The 10 Best Belt Sanders

Updated November 02, 2017 by Daniel Imperiale

10 Best Belt Sanders
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 40 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Primarily used for sanding large, flat surfaces, such as doors and wooden furniture, belt sanders are a powerful weapon in any handyman's arsenal. They can strip the finish from metal surfaces, help you refinish outdoor furniture, and shave a fraction of an inch off any piece of lumber. Find the perfect model for your workshop from our selection. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best belt sander on Amazon.

10. Central Machinery 1x30

The Central Machinery 1x30 is lightweight enough to be considered portable, but it only has the power capacity to match its smaller size. As such, this unit is best suited to smaller projects, and could not be considered a professional-grade model.
  • 3400 rpm motor speed
  • very affordable price
  • belt vibration issues
Brand Generic
Model pending
Weight 13.9 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

9. Genesis GBS321A

The Genesis GBS321A just might become the prized tool in your workshop, provided you stick to mostly basic jobs, like sanding plywood or beams. Its quick, single-lever belt change makes it easy to swap out one grit for another.
  • low-profile design
  • comfortable front handle
  • inconsistent power output
Brand Genesis
Model GBS321A
Weight 8.5 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

8. Skil 3376-01

The Skil 3376-01 is a 2-in-1 sanding station for all your woodworking needs. It has a beveled tabletop and secure belt tracking, so you can worry about the wood you're sanding and not about the paper slipping off the device doing the work.
  • pre-drilled mounting holes
  • easy-to-use tension spring
  • not suitable for heavy-duty jobs
Brand Skil
Model 3376-01
Weight 25.4 pounds
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

7. Wen 6502

The Wen 6502 sands using a 4-inch by 36-inch belt or its 6-inch disc, with adjustments that allow for up to 90 degrees of tilting ability. In other words, this tool lets you get the exact amount of power or angle that you need.
  • strong cast-iron base
  • large responsive power switch
  • small disc size increases workload
Brand WEN
Model 6502
Weight 40.2 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

6. Makita 9403

The Makita 9403 is the quietest belt sander in its class, producing a mere 84 decibels even when working under load. Its quality construction ensures a motor sealed away from contamination, resulting in reliability and safety.
  • replaceable ceramic wear plate
  • extended base for intricate sanding
  • trigger operation becomes tiring
Brand Makita
Model 9403
Weight 15.9 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

5. Powertec BD4800

The Powertec BD4800 features a wide belt that works both upright or horizontally, a disc sander, and a reliable dust collection system for hassle-free waste removal. This potent unit keeps your work area clean and your lungs free of debris.
  • aluminum cast work table
  • ez belt change function
  • inferior lubrication
Model BD4800
Weight 52.8 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

4. Porter-Cable 352VS

The Porter-Cable 352VS runs an 8-amp motor with a variable speed control that can take you from 850 to 1,300 surface feet per minute. Its solid metal housing makes the unit exceptionally difficult to damage, but it comes with a three-year warranty just in case.
  • 3 x 21-inch belt size
  • fingertip tracking adjustment
  • dust collection is sub-par
Model 352VS
Weight 12.4 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

3. Makita 9032

The Makita 9032 boasts both speed and versatility, all wrapped up in a compact casing with adjustable belt tracking and an electronic speed control dial. This unique tool offers the power of a belt sander focused into unmatched precision.
  • 100-degree pivoting sanding arm
  • innovative lightweight design
  • comes with 2 abrasive belts
Brand Makita
Model 9032
Weight 4.6 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

2. Wen 6321 Heavy Duty

With a belt that rotates at over 13 feet per second, the Wen 6321 Heavy Duty far outperforms its diminutive size. It comes with a detachable dust bag that makes waste collection a breeze, and its lock-in safety feature lets you work without having to hold down the trigger.
  • seven-amp motor
  • weighs only six pounds
  • two-year warranty
Brand WEN
Model 6321
Weight 6.9 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

1. Jet 708447 OES-80CS

The Jet 708447 OES-80CS is a powerhouse unit that enjoys 1.5 horsepower, 115-volt pre-wiring, and an enormous 230-volt, wired, single-phase motor. Its massive 89-inch belt surges along at speeds of 3,900 surface feet per minute.
  • oscillating edge sander
  • vertical and horizontal attachments
  • convenient quick-release lever
Brand Jet
Model 708447
Weight 317 pounds
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

A Short History Of Sand Paper

Human beings have understood the properties of abrasives for tens of thousands of years. There is plentiful prehistoric evidence of stone tools that have been precisely ground to hone an edge, and of early artwork and devotional figurines that have been polished and shaped using grinding materials. Early abrasion was usually performed with stone tools, but by the Chalcolithic era -- the first phase of the Bronze Age, metal tools were often also used to scrape and polish materials into their desired shape and finish.

The fist evidence of a precursor to modern sandpaper dates to around the first century of the Common Era. Archeologists have found evidence of Ancient Chinese craftsman using a mixture of ground shells, grains of sand, and hard seeds that were bound to a parchment backing using naturally occurring gums as an adhesive. The rough surface created was suitable for much the same use as modern sand paper, though it was much more complex and costly to produce. Natural materials such as shark skin were also used as abrasives in the ancient world.

It was not until the 19th Century, a time of leaps and bounds of technological progress, that a truly affordable and mass produced abrasive paper entered the marketplace. British inventor John Oakey is credited with having created the direct forebear of today's sand paper in the 1830s. His company produced a glass paper that consisted of "glass fit", a ceramic material, bonded to a paper backing and produced in large sheets.

Glass paper remains in use for much of the century. In the early 20th Century, developers working for 3M came up with a sandpaper made using silicon carbide grit as the abrasive. This remains a formula commonly used for sandpapers today. The backing used in sandpapers has continued to improve over the past few decades, with common materials in use today including thick papers, polyester, rayon, and other synthetic fabric-like materials.

Sandpaper with thick, durable backing is imperative for use with modern power sanders, and in particular with belt and bench sanders, which produce a surfeit of force. Great sandpaper paired with a great sander makes the job of the modern woodworker easier than his or her ancient predecessors could ever have imagined.

Choosing A Great Belt Sander

The term belt sander is something of a blanket expression that can be used to refer to many different power tools, the common thread being that they use a belt of sand paper that rapidly spins around drums which hold it taut. Some belt sanders are handheld, and are moved over the surface of the object to be smoothed. Others are larger and sit atop (or are affixed to) work tables; these units are usually called bench sanders. Still other large, industrial grade belt sanders are large enough to sit on the floor themselves.

Choosing the right belt sander for your needs means carefully considering your line of work or your hobbies. For example, if you are a cabinet maker, a powerful bench sander might be a great choice, allowing you to quickly finish the surface of drawers and doors that will then be affixed to the frames you have designed. If you are a carpenter who builds or refinishes larger pieces of furniture -- those much too large to be maneuvered by hand -- then a handheld belt sander is a good choice, as you can move it around the large items on which you're working.

A belt sander packing plenty of power but that is still company enough for handheld use is also a great tool for anyone installing or refinishing a floor. Belt sanders can quickly strip away old varnish, stain, and damage, revealing lovely hardwood flooring that is ready to be refinished beneath the wear and tear.

Belt sanders can be used with a range of materials beyond woods, as well. Plumbers who need to polish the ends of PVC or metal pipes can easily do so with a belt sander and the right toughness and grit of paper, and a machinist of mechanic looking to remove bits of metal from a nut, bolt, or other component can do so quickly and deftly with a belt sander.

Proper Belt Sander Use And Maintenance

Belt sanders are powerful tools. If used improperly, can not only damage the item which you are hoping to build, restore, or improve, but they can cause serious bodily injury as well. Proper operation of a sander means proper attention to safety concerns.

As a belt sander produces lots of dust, proper mouth and nose protection are essential; it is too easy in accidentally inhale the minute particles created by power sanding to risk doing so without protection your respiratory system. Protective eyewear is also highly recommended during operation of a belt sander, as the fine sawdust created can be a sever irritant, and as larger bits of material can occasionally be thrown upward by the sander. A sander should also be operated with gloves to prevent injury to the hands and fingers.

Even a great belt sander is only as effective as the sandpaper its user chooses. Select the right grit of sandpaper for the job at hand, remembering that the higher the grit number, the smaller will be the particles on the paper's surface, and thus finer the polishing job it can complete. (e.g., 1000 grit paper will sand more slowly but more precisely than 200 grit paper). Replace sandpaper often during the course of a job to ensure you are doing to best possible work.

Take the time to clean out your sander's exhaust port after each use, and make sure you wipe down any object to be sanded before you commence work to remove any material that is already loose on its surface.

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Last updated on November 02, 2017 by Daniel Imperiale

Daniel is a writer, actor, and director living in Los Angeles, CA. He spent a large portion of his 20s roaming the country in search of new experiences, taking on odd jobs in the strangest places, studying at incredible schools, and making art with empathy and curiosity.

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