Best Belt Sander

Any person who wants to learn woodworking will know anything they make needs plenty of sanding to get the items to the right finish.

Doing this by hand is labor-intensive, and getting it just right can be easier said than done.

To make things much more manageable, the belt sander was invented, and it can not only deliver a quality finish to your work but also do it in a fraction of the time.

Because these tools should be in any woodworkers arsenal of tools, we will take a look at a batch of top rated belt sanders that can make life much more comfortable.

Belt Sander ReviewWhat is a Belt Sander Used For?

While belt sanders were designed to put a high-quality finish on wood, they are far more versatile than just being a one-trick pony.

They can be used to not only deliver a silky smooth finish to flat wood, but they are also used for rounding sharp edges or removing large amounts of wood where there is sculpting needed, and a saw won’t be able to do it.

Sanders for woodworking can do a multitude of tasks faster than other tools.

Aside from this, sanders can help with home improvement in other areas. With different types of belts, they can quickly sharpen tools, remove rust from steel, grind aluminum and strip paint from steel.

Good sanders can be a real workhorse, and with that in mind, choosing the right one is crucial.

What is the Best Belt Sander?

BLACK+DECKER DS321 Dragster 7 Amp 3-Inch by 21-Inch Belt Sander with Clot1. BLACK+DECKER DS321 Dragster 7 Amp 3-Inch by 21-Inch Belt Sander with Clot

When it comes to everyday tasks that need some quick sanding, there is nothing more straightforward to use than the Black and Decker DS321.

With the adjustable handle and light weight, it is easy to hold in any position. Overhead jobs have never been as easy.

In testing, we found the innovative front roller could reach in the tightest of edges of corners, so there was little edge sanding needed. Dust was collected sufficiently, so there isn’t much to clear up.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Quick change belts
  • Very efficient dust collection system
  • 3 point adjustable handle
  • Light and compact
  • 2-year limited warranty

Cons

  • Single speed only
  • Medium power motor

Technical Specifications

  • Motor: 7.0 amps
  • Belt Size: 3 in. x 21 in.
  • Power Type: Mains cord
  • SFPM: 800 fpm
  • Dust Collection: Bag
  • Weight: 8.2 lbs.

While the single speed motor may labor if there is excess pressure, this can be alleviated by using the right grade sanding belt. This may be a concern for some, but it didn’t show any ill effects when using.

With a guide price of around $95 the 3×21 belt sander is great value from money and comes from one of the more prominent names in construction tools.

There is sufficient power to tackle most jobs, and users will find there is minimal fatigue from using the Black and Decker belt sander.

Changing belts was quick and easy with the quick release button, so there is no messing with tools. Any user looking for a hand held belt sander can do much worse than selecting this perfect DIY belt sander.

Makita 9403 11 Amp 4-Inch-by-24-Inch Belt Sander with Cloth Dust Bag2. Makita 9403 11 Amp 4-Inch-by-24-Inch Belt Sander with Cloth Dust Bag

Makita hand sanders are a premium product and are used around the construction industry. With this, we found there was only a 1-year warranty which we thought quite short for something in this class.

The 4 x 24 belt sander delivers plenty of power and can tackle some of the hardest jobs a user can throw at it. For something as large, it is very quiet even ripping around with the 1640 fpm.

While this may be suitable for industrial use, limitations quickly stood out in testing. (Other Makita portable belt sanders use 8.8 amp motor and still retain quietness).

The 4-inch belt sander is fantastic for large flat surfaces, and no matter what you are sanding or stripping, it tackles this effortlessly.

But, with its heavy weight, it can feel cumbersome if used hand-held. Not only this, but the handle is fixed, so using it upside down or when standing is hard work.

Pros

  • Quietest sander in its class
  • Wide and long belt
  • Labyrinth construction seals
  • Swiveling dust bag
  • 1-year limited warranty

Cons

  • Single speed only
  • Expensive
  • Small dust bag
  • Not ideal for casual use
  • Heavy

Technical Specifications

  • Motor: 11.0 amps
  • Belt Size: 4 in. x 24 in.
  • Power Type: Mains cord
  • SFPM: 1640 fpm
  • Dust Collection: Bag
  • Weight: 12.6 lbs.

In this Makita tool review, there was plenty of praise, but when you look at the guide price of just under $400, it is out of a DIY’ers budget and usefulness.

With the bulk of this sander, it would be easier to use if it were a cordless belt sander.

The 4×24 belt sander bag is too small, and the way it sands large areas, you can find yourself either leaving the bag off or continually stopping to empty it.

For large jobs it’s great, but unless you are in the profession, it’s too big and too expensive.

WEN 6321 7-Amp 3 in. x 21 in. Corded Belt Sander with Dust Bag3. WEN 6321 7-Amp 3 in. x 21 in. Corded Belt Sander with Dust Bag

The Wen belt sander was the cheapest on test. The first drawback we spotted was the fixed dust bag. There was no way to move it so left-handed users may find they are restricted by this right hand held belt sander.

It has a high-speed motor, but the overall power isn’t up to much, and there is a need to stop if using for extended periods.

The motor warms considerably more than other sanders, so it appears that with extended use, it may not stand up to the rigors of what’s being asked.

Pros

  • Belt tracking adjustment
  • Quick release belt change
  • Trigger lock for continuous sanding
  • 2-year limited warranty
  • Light

Cons

  • Single speed only
  • Small dust bag can’t be moved – not suitable for left-handed users
  • Under-powered motor quickly heats up
  • No adjustable handle

Technical Specifications

  • Motor: 7.0 amps
  • Belt Size: 3 in. x 21 in.
  • Power Type: Mains cord
  • SFPM: 820 fpm
  • Dust Collection: Bag
  • Weight: 6 lbs.

The Wen sander comes with a guide price of around $35, this though reflects in value for money. It comes with no case, and the tracking knob needs constant adjustment.

Not only that, but the dust collection bag is small and not the most effective on the test. Disregarding the left-hand, right-hand issue, we found dust escaping from the bag and blowing toward the face.

One thing we did notice was the sander wasn’t sanding flat and was preferring to sand on one edge more than the other.

Overall, it is a budget sander, and even with its 2-year warranty, users may find they are changing it well within this period for something better.

SKIL 7510-01 Sandcat 6 Amp 3-Inch x 18-Inch Belt Sander with Pressure Control4. SKIL 7510-01 Sandcat 6 Amp 3-Inch x 18-Inch Belt Sander with Pressure Control

The SKIL belt disc sander is definitely at the budget end of the market, although it’s not the cheapest on test. It comes with a unique feature for ones who tend to press heavy when sanding.

There is a pressure gauge that indicates to correct sanding pressures are used.

It also comes with an auto tracking to make sure the belt stays precisely where it’s supposed to. Like other cheaper models, the SKIL belt sander comes with a low power motor, but this model is only 6.0 amps.

But, being single speed, it does tend to grate on the ears as it spins at 1050 feet per minute.

Pros

  • Pressure control
  • Auto tracking adjustment
  • Microfilters
  • 2-year limited warranty
  • Light

Cons

  • Single speed only
  • Small dust bag can’t be moved – not suitable for left-handed users
  • Underpowered motor quickly heats up
  • No adjustable handle

Technical Specifications

  • Motor: 6.0 amps
  • Belt Size: 3 in. x 18 in.
  • Power Type: Mains cord
  • SFPM: 1050 fpm
  • Dust Collection: Rigid canister
  • Weight: 6.75 lbs.

The noticeable downsides are the dust collection system. Rather than a bag, it uses a rigid canister.

Any left-handed user who has larger hands may find it a squeeze in between the two. With a rough guide price of just under $40, it is highly affordable. There have been customer concerns of overheating and motors burning out.

A sanding belt of this is ideal for small jobs and could be paired with any one of the SKIL orbital sanders to ease the workload.

As a standalone, if you are using it on small jobs every few weeks, then it might outlive the warranty period.

PORTER-CABLE 352VS 8 Amp 3-Inch-by-21-Inch Variable-Speed Belt Sander with Cloth Dust Bag5. PORTER-CABLE 352VS 8 Amp 3-Inch-by-21-Inch Variable-Speed Belt Sander with Cloth Dust Bag

This Porter Cable 352VS is last in the belt sander reviews and is the only variable speed on the test. This can slow the sander down to 850 fpm up to 1300 fpm.

With steel construction, this sander might be too heavy for smaller tasks, but when it comes to heavy duty work, it can easily eat this for breakfast.

Unlike the other sanders, the Porter Cable 352 VS uses a belt and drive gear to turn the sanding belt. While this allows the variable speeds, if anything goes wrong, the Porter-Cable sander parts can quickly mount up in cost.

Pros

  • Variable speeds
  • Quick release sanding belt change
  • Large belt size
  • 2-year limited warranty
  • Belt and drive gear
  • Moveable dust bag
  • Steel construction
  • 3-year limited warranty

Cons

  • Heavy
  • No adjustable handle
  • Parts can be expensive
  • Sander is quite expensive

Technical Specifications

  • Motor: 8.0 amps
  • Belt Size: 3 in. x 21 in.
  • Power Type: Mains cord
  • SFPM: 850 -1300 fpm
  • Dust Collection: Bag
  • Weight: 10.75 lbs.

Testing this variable speed belt sander was a joy, and the comfortable ergonomic handles were easy to hold for extended periods.

The dust bag swivels, so there are no worries of that getting in the way. The major downsides being the weight, especially when trying to use the Porter Cable belt sander on any surface apart from flat.

It is definitely a two handed job for almost all jobs, but with the weight of the sander, you do need to make sure there is little pressure, and you only guide the machine.

With a guide price between $165 – $170, it quickly moves into the tradesman part of a budget, so, for casual home improvement, it does work out expensive.

Things to consider before buying Belt SanderBelt Sander Buying Guide

There are a few things to consider when purchasing an electric belt sander. So, to help you along, here are some considerations.

Types of Belt Sanders

There are two types of belt sanders you can choose, these being a stationary belt sander. These are often used on a bench where you offer the material to the belt. While these are good, they lack flexibility.

The second type of sander being a handheld sander. These are smaller and are the type we have looked at above.

Power – Depending on the jobs you are doing, this will determine how much power you will need, and how fast your belt speeds are.

There are many power ratings of an electric hand sander, and they come from 6 amp for a small belt sander all the way to 12 amp motor for industrial level.

Size – This will vary depending on the intended use of these power tools. The most common handheld belt sander sizes being 3 x 21 and 4 x 24, anything outside of these and it can be hard to find replacement belts.

Heavy duty sanders will be larger and will have a more substantial grip handle for control.

These larger ones need the front grip to be used because of their increased power. All jobs turn into two-handed jobs that can make access difficult.

Speed – There is a variable speed belt sander or single speed. Single speed being the older variety where variable speed being in later models.

This being said, for use around the home, there is little need for variable speed control, and it will result in wasted money.

When looking at this, you will see the fpm or feet per minute rating. The faster, the more wood they will sand, so for most uses, middle of the road speed is suitable.

Additional Features

Additional features to check for can include a belt tracking knob and how good this works. This keeps the belt straight in use.

Next up is the dust bag and how good it is at dust collection, and how easy it can be emptied.

Lastly, you need a quick release system for the belt, these require no tools so you can carry on working without too much interruption.

It should be noted that the smallest belt sander won’t deliver the results or long life you are looking for. Just because it has the smallest price tag, doesn’t make it the best option.

BLACK+DECKER DS321 BEST BELT SANDLERFinal Verdict

After going through all these sander reviews, we could only come up with one winner. Because there was a diverse collection and some came out more in line with what a tradesman would use, these didn’t meet the criteria, this and they were restrictive on their usage scenarios because of weight.

With this, the remaining ones gave us value per performance and overall usability factor. This led us to conclude the BLACK+DECKER DS321 as the outright winner.

With the light weight, we could use this comfortably in any position, and the dust bag worked admirably even when sanding upside down. Much of this was because of the 3 point adjustable handle.

In corners, the exposed belt reached in further than others, and even with a single speed, the Black & Decker belt sander still managed to outperform all the others.

It has a solid construction and can last for years for all the most demanding jobs so any home woodworker would be very satisfied to have this in their toolbox.

best belt sanders