The 7 Best Belt Sanders – Reviews & Buying Guide
Most woodworking projects require some sandingwood finishing up. And this is regardless whether you are making some cabinets or doing some home improvement.
Luckily, there are many sanding tools that will be handy for your finishing projects. But, the belt sander is perhaps the most common and also one of the most versatile ones.
Belt sanders come in various sizes, shapes and types but their most distinctive features and also what sets them apart from others is the continuously moving sanding surface mounted on a belt.
These powerful sanding tools will help you shape and give an even finish to all kinds of woodworking projects. And they will be both aggressive and gentle to ensure that you get the finish that you desire.
Table of Contents
- What Is Belt Sander Used For?
- 7 Best Belt Sander Reviews
- #1. Makita 9903 3" x 21" Variable Speed Belt Sander (Best Overall)
- #2. Makita 9403 4" x 24" Belt Sander
- #3. Black & Decker DS321 Dragster 3" x 21" Belt Sander
- #4. Hitachi SB8V2 3" x 21" Variable Speed Belt Sander
- #5. Genesis GBS321A 3" x 21" Variable Speed Belt Sander
- #6. Porter-Cable 362V 4" x 24" Variable Speed Belt Sander
- #7. Wen 6321 3" x 21" Belt Sander
- Types of Belt Sanders
- How to Buy the Best Belt Sander
What Is Belt Sander Used For?
Belt sanders can remove, shape and round edges to give your misshaped woods a smooth finish. These sanders are great when you want to sand large and flat surfaces quickly.
Although their main application is sanding wood, you can also use the belt sander for other grinding tasks such as sharpening metal tools.
As handy as they might be, you should not just settle for the first belt sander that you get because they come in different types (stationary and handheld) and with different features.
The features determine the capabilities of the belt sander and so they should guide you when picking one.
In this piece, we review some of the best belt sanders in the market and highlight some of the factors or features (such as power, belt size, weight, and speed) to consider when buying one.
7 Best Belt Sander Reviews
Makita 9903 Variable Speed Belt Sander (Best 3x21" Belt Sander)
3" x 21"
Makita 9403 Hand-Held Belt Sander (Best 4x24" Belt Sander)
4" x 24"
Black & Decker DS321 Dragster Belt Sander
3" x 21"
Hitachi SB8V2 Variable Speed Belt Sander
3" x 21"
Genesis GBS321A Variable Speed Belt Sander (Best Belt Sander for the Money)
3" x 21"
Porter-Cable 362V Variable Speed Belt Sander
4" x 24"
Wen 6321 Belt Sander
3" x 21"
#1. Makita 9903 3" x 21" Variable Speed Belt Sander (Best Overall)
Editor's Rating: (4.6 / 5)
It uses an electronic speed control that makes it possible to maintain a constant speed under load and it also has a relatively wide speed range.
This belt sander has a low profile design that gives it a better balance and also an extended base design that makes it possible to sand flush to the wall. And there is also a large front grip for a comfortable operation.
The ease of use also makes this the best overall belt sander on our list. And it is mostly thanks to the auto-tracking belt system that will track the belt without adjustment to increase the accuracy of the sander.
Makita 9903 will be the best belt sander for woodworkers, carpenters, deck builders and also for general contractors.
#2. Makita 9403 4" x 24" Belt Sander
Editor's Rating: (4.4 / 5)
The large 4 x 24-inch belt on the Makita 9403 makes it a great choice for sanding large workpieces. And although it is a single speed sander the 1,640 ft/min speed is fast enough to ensure quick material removal.
The Makita 9403 is one of the quietest units on our belt sander reviews. With a noise rating of 84db, it is as quiet as belt sander can get.
Also, it is one of those power tools that you can be sure will be in your workshop for many years thanks to the labyrinth construction that seals and protects the motor and bearings.
Sanding is also quite comfortable when using this belt sander thanks to the large front handle. And the 360-degree swiveling dust bag makes operation even more convenient.
Although the Makita 9403 looks quite similar to the Makita 9903, the variable speed of the latter is what sets them apart. Also, the 9403 delivers more speed than the maximum that you get with the Makita 9903.
#3. Black & Decker DS321 Dragster 3" x 21" Belt Sander
Editor's Rating: (4 / 5)
Sometimes you will just want to have a basic and affordable belt sander in the workshop for use on simple everyday sanding projects. The Black & Decker DS321 is a perfect choice for this.
This compact and lightweight belt sander weighs just 8.2 pounds and it runs on a 7.0 amp motor that delivers a speed of 800 ft/min.
It is a relatively affordable belt sander that features an innovative front roller design to make it easy to reach even the tightest corners. This handy sander also has a retractable 3-position handle that gives woodworkers optimal control.
And there is also an efficient dust collector that will help to keep the work area clean to improve visibility.
#4. Hitachi SB8V2 3" x 21" Variable Speed Belt Sander
Editor's Rating: (4.2 / 5)
Comfort is always a crucial factor to consider when choosing a belt sander. And the Hitachi SB8V2 is one of the most comfortable models on these belt sander reviews thanks to the soft elastomer grip handle.
But besides from the comfortable grip surface on both the main and auxiliary handles, this variable speed belt sander also comes with a long lasting V-belt that is wear resistant and provides a long service life.
This fantastic sander runs on a 9.0 amp motor that deliver speeds of between 820 and 1,475 ft/min and it weighs around 9.5 lbs
The tracking window is also a great addition to the sander as it will improve the visibility of both the sanding belt and the surface you are sanding.
With this belt sander, the dust collection bag is mounted on the left side to improve the corner sanding applications and also reduce airborne wood dust particles.
#5. Genesis GBS321A 3" x 21" Variable Speed Belt Sander
Editor's Rating: (4 / 5)
Genesis GBS321A is another affordable 3 x 21-inch belt sander that runs on an 8 amp motor and at speeds of between 390 and 1180 ft/min. And so it will be the best belt sander when handling delicate sanding projects or materials that require low speeds.
It has low profile design that makes it a highly versatile as it will get into tight places with ease. Also, the single lever belt change makes it more convenient as you can change the sanding belt quickly and with little effort.
Controlling this belt sander should also be convenient and comfortable thanks to the adjustable front handle.
The auto-tracking belt system on this sander makes it possible to track the belt without adjustments and there is also a dust bag that will help to minimize the dust in the work area.
#6. Porter-Cable 362V 4" x 24" Variable Speed Belt Sander
Editor's Rating: (4.5 / 5)
Porter-Cable 362V is the best powerful belt sander on our list. It is a variable speed model that runs on a 12 amp motor which is the most powerful on our reviews and it delivers speeds of between 1,000 and 1,500 ft/min.
Although this is also the priciest item on our list, it is worth it as it also comes with the large 4 x 24-inch belt that makes it possible to sand large workpieces within a short time.
The quick-release belt change lever is another great addition to this belt sander as it minimizes downtimes since belt changes are quick and effortless.
The ergonomic handles provide all-day comfort and make this an excellent belt sander for lengthy projects while the 360-degree swiveling dust bag will stay out of your way when sanding but still capture most of the dust.
However, at a total weight of 15.5 pounds, this is the heaviest belt sander on our list.
#7. Wen 6321 3" x 21" Belt Sander
Editor's Rating: (4.2 / 5)
Our cheapest belt sander is the Wen 6321 but there is still more to it than the affordable price tag. This lightweight and compact belt sander weighs just 6 pounds which makes it the lightest on our list.
The 7 amp motor on this sander might not be very powerful but it still spins the belt at a speed of 820 ft/min to make the sander ideal for regular sanding projects.
Also, the front roller on this belt sander will extend past the top edge to make it possible to access and sand the tight corners.
The tool-free belt change minimizes down times and there is also a lock-in safety feature on this belt sander that makes continuous sanding possible without the need for constant grip on the trigger.
There is also a spacious dust collection bag to help keep the workpiece and the workshop clean.
Types of Belt Sanders
While the belt sander reviews above will give you some idea of the models to go for, there are still some important things about these sanders that you have to know. And key among them is the types.
There are two primary types of belt sander which are the handheld and stationary belt sanders. Each has some pros and cons and will be suitable for different situations.
#1. Stationary Belt Sander
As their name suggests, the stationary belt sanders will be designed to remain in one place and the woodworkers have to bring the workpiece to the machine for sanding.
With these sanders, the sanding belt will rest on the top surface of the machine and it will in most cases be larger and heavier than the handheld ones.
Some stationary sanders can also be mounted on a workbench and they are the type that woodworkers will refer to as the bench sanders.
You can use these sanders to sand both wood and metal workpieces. However, their size and stationary nature make them best for large commercial sanding projects.
#2. Handheld Belt Sander
Handheld belt sanders are the most common type of the two, and they are what you will use for most of your sanding projects.
These sanders will come in various sizes and shapes and they are smaller and lighter than the stationary belt sanders.Unlike the stationary sander, the sanding belt on the handheld sander is on the bottom section on the machine.
The location of the sanding belt on these sanders makes them ideal for sanding stationary workpieces like floors.
Also, the size of the belt will vary from one model to the other and some will also have variable motor speeds.
The variable speed settings help to make these tools versatile. And this is because high-speed settings tend to sand surfaces more aggressively than the low-speed ones.
With the variable speed belt sander, you will get more control over your projects.
Another point to note is that some handheld sanders can also be operated upside down and so you can use them in a similar manner as the stationary sanders. However, you should not attempt to use a regular handheld sander upside down due to safety concerns.
How to Buy the Best Belt Sander
A belt sander is handy for most types of sanding. But, this is only true if you pick the right model from the many options out there.
While the type is always the first factor to consider when picking one, there are still many other important things to keep in mind. And they include the following.
Sanding might not require a lot of power (at least not as much as other things like sawing) but you still need to make sure that the belt sander that you choose has a motor that is powerful enough.
Belt sanders will come with motors with amperage of as low as 6.0 amp and other will have as much as 10.0 amp or more.
Those with more powerful motors tend to be more efficient and also perform better than those with low amperage. However, they will also cost more in most instances.
There are different belt sander sizes in the market and so you need to determine what you want. Also, it is important to note that the sizes are according to the size of the sanding belt that they use.
Most belt sanders will fall into two sizes which are 3 x 21 inches and 4 x 24 inches. The 3 x 21 belt sander seem to be the most popular as their small and compact size makes them easy to handle and ideal for regular woodworking projects.
The 4 x 24-inch belt sanders are great when working on large panels and also when you want to own a heavy industrial sanding machine.
Choose the smaller (3 x 21-inch) models when you intend to use the machine under various circumstances or when you want something for use at different worksites.
Weight is always an important factor to consider when buying any handheld power tool. For the belt sanders, it is also an important factor as it determines the ease of use and convenience.
If most of your tasks require you to use the sander at a horizontal position when working on badly misaligned boards, a heavier belt sander will be the better option.
For vertical or overhead sanding when doing some home improvement, the lighter the belt sander the better as it is easier to handle.
You can get a belt sander that is as light as 5 lbs and some will be more than 15 lbs. And so what you pick will depend on how you intend to use the sander.
When it comes to the speed you will have to pick between single and variable speed sanders. Single speed belt sanders are the oldest type and the fact that you cannot change the speed limits their use.
Variable speed models, on the other hand, make it possible to adjust the speed depending on the project. And for most models, the speed ranges between 500 and 1,500 feet per minute.
Some belt sander models only have two speed settings (high and low) while others have a dial that lets you choose any in-between speed. The variable speed sanders are great for use with a variety of materials.
#5. Dust Collection
A belt sander produces lots of dust and so it can leave you with a lot of cleaning to do afterward. It is vital to make sure that you pick a belt sander with an efficient dust collection system.
An onboard dust canister or bag is always a great addition but also make sure that it is large enough so that you do not have to keep emptying it.
Some models also have a dust port or allow you to remove the dust bag/canister and connect your shop vac. These models are the best when it comes to dust collection, and this is more so if you use your belt sander often.
Sanding is always a part of most woodworking projects, and this is regardless of whether you are making furniture or doing some home improvements or renovations.
The belt sander is one of the most reliable sanders as it is not only versatile but also easier to use than many other types. However, to get the best service from it, you have to pick the best from the many options in the market.
Picking the best belt sander model requires you to consider things like the belt size, motor power, weight, and speed.
By considering these points and with our reviews above to help you on your selection, you should have an easy time finding a great belt sander to add to your toolkit.