Best Belt Sander Reviews and Ultimate Buying Guide in 2016

Sanding is probably most people’s least favourite job and, if you sand by hand, it can be really hard work and it can take an age to do. Fortunately, many manufacturers, like Makita, Hitachi, Black & Decker, WEN, and Porter-Cable, now produce high-quality belt sanders at affordable prices that take all the pain out of sanding.

The best belt sanders are amazingly versatile tools. They can be used to strip paint and varnish from wood, smooth down garden decking, sharpen tools, and they make no end of different woodworking jobs a lot easier. They also create a professional looking finish that would take hours to do with a piece of sandpaper and your own muscle power alone.

If you have never bought a belt sander before, or you are looking to replace your existing one, we have created this belt sander review and guide to help you choose the best belt sander for you.

We have tips on what to look for in a belt sander, advice on how to use a belt sander safely, tips on using a belt sander, and we give you our opinion on five of the best belt sanders on the market today

best-sander-reviews

A good belt sander will last you for many years and help you complete many jobs much faster and more professionally. We suggest that you start by thinking about what jobs you will be using your belt sander for because that will influence your decision on which one to buy. Then, take a look at our belt sander buying guide and our belt sander reviews and that will help you choose the right belt sander for you.

We hope that you find this belt sander guide useful and it helps you find the best sander for you.

I. Top 5 Best Belt Sanders Recommendations in 2016

Product
Name

Belt
Size

Editor
Rating

 
Makita 9903

3X21 Inch

Editor Rating: ★★★★¾ 


(4.8 / 5)
Read 175+
Customer
Reviews

Buy It on
Amazon.com

Hitachi SB8V2

3X21 Inch

Editor Rating: ★★★★½ 


(4.5 / 5)
Read 85+
Customer
Reviews

Buy It on
Amazon.com

PORTER-CABLE 362V 4X24

4X24 Inch

Editor Rating: ★★★★¾ 


(4.8 / 5)
Read 58+
Customer
Reviews

Buy It on
Amazon.com

Makita 9403 4" x 24" Belt Sander

4X24 Inch

Editor Rating: ★★★★¾ 


(4.7 / 5)
Read 168+
Customer
Reviews

Buy It on
Amazon.com

WEN 6500 4 x 36 and 6-Inch Disc Sander

4 x 36 and 6-Inch Disc

Editor Rating: ★★★★½ 


(4.5 / 5)
Read 222+
Customer
Reviews

Buy It on
Amazon.com

II. Short Reviews of 5 Best Belt Sanders

1. Makita 9903 Belt Sander Review | 3X21-Inch | Variable Speed | Cloth Dust Bag

Best-Belt-Sander-with-Cloth-Dust-Bag

A Good Belt Sander from Makita

The Makita 9903 is probably the best belt sander from Makita. It has a reliable 8.8 amp motor that delivers more than enough power to get even the toughest jobs done quickly. The motor is also very quiet compared to many other handheld belt sanders on the market, so that’s another big plus for this model.

This hand held belt sander from Makita has an automatic tracking device that will keep the sanding belt centralised during use, and it also features a neat front grip, which is ergonomically designed to reduce hand stress when you are using the equipment.

The Makita 9903 is easy to use, fast, and it’s very easy to control. It comes complete with a dust bag for catching all the debris and keeping the dust out of the air. This best sander from Makita is great for removing paint and varnish and taking woodwork back down to the clean and smooth bare wood.

Makita has excelled with this electric belt sander. It’s a perfectly balanced, precise, and very well designed belt sander that will be a tool you can rely on, time and time again.

What we liked about the Makita 9903 Belt Sander

  • Automatic tracking
  • ​Easy belt changes
  • ​Extremely reliable
  • ​Beautifully balanced and easy to control
  • Great all-round belt sander

2. Hitachi SB8V2 Belt Sander Review | 3X21-Inch | Variable Speed | Trigger Lock and Soft Grip Handles

Best-Hitachi-belt-sander

A Best Belt Sander From Hitachi

Aside from its powerful motor, the Hitachi SB8V2 comes with numerous standard power sander features that are primarily geared to provide its users with ease of use and comfort. This tool also features a variable speed control which enables you to quickly switch between different speeds, depending on the type of project you are working on.

The Hitachi SB8V2 is both durable and powerful. It is considered to be a professional-grade hand held belt sander. The tool comes with a powerful 9-amp motor and 3 X 21 inches sanding belt which enables you to easily work on steel and wooden surfaces. Maneuvering through tight edges and hard-to-reach areas is not a problem with this belt sander. The Hitachi SB8V2 also comes with a long lifespan, given that you have provided it with proper care and maintenance.

Things We Liked

  • Tracking was very stable
  • Great mid sized belt sander
  • Variable Speed

3. Porter-Cable 362V Belt Sander Review | 4X24-Inch | Variable Speed

best-Variable-Speed-Belt-Sanders

Porter-Cable 362V is a best Variable Speed Belt Sanders

The Porter-Cable 362V is a variable speed, 4-Inch by 24-Inch belt sander with a powerful 12 amp motor and we rate it as one of the best Variable Speed Belt Sanders on the market today. Its all-metal design makes it sturdy and durable and it’s ideal for jobs that need some extra power. This is a heavy duty belt sander that comes complete with a dust collection bag and you can easily make tracking adjustments with the easy to use belt-tracking knob. You can also adjust the speed of the sander to suit different jobs and different surfaces with the speed dial that goes from 1,000 to 1,500 SFPM.

For a very powerful belt sander, the Porter-Cable 362V is one the best variable speed belt sanders for comfort and ease of use too. The handles have been designed to make them easy to grip and hold onto and the big dust bag turns 360 degrees, so it will never get in your way while you are working.

The Porter-Cable 362V is a superb heavy duty sander that has been designed for ease of use, and its great value for money too.

What we liked about the Porter-Cable 362V belt sander

  • Large capacity dust bag
  • High power, 4- inch belt gets the big jobs done fast
  • ​Very comfortable to use
  • ​Well balanced weight
  • ​Variable speed for greater control

4. Makita 9403 Belt Sander Review | 4X24-Inch | Cloth Dust Bag

best-belt-sander-with-cloth-dust-bag

Makita 9403 4" x 24" is a good belt sander with cloth dust bag

One of the features that makes the Makita 9403 stand out as the best belt sander with cloth dust bag is how quiet it is compared with many other belt sanders. This belt sander is great for carpenters, deck builders and furniture makers and, despite that fact that it’s quiet; it has the power to deliver a fine finish and cut through the toughest surfaces. The Makita 9403 brilliantly combines speed, power, and ease of use and it is suitable for just about any sanding job. It has a powerful 11 amp motor, a 4-inch belt and a very efficient material removal system.

It’s easy to use and the front grip makes handling and control so simple as well as comfortable. It has a large capacity dust bag that can swivel 360 degrees so it’s easy to keep it out of the way while you are working.

The Makita 9403 is one of the quietest belt sanders in its class and definitely the best belt sander with cloth bag around at the moment.

What we liked about the Makita 9403 belt sander

  • Very quiet to use
  • Powerful with a good balance
  • Cuts through stock with ease
  • ​Very comfortable handles
  • Supper dust collection

5. WEN 6500 Belt & Disc Sander Review | 4x36-Inch & 6-Inch | Steel Base

best-belt-disc-sander

The WEN 6500 is a two-in -one sander that has both a 6-by-6 inch sanding disc and a 4-by-36 inch sanding belt. This is, without a doubt, the best belt disc sander when you are looking for a reliable and extremely versatile sander. With speeds of up to 1,150 feet per minute, the WEN 6500 belt and disc sander will make light work of jagged edges and splinters and leave you with perfectly smooth wood. The belt can also tilt up to 90 degrees, so it will accommodate most things you are working on and, with the addition of the 6-inch sanding disc as well, you can work on just about anything you can think of.

The whole machine sits on a sturdy steel base and there is a work table attached to the sanding disc too. What’s more, this being a WEN belt sander, you get a two-year warranty and access to their helpful customer support team. 

The WEN 6500 4 x 36-Inch Belt and 6-Inch Disc Sander with Steel Base is amazing value for money too, so check it out, because we think that it’s simply one of the best belt disc sander’s you can buy in its class.

What we liked about the 6500 belt and disc sander

  • Extremely versatile
  • Powerful, but easy to control
  • ​Adjustable angle on sanding belt
  • ​Solid construction
  • Amazing value for money

III. Using your sander safely

Belt sanders are a great tool for getting a job done quickly, but they are a serious piece of machinery that needs to be handled with care. However familiar you are with using a belt sander, and even if you have the best belt sander that money can buy, you should still follow the basic safety guidelines. Here are some tips that will make sure you stay safe when you are using a belt sander.

Wear ear defenders

Belt sanders are loud and prolonged exposure the level of sound that most belt sanders create can damage your hearing, so always wear ear defenders when you use a belt sander, even for the small jobs.

Protect your eyes

It’s also very important that you use eye protection because dust and other debris could fly up into your eyes and, potentially, blind you. Always wear a pair of safety goggles whenever you use a belt sander.

Wear a dust mask

Breathing in the dust created by a belt sander is very unpleasant and it could damage your lungs. Wear a dust mask when you are sanding, unless you have a very effective dust collection system attached to a shop vacuum.

Check the trigger before you plug in the sander

Most of the best belt sanders have a trigger lock, so that you don’t have to keep your finger on the trigger while you are sanding. That’s a great feature to have for when you are using the sander, but if the trigger is locked into the on position when you plug your belt sander into the mains, it is going to go flying across the room. Get into the habit of checking the trigger lock every time you plug the sander in and make sure that the switch is in the off position.

Clean the belt sander before you use it on metal

When you use a belt sander on metal, it will cause sparks, so clean out all the sawdust from your sander and remove the dust bag before you sand any metal objects. Also, check around your work area for any flammable material or any piles of sawdust that the sparks could potentially ignite.

Secure your work well

Remember that belt sanders exert a lot of force on the item you are sanding, so secure your work with clamps, or place a stop at the outer edge of the work to stop it sliding. If you don’t, whatever you are working on will simply slide right out from under the sander. If you do use a stop, make sure it is slightly thinner than the item you are working on, so you can still sand right up to the edge.

Be careful with loose clothing and jewellery

Be aware of anything you are wearing that may get tangled in the sander. Anything like necklaces, bracelets, and loose clothing could get caught up in the sander and cause you injury, so have a check of what you are wearing before you start using your belt sander.

Switch off the belt sander before you make any adjustments to it

If you need to clean a belt sander, change the belt, or adjust the tracking, always switch it off and unplug it from the mains. Although you might think that it is very unlikely you would press the trigger by accident, it really isn’t worth taking the risk.

Use your common sense

Using a belt sander safely is really just about common sense and taking sensible precautions. If you think about safety and use your belt sander with care, there is no reason at all why it should be dangerous.

IV. Tips on Using a Belt Sander

Preparing a belt Sander for Use

how-to-use-a-belt-sander

Before you begin using a belt sander, there are few simple things to check. Firstly, check that the sandpaper on the belt sander is not worn. If it is you will need to change the belt. It’s a good idea to check the area around you to make sure you have enough room to move around, and check that the power cable is free of loops and furls so that you won’t have to stop working to untangle the cable. Finally, always make sure that you have the protective gear before you use a belt sander. Take a look at our section on how to use a belt sander safely for more information on this.

Use the right kind of sandpaper for the job

It’s important to use the right king of sandpaper for the job in hand. If you use sandpaper with rough grit, you will be able to sand down rough surfaces easier and faster, but you will need to switch to a fine grit sandpaper to create a smooth finish on a surface. For the best belt sander results, it is always advisable to test the sandpaper on a piece of scrap wood first to check the finish that it will provide is what you need.

Be careful with belt sanders

You can use a belt sander straight out of the box, but if you have never used one before, it might take a little bit of practice before you can use it really effectively. With practice, the tool will begin to feel like an extension of your own body and you will be able to sand things with ease. The more you practice, the more confident you will become. You will be able to sand really fast, you will get amazing results, and you will be able to use your belt sander perfectly safely.

Getting creative with your belt sander

A belt sander is a very versatile tool and you might be surprised at how many uses it has. You can use your best belt sander to put a new finish on a table top or give a new lease of life to wood floors. You can use it to shape wood as well. Did you know that a good belt sander can be used to sharpen knives, axes, chisels, and other tools? That’s just a few examples of the many things that you can do with a good belt sander.

Be prepared to take advice

A lot of people think that sanding of any kind is a really boring job, but a belt sander takes a lot of the monotony out of the job and you can get some amazing results very quickly. If you are new to using a belt sander, keep your eyes and ears open, because there is lots of great advice to be had on how to make the most out of your best belt sander. Look online for tips and advice, or ask friends who have belt sanders like yours for their help when you need a few tips.

V. Benefits of a Belt Sander

best-belt-&-disc-sander

Belt sanders are a great tool have and they have so many different uses. Buy the best belt sander you can and you will be able to do many jobs far faster than you have ever been able to them in the past and you will be able to achieve a professional looking finish every time. Here are just a few of the many benefits that will gain by buying a good belt sander.

Belt sanders are more convenient than other types of sanders.

Belt sanders are lightweight, compact and portable. They can be easily stored away in a cupboard and, when you want to use it again, they take no time at all to set up and get ready for use. They are ideal for those times that you want to add a quick, professional looking finish to a small piece of work.

They are very manoeuvrable

Belt sanders are compact and light and that makes them very easy to use. Because they are lightweight and compact, you can easily reach the difficult to get to spots, like edges and corners, and you can control the sander perfectly accurately on smaller, more difficult pieces of work.

Easily strip down woodwork

Belt sanders are the very best tool for stripping woodwork back to the original wood. The best belt sanders will easily take any residues off the surface, like paint or varnish, and leave you with a beautifully clean and smooth finish on which you can apply new paint or wood stain. All you need for a perfect finish is your belt sander configured correctly for the job and a steady hand.

Belt sanders operate at high speeds

Belt sanders are designed to operate at high speed, so you will be able to get jobs done far quicker than you would be able to with other types of sanders. Many professional carpenters and builders choose to use a belt sander to quickly do an initial sanding down before they get into the finer details of a job. There are so many different uses for a good belt sander. You can sand down furniture, sand down decking, put a great finish on hardwood floors, and there many, many other DIY projects can be made a lot easier with a good belt sander too.

VI. Things to Look For When Choosing a Belt Sander

There are a few basic features that should be aware of and a few extra options that you may like to consider. Belt sanders do vary in size, weight, and price, so you need to think about what you will be using the sander for and how big the jobs are that you will be doing. Here are some of the basic things that you should be looking for when you buy a belt sander.

Belt-sander-reviews

The size and shape of the nose

The nose of a belt sander is a part that the belt wraps around, right at the very front of the machine. If you are planning to work on soft woods or jobs that will require some precision, you will need a belt sander that has a nose that is rounded and protrudes well out in front of the sander. If you are planning to use the sander for more heavy-duty, large-scale work, the positioning of the front nose is not so important.

Automatic tracking systems

The best belt sanders that you can buy will have automatic tracking systems, which ensure that the belt always stays centred, no matter how fast the motor is running. You can buy belt sanders that have manual tracking, but automatic tracking makes things a lot easier.

Dust bags

Belt sanders produce an awful lot of dust when you use them, so you should be looking for a sander that has a detachable dust bag that will keep the bulk of the dust and another residue out of the air. Most good belt sanders have this feature as standard, but one thing to look for is that the dust bag won’t restrict your movement when you are using the belt sander. Some belt sanders can also be attached to shop vacuums, which will capture even more of the dust.

Check the weight

Belt sanders are designed to be portable and easy to use, but you should always check the weight of a belt sander before you buy it. Some belt sanders can be quite heavy, which makes them more difficult transport, but a heavy sander will achieve a smooth surface with less effort from you. Ideally, you need a sander that is light enough to move around easily, but heavy enough to still provide some down force on the surface you are sanding down.

Locking pistol trigger

Ideally, a good belt sander will have a switch mechanism that looks a bit like a pistol trigger. These are very easy to use and comfortable on the fingers too. The other thing to look for on a belt sander is a trigger lock so that you don’t have to keep your finger held down while you are using the sander.

Best-Belt-sander

VII. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What protective gear do I need to wear when using a belt sander?

  • You should always take care when using a belt sander and you should use the appropriate safety equipment. As a minimum, you should wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from flying dust and debris, or even a full face shield, and you should wear a dust mask over your nose and mouth so that you don’t inhale the fine dust. You may also want to wear ear defenders because some belt sanders can be extremely noisy.

What width of belt should I buy?

  • The majority of the best belt sanders have belts that are three inches wide and that will be enough for most jobs. You can buy wider belt sanders for larger jobs, but they are not so versatile because they won’t be suitable for the smaller jobs that need more precision. If you know that you have a lot of projects that will require large areas to be sanded, then a wider let might be appropriate.

Does the weight of the belt sander matter?

  • Most professionals agree that the weight of a sander is very important. While you may want it to be light enough to be able to carry it around easily, it needs to be heavy enough so that you don’t need to apply pressure to make it sand properly. If the weight of the sander alone is enough, you will get a much smoother and more consistent finish.

VIII. Conclusion

We hope that you found this belt sander review and guide useful. There are many brands which you can choose such as: Makita Belt Sander, Black & Decker Belt Sander, Porter Cable Belt Sander,... Besides, you maybe also want to read Belt Disc Sander Reviews. and they come at different price levels to suit all budgets. Whether you need a straight forward belt sander or a combined belt and disc sander like, the WEN 6500, will depend on the jobs that you need to do.

What is for sure is that with so many belt sanders available, you need to take your time choosing the best belt sander for you and you should avoid buying the first one that you see. Check out our belt sander reviews and think about which one will meet your requirements the best. It’s also a good idea to look at customer reviews of belt sanders and ask some of your friends for their advice too.

When you get the right belt sander for you, you will find that it becomes an invaluable part of your tool kit that will help you complete jobs a lot faster and complete them with a professional looking finish you will be proud of.