Sanding is part and parcel of woodworking, which is why you need to have the best belt sander for woodworking in your workshop.
These tools are of essential use when it comes to the preparation of a surface for finishes such as paints, stain, and even varnishes. Unlike hand sanding, the belt sanders save time. You don’t have to do a lot like it is in the cases with manual sanding.
While professional carpentry and metalworking shops usually have large, stationary belt sanders that remain in place on a benchtop, portable belt sanders that go wherever you need them are the far more popular choice for DIYers. You’ll also find smaller “detail” belt sanders, which have an elongated shape that’s well suited to reaching into tight spaces or carrying out detailed sanding tasks.
When it comes to speed, the majority of belt sanders have just one, but you’ll also find options with a high and low setting, as well as higher-end tools with variable speed settings. Here, the best belt sanders for your next DIY project.
Belt Sander Uses
Although they’re most commonly associated with carpentry for flattening and smoothing rough wood on anything from furniture to decks and boats, belt sanders are also an integral part of metalworking and knifemaking. Belt sanders come in many forms; handheld portable versions that you hold and move along the material to be worked on, more industrial stationary models that you bring the material to, and ones with narrower sandpaper arms which are ideal for knifemaking. In addition, belt sanders are available with many added features such as dust collectors, stands, and there are even cordless models.
What to Look for in a Belt Sander
Purchasing a new appliance is difficult, but certain aspects can make it easier. Our list of the 11 Best Belt Sanders of 2021 does the first part of the task for you by narrowing down the products. For the second part, you have to look at the essential ingredients of what makes a sander great:
All stationary belt sanders run off AC current, but you’ll find both corded and cordless portable belt sanders, although corded is the most common type. As with most power tools, you’ll get the most power from a corded tool, but the tradeoff is less versatility, as you are tethered to the power cord. Cordless belt sanders typically use 18-volt lithium-ion batteries, although some hardier models use 20 volts instead.
Most handheld belt sanders’ motors run between 6 and 12 amps of power; if you only need the tool for lightweight and occasional sanding jobs, the lower end of that range is sufficient, but if you plan on tackling larger projects, you’ll be happier with a belt sander that runs towards the top of that range.
To serve its purpose and ensure you can use it to its full capacity, a device must be long-lasting. It must have the ability to withstand sustained pressure in the workplace and deliver consistent performance. Any customer cannot afford to change a tool regularly. So, they prefer a one-time investment that can fulfill their demands.
Ease of use
Finally, for any model to be successful, you must feel comfortable with it. The success or failure of a tool does not depend on the functions but on the buyers who will use those functions. If you struggle to use a product, then it loses its value despite all the upgrades. All improvements must, in some way, contribute to enhancing the user experience.
Most belt sanders come in standard widths of 3 or 4 inches. If you do a lot of work on large, flat surfaces, look for a wider belt that will sand down the wood more quickly. For detailed work, look for narrower belts that fit into tight areas.
The speed at which a belt sander rotates its belt is usually measured in feet per minute (fpm), although some manufacturers stick with rotations per minute (rpm). Many of these tools have just one set speed, which is generally around 1,500 fpm. Others have a high and low speed setting; often that’s around 500 fpm on low and 1,500 on high. There are also higher-end belt sanders with variable-speed control so you can fine-tune the speed to just where you need it.
Our Top Picks
To produce this comprehensive and well-detailed article, I carried out a lot of research and ran tests on different belt sanders. Then, in the quest to get the best out of the rest, I did a lot of digging to find the 5 best belt sanders, which I listed in this guide as my top options.
Believe it or not, this tool has existed for over 20 years. It was launched in 1999. It has been reliable over the past two decades, and this, coupled with other features, makes it the best belt sander for woodworking.
This wood sander is very powerful and reliable and makes short work of thick, dense stock. The Makita 9403 comes with an outstanding balance and is sturdily built at 4″. Most parts of this tool are metal; other components consist of tough polyethylene.
Another exciting thing about this tool is its weight, which stands at around 12 lbs—making it perfectly balanced working on flat surfaces.
The large front handle of this sander gives you a comfortable and reliable grip. With this comfortable grip, you don’t have to worry about applying downward pressure while using it along with the stock.
One less impressive thing about this tool is that it is hard to use on vertical surfaces because of its weight. Its design is not the best out there, and this is because it was launched over 20 years ago, a time when woodworkers probably cared less about ergonomics provided the tool was useful.
Metabo is a German-based company that specializes in durable power tools for industry professionals. This model is a bit larger and heavier than others. It’s best for rough work, when you have a lot of serious sanding to do. The powerful 9-Amp, 1,020 watt motor will cut back on your prep time and let you jump right into the project.
The unit works on wood, metal, slate, and concrete, and comes with a variable speed dial so you can adjust from 820 up to 1,475 feet per minute. The design features a comfortable, ergonomic grip. It also has a clear front so you can see what you’re sanding. It comes with a 60-grit sanding belt and a dust bag mounted on the left side.
The Einhell TC-BS 8038 Belt Sander is equipped with an efficient motor that has a power rating of 800 watts. It is designed to make your sanding operation as easy as possible and you will find it very convenient to use.
This wonderful sander has a precision adjustment knob that allows you to quickly and easily set the belt correctly to ensure a perfect result. Besides, it has an extractor bag that collects the pieces produced while working. In this regard, you don’t have to be bothered by the accumulated debris getting in your way while working.
This device has safety settings that protect you. With its ergonomic design, you can work for long hours without feeling any pain or fatigue in your hands or wrists. Moreover, there is a ceramic guard that protects the sandpaper from coming off in case you have set the belt position wrongly.
And, to cap it all, the Einhell TC-BS 8038 Belt Sander comes with a two-year warranty. For other wood work related items, check out our guide on the best exterior wood paint.
Skil is a highly rated brand that is known for its budget-friendly products. Therefore, we have included their belt sander on our list.
At the 3rd position, we have Skil 7510-01 Sandcat belt sander. The unique feature of this belt sander is the pressure control technology. This warns the user when excess pressure is being applied on the belt. This prevents damage to the belt as well as to the workpiece. It also has an auto-track system for easier belt arrangements. There is a micro-dust collection filter that can absorb even the finest dust particles.
There is a 6A motor that drives a 3 inch x 18 inch belt. This much power is good enough for wooden surfaces. The sanding belt has an 80 grit abrasive rating, and the belt can be changed by moving a single lever. Just like any other machine, it also has an on/off switch, but it also has a lock-on button for smoother operation. This is a lightweight tool as it weighs only 6.75 lbs. and holds 1 year of the warranty period.
Astro Pneumatic Tools, as the name suggests, is a very popular brand that specializes in pneumatic tools and equipment. They also make a pneumatic belt sander that we have mentioned below.
This is a special purpose belt sander from Astro Pneumatic Tool. This is a pneumatic belt sander that houses a very slim abrasive belt. It has a 0.5 HP power rating that is said to be good enough for industry-level operations. It has a 40 grit abrasive belt that is ½ inch x 18 inch in size. This is the minimum size of the belt that can be found in our list of best belt sanders. It can have certain advantages. For example, this tool can be used to machine a tight, hard to reach area that might be inaccessible by regular belts. Also, it can be a perfect tool to remove weld spots.
It also has a variable speed control option that makes it a versatile power tool. Along with the machine, you get 3 different abrasive belts, which are 40 grit, 60 grit, and 80 grit, respectively. Astro Pneumatic Tool 3037 has a 360-degree adjustable arm mechanism that adds up in the versatility of the tool. This is an extremely lightweight belt sander as it weighs only 2.2 lbs. It has a 1-year warranty that can be considered good enough for a lighter machine.
How to Use a Belt Sander
Before getting to the brass tacks of operating a belt sander, it’s important to note that safety wear is your first point of call.
Understandably, a lot of dust accumulates while using a belt sander so a dust mask, as well as safety glasses and clothing protection such as an apron or overalls, are recommended.
Next, you might want to opt for ear protection as these things tend to be quite loud. As far as operation goes, the top tips are to let the weight of the tool do the work for you; putting extra weight is unnecessary and can damage the material you’re working on. Extra care needs to be taken on softer materials such as plywood.
Finally, making sure to swap out the belts when they get tatty, as well as keeping the tool clean, will help for optimal function and safety. For more analytical operation instructions, the below video provides a step-by-step guide on using a belt sander.
Belt Sanders can help you to reduce manual work by a huge margin. A belt sander can get the sanding task done in a matter of minutes. Therefore, we have made a list of best sand collectors in this article along with their properties, pros, and cons as well.
You will also find a buying guide that explains a few necessary characteristics that make a belt sander ideal for all applications. After reading through all of the information above, you must have made your mind about your choice.
Still, we will recommend you to take a look at our recommendations below to clear any second doubts.
- At first, we will recommend you SKIL Sandcat Belt Sander as a budget-friendly choice. Even though it is an affordable belt sander from our picks, the SKIL 7510-01 Sandcat Belt SanderDS321 houses a 6A motor that is quite strong in the competition.
- You should consider Metabo Hpt belt sander if you are looking for a heavy-duty belt sander. Amongst all of our picks, SB8V2 has the most powerful 9A motor that drives a standard 3 inch x 21 inch belt. There is a long 5 years of the warranty period that is higher than all other options.
- Lastly, we will recommend you Astro Pneumatic belt sander as a special purpose power tool. You already must have noticed that unlike other options, this is a pneumatic belt sander that drives a ½ inch x 18 inch belt, which is considerably smaller.