LAST UPDATED: October 14, 2019
Best Belt Sanders: Smooth Out Rough Edges
These top belt sanders are guaranteed to help you even out rough surfaces
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PUBLISHED ON October 14, 2019
Do you spend a lot of time in your garage working on wood, metal, and other projects? If so, you will appreciate the benefits of a belt sander in helping you create the perfect finish. It works the same way as a treadmill, and you only have to move the sanding belt over the surface to even it out. If you are in the market for one, here are a few options you could consider.
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Benefits of a Belt Sander
- Smoothens rough surfaces. A belt sander can smoothen, flatten, and level rough surfaces with minimal effort. When using it, hold it straight, avoid tilting it, and apply minimal pressure.
- Removes unwanted surface residue. If you want to remove paint or some unwanted residue on a surface, use a belt sander. It will remove the residue and make the surface smooth.
- Polishes metal. A handheld belt sander can easily polish metals like brass and aluminum and make surfaces shiny. But if you want a superb finish, you must use fine grit sandpaper.
- Multifunctional. A belt sander can add a finishing touch to wood, metal, and flooring. You can use it for time-consuming tasks such as smoothing corners and removing burrs. You can also use the tool to remove stains from wood, paint from surfaces, and to resurface old furniture.
Types of Belt Sanders
A stationary belt sander is an immovable or semi-permanent sander that's usually installed on a stable base. It sands surfaces using a motorized abrasive belt. It is identical to a handheld belt sander, save for the fact that it stays put and sands everything it comes into contact with. Small stationary belt sanders feature a horizontal band and the pieces being sanded are fed from above. Larger models usually have a table where you can place the item being sanded.
A handheld belt sander has the same basic components of a stationary belt sander: a belt, a motor, a switch, and two drums. You can use it anywhere an extension cord can reach. This type of belt sander is a two-handed tool, so you must ensure the workpiece is secure before you start working. It excels at the rapid removal of wood and is the best handheld power tool for smoothing and leveling rough boards.
Makita Corporation is a popular manufacturer of power tools that was founded more than 100 years ago. Back then, it manufactured and repaired electric motors. It now makes a variety of tools including battery saws, battery-powered screwdrivers, cordless angle grinders, cordless metal shears, and cordless planers. The company is headquartered in Aichi, Japan, and its head office in the U.S. is in La Mirada, California. If you want a quiet belt sander, get the Makita 9403 4"x24" Belt Sander.
WEN was founded by Nick Anton in 1951 and quickly became known for its power tools. The company has been manufacturing high-quality and affordable power tools for many years. It pioneered random orbital technology which is now used in many polishers, buffers, and waxers to give cars a streak-free shine. The company makes everyday tools like electric soldering guns, chainsaws, and knife sharpeners. Its head offices are in Charlotte, North Carolina. We highly recommend the WEN Belt and Disc Sander.
This company has more than 30 years of experience in manufacturing pneumatic tools. Its manufacturing facility is located outside of Portland, Oregon, and its headquarters are in South El Monte, California. The company manufactures a wide range of tools including air sanders, polishers, portable work lights, paint spray guns, and air cutting tools. If you're in the market for an air belt sander, get the Astro Tools 3037 Air Belt Sander.
Belt Sander Pricing
- $40-$100: These belt sanders don’t have a lot of horsepower. Most are not ideal for heavy-duty sanding and are suitable for home workshops.
- $100 and up: Most belt sanders in this price bracket have tilting belts and cast iron bases, and operate quietly. They have compact designs for enhanced portability and some feature auto-tracking belt systems.
Choose a belt sander with more amps, as more amps equals more power. Most belt sanders come with electric motors with an amperage of 4 to 10 amps. The motor power of a belt sander is what differentiates it from other belt sanders. For instance, a 9-amp motor performs much better than a 2.5-amp motor. If you will be using the belt sander on hard surfaces, get one with a high-powered motor so you can easily drive the belt.
Belt sanders come with belts of different sizes. The belt size determines the surface area you can cover while using the sander. The standard belt sander has a 3-inch wide belt (3 x 18-inch or 3 x 21-inch), but you can choose other sizes. A sander with a 3 x 18-inch belt is the lightest and smallest and you can easily use it with one hand. When using a belt sander with a bigger belt (like 4 x 24-inch), you will need some arm strength to operate it safely. However, larger sanders have one major advantage: They can sand wide planks of wood.
While a good belt sander can get the job done, you need one with variable speed settings if you'll be using it for different tasks. Some belt sanders only have one speed while others have different speeds. Single-speed belt sanders have limited usage while those with variable speeds allow you to adjust the speed based on the task. Most of these sanders have a speed range of 500 to 1,500 feet per minute. Some belt sanders have two speed settings—high and low—while others have a button that lets you choose different speeds.
- Dust Collection. A belt sander produces a lot of dust, which is why you must get one with a powerful dust collection system. Look for one with an onboard dust canister or bag, but ensure it is large enough so you don't have to keep emptying it. Some belt sanders have a dust port while others allow you to remove the dust collector and connect your vacuum. These are ideal for people who use their sanders frequently.
- Weight. Weight is an important thing to consider when buying a belt sander because it dictates the ease of use. If you mostly use the sander at a horizontal position, a heavier one is a better option. However, for overhead and vertical sanding, a lighter belt sander is best. Some belt sanders weigh as little as 5 pounds, while some weigh more than 15 pounds. Think of how you plan to use the sander before settling on one.
Best Belt Sander Reviews & Recommendations 2020
There are many things we love about this belt sander. First, it is one of the quietest belt sanders in its category, producing only 84 decibels of sound. Second, its 4 x 24-inch belt makes it an excellent choice for sanding large workpieces. Third, you can use it for long periods without experiencing hand fatigue thanks to its large front handle. Its 360-degree swiveling dust bag also makes it easy to use.
While this is a single-speed sander, you'll barely notice that because its 1,640 feet/minute speed is quick enough to ensure fast material removal. This is a power tool you will use in your workshop for many years. Its labyrinth construction ensures the bearings and motor are protected from contamination. The belt sander only weighs 13 pounds, so you can carry it to different project sites. It is ideal for woodworking, carpentry, floor installation, deck building, furniture making, and general contracting jobs.
Makita provides a one-year warranty with the sander, something we really like. The tool combines power and speed for fast and efficient removal of materials from different surfaces.
However, it does have a few downsides. It tends to leave grooves on the material, and even changing the belt may not work. This negative feature makes it unsuitable for interior finishing work. Its dust collection bag is also very small.
This is one of the most affordable belt sanders on the market, and it offers great value for the money. You will also love how compact it is. It only weighs six pounds and is one of the lightest belt sanders you will ever come across. Its 7.0-amp motor might not be very powerful, but it spins the belt at 820feet/minute, which is a good speed for normal sanding projects.
This WEN belt sander comes with a detachable dust collection bag for easy cleanup. Its front roller extends past the top edge, allowing it to easily access and sand tight corners. The lock-in safety feature allows you to sand continuously without constantly gripping the trigger. You can easily replace the belt as you don't need any tools for the task.
This belt sander comes with a two-year warranty, so you don't have to worry about its quality. WEN’s skilled technicians are always ready to help should you have any problem using it.
However, it's worth noting that the tool is not suitable for intense use. When you use it continuously for a long period, it may start to overheat.
If you're looking for a sander you can use in your workshop for simple sanding projects, it's the BLACK+DECKER DS321. It is compact and lightweight and only weighs 8.2 pounds. Its 7.0-amp motor moves the belt at a speed of 800 feet/minute. The flush design of the sander allows you to sand vertical surfaces with ease.
This affordable belt sander has an innovative design you will love. Its front roller makes it easy for you to sand even the tightest corners. It also features an efficient dust collector that will keep your work area clean and help improve visibility. The retractable three-position handle allows you to work on different sanding projects comfortably.
The BLACK+DECKER DS321 features a low-profile design and has extended reach for maximum functionality. It also comes with a medium grit sanding belt.
However, its single speed greatly limits its usage. Its dust collector also stops collecting dust after a short while. What’s more, the power tool is not very durable.
If you want a two-in-one unit—a belt and disc sander—this is the right tool for the job. It has a 4 x 24-inch belt and a 6 x 6-inch disc. You can use it to sand vertical and horizontal surfaces as it can easily tilt from 0 to 90 degrees. Its 4.3-amp motor delivers up to 3600 RPM. The tension-release lever allows you to easily change sandpaper grits.
This power tool is built to last and has a cast iron base. It is equipped with a miter gauge that helps maintain consistency when you're sanding at an angle. It also has a stop bar for enhanced safety. It is a great tool for the hobbyist and the DIY enthusiast. The sander can easily sand, smoothen, and remove all the splinters and jagged pieces on your wood and lumber. You will also like how easy it is to change the belt.
However, some users have complained that the belt and disc sander cannot handle a lot of pressure and stops rotating when sanding larger pieces. But if you stick to smaller pieces, this shouldn't be a problem. Other users have also complained that the disc sander isn’t stable.
If you're looking for a great sander that can tackle both small and big jobs, this may just be it. It is fast, efficient, and versatile and is ideal for woodworkers, carpenters, and floor installers. You may also want to get it if you’re a general contractor. It's a powerful machine that features a 3 x 21-inch belt and an adjustable front handle.
The Genesis sander has a low-profile design for user comfort. Its flat side allows you to easily access tight spots. Its auto-tracking system tracks the belt, ensuring you don't have to adjust it every now and then. The machine has an 8-amp motor that rotates the belt at a speed of 390-1,180 feet/minute.
The sander’s dust collection system makes it easy for you to keep your workspace clean. You will also have an easier time working on larger projects, courtesy of its 6.5-foot power cord.
But after a short while, the belt sander part may become loose and start producing an irritating noise. The machine may also overheat if you use it continuously. In addition, the dust bag isn’t attached well and easily falls apart. You’ll have to reinforce it before you start using the tool.
This is one of the most feature-rich belt sanders on the market. It has all the features we expect from an entry-level portable sander. It is ideal for both beginners in woodworking and experienced woodworkers who are looking for an affordable model.
The sander is designed for comfort, and its two rubberized handles allow you to grip it and guide it along the work piece. It weighs a little less than eight pounds and is very stable. A five-amp motor with impressive torque provides great power to the surface and creates a high-quality finish.
This TACKLIFE belt sander has a variable-speed knob with six dials. The belt's speed ranges between 0 and 560 RPM. You can easily change the speed to fit the material you're working on. The belt sander comes with 13 sanding belts, two vacuum adapters, two screw clamps, and a user manual. Its efficient dust-collection system gathers 90 percent of the dust, keeping the work area tidy. TACKLIFE offers two years of customer support for this product.
The simple design of this belt sander decreases user fatigue. Its new and improved handle offers a good grip. The two clamps allow you to fix it on a table in a vertical or horizontal position.
But it has a few features we don't like. It is not ideal for heavy-duty sanding and may stop working if you use it for big projects. The belts the manufacturer provides track off-center very easily and may start chewing through the base.
This well-built belt sander offers a lot of sanding power thanks to its 8.8-amp motor. Its variable-speed control dial increases its functionality. It can remove a lot of material in a short time and deliver a smooth finish to surfaces. If you're familiar with Makita power tools, you won't be surprised by how well the 9903 belt sander is constructed. It is designed to withstand continuous use in a workshop environment.
The design of this belt sander is similar to that of the Makita 9403. However, unlike the other model, it has different speeds: 690-1,440 feet/minute. It only weighs 9.5 pounds and is stable without compromising maneuverability. It comes with an extra-long power cord that measures 16.4 feet. You will have enough room to work and won't have to worry about the cord getting caught in the sander. You will love how quiet this belt sander is; it only produces 84 decibels of sound.
You can use this sander to remove paint or rust from surfaces. Use the lowest speed for the more delicate tasks. You’ll also like the auto-tracking feature that allows you to adjust the belt as you work.
However, we don't like the dust collection bag as it's not very efficient. Some dust may collect at the bottom of the work piece. The motor may also stop working after a few months of use.
This powerful belt sander was originally called the Hitachi HPT SB8V2. But Metabo, the German manufacturer of handheld power tools, took over Hitachi’s power tools division and changed the sander's name to Metabo HPT SB8V2. So, this is the same great tool, it just has a new name. Metabo decided not to tinker with its innovative design or the specs, and we are thankful for that. The power tool weighs nine pounds and has a nine-amp motor. For a machine its size, it delivers a lot of torque.
This variable-speed sander can go from 820 to 1475 feet/minute to handle different sanding jobs. Its speed control dial is excellently positioned. It's located on the main handle so you can quickly adjust the speed as you work. The lock-on button is also positioned on the handle. It allows you to lock the speed you want for repetitive tasks. The sander has a clear plastic cover at the front that allows you to easily see the position of the belt.
This power tool has one of the best drive belt systems on the market. It features Hitachi's V-belt and pulley design and is highly resistant to wear and tear.
However, it has a tendency to shred belts. Its housing is also made of plastic (partially) and not aluminum like it appears. Additionally, it doesn't come with a storage bag.
While a belt sander and a disc sander can be purchased separately, JET combined them in this two-in-one sander. The belt sander allows you to flatten surfaces, smooth curves, and shape contours, while the disc sander handles precision edge work. A bench sander is usually a fixed tool, but this one doesn't have to be a permanent fixture. Its platen can be easily removed to create a portable belt sander ideal for smaller sanding projects.
The sander is powered by a 3/4-HP motor and has a deluxe miter gauge that locks at 45 degrees on the left and right. Its sturdy steel base and rubber feet boost its durability. Its abrasive belt quickly removes materials and finishes, allowing you to easily access small openings and sand workpieces with odd shapes and angles.
You can use this machine for grinding, sanding, or finishing the outer curves of workpieces— even odd-shaped ones. Its adjustable dust collector quickly collects any dust or residue. The sander delivers a superior finish every time.
But it has a few shortcomings. You may have difficulty connecting the attachable work surfaces. Its motor also gets worn out fast and ceases to function at full speed.
- Safety comes first when using any power tool, including a belt sander. Wear protective gear to cover your eyes, nose, and ears when working. Sanded material may cause discomfort if inhaled or if it gets in your eyes.
- Unplug the device before you change the sanding belt or empty the dust collector to avoid getting electrocuted or blowing dust all over the room. Also, ensure that it’s switched off before you plug it into an electric outlet.
- Always keep the belt sander moving and lift it from the surface when you are done with that section. Leaving it on one spot may create a slight dent in the material.
- Do not shift from working on wood to the metal without emptying the dust collection bag. Sanding metal can create sparks, which may ignite the sawdust in the bag.
Q: Is a belt sander difficult to use?
A: A belt sander is like a portable conveyor belt that you can move over surfaces to get the finish you want. It’s not that difficult to master as long as you are familiar with the safety precautions you should take when using one. The sandpaper on the belt typically moves in one direction, and all you have to do is to make sure that you follow the grain of the wood to create an even surface.
Q: Is a belt sander better than an orbital sander?
A: They are more like complementary tools than substitutes for the other. They both use sandpaper to even out surfaces, but you’d have to first use a belt sander to get rid of the rough edges, since it’s more aggressive. It strips off the wood and coating material, including paint. After that, you can then use an orbital sander to add a touch of finesse to your work.
Q: Can you sand a concrete floor with a belt sander?
A: You would need a high-powered belt sander with a very firm sandpaper belt to smooth concrete. The sandpaper should have a high grit count (about 400 grits) to get the smoothest finish and remove imperfections of the floor. If there are major imperfections on the concrete, consider using a specialized concrete floor grinder to make your job easier.
If you are looking for one of the best belt sanders, we recommend the Makita belt Sander. It can get to tight spots and is highly maneuverable, even in close quarters. It’s also easy and comfortable to use.
A more budget-friendly option is the WEN Corded Belt Sander.