Best Belt Sanders: Smooth Out Rough Edges
These top belt sanders are guaranteed to help you even out rough surfaces
The Drive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Read more.
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.
Why Trust Us
All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, or practical experience with most products we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
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
- 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.