With the best belt sander in your workshop, sanding different workpieces will always be more effortless, and you will also finish the job much faster and end up with smoother finishes.
A belt sander, just as the name suggests, will have a motor-powered belt that moves at high speeds to remove unwanted material from the workpiece.
While this tool is typically for sanding, it can also come in handy for other things like sharpening tools.
And because belt sander will differ in several aspects such as motor capacity, belt size, and the speed that they deliver, you need to choose keenly.
To help make choosing one easy, check out our review of top-rated belt sanders and buying guide below.
What To Check Before Buying Belt Sander?
1. Stationary vs Handheld Belt Sander
Best sander will come in two main types, which are the stationary and handheld models. And so as you choose the best belt sander, you will have to decide which one to go for between these two types.
Stationary belt sanders are larger and high capacity models for use from one spot in the workshop. These belt sanders can be benchtop or floor standing, and they will be ideal for busy workshops that do a lot of sanding.
Handheld belt sanders are smaller and more portable, and they are the most common types. With these sanders, you get something you can carry and use from different locations. However, they will often have a relatively smaller capacity and are a little lacking in power.
2. Belt Sander Power
Your belt sander also needs to be powerful enough to ensure it will give you great service. Here, the actual amount of power that you will need depends on your projects or how you will be using the sander.
These sanders will have anything from 5 to 15 amp motor, which should be powerful enough for both DIY and professional users. However, some models like the Wen 6515T will have a smaller 2.3-amp motor, but they are still good enough for DIY and hobbyist projects.
For heavy-duty applications, a more powerful belt sander like the 11-amp Makita 9403 will be a more favorable option.
3. Size of Belt Sander
The size of the belt sander that you get matters as it will determine how easy it will be to handle. And besides getting a more compact model that you can use with ease and carry around, you also need to make sure the size of the belt is also right.
For the belt size, what you need will depend on your specific projects. However, the 3 by 21 inches belt is the most common. Many woodworkers will prefer this belt size as it is both wide and long enough for a wide variety of applications.
Other typical sizes are the 4 x 24 inches and 1 x 30 inches, which can also work for you depending on how you intend to use the sander.
Belt sanders will come in either fixed or variable speed models. Fixed speed models will only provide a one-speed option, which can limit the functionality of the tool as you will only be able to use it for specific sanding projects.
With the variable speed models, you get an adjustable speed that will ensure you can easily adjust the tool to suit the task at hand.
Overall, the variable speed models will be the best option. However, you also need to consider the speed range because, the wider the speed range, the more versatile the tool. Something that provides 690 to 1,440 feet per minute like Makita 9903 will be good enough for most sanding jobs.
5. Belt Sander Weight
Weight also matters a lot, and this is more so if you are buying the handheld belt sanders as you will need to hold them on your hand for extended periods. Here a lightweight belt sander is often more preferable as it will be comfortable to hold for long periods with minimal hand fatigue.
A belt sander will weigh anything from 4 to 20 pounds, and so it should be easy to get just the right weight for you. But, make sure that you also do not compromise on the functionality and build quality just to get the lightest model.
9 Best Belt Sanders of 2021 Reviewed
1. Black & Decker DS321 (Best Overall)
2. Skil 7510-01 (Best Budget)
3. Wen 6321 (Best Portable)
4. Makita 9403 (Top-Rated)
5. Makita 9903 (Super-Quiet)
6. Metabo HPT SB8V2 (Ideal for Different Materials)
7. Wen 6515T (Multifunctional 2-in-1)
8. Genesis GBS321A (Low-Profile Design)
9. Porter-Cable 362V (Lightweight but Powerful)
1. Black & Decker DS321 – Best Overall
Photo: Black & Decker
- Motor Power: 7 Amps
- Belt Size: 3 x 21 inches
- Speed: 800 ft./min.
- Weight: 8.2 pounds
Black & Decker DS321 makes the top of our list not only because it is a reliable product from a top brand, but also thanks to the innovative front roller design that allows users to reach into tight spaces easily.
The 7-amp motor and 800 feet per minute speed will make this belt sander perfect for light duty tasks, and hence, DIYers and hobbyists will find this tool highly useful.
Operating this belt sander should be more comfortable with the 3-position retractable handle. And the top of the belt is exposed for use for a wide variety of applications.
There is a highly effective dust management system on this belt sander, and many users will love that angled belt design, and a low profile body will allow for more flush sanding.
The belt tracking seems a little wanting, and you will need more frequent adjustments when working on larger projects. But, the adjustment is quick and easy, which should make things a little better for you.
- Easy sanding in tight places
- Allows for more flush sanding
- Ideal for a variety of application
- Comfortable multi-position handle
- Effective dust management
- Poor belt tracking
2. Skil 7510-01 – Best Budget
- Motor Power: 6 Amps
- Belt Size: 3 x 18 inches
- Weight: 6.75 pounds
Skil 7510-01 proves that you do not always have to spend a lot of money to land a good belt sander. Despite being the cheapest option on our belt sander review, this is a well-built-model with a lot to offer and will always deliver fast and smooth sanding.
This belt sander can handle practically any wood surface. And while the 6-amp motor might still not be powerful enough for some tasks, to some extent, this description is accurate as there is hardly any sanding job that hobbyists and DIYers will not tackle with this sander.
Key among its most impressive traits is the pressure control technology. With this technology, there is an indicator that will illuminate when you apply just the right amount of pressure to ensure you get then best sanding outcomes.
There is an automatic track system that will help keep the belt centered throughout to eliminate the need for adjustments. And you can easily sand flush to the edges for increased sanding capacity.
Managing the dust should not be an issue as this belt sander has both a vacuum attachment and micro-filtration. Also, the included dust canister has a clear view to ensure you know when it needs emptying.
Noise is probably the main shortcoming for this belt sander, but for its price, this is a small issue. What’s more, with good ear protection, you will hardly ever need to worry about the noise.
- Highly affordable
- Easy belt change
- Efficient dust management system
- Handy pressure control technology
- Allows for flush edge sanding
- Can be quite noisy
3. Wen 6321 – Best Portable
- Motor Power: 7 Amps
- Belt Size: 3 x 21 inches
- Speed: 820 ft./min.
- Weight: 6 pounds
At just 6 pounds, the Wen 6321 is one of the lightest models on our list. The smaller weight not only makes it our best portable belt sander but also ensures you can hold and use it for lengthy sanding jobs with little vibration.
This belt sander will include a lock-on trigger switch that will eliminate the need to keep your finger on the trigger. With this function and ergonomic handle, this is one of the most comfortable sanders to use in its class.
Changing the sanding belt is quick and easy with the quick-release mechanism that will also eliminate the need for tools.
There is a protruding front roller on this sander for easy access to tight spaces when sanding, and with the detachable dust bag, dust management is more efficient and effective.
Tracking seems to require more frequent adjustment than when using other models. However, for an under $50 belt sander, this is something you can live with, and with the tracking adjustment knob, the adjustment will be easy. Also, there is no variable speed, but for the price of this sander, this is also hardly an issue.
- Easier to carry around
- Quick and easy belt changes
- Nice, removable dust bag
- Ergonomic handle
- Convenient lock-in trigger
- More frequent tracking adjustment
- No variable speed
4. Makita 9403 – Top-Rated Belt Sander
- Motor Power: 11 Amps
- Belt Size: 4 x 24 inches
- Speed: 1,640 ft./min.
- Weight: 13 pounds
Makita 9403 is a top-rated belt sander that will make use of a powerful 11-amp motor to ensure you get more than enough power to tackle any workpiece. Also, this belt sander has a wider 4-inch belt and will provide a speed of 1,640 feet per minute to ensure fast and efficient material removal.
With the larger front grip, this belt sander will be more comfortable to use, and you can hold it for extended periods with no hand fatigue. This sander will also make it possible to sand flush to a wall.
The 84 dB noise rating means that this will be a quieter belt sander for even more comfortable use. Durability is guaranteed by the labyrinth construction that will help protect the motor and bearings from contamination to ensure longer service life.
It is important to note that there is another model of this belt sander, the Makita 9404, which is more compact, has a powerful motor and delivers speeds of up to 1,440 feet per minute, and will hence also be a good buy.
Makita 9403 is the priciest model on our list, but the price stems from the higher capacity and more powerful motor that allows it to handle larger workpieces and do more sanding within a short time.
- Wide belt for fast material removal
- Comfortable and easy-to-use handle
- Durable construction
- Quieter operation
- Allows for flush wall sanding
- Relatively heavier
5. Makita 9903 – Super-Quiet Belt Sander
- Motor Power: 8.8 Amps
- Belt Size: 3 x 21 inches
- Speed: 690 – 1,440 ft./min.
- Weight: 9.5 pounds
With a noise rating of 85 dB, the Makita 9903 offers super quiet operation, and you can be confident that you can use it without having to wear any ear protection. Besides the quiet operation, this belt sander still has a lot more to offer.
Its unique design allows it to sand flush to the wall, and hence making this a more versatile tool as it will come in handy for various projects. Also, this belt sander has an auto-tracking belt system that will ensure you can track the belt without any adjustments.
Operation is guaranteed to be comfortable thanks to the front grip design, and you can easily keep the work area clean thanks to the inclusion of a dust bag.
The electronic speed control allows you to pick your preferred speed or to match the speed to the task at hand, and you can choose from 690 to 1,440 feet per minute.
Being the second priciest item on our belt sander review, some potential buyers can find this model a little out of reach, but the price is a reflection of its build quality. Also, the dust port can get in your way when sanding in tight areas, but this is an easy issue to work around once you get used to the tool.
- Super-quiet operation
- Allows for sanding flush to walls
- Comfortable and easy operation
- Dust bag ensures you get a cleaner workspace
- Variable and precise speed control
- A little more expensive
- Poor dust port placement
6. Metabo HPT SB8V2 – Ideal for Different Materials
Photo: Metabo HPT
- Motor Power: 9 Amps
- Belt Size: 3 x 21 in
- Speed: 820 – 1,475 ft./min.
- Weight: 9.5 pounds
One of the main things that will make the Metabo HPT SB8V2 a fantastic belt sander is the fact that it is a versatile machine that can sand a wide variety of material. Besides wood, this 9-amp belt sander also has what it takes to sand different metal types and plastic.
Its versatility stems from the variable speed control that will allow you to choose your preferred speed from 820 to 1,475 feet per minute. And to make this an even better tool, you can easily sand in corners as the dust bag is on the left side.
There is a tracking window that will ensure you maintain perfect visibility of the sanding surface for better outcomes. Users are assured of a comfortable operation thanks to the soft elastomer grip on the main and auxiliary handles.
As expected, this powerful belt sander can be quite noisy, but the sound it produces is manageable with some ear protection. The belt seems to wander a little, which should be expected from almost any belt sander, but the good news is that with the conveniently located knob adjustments are a breeze.
- Sands a wide variety of materials
- Improved corner sanding
- Comfortable grip
- Handy tracking window
- Convenient dust bag mount
- Noisier sander
- Belt still wanders a little
7. Wen 6515T – Multifunctional 2-in-1 Sander
- Motor Power: 2.3 Amps
- Belt Size: 1 x 30 inches
- Speed: 3,160 ft./min
- Weight: 16 pounds
It is always good to have a tool made for multifunctional use like the Wen 6515T. With this 2-in-1 sander, you will hardly need any other sanding tool as it will include both a belt and disc sander to cater to all your sanding jobs.
Sanding is guaranteed to be more precise as there is a built-in miter gauge. And with the beveling work table, this sander will open you up to more sanding possibilities.
The heavy-duty base on this sander will help make sanding easy as it prevents wobbling and wandering. You will never have to worry about dust management because there are two handy dust ports. This sander allows for quick belt changes to minimize downtimes.
While the 16-pound total weight is on the higher side, it is still manageable, and unless you plan to use the sander overhead, you will hardly feet it.
- Includes both disc and belt sander
- Sturdy and beveling work table
- More compact design
- Heavy-duty base
- East belt change
- Quite heavy
8. Genesis GBS321A – Low-Profile Belt Sander
- Motor Power: 8 Amps
- Belt Size: 3 x 21 in
- Speed: 390 – 1,180 ft./min.
- Weight: 8.5 pounds
Genesis GBS321A comes in a low-profile design that will ensure you will not only get an incredible balance but also allows this sander to get into tight spaces for quick and effortless sanding.
With this single-lever system, changing the belt is faster and easier. And this belt sander will include an easy-to-use variable speed control to ensure it will give you an easy time when sanding.
Comfort is guaranteed by the ergonomic and adjustable handle that will allow you to get the perfect working position. Because this sander will come with a dust bag, you can be sure that dust management will be easier for you.
The speed on this belt sander will max out at 1,180 feet per minute, which for some users is not high enough. But, for the simple sanding tasks, this belt sander is meant to do, this speed is still quite decent.
- Fits into tight spots
- Quick belt changes
- Comfortable adjustable handle
- Dust bag helps keep the workspace clean
- Speed is relatively lower
9. Porter-Cable 362V – Lightweight but Powerful
- Motor Power: 12 Amp
- Belt Size: 3 x 24 in
- Speed: 1,000 – 1,500 SFPM
- Weight: 4.4 pounds
With the 12-amp motor, the Porter-Cable 362V is the most powerful model on our belt sander review, and so this will be a more appropriate tool for anyone looking for something for heavy-duty use.
This belt sander is more lightweight for minimal user fatigue. It weighs just 4.4 pounds, which means you can carry it around easily.
When it comes to the actual operation, it will give you an easy time as it includes ergonomic handles and a belt tracking knob that will make belt adjustments a breeze. And you will never have to worry about dust management, as this sander comes with a large capacity swiveling dust bag.
There is hardly any drawback with this belt sander besides the dust bag being a little more prone to leakages. However, this is an easy issue to fix with a good clip.
- More powerful motor
- Lightweight and portable
- Quick and easy belt adjustment
- Large capacity and swiveling dust bag
- Ergonomically-designed handles
- Dust bag is prone to leaking
How to Use a Belt Sander?
Once you land that perfect belt sander, you also need to use it correctly. But, this is also quite easy as you only have to follow the simple steps highlighted below.
Step 1: Keep Safe
The first step when using your belt sander, just like with any other power tool, is to make sure that the operation will be safe. Here you need to make sure that any clothing you are wearing is out of the way because these machines have significant torque and can be dangerous with loose clothing.
Step 2: Hold the Sander with Two Hands
No matter how small and lightweight your belt sander might be, you should avoid the temptation of trying to use it with one hand.
For the best results and safety, you should have one hand on the trigger and the other on the forward handle to ensure you get maximum stability and better control of the tool.
Step 3: Ease the Sander Down
Once you have a proper grasp of the belt sander, you can then ease it down the workpiece with a slight forward motion.
Also, make sure the rear roller contacts the wood first before placing the rest of the sanding face over the material.
Step 4: Work with the Wood Grain
As you are sanding, the belt tends to grab the wood, and hence forcing the sander forward, and so you need to make sure you maintain a firm grip.
Also, try to work with the wood grain as much as possible, and ensure you do not allow the sanding belt to stay in one place for long.
Step 5: Stop and Check Frequently
Remember to stop and check the progress of the belt sander frequently when sanding to make sure you are getting the desired results.
And once your material is smooth enough, the job should be done.
Belt sanders are one of the most reliable sanding machines you can have in your workshop. If you are looking for the best belt sander to add to your tool collection, there is something for you on our list.
From our reviews, the Black & Decker DS321 is our best overall model thanks to the innovative front roller and the fact that it strikes a perfect balance between features, functionality, and cost.
For DIYers that do not have a lot of cash to spend on their belt sander, the Skil 7510-01 will be a good buy as it still does a fantastic job despite the small price tag.
In this post:
- What To Check Before Buying Belt Sander?
- 9 Best Belt Sanders of 2021 Reviewed
- 1. Black & Decker DS321 – Best Overall
- 2. Skil 7510-01 – Best Budget
- 3. Wen 6321 – Best Portable
- 4. Makita 9403 – Top-Rated Belt Sander
- 5. Makita 9903 – Super-Quiet Belt Sander
- 6. Metabo HPT SB8V2 – Ideal for Different Materials
- 7. Wen 6515T – Multifunctional 2-in-1 Sander
- 8. Genesis GBS321A – Low-Profile Belt Sander
- 9. Porter-Cable 362V – Lightweight but Powerful
- How to Use a Belt Sander?