sure you wear eye protection.
Belt Sander Reviews
1 Makita 9403 4″ x 24″ Belt Sander with Cloth Dust Bag
The Makita 9403 is being one of the quietest belt sanders in this class with only 84 decibels. The size of the 9403 is 4 X 24 inches and is considered a little bit bigger than the average for home use. It weighs 13 pounds and as it is handheld it could be a bit heavy on the arms when used of long periods of time. The speed of the Makita 9403 is 1640 feet per minute and the labyrinth construction seals the motor and bearings to keep them free of dust. A large front grip makes the handle comfortable to hold.
With and 11 AMP motor and electronic speed control, the Makita is considered to be fast and powerful enough to handle industrial and large projects. The product comes with an 80 grit abrasive belt and a dust bag which is attached to collect the debris. The dust bag can swivel 360 degrees for convenient placing. The unique design of the Makita belt sander has an extended base which allows flush sanding against a wall. The sander is also double insulated, with a control lever that makes changing of belts easier. The ceramic wear plate is also replaceable when needed. The cord is located in the upper portion of the handle for easy handling. The Makita belt sander comes with 1 year limited warranty.
- Low noise
- 4” wide belt
- Double insulation
- Extended base
- Cord position
- Labyrinth construction
- Large front grip
- Flush sanding to walls
- Dust bag included
- A bit on the heavy side
2 PORTER-CABLE 352VS 8 Amp 3-Inch-by-21-Inch Variable-Speed Belt Sander with Cloth Dust Bag
The Porter-Cable Belt Sander comes with a variable speed dial from 850 – 1300 SFPM. Power is transferred from the motor to the sanding belt with a belt and gear drive system. There is a manual belt tracking knob and the Porter-Cable sander also has a quick release lever for changing the belt. With this belt sander you can sand vertically due to its design and the 8 Amp motor is placed over platen in order to give it the best balance and performance. The attached dust bag is able to swivel fully for easy use where it is needed.
The size of the Porter-Cable sander is a 3-Inch-by-21-Inch which is an ideal size for home use. It is a great sander for most wood projects that need sanding or cleaning. This power machine is encased in an all metal housing which is durable and the sander keeps the belts centered so you won’t have to keep on re-centering manually. The metal casing is the reason why the belt stays in place due to the dissipation of heat, even when using the sander for a long period of time. The Porter-Cable gear system is said to keep the noise level low. The belt sander comes with a 100g ceramic aluminum oxide belt, the dust bag and is backed by a 3 year limited warranty.
- Metal Casing
- 8 amp motor
- 850 – 1300 SFPM
- Gear system reduces noise
- Aluminum oxide belt
- Dust bag included
- Tracking Knob
- Easy belt change
- Dust bag leaks
3 Hitachi SB8V2 9.0 Amp 3-Inch-by-21-Inch Variable Speed Belt Sander with Trigger Lock and Soft Grip Handles
Hitachi Power Tools are well known for their professional power tools. They have pioneered innovative technologies and provided quality and craftsmanship worldwide. The Hitachi SB8V2 is a belt sander with all the qualities you would expect from a Hitachi power tool. This 9 Amp belt sander has a powerful 1020 Watt motor and a no load speed of 820 – 1475 SFPM. A wear resistant V belt which is featured with this sander is said to last twice as long as standard belt sanders.
The ability to sand in small spaces is improved due to the placement of the dust bag which is located on the left of the main body of this machine. The variable speed control allows you to set the speed according to what is suitable for the job on hand and the clear front cover allows you to view how your work is progressing. An elastomer covered grip on the handles makes the Hitachi belt sander very comfortable to use. Brushes and other accessories for the Hitachi belt sander can be ordered from their website and they are fairly inexpensive. Hitachi have a lot of confidence in their products, they offer a 5 year limited warranty with this belt sander.
- Hitachi SB8V2 9-Amp motor
- Variable speed
- Soft elastomer handles
- Tracking window improves visibility
- Left-side mounted dust bag
- Wear-resistant V-belt drives
- Perfect size for home use
- 5 year warranty
4 Black & Decker DS321 Dragster 7 Amp 3-Inch by 21-Inch Belt Sander with Cloth Dust Bag
The DS321 is a belt sander from Stanley – Black & Decker which is well-known for their quality Tools. This particular model has an innovative front roller that makes it easier to reach into corners. It has a retractable handle which comes with three positions, which makes it easy to control. A dust collector is attached which can be moved out of the way for improved visibility. This is a light belt sander that weighs only 8.2 pounds and it is the perfect size for non-industrial use. The Black & Decker DS321 has a 6.0 Amp motor and is a compact and easy sander especially designed for the do-it-yourself enthusiast.
A belt release lever and adjustment knob are used to change the sandpaper. The knob needs to be tightened to ensure that the belt stays in the correct position. This Black & Decker belt sander comes with a dust bag which can be attached but does not have a vacuum port for those who prefer to use a vacuum cleaner. The Black & Decker DS321 comes with a medium grit sanding belt, the dust back and the Owner’s manual. The DS321 is backed by a 2 year warranty.
- Black and Decker power tool
- Compact and lightweight
- Innovative from roller
- 6 Amp motor
- Variable speed
- Belt release lever
- Adjustment knob
- Dust bag included
- No Vacuum Port.
5 PORTER-CABLE 371K 2 1/2 by 14-Inch Compact Belt Sander Kit
This Porter-Cable 371K model is a compact belt sander measuring 2.5 x 14 inches. The all metal components make this a durable sander which can be used for many professional applications. Recessed switches remain clear of dust and also eliminate the possibility of switching the sander off. The flush side allows for vertical sanding of any surface. The handles or grips have a textured rubber, non-slip surface which is very comfortable to work with.
If you need to use both hands, the auxiliary handle is removable and the cord is out of the way which makes it easy to use 371K in any position. This is an award winning highly efficient belt sander that houses a 120V, 5 Amp motor which delivers a lot of power within a compact and lightweight frame. There is a removable dust port and the Porter-Cable 371K includes an 80-grit belt, a durable carrying case, and an owner’s Manual. The Porter-Cable 371K comes with a 3 year limited warranty.
- Durable all metal construction
- Lightweight and compact
- Recessed switches
- Vertical sanding on any surface
- Textured rubber grips
- Removable auxiliary handle
- Removable dust port
- Carrying case
- 3 year warranty
- Not suitable for large areas
6 Generic Mini 1 x 30 Belt Sander 3400 RPM
The Generic Mini 1 is a small belt sander with a 120 VAC, 60Hz, 3 Amp, 360 Watts power, 1/3 HP with 3400 RPM. It is a mini sander that is 1 x 30 inch in size. If you are looking for a small sander that is inexpensive then the Generic Mini 1 could be the right model for you. This is not the most powerful belt sander but it is adequate for small projects. There is an automatic tracking belt which keeps the belt in place and a dust collection socket if you want to use a vacuum.
The Generic Mini is very lightweight and easy to use. The handle section has a soft grip which makes it comfortable to work with. This portable sander does not come with a carrying case and has a plastic chassis which is not as durable as other makes of belt sanders. It is however very inexpensive and ideal for small one off jobs, an ideal sander for crafts. This unit will require some minor assembly when purchased. The tracking can be manually adjusted so that the belt fits to the centre of the pulley. The Generic Mini comes with a one year limited warranty
- Compact and light
- Highly portable
- Suitable for small crafts
- Automatic carrying belt
- Plastic chassis
7 Black & Decker BR318 3-Inch by 18-Inch Low Profile Belt Sander
This Black & Decker BR318 is a belt sander which is lightweight and comfortable to use, due to the design of the front handle. This belt sander can easily fit into narrow spaces which makes it ideal for detailed crafts. With a narrow and smaller front roller, the BR318 can sand a lot closer to adjoining surfaces. The included dust bag is easy to attach and empty out. The power output with this belt sander is 6.0 Amps and it is fitted with an automatic tracking belt which will keep the belt aligned. This is a small sander that should not be used on wide boards.
The narrow design makes it easier to use in tight spaces and the angled belt lets you sand closer to the surface of the item you are working with. The Black & Decker BR318 has a front and side handle for you to choose from. The dust bag has a zipper access and keeps the work top free from heavy dust. This a reasonably priced Black & Decker tool that could be used for many different projects. If you are looking for a belt sander on the cheaper side, then this model is a quality purchase for the price. The BR318 is backed by a 2 year warranty.
- Compact & Lightweight
- Angled belt
- Narrow design for small spaces
- Front & Side handles
- Dust bag included
- Tracking belt auto
- Value for money
- 2 year warranty
- Not suitable for large surfaces
8 Genesis GBS321A 3-Inch-by-21-Inch Variable Speed Belt Sander with Cloth Dust Bag, Grey
The Genesis GBS321A, is designed for woodworkers and general craftsmen who require a belt sander with consistent good results. The combination of power, flexibility and features is what makes this belt sander so popular. This is a low profile design that you can use to get into small spaces. The belt is easy to change with the single lever provided and the variable speed provides incredible versatility. The side is a flat shape which will let you get into tight and straight work surfaces including vertical sanding. The Genesis GBS321A offers an adjustable front grip that is comfortable.
The Genesis GBS321A has an 8.0 AMP motor with an electronic speed of 390 – 1180 SFPM. The tracking belt is automatic and keeps the belt in place without the need to keep on straightening it. The power cord provided is 6.5 feet long which give you a lot of space to work, especially with large projects. The GBS321A comes with a dust bag which fits onto the unit in order to keep you workspace free from dust. This model is ideal for all types of woodworking and comes with a 2 year warranty.
- Low profile design
- 0 Amp motor
- Electronic speed
- Automatic tracking belt
- Long power cord
- Includes dust bag
- Flat shape for tight spots
- Adjustable front grip
- 2 year warranty
- Dust bag not strong enough
9 Makita 9031 5 Amp 1-1/8-Inch by 21-Inch Variable Speed Belt Sander
The Makita 9031 is a compact lightweight belt sander that allows you to get close to corners and vertical sanding due to its maneuverability. It only weighs in at 4.6 pounds which makes it one of the lightest in this class. The variable speed can be adjusted from 656 – 3280 SFPM which gives you a lot of scope to get the righty speed for the project you are working on. Smooth operation is possible due to the ball and needle bearing construction and the narrow belt and front pulley are perfect for using on irregular surfaces.
The multi position handle on the side makes it easy to operate comfortably and the auto lock keeps the belt in place so you don’t need to interrupt your work to check it all the time. The Makita comes with a dust collector and the ball bearing construction ensures durability of this power tool. The Makita comes with a set of abrasive belts, the dust collector, a 30 day return policy and a one year limited warranty.
- Variable speed
- Ball and needle bearing
- Narrow belt
- Front pulley
- Best on irregular surfaces
- Multi position handle on side
- Auto lock system
- Dust collector included
- Return policy
- Not suitable for large areas
10 Astro 3037 1/2-Inch x 18-Inch Air Belt Sander with Belts
The Astro Pneumatic 3037 is constructed to take the new thicker belts and comes with increased pulley space to accommodate them. A belt tension lever and protection guard are in place to protect the machine and the user. This is a 0.5 x 18 inch belt sander that is suitable for spot weld removal. The motor boasts a powerful 0.5 HP and 16,000rpm, yet it is very light at only 2.2 pounds. A simple belt tension lever allow easy changing of the belt.
The Astro pneumatic has a variable speed control and increased pulley space for thicker belts. This belt sander comes with a few different sizes of sanding belt grits, an owner’s instruction manual and this air belt sander makes sanding woodwork or soft metal an easy task. The Astro Pneumonic is a lightweight, durable and effective sander that comes highly recommended. This is one of the least expensive pneumatic belt sanders available and definitely offers value for money. The Astro pneumatic comes with a 30 day money back guarantee.
- Takes thicker belts
- Pneumonic action
- Belt tension lever
- Protection guard
- Suitable for spot weld
- Variable speed control
- Includes extra belts
- Inexpensive for type
- No safety lock
- No limited warranty