best belt sanders

Best Belt Sanders

Sanding is a job most DIYers love to hate. When dealing with larger projects, using sanding paper and a sanding block can be a real pain in the neck. Getting just one task done can take hours and your arm may ache for days afterward.

A good belt sander will make things go much more smoothly (no pun intended). Belt sanders are very handy tools that can greatly reduce your operator fatigue.

A belt sander can be of great help when tackling woodworking and other DIY jobs. But not just any belt sander will do. There are many models out there, but not all of them have the oomph to take on the most laborious tasks.

And, naturally, you want to make sure you’ll end up with the model that best fits your needs and preferences. To help you narrow down your choices, here are the 10 best belt sanders on the market.

Our Top Pick: Makita 9903

Features

  • 3″ x 21″ belt
  • 8.8-Amp motor
  • Auto-track feature
  • Variable speed control
  • 960 to 1440 SFPM

Belt Sanders Reviews

Makita 9403 Sander

Makita 9403

Features

  • Belt size: 4″ x 24″
  • Weight: 13 lbs
  • Motor: 11 AMP

The Makita 9403 delivers professional quality sanding at a more than fair price point. Rated at 84 dB, this tool is a beast that can keep its roar down. It’s one of the quietest belt sanders on the market.

The Makita 9403 can zip its 4″ x 24″ belt at a speed of 1640 SFPM (surface feet per minute). It can strip layers of wood from doors, cabinets, tabletops, floors, and a variety of other surfaces with great ease.

Woodworkers really appreciate its super convenient cloth dust bag. It comes in really handy for stock removal. The Makita 9403 maintains a constant speed even under load thanks to its 11-Amp motor.

For fast and efficient stock removal, the tool is fitted with a 4” wide belt. The easy-to-use lever control allows you to swap out the belt quickly.

The ergonomic grip allows for maximum comfort. However, the Makita 9403 weights a hefty 13 lbs, so unless you are used to wielding heavy tools, you won’t be able to get much overhead work done in one go.

Pros

  • Powerful motor
  • Durable
  • Ergonomic design
  • Auto-tracking belt system
  • Variable speed control

Cons

  • Heavier than average

Check Price on Amazon

Related: Best framing nailer

WEN 6321 Budget Sander

WEN 6321

Features

  • Belt size: 3″ x 21″
  • Weight: 6 lbs
  • Motor: 7 AMP

If you are an everyday DIYer on a tight budget, the WEN 6321 may be the best solution for your workshop. Even though it’s one of the most affordable belt sanders on the market, the WEN 6321 doesn’t skimp on performance.

This budget-friendly belt sander does indeed match the quality of a higher-end model. The belt sander comes with a 7-Amp motor that rotates the belt at 820 SFPM. You can rest assured the WEN 6321 has got what it takes for fast and easy material removal.

Weighing in at 6 lbs, the lightweight frame allows for comfortable prolonged use. Considering its price, the WEN 6321 comes with a surprising number of convenient features.

You can adjust the belt with a simple twist of a knob. And, to replace it, all you need to do is flip the lever. The cleanup is a breeze, thanks to the removable dust bag. All in all, the WEN 6321 is a great belt sander for a homeowner who dabbles in all things handy.

Pros

  • Very attractive price point
  • Convenient features
  • Lightweight
  • Tool-free belt change
  • Easy to adjust the belt

Cons

  • Single speed

Check Price on Amazon

Related: Cordless ratchet

Black & Decker DS321

Black & Decker DS321

Features

  • Belt size: 3″ x 21″
  • Weight: 6.5 lbs
  • Motor: 7 AMP

Truth be told, most home jobs don’t require a belt sander. But, there’s no doubt that it can make them much easier. For homeowners who like to take matters into their own hands instead of hiring a professional, Black & Decker offers a solid solution.

Its lightweight frame, attractive price point, and versatile design make it a great choice for home improvement aficionados. One of the best things about the Black & Decker DS321 is the front roller feature.

It allows you to reach extremely tight corners. With this belt sander, you’ll get high-quality results without putting in much effort.

It comes with an adjustable handle that provides a ton of extra control. The DS321 lets you approach every task from any angle.

It doesn’t put almost any pressure on your joints, allowing you to sand down your unfinished wood floor, deck, or countertop with great ease. Whether you are working on level or uneven surfaces, indoors or outdoors, you can count on the Black & Decker DS321 to deliver a smooth finish.

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Minimal hand fatigue
  • Lightweight
  • Retractable, three-position handle
  • Budget-friendly

Cons

  • Noisy

Check Price on Amazon

Related: Best palm nailers

Genesis GBS321A

Genesis GBS321A

Features

  • Belt size: 3″ x 21″
  • Weight: 8.5 lbs
  • Motor: 8 AMP

One of the best things about the Genesis belt sander is its adjustable fit handle. It allows you to achieve a good quality finish in small, tight spaces. For such an affordable tool, the Genesis belt sander is quite versatile.

Its 8-Amp motor packs more than enough power for home improvement jobs. Even though it’s not a high-end model, it should work more than well for general contractors as well.

Its low profile design allows for excellent balance when doing overhead work. The adjustable ergonomic grip allows for comfortable use. The dust collection system is quite good, especially when you consider the price point.

It also has an auto-track system, single level quick-change, and variable speed control. With the Genesis belt sander, you’ll definitely get more than you paid for.

Pros

  • Excellent dust collection system
  • Comfortable
  • Low-profile design
  • Versatile
  • Budget-friendly

Cons

  • The front guard is a bit small

Check Price on Amazon

Makita 9903

Makita 9903 sander

Features

  • Belt size: 3″ x 21″
  • Weight: 9.5 lbs
  • Motor: 8.8 AMP

The Makita 9903 belt sander is the smaller, more agile cousin of the 9403 model. For such a powerful tool, the Makita 9903 is surprisingly quiet. Its noise level is rated at only 85 dB. The tool is no louder than a hairdryer.

The belt sander sports a compact design with clean, simple body lines characteristic of Makita power tools. The 16-foot cord is a very nice detail; chances are you’ll never have to use an extension cord.

It also comes with a one-of-a-kind auto-track feature. You’ll never have to bother with adjusting the belt.

There’s also the variable speed control that allows for precise work on any type of surface. It can spin the belt at speeds between 960 and 1440 SFPM, making the Makita one of the most versatile belt sanders money can buy.

The Makita 9903 is the favorite belt sander of many woodworkers and professional contractors. Considering how well-balanced the tool is, it comes as no surprise.

Pros

  • Versatile
  • Powerful 8.8-Amp motor
  • Auto-track feature
  • Quiet operation
  • Variable speed control

Cons

  • The dust bag could be more efficient

Check Price on Amazon

TACKLIFE Belt Sander

TACKLIFE Belt Sander

Features

  • Belt size: 3″ x 18″
  • Weight: 7.8 lbs
  • Motor: 5 AMP

For an entry-level model, the TACKLIFE belt sander performs more than well. On top of the super attractive price point, the model comes with 12 sanding belts. It also packs a surprising number of extra features, including variable speed control and a detachable dust collection system.

You can even turn it into a bench sander by flipping it around and fixing it to the table (the clamps are included in the package). For more convenience and flexibility, the TACKLIFE belt sander comes with an easy-to-use lock-on button.

Powered by a 5-Amp motor, it’s a solid choice for working with plywood and other light-duty workpieces. It’s not a tool for big and rough jobs, but for everything else, it’s more than a solid choice.

Check Price on Amazon

Metabo HPT SB8V2 Sander

Metabo HPT SB8V2

Features

  • Belt size: 3″ x 21″
  • Weight: 9.5 lbs
  • Motor: 9 AMP

The Metabo HPT belt sander has all you need to get a smooth, seamless surface. It’s a heavy-duty tool that can quickly and efficiently remove paint, smoothen uneven surfaces, and tackle stubborn edges.

The front grip handle is a very nice touch. It makes the job much easier. Even though it’s not a lightweight model, the nice grip the Metabo HPT offers allows for comfortable prolonged use.

On the nose of the tool, there is a one-of-a-kind transparent panel. It makes flush sanding much easier. The feature will help you avoid uneven sanding and gouging.

Boasting a 9-Amp motor, the Metabo HPT has all the power you need for heavy-duty tasks. There’s also the variable speed control that allows you to work on softer surfaces.

The variable speed dial is very easy to use, you won’t even have to settle the tool down to adjust the speed. Metabo is renowned for manufacturing reliable and durable power tools, and the Metabo HPT belt sander is certainly no exception.

Pros

  • Powerful 9-Amp Motor
  • Comfortable
  • Transparent nose panel
  • Versatile
  • Variable speed control

Cons

  • Dust collector could use some improvement

Check Price on Amazon

PORTER-CABLE 352VS Belt Sander

PORTER-CABLE 352VS Belt Sander

Features

  • Belt size: 3″ x 21″
  • Weight: 10.8 lbs
  • Motor: 8 AMP

The Porter-Cable 352VS is a tool that can last you a lifetime. Its sturdy, all-metal design makes it one of the most durable models on the market. You can rest assured its solid exterior will stand years of use and abuse.

The metal frame keeps the belt sander cool, so you won’t have to worry about it overheating. The 8-Amp motor makes it a great choice for professional heavy-duty tasks.

It’s also a great tool for intricate woodwork, thanks to the variable speed dial. The dust bag is extra-large, so you won’t have to change it very often. It swivels up to 360°, so you can rest assured it won’t get in the way while you are working.

There’s also the quick release lever that allows for seamless belt changes. The adjustable belt tracking knob allows for precise and easy use. If you are looking for a versatile, reliable, and durable option, the Porter-Cable 352VS  belt sander is well worth the spend.

Pros

  • Durable all-metal construction
  • Dust bag swivels up to 360°
  • Easy to use
  • Robust 8-Amp motor
  • Variable speed dial

Cons

  • Only suitable for light-duty projects

Check Price on Amazon

RIDGID GEN5X Cordless Belt Sander

RIDGID GEN5X Cordless Belt Sander

Features

  • Belt size: 3″ x 18″
  • Weight: 7.4 lbs
  • Motor: 18V

If you’re tired of getting tangled in wires and cables, the Ridgid GEN5X may be just the tool you need. This super handy belt sander is praised by aspiring handymen and seasoned pros alike.

It doesn’t pack as much power as the average corded model, but it comes with enough extra perks to rival higher-end, corded models.

The belt sander is powered by an 18V brushless motor. Since there are fewer voltage drops and less friction, it ensures longer battery runtime and a longer lifespan of the tool. There aren’t that many cordless belt sanders to choose from, let alone ones that come with a brushless motor.

The Ridgid GEN5X comes in really handy for small jobs. For such a compact tool, the dust collection system is very efficient. The ergonomics on this model are pretty good as well.

However, even though cordless tools are super handy, they have one major downside—the battery and the charger are almost always sold separately.

Pros

  • Compact
  • Lightweight
  • Brushless motor
  • Ergonomic design
  • Great battery runtime

Cons

  • Battery and charger sold separately

Check Price on Amazon

Ryobi P450 Sander

Ryobi P450

Features

  • Belt size: 3″ x 18″
  • Weight: 6.2 lbs
  • Motor: 18V

The Ryobi P450 is a budget-friendly, compact belt sander that gives higher-end models a run for their money.

Many consider Ryobi to be Ridgid’s main competitor. It’s always a close race between the two. If you are looking for a cordless option, you needn’t look further than these two models.

Just like Ridgid’s model, the Ryobi P450 sports a highly efficient brushless motor. The cooler running motor ensures great performance and extended runtime.

It will run for 11 minutes on a 4.0 Ah battery. The Ryobi 450 takes maximum advantage of the brushless technology.

The tool comes with a 5-position pivoting pommel that lets you find the best angle for your guide hand. Thanks to the lever on the side, you can easily release the tension on the belt. The only problem is the fact that the lever is made of plastic, so it’s susceptible to damage.

To help prevent damage to finished parts of your workpiece, the Ryobi P450 includes an easy-to-use belt tracking knob. It allows you to center the belt with great simplicity and ease.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Brushless motor
  • Easy belt tracking
  • Budget-friendly
  • Great battery runtime

Cons

  • Battery and charger sold separately

Check Price on Amazon

Belt Sander Buying Guide

Sander Size

When it comes to belt width, bigger isn’t always better. The standard belt width is 3”. The belt width can go up to 6”, but a belt sander that big kind of goes against its own purpose.

When you have a model that wide, you are probably looking at a belt floor sander. Without a doubt, a floor belt sander is a great tool to have in your collection, but a well-designed floor disk sander will deliver the same results.

Unless you really need to have every type of tool in your workshop, it’s best to go with a standard-sized handheld model. You will save space, time, and money.

When it comes to belt length, here is what you need to know:

  • 3” x 18”: If you are a novice or have smaller hands, this is the size you should go with. Belt sanders of this size are compact and easy to control.
  • 3” x 21”: This size offers the best combination of balance, power, and speed. It’s the most popular option.
  • 3” x 24”: If you are a novice, this size might be difficult to control. It can also be less stable than other sizes, but it provides more sanding surface.
  • 4” x 24”: This is a great option when you’re working with large, flat workpieces.

Belt Grit

The grit size of the belt defines its coarseness. Belt grit is related to the size of the particles on the sandpaper and it is expressed in numbers.

The lower the number, the coarser the grit. Different grit numbers are used for different surfaces:

  • Veneer: 150 grit
  • Acrylic: 100 grit
  • Balsa wood: 100 grit
  • Plastics: 100 grit
  • Steel: 80 grit
  • Solid wood: 80 grit
  • Chipboard: 80/60 grit
  • Paint removal: 60/40 grit

The traditional grit material is aluminum oxide. It can be found in long-lasting dark brown premium belts or disposable khaki-color belts.

When it comes to coarser grits, many woodworkers prefer “planer” belts (zirconia). Zirconia belts are great because they don’t clog so easily. Zirconia has sharp, tough particles that cut more aggressively.

Zirconia belts are usually purple or bright blue. They are more expensive than premium aluminum oxide belts.

Power

The more amps a belt sander has, the more tasks it can perform. So, before you buy a belt sander, think about what you’ll be using it for. Belt sander motors range between 5 amps to 10 amps.

If you plan on using your belt sander on softwoods, you don’t need that many amps. But, if you want to use it on a piece of maple, it should pack more power.

Still, even a 5-amp belt sander is a very powerful tool. If you are new to belt sanders, you will need to master the tool before you get to work.

You wouldn’t want to try and put a nice finish on something right after you take the tool out of the box. You should practice with it for a few hours first.

How to Use a Belt Sander

The biggest mistake someone can make when using a belt sander is to push it down. When you push down a belt sander, you’re actually preventing it from doing its job—taking the hard work out of sanding. On top of that, you might mess up the whole surface.

And yet, many DIYers keep making this mistake. Let the weight do the work, that’s what the tool is for, don’t push on it.

Keep the speed even and avoid changing the direction. Be careful not to tip the tool. Just to be safe, put the cord over your shoulder.

When you’re working with a belt sander, you need to watch out for gouging—a very annoying and common problem. Horseshoe-shaped gouges will appear on the wood if you are not careful.

Dust can quickly build up on the plate under the belt so make sure to keep it clean. Avoid using grits finer than 120, and use clean new belts whenever you can.

Belt Sander Safety Tips

As far as power tools go, belt sanders are relatively safe. Nevertheless, it’s wise to take some precautions.

  • The average belt sander can exert quite a lot of force. Your work will slide right into you if it isn’t securely held. To prevent it from sliding, clamp a stop right next to the workpiece. You’d want to make sure the sander will clear the workpiece at the edge, so choose a stop that’s a bit thinner.
  • Every sander has a locking button. Before you plug in the sander, make sure the trigger is off. It may seem an obvious thing to do to some, but accidents still happen. You don’t want the tool to fly off as soon as you power it up.
  • You need to be extra careful when you’re using a belt sander on metal. Make sure to keep the sawdust and all other flammable materials away from the sparks. Remove the dust bag and vacuum the dust out. (Best compact circular saw)
  • Before you empty the dust bag or change belts, make sure the tool is unplugged. You may end up with a hefty scar if you fail to do so.
  • To protect your health, wear a dust mask while sanding. Breathing in dust isn’t just unpleasant; it’s bad on the lungs.
  • Belt sanders are very noisy tools, so it’s best to wear ear protection.
  • Before you cut the board to final length, belt-sand it if you can. After you do that, you can safely move on to finer grits.
  • A belt sander can wreck plywood in a blink of an eye. Dial down the variable speed when working with plywood.

Maintenance

Some belts have an arrow on the side that indicates the preferred direction. The belt should always be oriented properly. If it’s a nondirectional belt, you can install it either way.

To keep the belt centered, you may need to “track” it. Hold the tool up, power it on, and then check if the belt is working its way off the rollers or rubbing against the housing.

To center the belt on the rollers, adjust the tracking knob with the trigger on. Sometimes, you’ll need to do this when the sander is on the workpiece. But, if you get a model that has automatic tracking, you won’t need to do any of this.

You’ll be able to go at full throttle most of the time if your belt sander has variable speed. But, you’ll want to slow down when working with delicate wood.

Clean the Belt Regularly

If you want your work to always be at its best, keep the belt clean. This especially goes when you are working with pine or sappy woods. To remove the pitch buildup, use a belt-cleaning stick.

If your sander is large, clamp the stick and sand it. If it’s smaller, you can push the stick against the belt.

Sharpen Tools With a Belt Sander

Belt sanders are more versatile than one might think. You can use your belt sander for rough sharpening of chisels, knives, shovels, axes, and other tools.

Before you start, remove all the dust from the tool as well as the dust bag (again, you need to watch out for the sparks). For best results, use a zirconia belt.

Takeaway

Reliable, powerful, and incredibly versatile, the Makita 9903 is the best belt sander currently available on the market. No matter the task at hand, you can count on it to deliver an impeccably smooth finish. Like most other Makita power tools, the Makita 9903 makes a great addition to any workshop.

Scroll to Top