A belt sander is one of the most useful power tools for a woodworker. Sanding is known as the most uninteresting part of woodworking as it takes too much time and it is boring at times.
But having the right tool like the belt sanders will make the entire job easier. Belt sanders are tools that are specially designed to make sanding quick and easy. No matter what the sanding surface is, this tool will assist you in smoothing and preparing it for the next procedure.
To help you pick the right tool, here’s a list of the best belt sander and buyers guide.
Best Belt Sanders of 2019
Here are the top portable belt sanders you can get now.
1. Best Overall: Makita 9403
Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
The Makita 9403 has a 4-inch by 24-inch belt making it ideal for sanding big space. Further, it’s a single belt sander but its 1640feet/minute speed guarantees fast material removal.
This belt sander is one of the fastest devices in this list. Another reason why you should opt for this sander is that it has only a sound rating of 84 decibels which is quieter compared to other models.
Due to the device’s robust construction which protects and seals the bearings and the motor, you can use the Makita 9403 in your workshop for a couple of years.
This belt sander has also a big front handle which makes sanding more comfortable. Its 360-degrees rotating dust bag actually makes the entire operation more convenient as well.
Despite the fact that the Makita 9403 looks like Makita 9903 which we will be reviewing, later on, the latter’s adjustable speed sets them apart. What’s more, the Makita 9403 produces more speed compared to the maximum you’ll get from 9903.
- Large front and comfortable grip
- Quiet operation
- Labyrinth structure
- Long and wide belt size
- 360-degree rotating dust bag
- Powerful motor
- It has bearing and motor protection
- Lengthy power cord
- It is quite costly
- Only comes with a single speed
- It feels a bit heavy after prolonged use.
Makita 9403 vs 9404
The Makita 9404 is newer version and many people have asked to compare this with the very popular 9403 model. The main difference between the two are, the newer Makita 9404 is a compact model with variable speed. However, it lacks power and speed when compared to 9403.
Here is a quick comparison chart.
|Makita 9403||Makita 9404|
|Speed||Single Speed:1640 ft./min||Variable Speed 690 -1440 ft./min.|
|Motor||11 AMPS||8.8 AMPS|
|Dust Bag||Yes. 360° rotatable.||Yes. Fixed position.|
|Weight||12.6 lbs.||10.3 lbs.|
|Price||See the Price||Check on Amazon|
2. Best Sander with Variable Speed: Makita 9903
The Makita 9903 is the best sander with variable speed in this list. This efficient and versatile belt sander which goes on an 8.8amps motor is suitable for almost all woodworking projects.
The Makita 9903 makes use of electronic speed control which allows the device to keep a stable speed below load. In addition to that, 9903 has a quite extensive speed range.
However, this device sports a low profile design which offers it a greater balance as well as a lengthy base design which makes it conceivable to sand even to walls. For a comfy maneuver, Makita integrates a big front grip in this model.
The Makita 9903 is also very easy to use. And in fact, you can track the belt without making any adjustment in order to boost the sander’s accuracy thanks to its automatic-tracking belt system.
Nevertheless, this belt sander from Makita that has variable settings is great for deck builders, general contractors, carpenters, and woodworkers.
- Low profile design
- Variable speed settings
- Big front grip
- Easy and comfortable to use
- Automatic-tracking belt system
- Works with various types of materials
- Extensive speed range
- Short warranty
Buy the Makita 9903 and get a decent orbital sander to finish your woodworking projects.
3. Best Belt Sander for the Money: PORTER-CABLE 352VS
Due to its all-metal and durable design, the Porter-Cable 352VS is known as one of the most distinct belt sanders on the market.
Since the device is constructed using metal it’s protected from any element that may possibly cause damage.
The Porter-Cable 352VS has various features which add to its accuracy and versatility for various sanding projects. The 8 amperes motor of this belt sander is specially made for industrial sanding. Having that said, you can still use the 352VS for more complicated projects like on cabinets. What’s more, it sand flushes to a vertical surface.
This belt sander has an adjustable speed dial which allows you to pick a speed between 850SFPM and 1300SFPM conveniently. Actually, this feature will help you find the right speed that suits the project you’re doing with ease. The Porter-Cable 352VS is easy to use as well.
- Easy to use
- Adjustable speed dial
- Powerful motor
- 360-degree rotating and spacious dust bag
- Great for industrial sanding
- All-metal and durable belt sander
- There’s an issue with the cord placement
- Not ideal for heavy users
4. Best Budget Sander: WEN 6321
The WEN 6321 is the most affordable belt sander in this. But apart from being affordable, this device has a lot more to offer.
WEN 6321 is a compact as well as a lightweight belt sander, in fact, it only weighs six pounds. And while its 7 amperes motor isn’t as powerful as expensive models, WEN 6321 turns the belt at 820 feet/minute making it suitable for regular sandpapering or sanding projects.
With this belt sander, you will also sand and access tight corners since its façade roller can be extended up to the top edge.
Furthermore, this unit comes with a lock-in safety component which makes incessant sanding conceivable without the requisite for a continuous hold on the trigger.
Nevertheless, the WEN 6321 comes with a roomy dust bag thus you are certain that your workshop and projects are clean.
- It has a compact and lightweight design
- Lock-in security feature
- Roomy dust bag
- Smooth finishing
- Limiting fatigue
- Backed with two years warranty
- Great for DIY projects
- The motor isn’t as powerful as expensive devices.
- Not suitable for heavy-duty applications
5. Best Belt Sander for Knife Making: Grizzly H6070
This belt and disc sander combo is ideal for people who want to try knife making. The Grizzly H6070 has an excellent 1/3 hp motor that is run at a single level 3450 rpm/m at 100V.
Furthermore, it comes with a tracking adjuster as well as a direct drive. This belt sander for knife making has dual 1.75” dust ports.
Additionally, this device is versatile, in fact, it also performs complicated part sanding, contour sanding, and dry sharpening.
All in all, the Grizzly H6070 is a portable and convenient belt and disc combination sander .
- Decent motor
- Great for knife making
- It comes with a compact frame
- Its belt sanding table can be tilted
- Some of its parts are made of plastic that may possibly damage when pushed too hard.
6. Best Belt Sander for Knife Sharpening: Work Sharp Knife & Tool Sharpener
Aside from sanding surfaces and removing old paint, this mini belt sander specifically designed for sharpening knives and other tools like shovels and axes.
The Central Machinery Belt Sander has a 120VAC / 0.14 amp motor with fixed speed which turns its 1/2-inch by 12-inch belt. The power tool comes with sharpening guides with different angles; the 40° guide for Kitchen Knife, 50° guide for outdoor knives etc.
Despite its small size, this device can prove big performance and it is very versatile. So if you are looking for a sander that you can use to hone your knives then this is for you.
- Comes with a decent motor
- Guides with different angles (40°, 50° and 65°)
- Great for sharpening different types of tools
- Ideal for hunters and carpenters
- The mini belt sander may not be sufficient to sharpen large blades.
- No variable speed.
- For heavy duty work, the hardware aren’t enough so you’ll need to upgrade them.
7. Best Belt Sander for Woodworking: Black and Decker DS321
This belt sander is great for do-it-yourself sanding. When it comes to sanding down cabinet doors or cupboard edges, the Black and Decker DS321 surely gets the work done.
This devices comes with a 7amp motor and has impressive design features. Its adjustable handle will let you reach tight spaces easily. In addition to that, its flush build design will allow you sand in vertical surfaces and corners effortlessly.
On the other hand, controlling this belt sander is pretty as well thanks to its handle that is made of plastic.
The Black and Decker DS321 comes with an operator’s manual, a dust bag, and a one-hundred grit sanding belt.
With this tool, changing or replacing the belts is easy and at the same time, owing to its fast release button.
Weighing only six pounds, the Black and Decker DS321 is great for sanding overhead and vertical surfaces without leading to too much worker fatigue.
Nevertheless, if you’re looking for belt sander for woodworking that is accessible at an affordable price tag the Black and Decker DS321 can be a great option.
- Flush build design
- Comes with adjustable and comfortable handle
- Changing or replacing belts is easy
- Retractable casing
- Ideal for smaller projects
- Low powered
- Doesn’t come with variable speed settings
- You need to adjust it quite frequently according to some users.
* Update: Reviews updated for 2020
Belt Sander Buyer’s Guide
Choosing the best sanders can be very challenging especially if you don’t have any idea what to look for. Though product reviews may offer you an overview of how certain item functions, it’s still crucial to be aware of the important specifications or features that the best and reliable belt sander must possess.
But first, let’s see the types of belt sanders.
What Are The Different Types of Belt Sanders?
This is a semi-permanent or immovable belt sander that is installed on a durable and stable base. Stationary belt sanders are heavyweight and usually, they are utilized of movable materials. Generally, this type of belt sander is clamped workbenches.
This type of belt sander is very portable. Unlike stationary belt sanders, a handheld sander is best utilized for materials that can’t be moved. Since it is highly portable, you can use it on fixed surfaces without any trouble. Plus, it is light in weight.
Typically, a handheld belt sander is powered using electricity thru a power cable plugged to an outlet. But, some handheld belt sanders have cordless designs. And usually, they’re powered with rechargeable batteries.
While a stationary belt sander is a useful machine for any woodworking shop, a handheld portable belt sander is the power tool you need for most of your work.
Things to Look for When Buying a Belt Sander
So let’s see the key features you need look for when buying a new belt sander.
More amps mean more power: When it comes to tools, this is what most people always think. And belt sanders are no different.
A belt sander may come with an electric motor that runs between four to 10 amps. If you are working on hard surfaces, obviously you’ll need a motor that has more power so that you will able to drive the scrape belt.
On the other hand, if you’re working with softer and small jobs, you can opt for a belt sander that has 4 to 6 amperes of power. However, if sanding is part of your day-to-day then investing in a belt sander that has a power of more than 10 amperes makes sense.
Though powerful belt sanders may get the work done, you can still add more power by selecting the speed that suits the job you’re currently doing. Having that said, it is a good idea to choose a belt sander that has adjustable speed settings so that you’ll be able to transform it to a tool that is great for delicate finishes or strong belt sander.
Width and Length of the Sanding Platform
The sanding platform’s width and length are just two of the essential considerations when choosing the best product. The longer and wider the belt, the quicker you might finish a job because you will just need a shorter sanding pass.
But, if you are doing a project that needs greater precision, opt for a model that has a shorter and narrower belt instead of one that’s longer and wider.
As we all know, dust is known as a natural side effect of sanding wood and other materials. Dust may get into your eyes or can be breathed in. For this reason, it is highly recommended that you choose a belt sander that is capable of extracting dust.
Maximum Comfort and Control
Belt sanders must-have components which let you optimum control as you slide the tool through the surface you are working on. In fact, this is where the handle becomes useful.
When buying a belt sander make sure to consider the handle. Look for a handle that has a maximum fit and grip. For sure, you don’t want to develop calluses on your hands after finishing a project.
When buying a power tool, one of the most important factors that must be taken into consideration is the weight. For belt sanders, it’s an essential factor as well since it identifies the convenience and ease of use.
If the majority of your projects oblige you to utilize the device at horizontal positions when doing severely misaligned boards, then heavier belt sanders are perfect for you. But for overhead as well as vertical sanding, you need to use lighter models since they’re easier to hold.
What Are The Advantages of Using Belt Sanders?
Why should you get a belt sander? Listed below are the various advantages of utilizing a belt sander.
Smoothens and Levels Rough Surfaces
With regards to smoothing, flattening, and leveling rough surfaces, belt sanders are actually the best tools that you can use. When flattening surfaces, this tool may be oblique to the timber grain for more forceful flattening.
Shapes and Rounds A Wood Surface
Apart from smoothening and leveling rough surfaces, you can also make use of a belt sander for finishing various wood surface through shaping wood and rounding edges. But make sure to pick the right model which possesses the qualities that you need for such tasks.
Trim Notched Lines
When it comes to scribing, a small belt sander can greatly help you. If the notched lines are slightly curved, make sure to use smaller models.
Nevertheless, the belt sander’s similarly-curved primary can be utilized to trim notched lines in an almost flawless manner. Even though it’s a meticulous process, it guarantees remarkable results.
With a portable belt sander, it is easy to polish metals like aluminum and brass to get shining surfaces. Make sure that you use a fine grit paper to get clean surface and good finish.
Other uses of belt sanders include sanding plasterboards and drywalls, though I would suggest you get a dedicated drywall sander for this purpose.
How to Use Belt Sanders Safely?
Much like other power tools, when using a belt sander you should observe safety at all times.
Always use protection for the nose, ears, as well as eyes. Some belt sanders produce loud sounds which if you get unprotected to the sounds for a long period of time, there’s a possibility that you will become deaf.
Wear goggles and mask
The dust or sanded materials may get to your nose and eyes. Even though the majority of the belt sanders that are available on the market today have dust collection or extraction mechanisms it’s still best to stay on the safe side.
Unplug the power
When changing or replacing the sanding belt, make sure to unplug the belt sander. The same goes for draining dust collection cup or canister. Keep in mind that before removing any component make sure the device is OFF and unplugged.
Remove the sawdust before working on metal
If you need to utilize the sander on aluminum and other non-ferrous metal get rid of the sawdust and wood debris first by emptying the dust bag. As a matter of fact, sanding of metal may give off sparks that explode sawdust with ease.
Switch off the unit
Lastly, when plugging your device, make that it is switched off because some units come with lockable triggers thus you don’t unintentionally turn it on.
The belt sander is known as one of the most steadfast types of sanders. Because apart from being versatile, they are easier to utilize compared to other types.
But for you to make the most out of this tool you need to choose the best belt sander from the myriad of options available on the market these days.
Choosing the best model that suits your needs requires you to consider a lot of important things such as the motor power, speed, speed settings, size, weight, ease of use, and among others.
By simply considering such points as well as with our product reviews above to aid you on your acquisition, you will surely find the best belt sander that you can include to your toolbox easily.
Hopefully, this buying guide and list of the best belt sanders have helped you a lot in choosing the best model that is suitable for the projects you are working on.
- Best Belt Sanders of 2019
- 1. Best Overall: Makita 9403
- Makita 9403 vs 9404
- Here is a quick comparison chart.
- 2. Best Sander with Variable Speed: Makita 9903
- 3. Best Belt Sander for the Money: PORTER-CABLE 352VS
- 4. Best Budget Sander: WEN 6321
- 5. Best Belt Sander for Knife Making: Grizzly H6070
- 6. Best Belt Sander for Knife Sharpening: Work Sharp Knife & Tool Sharpener
- 7. Best Belt Sander for Woodworking: Black and Decker DS321
- Belt Sander Buyer’s Guide
- What Are The Advantages of Using Belt Sanders?
- How to Use Belt Sanders Safely?