Looking for a belt sander to use for your personal woodworking projects? With so many products on the market, it can be tough to choose the right tool. This guide will help you choose the best belt sander for you and tell you what to look for in different models.
Although both cordless and corded models are available, they accomplish the same thing: they help you shape, finish, and smooth wood with the help of a moving abrasive belt. Here’s how to buy the best belt sander for woodworking and other projects.
Table of Contents
- Our Top Picks: Best Belt Sanders
- 1. Makita 9403 Belt Sander
- 2. The Skil 7510-01 Belt Sander
- 3. Black + Decker DS321 Belt Sander
- 4. WEN 6321 Belt Sander
- 5. Hitachi SB8V2 Belt Sander
- Belt Sanders 101
- Best Belt Sanders Brands
- Wrap Up
Our Top Picks: Best Belt Sanders
Let’s jump right into the best belt sanders available. Although dozens of models get the job done, these five belt sanders are among the very best of the best. They’re powerful, efficient, easy to use, and durable.
Here are the top five belt sanders for your money:
1. Makita 9403 Belt Sander
The Makita 9403 Belt Sander is undoubtedly one of the best models on the market – but it’s also among the most expensive. But the higher price brings with it a level of durability and performance that can’t be matched by budget models. This Makita model is top-quality no matter how you look at it.
Most noticeable is the powerful sanding action. Few other models come close in terms of overall sanding power. In fact, the entire device is built with heavy-duty components to withstand the demands of heavy usage. Also noticeable is the classic design. This Makita sander has gone through relatively few design changes since its release. It was great when it came out and it’s great now. Don’t change what isn’t broke.
Other notable features are the ergonomic handle grip, included dust collection bag, and sealed motor to prevent damage. The only drawback to this belt sander is its price. It’s too expensive for the majority of casual users, not to mention too powerful.
What We Like:
- Powerful sanding action
- Ergonomic grip
- Sealed motor construction
What We Don’t Like:
- Very expensive
2. The Skil 7510-01 Belt Sander
The Skil 7510-01 Belt Sander is one of the best value belt sanders available. Although it’s an older model, it’s withstood the test of time as a great budget model for casual users looking for power and ease of use. Among the most notable features are the Pressure Control Technology, Auto Track System, and Micro-Filtration. These all make the device easier and safer to use.
This little machine is surprisingly powerful for its small size and light weight. It’s not strong enough for heavy duty applications but is an excellent option for casual users. In fact, casual users will enjoy just how easy this machine is to use. The ergonomic grip, single lever belt changes, and clear view dust can canister is only the tip of the iceberg.
Of course, this Skil belt sander isn’t right for professionals or those that plan to use it on a daily basis – but it was never designed with such heavy use in mind.
What We Like:
- Great value versus quality
- Lots of features to improve ease of use
What We Don’t Like:
- Not powerful enough for big jobs
3. Black + Decker DS321 Belt Sander
The Black + Decker DS321 Belt Sander is a versatile belt sander for homeowners and DIY enthusiasts. Like the Skil belt sander above, this Black & Decker model is a cheap option that boasts surprisingly high (and time-tested) quality and performance.
This device is built from the ground up with ease of use in mind. In fact, it’s among the easiest to control (and most precise) belt sanders we’ve used. Naturally, the affordable price means it’s not as powerful as high-end models. Although this means that professionals should look the other way, the sander is still more than powerful enough for the majority of casual users.
Notable features include the retractable, three-position handle and innovative front roller to make using the tool even easier. Even though it’s a budget model, one feature we’d really like to see is variable speed control.
What We Like:
- Ergonomic handle
- Durable construction
What We Don’t Like:
- No variable speed controls
4. WEN 6321 Belt Sander
The WEN 6321 Belt Sander is an excellent budget option for those closely watching their bank accounts. Like other budget belt sanders, this WEN sander isn’t as powerful as top-of-the-line models, but it does provide remarkable high-speed sanding for its price.
It’s easy to control and maneuver thanks to its streamlined body design, ergonomic handle, and variable speed controls. WEN designed this belt sander with versatility in mind. A variety of controls, including tension and tracking adjustment, enable you to finetune the device to the specifics of your project.
Naturally, the low price means this power tool isn’t built for big jobs. It performs excellently for most DIY uses, but you must look at other models if heavy duty applications are in your future. Finally, WEN the company is notable for its excellent customer service team that will help you with any questions or issues that arise.
What We Like:
- High-speed performance
- Excellent customer service
What We Don’t Like:
- Not for heavy-duty projects
5. Hitachi SB8V2 Belt Sander
The Hitachi SB8V2 Belt Sander is another top-of-the-line model loved by professionals around the world. In many ways, this belt sander serves as a sort of in-between for top-end models and budget models. It’s powerful enough for heavy duty applications by professionals but remains easy enough to use for casual DIY projects.
This Hitachi belt sander boasts a powerful motor, ergonomic handle, tracking window, dust collection bag, and wide motor as its key features. It also comes with a 5-year warranty. The main drawback to this device is its heft. It’s quite a bit bulkier and heavier than other models in its class, making it slightly more tiring to use, especially for more intensive projects.
Still, this is a quality and intuitive belt sander for professionals and casual DIY enthusiasts alike.
What We Like:
- Great value
- Easy to use
- Lots of intuitive features
What We Don’t Like:
- Heavy and bulky
Belt Sanders 101
A belt sander is a straightforward tool. Although many DIY newbies feel uncomfortable using this tool at first, like many power tools, they’re actually among the easiest and safest to use.
Despite their simplicity, not all belt sanders are created equal. You must have at least a basic understanding of this tool during the buying process. Today, we’re going to look at the most important components, features, and characteristics of belt sanders to ensure that you buy the correct model for you.
Here’s the low-down on belt sanders:
What Is a Belt Sander?
A belt sander is a power tool designed for sanding wood and other materials.
According to The Family Handyman, belt sanders are among the most powerful sanding tools available for woodworking. Yet despite their robust sanding power, belt sanders remain easy to use and remarkably precise for tasks such as sanding a scribed line.
Because belt sanders are larger and more powerful than other types of power sanders, most models do have a slight learning curve. If you’re new to belt sanders, it’s important to practice on scrap wood before taking it to the actual project that you’re working on.
Why You Need a Belt Sander
Belt sanders are the right choice for a variety of jobs. Part of what makes them such an important woodworking tool to add to your DIY tool kit is the fact that they are so versatile. Like all sanders, a belt sander excels at smoothing and finishing wood and other materials.
But because they are among the most powerful models, they are also one of the best tools for removing unwanted gunk and material (such as paint), before using a more precise sander for finish sanding. Belt sanders even work well on soft metals. They’re robust enough to smooth/polish these with ease and typically won’t become clogged like other types of power sanders.
Do It Yourself states that although belt senders are powerful and must be closely controlled at all times, they’re still an efficient sanding option for anyone from beginners to experts. Some of the many projects that you can use a belt sander for include planning doors, sanding reclaimed lumber, refinishing furniture, and removing paint from a deck.
Make sure to buy a belt sander that matches your experience level as most high-end models are too powerful for beginners to safely and effectively use without injury or ruining a project.
Belt Sanders Buying Guide
Not everyone needs the most powerful and robust belt sander available. A lot of homeowners and DIYers can get away with a less powerful, easier-to-control (more affordable) model. Still, it’s important to look at a few key factors while making your decision.
Here are a few top tips to buy the right belt sander:
- Power – Motor power (usually between 6 and 10 amps) should match the type of project you expect to use the tool.
- Size – Larger models are more powerful but are more difficult to control. Most DIYers are best off with something in the middle. Say, a belt that’s 3” wide by 21” long.
- Speed Settings – Variable speed settings give you more control over the sander and enable greater precision for all projects.
- Corded vs Cordless – Corded models are more powerful while cordless models are far more portable.
- Grip Handle – A comfortable and ergonomic grip handle increases precision and makes using the tool far easier.
Take this information into account while shopping for a belt sander to ensure that you buy an efficient and powerful model. Woodworkers Guild of America has an excellent belt sander YouTube video with tips on the best features to look for in a belt sander for woodworking.
Best Belt Sanders Brands
Many different companies sell belt sanders. Although you don’t necessarily need to buy from a big-name brand, it never hurts to go with a company that maintains a solid reputation.
Here are five of the most reputable belt sander brands:
Makita is one of the most notable names in power tools in the world. Founded and headquartered in Japan, the company has been producing top-quality power tools since 1915. In addition to a stellar reputation for performance and customer satisfaction, Makita has long played a pivotal role in the development and innovation of new power tools.
Hitachi is another Japanese power tool manufacturer with a solid worldwide reputation. Not only that, but the company actually operates eleven total business segments, ranging from information and telecommunications systems to railway and urban systems to financial services to construction machinery. Although notable among woodworkers and other tradespeople for their power tools, these tools only play a small role in the company’s business plan.
Porter-Cable has been in the power tool business since 1906. In addition to their belt sanders, they’re known for their circular saws, jigsaws, and reciprocating saws as well as a long list of other tools. The company was founded in Syracuse, New York and is now headquartered in Jackson, Tennessee. Porter-Cable is now a subsidiary of Stanley Black & Decker.
Black & Decker
Black & Decker is another notable name in the American power tool and home improvement world. Since their inception in 1910, they’ve created and developed some of the best and most innovative power tools around. Although their belt sanders are always a top seller, the company is also known for the performance and durability of its other power tools, including its drills and drivers, power saws, and hardware. Black & Decker is now a subsidiary of Stanley Black & Decker.
WEN has been in the business since 1950. During this time, they grew from a small start as a family business into one of the most reputable power tool manufacturers today. In fact, they were pivotal in the development of bringing electricity and tools together into one package. Their wide range of tools and equipment includes power tools, lawn and garden equipment, generators, and much more.
Here are the answers to a few of the most frequently asked questions about belt sanders:
The type of belt sander you need depends on the specifics of your project and the frequency you expect to use it.
Cordless belt sanders are more portable and easier to use but typically lack the brute sanding power that corded belt sanders boast.
Every belt sander works a little differently. Start by reviewing the owner’s manual that came with the specific model. From there, this video from House Improvements will point you in the right direction.
Periodic maintenance is key to keeping your belt sander in good condition. Start by keeping the device clean after each use, including vacuum cleaning as necessary. Do It Yourself has a great guide on how to maintain a belt sander.
Proper maintenance (and replacement of worn-out parts) will ensure that a top-quality belt sander lasts years or decades on end – if not your entire lifetime.
So, which belt sander is the best of the best? In terms of performance, it’s hard to go wrong with the Makita 9403 Belt Sander. Not only is this top-of-the-line belt sander powerful, efficient, and durable, but it’s also easy to use. There’s a reason it’s a top choice for carpenters, contractors, and professional woodworkers around the word.
But the Makita 9403 Belt Sander boasts a high price tag. Although it’s a great value power tool for professionals, it doesn’t always make sense for amateurs that will just use it every now and again.
That’s where the mid-range Hitachi SB8V2 Belt Sander comes into the picture. This model is also powerful, efficient, and durable, but it clocks in at a much lower price than the Makita model, making it a more logical choice for casual DIY enthusiasts. What about those that only plan to use their belt sander once or twice a year?
Although these models are not as robust as their more expensive counterparts, all three of the models under $50 on our list above are excellent choices. The Black + Decker DS321, in particular, is an excellent value budget model belt sander for those that demand efficient sanding and planning without breaking the bank. Needless to say, you’re sure to be happy with any of the five belt sanders on our list above, depending on your individual needs and preferences.