Best Disc Sanders: Smooth Out Your Work
Get perfectly smooth and finished edges with these great disc sanders.
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BY Andra DelMonico / LAST UPDATED ON June 16, 2021
If you’re an avid woodworker, or even a novice, you know what a pain it can be to try to get a clean and smooth edge or surface, especially if you’re sanding by hand. This is where a compact and reliable disc sander can be a game changer. You can achieve a uniform and super smooth finish in minutes without giving yourself carpal tunnel syndrome or tennis elbow.
Not just for wood surfaces, a disc sander can be a handy tool to use on metal, tile, certain heavy-duty plastics, and more. The best part? You can get a durable and high-quality disc sander for a really reasonable price.
If you’re in the market for a new disc sander, let our in-depth product review and informative buying guide teach you all you need to know so that you can be sure to pick out the one that will best suit your needs.
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Benefits of Disc Sanders
- Smooth rough cuts. Disc sanders do a great job at smoothing rough cuts on thin or small objects. With some modification, they can even work on bigger workpieces.
- Speed things up. The primary objective of a sanding table is speeding up the process of hands-on jobs. Pieces that are too small for power tools benefit the most from these stationary sanding tools.
- Versatility. Disc sanders can be used for shaping and smoothing a variety of materials. That factor makes them a desirable tool for any shop owner.
Types of Disc Sanders
A dedicated disc sander is typically a benchtop tool that features a singular disc for smoothing cuts. Featuring only a single sanding disc offers several benefits. For one, it reduces the price quite a bit in many instances, which is something budget-minded folks are going to adore. These units also take up a lot less space on the workbench, which can be another major consideration. And because there’s only the disc, you might find that a larger disc may be present. That’s not always the case, but it certainly is a possibility.
Most offerings on the market are a combination of a belt sander and a disc sander. The inclusion of an additional tool can drive up the price but is well worth the money. After all, these two types of sanders complement one another in the working process. As for the room they take up, they tend to be larger than a dedicated disc sander. They are always going to take up more space on a workbench, and in some cases, they can be a station in themselves that takes up a portion of the shop floor.
Founded in 1915, the Makita Corporation got its start as an electric motor and repair company. Today it has 10 factories operating in eight countries, with a brand presence in more than 40 countries. It was also responsible for introducing the first brushless motor fastening tools. One of its top products is the Makita 4” x 24” Belt Sander.
The DeWalt Products Company dates back to the 1920s when Raymond DeWalt perfected the very first woodworking machine that would revolutionize an industry. The company further rocked the industry by introducing the first set of cordless power tools in 1994. The 12V Max 3/8-inch Cordless Drill/Driver Kit continues to be one of its top-selling products.
With experience dating back to 1951, Wen is a recognizable brand to workers of all statuses. It's headquartered in Elgin, Ill., and is associated with developing affordable tools with decent quality. It's that balance that places the WEN 6502T 4.3-Amp Belt and Disc Sander on the top of our list.
Here we have another manufacturer's pros, and the serious hobbyists will recognize. Since 1958, Jet has been at the forefront of developing high-quality machinery. It's headquartered in La Vergne, Tenn., and is a go-to brand for ambitious woodworkers and fabricators. The Jet J-41002 Bench Belt and 8-Inch Disc Sander is only a taste of what it's capable of.
Disc Sanders Pricing
- $100-$150: Entry-level sanders appear in this price range. These machines are best suited for light use by hobbyists in home shops.
- $150-$200: As the price increases to this range, more capable machines will appear. Some may have what it takes to perform in professional shops, but most are best for use in home shops.
- $200 and up: Anything above $200 is usually designed to work in a professional setting. The higher the price goes, the more capable the machines will be in strenuous environments.
Speed and power are two determining factors of how the device will operate. The motor's power output is directly linked to the rate it can turn the disc freely and underload. How much power you need depends on the kind of work you are doing and how much patience you have. Lighter-use can get away with lower output. However, heavy use and more rigid materials generally warrant more power and speed.
The size of the disc is nothing to overlook. The size of the disc impacts the tool's overall length, and if space is limited, it's something to be considerate of. It's also worth paying attention to because it determines the size of the workpieces you can use it for. What size is best for you depends on the work you are doing. But keep in mind that a larger wheel can be useful for small pieces, but a smaller wheel will have trouble with big workpieces.
The quality of the design is critical to tool performance and tool life. As you know, the overall quality does go beyond the motor and other significant components. Consider the construction of the base, operation of the table if it is adjustable, and so on. You don't want to invest in anything that features flimsy parts as they are liable to come apart during use or impede your working process.
- Metal Construction. If possible, seek tools with an all-metal construction or that use as much metal as possible. While plastics have come a long way, it is still hard to top metal when it comes to rigidity and lifespan. This characteristic is going to dramatically influence the price point but works to ensure you have the sander for a lifetime.
- Stable Base. You must always make sure the sander you’re considering has the stability to keep it in place as you work. After all, this characteristic not only ensures you’ll have a pleasant working experience but can save your fingers from the business end of the tool. Balance this with the work you intend to perform and where you will locate the machine.
- Tilt Feature. A tilt feature gives you the ability to perform angular sanding. In doing so, you can smooth and finish pieces with total control. You do have the opportunity to grind pieces away from the titling surface on the tool. But, keep in mind that doing so lacks control for sanding with precision and doing so safely.
- Built-in Belt Sander. If you’re springing the money for a disc sander, you might as well consider one that features a built-in belt sander. These tools often go hand-in-hand when finishing and shaping workpieces. Buying both at once simply saves you from making a separate investment down the road and can even bring down the overall investment.
Best Disc Sanders Reviews & Recommendations 2021
- When sanding soft materials, it’s good practice to clean clogs in the disc whenever possible. Doing so extends the life of the sanding disc.
- If your sander has a dust port, put it to use. This is the best way to keep the shop clean and the air breathable.
- Because a disc sander typically spins counter-clockwise, you want to stick to sand on the left side so that dust can collect in the dust ports if it turns clockwise, sand on the right side.
- You can fabricate your table extensions to allow you to work on bigger pieces. Just be mindful of how big your extensions are to prevent throwing the tool off balance.
- Even though they may function as one in given circumstances, disc sanders aren’t grinders. If a lot of grinding is on the agenda, consider investing in bench grinders and angle grinders.
Q: Which is better: a belt sander or orbital sander?
A: The answer to this question really depends on what your intended use for the sander is. A belt sander is great for removing a lot of material quickly — think stripping paint and varnish from boards. An orbital sander, on the other hand, is better for larger surfaces that have a small amount of material that needs to be removed.
Q: What's the best sander for wood?
A: Several different sanders are all great at wood, but again, it depends on the job you’re doing. A disc sander is intended to smooth, shape, and finish edges and smaller items, while an orbital sander is best for sanding and finishing larger surface areas.
Q: What do you use a sander for?
A: A sander is used to smooth and shape a surface. It can also be used to remove damaged or old paint, varnish, and other materials to restore the original finish of an item. Different materials and surfaces warrant the use of varying sanding machines, which is why so many different types are available.
Q: How do you use a disc sander safely?
A: Always sand on the side that is rotating down, be mindful of finger placement, brace the workpiece on the tool, and always wear safety glasses and a mask to filter small particles and debris that can enter your lungs and sinuses.
We favor the WEN 6502T 4.3-Amp Belt and Disc Sander because we see it serving most of our readers well. It’s affordable, offers decent performance, and has a built-in belt sander. We also love the Makita 5-Inch Disc Sander for being a compact and powerful sander that’s offered at a refreshingly low price point. Do you have a brand or model of disc sander that you just can’t live without? Hit us up in the comments and let us know what it is and why you love it.