Which belt sander is best?
A belt sander is a very versatile tool. Its primary function is to quickly and evenly flatten wooden surfaces to ready for finishing. Portable handheld models are used for smaller projects while countertop or floor-mounted models are used for bigger jobs.
Choosing a suitable belt sander depends on your type of work, how often it’ll be used and where the work will be carried out. For versatility, it is hard to beat the WEN 6502T Belt and Disc Sander, a countertop model with both a 4-inch belt sander and a 6-inch disk sander.
What to know before you buy a belt sander
Handheld belt sanders
Handheld belt sanders come in a range of sizes for different purposes. The most versatile have a 3-inch or 4-inch wide sanding surface. Other, less common handheld models may have a long, narrow sanding face, making it ideal for squeezing into tight spaces or for working at awkward angles.
Countertop belt sanders
Countertop or bench belt sanders are designed for creating flat, square edges and straight, precise lines, whereas floor-mounted belt sanders are usually heavy-duty tools that can quickly remove large amounts of material. For more information about types of sanders and their various uses, check out the Best Belt Sanders review at BestReviews.
Almost any sanding job can be tackled with the right kind of belt sander. In general, the smaller the sanding project, the smaller the machine that is needed. Countertop belt sanders are ideal when working with small pieces of wood, as they usually incorporate a work table set at 90 degrees to the sanding belt. Handheld models are better for sanding items like wooden tables and chairs as they are easy to move around the workpiece.
The speed of the motor affects how powerful the tool is and how quickly it removes material. Some types of wood, like ebony and walnut, are extremely hard and can easily damage the motor if it is a lower powered model. A model with a variable speed selector can provide versatility when working with a wider range of materials.
What to look for in a quality belt sander
Not only do these belt sanders have adjustable speeds, but some also have angle adjustable sanding surfaces. This assists when working in tight spaces and for sanding angles on beveled edges and joints. Additionally, an adjustable side handle ensures a confidant grip in whichever position you use the sander.
Eventually, the sanding belt will wear out or you’ll need to switch to a different grit sanding paper for your latest task and the sanding belt will need to be replaced. On larger machines, this usually requires the use of basic hand tools. For smaller models, look for a quick release tension system, as this allows the belt to be removed with a single lever.
All types of sanding creates dust. Floor-mounted sanders can often be connected to a shop floor vacuum hose, whereas handheld models incorporate a removable dust bag. The smallest sanders don’t always come with a dust collection method. However, some smaller models have a port attachment that connects to a regular home vacuum cleaner. If using a model with a dust bag, don’t forget to stop and empty it during longer projects. Most dust bags are opaque, meaning it can be difficult to tell when it’s full.
How much you can expect to spend on a belt sander
Handheld belt sanders are relatively inexpensive, with many options under $100. For a multi-purpose countertop model expect to pay between $100-$300, but depending on their quality, large floor-mounted belt sanders can range into the thousands.
Belt sander FAQ
Are belt sanders dangerous?
A. Belt sanders are noisy and can create a lot of dust. Therefore, adequate protective clothing, such as eye protection, ear mufflers, work gloves and a breathing mask should be worn at all times. To better ensure you don’t accidentally breathe in sawdust, make sure to use shop vacuums or household vacuums with belt sander models that have the appropriate attachment features. Additionally, belt sanders run at high speeds, so it is important to follow the manufacturers’ recommendations and know how to stop them in an emergency.
What type of abrasive belts should I use on a belt sander?
A. Most belt sander manufacturers provide specific sanding belts for their tools. However, generic options are usually just as effective and can be a much cheaper option. Be sure to select the correct size belt for the type of sander you are using in order to avoid accidental injury or damage to the materials.
What’s the best belt sander to buy?
Top belt sander
What you need to know: This two-in-one tool has a flatbed with a 4-inch belt sander, which can be used vertically or horizontally, and a 6-inch disk sander on the side.
What you’ll love: Its cast iron base provides stability and prevents vibrations. It has a single-lever tension release system for quick and easy belt changes.
What you should consider: This model doesn’t have variable speed control.
Top belt sander for the money
What you need to know: This handheld tool has a 3-inch wide sanding surface and a 3-position adjustable handle for comfort.
What you’ll love: Its narrow front tip allows for sanding into corners and in confined areas. It boasts toolless belt changes and includes a built-in dust collecting bag.
What you should consider: Some users noted that the belt can slip during use.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This versatile tool has a long, narrow head for sanding in confined areas and for intricate detailing work.
What you’ll love: It is particularly useful for sanding awkwardly shaped items and has an adjustable speed motor for optimum control.
What you should consider: Its sanding surface is too small for large projects.
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Chris Gillespie writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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