Reviews

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.

Disc Sander Close Up
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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

Disc Sander

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. 

Disc/Belt Combination

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. 

Top Brands

Makita

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

DeWalt

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.

Wen Tools: 

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. 

Jet Tools

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.

Key Features

Speed/Power

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. 

Disc Size

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. 

Quality Design

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. 

Other Considerations

  • 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

Best Overall
WEN 6502T 4.3-Amp Belt and Disc Sander

If you’re looking for an affordable sander that provides excellent performance for light-duty jobs, this is the tool for you. It has both a disc sander and a belt sander, which makes the already desirable price point even sweeter. The 6-inch disc is perfect for shaping and smoothing edges, and the 4-inch-wide belt is there to perform the jobs that it can’t. This sander also features a super-sturdy cast iron base that limits safety issues by keeping the sander in place while you work. As for the guts, it’s got a 4.3-amp motor that can turn the disc at 3,600 RPM. That helps to make quick work of any project you’re likely to perform in a home shop.


Overall, this tool is excellent for the price. But you need to bear in mind that it’s not an industrial-grade piece of machinery. Performance is enough for the average hobbyist but not for professional settings. 

Best Value
Makita 5-Inch Disc Sander

If you’re a more budget-conscious consumer, you may be concerned about sacrificing quality for cost, but the Makita 5-Inch Disc Sander seamlessly combines both to offer you a top-quality product that outperforms some more expensive models on the market. This disc sander comes with a surprisingly powerful 3.9-amp motor that gives you up to 5,000 RPMs for quick and efficient sanding and smoothing. It also boasts a very respectable 440-watt input rating.


This version has been redesigned to be lighter, weighing only 2.6 pounds, so as to decrease fatigue during use. A newly designed soft grip is more ergonomic and easier to control than previous models. The sander works best when held at a 15-degree angle, and as such, it may not be the best option for sanding large areas of flat boards or wood.


Thanks to its speed and power, it’s a great option for smaller jobs, but be careful using it on softwoods, as it can easily gouge or leave troughs if you’re too heavy-handed with it. It also doesn’t have variable speeds, but it’s still a powerful and reliable sander at an excellent price point.

Premium Pick
Jet J-41002 Bench Belt and 8-Inch Disc Sander

Since we’re talking about a tool that exists within an industrial space, our premium pick has an industrial-size price tag. That’s part of what makes this such an attractive option. The price is much less than what you could spend on something of this quality. It’s also three times smaller than many sanders, making it the perfect size for many shop owners. That said, it’s got a lot of bite to match the bark. This sander is powered by a 3/4-horsepower motor and operates at speeds up to 3,450 RPM. It also features a built-in belt sander to tackle the jobs that a disc just can’t chew into. Of course, it’s all packaged on a super-sturdy cast iron base that ensures it stays put as you work. And as the price tag might entail, high-quality components are included in every corner. 


Unfortunately, some users indicate that the motor can run into some problems. But excellent customer support and its overall quality ensure it’s the tool you’ll only need to invest in once. 

Best Compact
DeWalt Rotary Sander

The DeWalt Rotary Sander is a great middle-of-the-road option that’s also offered at a refreshingly low price point. It has a powerful 6-amp motor that delivers up to 3,700 RPMs. Unlike some bargain-priced sanders, this disc sander also comes with a variable speed trigger, giving you more control and versatility for different types of sanding projects. We also like that it can connect to a vacuum to suck dust and debris out of the air, leaving you with a cleaner work environment.


At 4.81 pounds, it’s not the lightest sander on the market, but it’s certainly not the heaviest either. It has a well-placed mid-handle design with a soft grip and a side handle for easy use that cuts down on the fatigue experienced with some other models. 


One thing to note is that at slower speeds, the sander tends to vibrate and jump around a lot. Most users recommend using it at full throttle for a fast and easy-to-control sanding experience.

Honorable Mention
BuckTool Bench Belt and Disc Sander

Big projects often need big tools, but this is not always the case. If you are working with bigger workpieces but need something that will still fit on the top of a workbench, this is the disc sander to consider. It features an 8-inch disc that allows you to work on larger surfaces and is paired with a 4-inch wide belt sander to complement its efforts. That said, a 3/4-horsepower motor is the heart of the whole thing and can turn that disc at speeds of 1,725 RPM and the belt at speeds of 3,450 RPM. In short, you shouldn’t have much trouble with spending time sanding with this tool. Furthermore, its robust construction and easy-to-use layout cement it as a quality tool worthy of the price tag. 

 

There’s not much to complain about with this sander other than its dust management system. Even with everything hooked up correctly, it produces a lot of debris. Being mindful enough to wear proper PPE is essential to safely operate it.

Honorable Mention
Metabo HPT 7-Inch Disc Sander/Polisher

This handheld disc sander and polisher is versatile enough to tackle a wide variety of home projects. You can sand both metallic and wood surfaces in preparation for painting or finishing them for a polished look. You can remove old paint and rust. Use it to make joints flush. It has a heat-resistant bearing chamber and iron ball bearings to increase its durability. You can use the three electronically controlled speeds that give you a soft start, constant speed, and two-way variable speed. What’s nice is that there’s a trigger and dial for speed adjustment. Users will appreciate how lightweight and low profile this sander is. 


One drawback of this sander is that the handle is permanently mounted over the machine. This can be more awkward to use than a handle that you can adjust from one side to the other.

Honorable Mention
SKIL 3376-01 Belt/Disc Sander

Do more with your sander with this combination belt and disc sander. You can adjust the belt angle between zero and 90 degrees. The beveling table top adjusts between 45 and 90 degrees. An adjustable tension spring ensures secure belt tracking. It also has a miter gauge for sanding miter angles. A nice feature is the dust port that you can attach a vacuum hose to it, making it easy to keep your workspace clean. It also has pre-drilled holes for fast and easy mounting on your bench top. A must-have feature included is a safety switch for immediate shutoff. 


The drawback of this sander is that it’s less portable than other disc sanders. It’s designed to sit on your work bench instead of being held while using it. This means you can’t put a polishing pad on it and use it on your car or other metal.

 

Honorable Mention
Tacklife 5-Inch Random Orbit Sander

For those of us who like options, the Tacklife 5-Inch Random Orbit Sander delivers. It offers six adjustable speed dials with a 3-amp, 13,000 OPM motor. That’s pretty amazing, especially considering its ultra-low price tag. This sander is super compact, making it a great option for smaller jobs or working in tight spaces. It’s suitable for working not only with wood, but also metal, plastic, and even some ceramics.


That being said, this sander is really geared toward smaller indoor jobs. You wouldn’t want to sand the entire side of a house with this little guy, that’s for sure. In fact, using it for wall sanding will block up the dust collector in a nanosecond and only lead to frustration on your part. Being a palm sander, it features a different handhold than a lot of other models, but it is still ergonomic and easy to control, even for smaller hands. Overall, this little sander gets a lot of love from online reviewers who are more than satisfied with its reliable performance, not to mention its super low price.

Honorable Mention
DeWalt 20V Max Orbital Sander

Another great option if you’re looking for a super lightweight palm sander that packs a surprising punch is the DeWalt 20V Max Orbital Sander. The brushless motor is quiet and efficient and gives you 8-12,000 OPMs with a variable speed control. This versatility is appreciated by people who do a lot of varied projects using different materials and different sizes. It’s really not the best option for larger jobs, however. It also features a low-profile height that allows you to get a little closer to your work surface for greater precision. This model is equipped with a texturized rubber overmold grip that’s designed to be more comfortable and user-friendly than previous ones.


As with some other disc sanders, this one is capable of attaching to an external dust collector, which is unfortunately sold separately. If you want to attach it directly to your vacuum, it requires purchasing a universal quick connect adapter, also sold separately. One major gripe among users is the short battery life that this sander seems to have. Consider purchasing a second battery so that you don’t get stuck in the middle of a project and have to wait until your battery is sufficiently recharged.

Honorable Mention
Porter-Cable Belt with 8

If you need a powerful, heavy-duty sander that can sand a variety of materials in a wide array of positions, the Porter-Cable Belt with 8” Disc Bench Sander deserves some serious consideration. It’s equipped with a 3/4 HP induction motor that can easily handle small and large sanding jobs. It also features a heavy and stable cast iron base that helps reduce annoying vibrations and keeps the sander stable while in use. This unit comes equipped with separate aluminum tables for the sanding disc and the belt, each with a miter gauge.


Weighing in at over 50 pounds, this sander is meant to be a permanent fixture in your workshop. It does get some hate for sometimes arriving with warped or wobbly sanding discs, so be sure to check yours immediately upon arrival in case you need to get a refund or replacement. Another complaint is that it can be difficult to move the belt between the horizontal and vertical positions, but this is hardly a deal breaker. It just takes some extra elbow grease.

Tips

  • 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

FAQs

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. 

Final Thoughts

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.