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The most unique feature is definitely the transparent panel on the nose of the sander. Like many portable belt sanders, the nose is exposed for flush sanding. To make this function even better, a transparent plastic panel makes up the tool housing right above the nose of the belt. The user can actually look through this panel to see the nose of the sander and the nearby workpiece. This will help prevent accidentally sanding a perpendicular surface, such as a wall, or will help avoid gouging or uneven sanding.
The SB8V2 is designed for durability. It has a unique v-belt design that is supposed to increase the life of the tool by 100%. Also, many components that are not usually serviceable on belt sanders are easily replaced on the Hitachi. Particularly, this tool accepts any generic power tool brush to keep the motor running strong.
The SB8V2 has a quick release for changing out the belt. It also has a built in dust collection system and a detachable cloth dust bag. This tool is particularly efficient at dust collection, though some particles are still bound to slip through the cloth bag. Make sure to empty the bag frequently.
Tool Design & Construction
The SB8V2 has a pretty standard belt sander design. The motor rests on top of the platen (the surface upon which the belt rests). There is a pistol grip style handle on the rear for the user’s dominant hand. It makes use of a trigger on/off switch. The pistol grip sits at about a forty-five degree angle, meaning it is useful for both pushing the tool forward and for applying downward pressure onto the workpiece.
Like many belt sanders, the SB8V2 has a front grip as well so the user can rest the auxiliary hand there. It is also useful for applying extra downward pressure. The front grip on this tool is nice and chunky, which gives the user plenty of area to grip. A small front grip is almost useless.
The SB8V2 weighs 9.5 pounds. This is getting towards the upper end of the range of belt sander weights. Of course, with belt sanders, heavier is usually better. The added weight of the tool means the user does not have to apply much pressure when sanding on top of a workpiece. On the other hand, a heavier sander makes sanding upside down or on a wall much more difficult. This sander will probably work best in the horizontal position, but could be used intermittently upside down or on a wall.
The SB8V2 has a powerful 9 amp motor. Like the weight, this is towards the upper end of the range of belt sander motor size. Some sanders have 11 or 12 amp motors, but many more models are outfitted with 5 or 6 amp motors. Nine amp is really a great size because it offers quite a bit of power but doesn’t carry all that added weight. Nine amps is plenty of power for almost all sanding projects.
A nice feature on the SB8V2 is the variable speed control on the motor. Some work surfaces can’t handle 9 amps of belt sander (like drywall or balsa wood). The variable speed adjustment allows the user to dial down the amount of power being generated by the electric motor. It’s like having a 5, 6, 7 and 9 amp motor all in one.
To make things even better, the SB8V2 has a particularly ergonomic variable speed dial. On many belt sander models the dial is on the side or the front of the tool. The SB8V2 has the dial near the back so it can be easily adjusted from the natural user grip, without setting the tool down or even turning it off.
This sander uses a 3”x21” belt. This is a fairly standard size. Some 4” belts are available but not widely used. A 3”x21” belt is plenty of surface area for large projects, and the common belt size means it will not be difficult to find replacements.
The 9 amp motor on the SB8V2 can get this belt running at almost 1,500 square feet per minute—again, plenty of power to categorize this tool as professional grade.
The nose on this tool is fully exposed, meaning it is great for flush sanding. The nose is so exposed that it would even be useful for contour or gouge sanding on woodworking pieces.
Overall, the SB8V2 is a great tool. It has a simple design. Hitachi did not overload it with features to distract from a weak motor or from cheap components. It’s a solid tool that will perform well for any type of project. Hitachi backs it up with a five-year warranty. At around $150, this is one of the best choices on the market.