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Choosing the best belt sander can be a difficult task when you’re faced with so many options.
Our pick from the list of top rated belt sanders is the Makita 9403.
Why did we pick it?
Simply because of its high build quality and efficiency to get the job done over and over again – making it the perfect pick for the professional.
In this guide, we’ll also show you a list of the top belt sanders which we think you should take a look at, as they might suit your needs better. If you are looking for a more powerful bench top solution, then you might want to check out the best belt disc sanders.
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In a Rush?
Here's 3 products we picked out that thought you would be interested in depending on your budget...
The Best Belt Sander with Reviews
Below is a list of the best belt sanders we found on the market today. Let us know if you think any other products should make the list!
1. Makita 9403 Belt Sander
Not so Good
The Makita 9403 is one our favorites that has lasted the test of time. This unit features upgraded design from the previous 9401 & 9402 models.
The ergonomic front handle gives great control of the machine. The heavy-duty design of the belt sander allows for heavy duty use without the concern of damaging the motor. The motor and bearings are sealed in a labyrinth construction within the body of the unit. This labyrinth ensures that no dust or sediment enters the motor, prolonging the working life of the machine.
The belt sander comes complete with a dust collection bag. We think that Makita could have made the bag a bit bigger. Considering the power of the unit and the wide surface area it sands, the bag fills up quickly with debris and needs to be emptied frequently on large jobs. For large sanding jobs, we recommend hooking up the outlet to a shop vacuum if possible.
The price tag may be on the higher side, but like most things in life, you normally get what you pay for – a powerful, well built machine.
2. Porter-Cable 352VS Belt Sander
Not so Good
The Porter-Cable 352VS is a machine built for what belt sanders do best – sanding flat surfaces.
The most interesting feature of this sander is its all-metal housing. This reduces flexion in the housing, allowing the operator keep better control of the belt sander. Belts are also easily centered and less prone to drifting off-track. The housing also absorbs heat, keeping the belt cooler and increasing its working life. The motor is centered directly over the belt, providing better balance during operation.
The unit comes complete with a dust bag that swivels 360 degrees. This bag setup keeps it out of the way of your hands and face, keeping your attention on the task at hand. The swivel is not seen on very many other models and gives you better control of jobs such as sanding corners.
While this belt sander may not be built for industrial use, the all-metal housing and unique features such as the swivel bag make is what made us rate it the best value for money when you consider the attractive price tag. The unit comes with a standard 1-year manufacturer’s warranty.
3. WEN 6321 Belt Sander
Not so Good
The WEN 6321 Heavy Duty Belt Sander is a great DIY machine for use around the home and workshop. Its powerful 7-amp motor turns the belt at a speed of 820 feet per second, making it ideal for stripping paint, deburring and beveling edges.
The extended front roller allows for easy reach into snug corners while keeping your hands and the body of the sander out of the way. Operator fatigue is a thing of the past, the ergonomic handle features an on-lock button that keeps the trigger locked down for better control over the sander and your project.
Belts are easy to adjust with a simple turn of the adjustment knob to improve or reduce tension to the belt. Change grits or replace pads with the quick release levers. WEN have a range of sanding belts in various grits for different sanding applications.
This belt sander comes complete with a detachable dust bag to keep the mess away and an 80-grit sanding belt to get you started. While this model has a strong motor, we don’t suggest you use it commercially, it’s best suited for DIY use around the home and your personal workshop.
WEN has outstanding customer service and a team of technicians standing by to assist you with any queries or technical issues you have with the sander. If you consider all the features and the lower price tag, the WEN offers the best budget belt sander.
4. Makita 9903 Belt Sander
Not so Good
This belt sander is a carpenter’s dream. The 8.8 Amp motor with electronic speed control it a breeze operating at the right speed under load. Variable speed adjustment allows for belt speeds from 690 to 1,440 feet per minute. The wide range of operating speeds makes this model incredibly versatile.
The Makita 9903 belt sander has an extended base for flush sanding against walls and an optional sanding shoe to control the depth of the sanding.
The versatility of this model has been engineered with the woodworker in mind. It is perfect for cabinetry and fine sanding jobs that require a belt sander capable of challenging work. With auto-adjustment of the belt tracking you will always be sanding on a true straight-line and the large dust bag collects dust effectively.
This belt sander is built for the carpenter that requires an all-in-one belt sanding solution. The front grip centers your weight over the unit for enhanced operation and comfort. Makita has designed another quality sander that delivers great performance, with build quality you can trust. Weighing in at just 10 pounds this belt sander is ideal for DIY use around the home and workshop.
5. Porter-Cable 362V Belt Sander
Not so Good
For the professional carpenter or woodworker, the Porter-Cable 362V has a powerful 12 amp motor that tears into the toughest sanding jobs with ease. The variable speed dial adjusts belt speeds from 1,000 to 1,500 feet per minute. It is engineered for regular heavy duty use and has a 3-year manufacturer’s warranty making it one of the best belt sanders on the market.
Featuring a full-metal housing and ergonomic hand grip, this belt sander gives the operator control and stability with next to no flexion in the housing. The belt and gear drive system keep the speed consistent during operation. The housing absorbs the heat and helps to extend the life of the machine.
Quick release levers allow for fast and easy belt changes. Keep your sanding straight and true with the belt tracking adjustment knob. The dust bag may be a little undersized, but it is mounted on a 360-degree swivel that keeps it out of your way while you work. The bag outlet is also conveniently placed to fit a shop vacuum for continuous dust collection during heavy use.
Another fantastic design feature of this belt sander is the flush sanding ability, with the handles and housing out of the way, allowing you to get into those hard to reach places for a flush sanding job. The belt sander itself is heavy, weighing in at 15 pounds. This is a true heavy duty machine, built with the professional in mind.
6. Hitachi SB8V2 Belt Sander
Not so Good
The Hitachi SB8V2 is a powerful and durable belt sander. Well priced for its class, it features some unique design components. The 9 Amp motor coupled to the wear-resistant V-belt performs well and sands a multitude of heavy duty and DIY applications. The 5-year warranty is the best in its class, with spares readily available from agents.
The clear plastic tracking window gives better visual control of the sanding line. The large dust bag is mounted on the left side, keeping it out of the way during operation. Elastomer ergonomic handles reduce vibration and offer improved operator control. The V-belt technology keeps the sanding paper on track without the need for belt adjustment while extending belt life.
Belts are simple to replace with the quick release levers. Basic maintenance on this belt sander is easy, even the brushes are replaced with no hassle. With this much power in a machine this light, it’s surprisingly easy to keep on track and the reduced weight helps with operator fatigue.
There are a few drawbacks with this model though… The dust bag zipper could be more sturdy and the plastic housing, while reducing weight; allows for flexion in the body of the sander. The dust exhaust is seated on the left side of the unit and while it keeps the dust bag out of the way, it also throws the unit off balance slightly during operation.
Overall, the Hitachi SB8V2 offers good value for money and a bridge between semi-industrial belt sanders and DIY ones.
7. Black & Decker DS321 Belt Sander
Not so Good
The Black & Decker DS321 is a handy belt sander to have around for DIY sanding. If you need to sand down a cupboard edge, or a cabinet door, the Black & Decker will get the job done. It’s 7 Amp motor isn’t made for hard sanding jobs and can be prone to overheating with continuous operation.
It does have some great design features. The adjustable handle makes it easy to reach those tighter spaces and the flush body design allows for sanding in corners and vertical surfaces. The DS321 is easy to control with its plastic handles and its compact size along with its reduced size front roller, allow it to reach under kitchen counter edges and other overhangs.
The unit comes complete with a dust bag, a 100 Grit sanding belt, and the operator’s manual. A drawback is that it comes with a 2-pin plug. The unit is ready to ‘plug-and-play’ straight out of the box. Another drawback is that the belt will slow down in velocity when extensive pressure is applied. It also features no variable speed control.
Changing the belts is quick and easy with the quick release button and the wide trigger and large handle gives good operator control over the machine in a variety of angles. Weighing only 6 pounds, it makes for a great model to sand vertical and overhead surfaces without resulting in too much operator fatigue.
This belt sander is far from the top of the range machine. However, if you are looking for a cheap model to get a few jobs done around the home or office, then the Black & Decker offers good value for its price.
8. Porter-Cable 371K Belt Sander
Not so Good
The compact Porter-Cable 371K is a unique model. This belt sander won the Handy Magazine Innovation Award in 2006, with its innovative design and a smaller belt than most typical belt sanders. The two and a half inch by 14-inch belt makes it easy to sand the tightest spaces. The unit may be slightly underpowered, the weakest motor of all belt sanders we looked at is 5 Amps.
Sanding perpendicular surfaces is a breeze. This belt sander has a flat side which allows for sanding in corners. The low center of gravity of the machine gives the operator excellent control of the machine, providing good balance and maneuverability. The only drawback to the design is the front handle. While the handle provides good support and control but can get in the way while sanding corners. The electrical cord can also be used as an auxiliary grip, giving the operator better leverage over the unit for tougher sanding jobs.
The unit does not have a dust bag. The Porter-Cable 371K comes with a removable dust nozzle. Another great feature is the dust-sealed recessed switch preventing accidental shut-off. While the machine does make for a good DIY unit to have around the house, it really is not suited to heavy duty use. The 1-year manufacturer’s warranty gives an indication of what you can expect in terms of the working life of the unit.
The Porter-Cable 371K is a complete belt sanding kit. The package comes with; three 80 Grit sanding belts, removable dust nozzle and a plastic carry case. This unit is ready to ‘plug-and-play’ straight out of the case.
What To Look For (Buying Guide)
Sanding can be a time-consuming chore and to achieve a satin finish on your sanding job isn’t as easy as it sounds. However, stripping down your job with a belt sander definitely can speed up the process. If you are not sure that a belt sander is what you need for the job, then check out our guide on picking the right sander.
Power tool manufacturers have made sanding a lot simpler and easier with handheld belt sanders. They offer a portable or corded solution to sanding down a variety of surfaces. From stripping your hardwood floors to levelling blanks of wood, a belt sander handles the toughest of sanding jobs. Compared to planing any job manually, they have revolutionized sanding with the fast removal of material from any surface.
Belt sanders do take some operating experience to master, so don’t expect to get a master-craftsman finish on your first attempt. Larger machines with strong motors can be challenging to control if you have never used one before. Here are some tips to help you get started on the fast-track to woodworking success.
The In-line belt sander
Unlike orbital sanders, in-line belt sanders feature a box-type housing with low profile design. Belt sanders have a drive gear, perpendicular to the motor, which transfers the power from the motor through the gear into the rollers. They usually have two or three rollers, two made from plastic or rubber and another made from metal, to prevent the belt from slipping during operation.
The belt is released using levers or buttons on the machine and they come in a variety of grits, from coarse to fine.
Belt sanders are handy machines for a variety of DIY and professional applications. They are great for sanding your deck, your hardwood floors, or even removing material from surfaces like dried glue and even nail heads.
Examples of jobs
- Sanding rough stock
- Planning doors
- Sanding down reclaimed lumber
- Scribing bevels on doors and windows
- Reducing stock thickness
Tips for picking the right Belt Sander
If you only need a machine for a simple job, then purchasing a semi-industrial machine with all the bells and whistles may be spending money that you don’t need to. Similarly, choosing an under-powered DIY unit to handle a serious sanding job will result in your burning out the motor and having to buy another machine more suited to the task at hand.
To help you get it right the first time, we put together this guide to assist you in making an informed decision when purchasing your belt sander.
Choose the motor power to match the size of the job you expect to use it for. The higher the motor Amperage, the more powerful the machine. Most DIY units will have motor ratings of 6 to 9 Amps. Belt sanders suited to professional, heavy duty use have motors with 10 Amps or more.
Sizing & Design
The most common size belt dimensions is 3” wide by 21” long. This is a good middle ground for a variety of jobs, providing a balance of power and control. If you require a large sanding area, then there are models with 4”x 24” belts to remove more material faster. Other niche models with thinner belts are available.
Belt sanders are designed for flat surfaces, so they usually have handles that you can position to gain leverage over the machine to assist the machine in sanding. Check that your model has ergonomic handles and rubber grips to reduce vibration.
Variable Speed Settings
Variable speed settings are a fantastic feature enabling your sander to turn from a sanding powerhouse capable of tearing off the toughest materials, to a machine capable of providing a delicate finish. A simple turn of the dial and you can choose from a variety of speeds.
Of all the handheld models we looked at, the Makita 9403 is a machine that stands out as one of the best compared to the others. The quality of the components and the ease of use combined with a strong motor and effective sanding make it our top choice.
For a portable belt sander that is capable of any task around the home or workshop, then the Makita 9403 has the features you need and will give many years of hassle-free operation.
The manufacturers in this harbor freight belt sander review make products that can be trusted. From DIY to heavy duty use, there’s a sander in this review to help you get your next carpentry job looking clean and smooth with the perfect finish.