The Best Belt Sander Reviews
Two words describes best belt sander – tough and fast. It is often used to remove a large amount of stock very quickly. It can be used to strip old paint with the proper sanding belt. A belt sander can help speed up work that would normally take many hours. But not all belt sanders are created equally, they come in different types, sizes and speed. So choosing the right sander for the job is very important. There are several points you need to decide before purchasing a belt sander the first is how large of a job is you are doing and the second is the price of the sander.
My List of Best Belt Sander
I have gathered information from a variety of sources to provide honest Belt Sander Reviews on deWalt, Bosch, Makita, and more. All the research work is done for you before you buy. Not sure where to start? How about looking at one of our latest feature model.
Types | Sizes | Speed
The size of the belt sander is normally defined by the belt width or in belt width inches by belt length. The smaller standard sanders use 3-in. by 21 belts. They are very maneuverable enough so you can work in tight spaces such as inside a cabinet. They are light enough to use single-handedly on ceilings and walls.
The bigger workhorse sanders come in sizes of 3-in. or 4-in in width by 24-in. in length. They can weigh around 16 pounds and has much more power than smaller sanders. They are made of bigger jobs such as hardwood flooring and are very effective in removing a lot of stock very quickly.
Many larger sanders will come with a bag attach as a dust collection system. These bags often do a good job with collecting the dust but it is good practice to wear a dust mask. The dust bags will need to be emptied out on a regular basis or it will reduce the effectiveness.
Cost of the Sander
The first one is that the bigger sanders will cost more then the smaller ones. Outside of the size the Belt sanders of the same belt size can vary from. The more features the belt sanders have the more it cost. Luckily even the highest price belt sander is not that much more expensive compare to other power tools but here are a couple of feature you should look for in a sander.
Variable Speed Control
Models with dual or variable speed controls are very useful; it allows you to control the speed of the sanding belt. By turning the speed down on the belt you reduce the amount of stock removal and will give the wood a finer finish. Increasing speed will allow the sander to quickly remove stock while making it harder to control.
Auto Belt Tracking
Sanding Belts needs to be adjusted regularly or it will move away from the center. This can cause the belt rub and break part of pieces of the sander or cause holes on the material you are trying to sand. This feature allows you to keep the belt center without having to worry.
This feature is more of a time saver than anything else. It allows you to quickly replace a sand belt with brand new one with a click of the switch.
Makita 9903 review
The Makita 9903 belt sander is the main go to sander in their lineup as far as 3×21 inch sanders are concern. It combines great versatility with tough build and is considered a very popular sander for professional woodworkers to hobbyist do it hobbyist. Makita itself has definitely carved out a niche in the wood working portable power tools industry. Even though it is a Japanese base company it has made itself very competitive over the last 10 years and in some people opinions have even surpassed American manufacturers. They have done this by producing high quality power tools that is built with strong materials and this has made it to very dependable. All Makita belt sanders are built pretty much from the same chassis and if you owned other models you will be very familiar with the Makita 9903.
If you would like to know more about this sander click here, otherwise read on further for more information about the Makita 9903 features and specifications.
Features on the Makita 9903
- Design – it is design with flush design that is great for sanding right against walls and corners. Like with other Makita models it moves different angles depending on whether you need sand in low areas or depending on your preferred hand position.
- Variable Speed – It has a variable speed rating of 690 – 1440 surface per minute. This is the same variable speed rating as it’s 4×24 cousins the Makita 9404. This is very impressive and is one the highest range on the market.
- Motor Speed – It runs with 8.8 amps and again is exactly the same as the 9404. One benefit is that while 8.8 amps may be considered weak at the 4×24 belt size range at the 3×21 inch range it is considered to be very powerful.
- Weight – At 9.5 pounds is one of the lightest belt sanders in the market of its class and as a result has probably the best power to weight ratio on the market.
- Auto Belt Tracking – This is a staple for any Makita belt sander. It keeps the belt in place and from drifting towards the edges. This is a very useful feature to save time and prevent mistakes and damages to your work.
- Like I mentioned earlier it has one of the best engine powered to weight ratio on the market.
- The variable speed functions save a lot of time from manually changing and adjusting the belt.
- It is one of the quietest sanders on the market.
- Flush design that is the norm is very good for against the wall sanding.
- The lightweight puts less strain on your body. On big jobs this can save you less stress especially if you have to do a lot of vertical sanding.
- The flush design is not suited for users who left hand dominate as the handle is always set on the right side and dust bag on the left side.
- Some consumers found that the dust collection was mediocre.
- Others found it to be louder than the 85 decibels that was claimed by the manufacturer.
Overall the Makita 9903 should be considering a good buy as far 3×21 belt sanders are concerned. It has slightly more amp power and weighs about 1-pound light than its porter cable equivalent. The porter cable competition does have a better dust collection reviews though but if dust collection becomes an issue when you are sanding you should take a look and make sure to clean it out on a regular interval. If you are still not satisfied than the adapter plug for dust collection is compatible with most dust vacuums. Outside of these small issues you should definitely give the Makita 9903 a serious consideration on your next belt sander purchase.
Black and Decker Ds321 Review
The low profile design feature with the retractable hood allows the Black and Decker DS321 to reach into low tight spaces. It is a fairly light sander, weighing in at about 7.6 pounds it is slightly lighter then many of its 3×21” competitors. This should allow for quick sanding through tight spaces and makes the sander very comfortable when moving to vertical sanding jobs.
The front grip has 3 adjustable grip positions giving you more options to get a more comfortable grip.
- Low Profile Design.
- Adjustable Grip position.
- Low Price.
- Colorful design.
- Poor Belt Tracking.
- Plastic Casing.
- Poor Dust Collection.
Well what can I say about the Black and Decker Ds321 Dragster? Well it certainly looks nice. The one standout of this sander is that it costs about half the amount as its competitors. With the price difference it comes with only the most basic features. If you are planning to do some home improvement work, I would suggest you spend a little bit more money and get Bosch 1274 DVS or the Porter Cable 352vs.
Bosch 1274DVS Review
The Bosch 1274DVS sander has been thoughtfully design and precisely built to separate itself from its competitors. Its automatic variable speed dial basically eliminates the need to press harder or softer on surfaces cutting down the chances of making a mistake. It is one of the slower sanders for its size but it more than makes up for it in control and accuracy.
Online consumers are currently raving about its effectiveness and reliability often surprised how such a light sander can do the job that is comparative to other heavier sanders on the market.
It is currently one of the lower price sanders on the market and has good value. There are a few things about this sander before you buy. Read further for an in-depth look at its features, specifications and reviews.
Features on the Bosch 1274DVS
- The sander’s magnesium and aluminum plastic body on bosch 1274dvs allows its weight to come just under 7.1 pounds providing a light and precise piece of equipment. With a Motor Speed of 6.6amps and belt speed that can change from 550-1500 on the go allows for both fine finishing at lower speed or quick stock removal at max speed. With the sanders compact inline engine it is design for both vertical and horizontal applications.
- Most comments appear to agree that this is a well designed and comfortable sander. It removes materials effectively and is very easy to control.
- Variable Speed Trigger.
- Quick belt Changes.
- Dust bag.
Overall the Bosch 1274dvs is an excellently designed sander that can be used for fine finish sanding or quick stock removal. It also one of the more popular models on the market and I could not find any major problems or recalls on the product online.
Makita 9403 Review
Are you in the market for a belt sander with power? Are you looking for a sander that goes only at one speed and that is very fast? If the answer to those 2 questions are yes than the Makita 9403 may just be for you. The 9403 was built for one purpose only and that is to remove as much stock in the shortest time possible.
On my previous review of the Makita 9404 I talked in depth about a lot of its features. The 9403 is basically the same type of sander minus the variable speed option so for a more detail choice I suggest you read both reviews before a choice on which sander to get.
Features on the Makita 9403
- If you have own other Makita sanders you will notice a difference between the 9404 compare to the other models. The first difference is that the Makita 9403 does not have a variable speed option. Instead it has a motor speed of 11.0 amps and a belt speed of 1640 square feet per minute. What this means is that users won’t have the option of running the sander at lower speeds. This has both advantages and disadvantages.
- More Power, at 11.0 amps and 1640 sfpm it is the fastest sander in the Makita lineup.
- All Makita belt sanders are back by a 30-day money back guarantee and 1-year limit warranty.
- Gives a bonus carbon plate which helps with keeping the heat buildup down on the bottom of the sander.
- Harder to control for new users. While an experience user can adjust by varying their hand grip and pressure, new users will find it hard to control.
- Makita sanders are generally now for their light weight so in comparison to other 4×24” competitors the 9403 at 12.6 pounds is the lightest of its class.
- The front grip of the sander is placed pretty well and is easy to grip, but the sander does not have a low profile so going under tight spaces may be a problem.
Overall if you are looking for a powerful sander that can remove a large amount of wood very quickly you should take a look at the Makita 9403. I did not list a pros and cons listing for this review because I could find too many complaints about the sander and listing only the pros would be kind of repetitive.
Makita 9404 Review
The Makita 9404 combines a powerful motor with a variable speed dial making it one of the most versatile 4×24 inch sanders in the market. If you want a belt sander that will allow you remove a large amount of stock quickly or switch to a lower speed and get a finer finish, this will be a good solution.
It does everything very well and has one the most competitive features listed on the market. Consumers have raved about this sanders effectiveness and reliability. It is rated as one of the quietest sanders in its 4×24-inch class and has a wide range of features that is very competitive to its competitors. In this article I will be going further in-depth details on the sanders features and specifications and other online customers are saying.
Features on the Makita 9404
- Design – The Makita 9404 has a low flush design that is place perfectly for sanding in tight spaces. The dust bag can be move around in many different angles. The front and side of the sander is designed flushed with the dust bag allowing for comfortable sanding against walls and corners.
- Variable speed – The variable speed ranges from 690 – 1440 surface feet per minute. This is the widest range of any belt sander on the market to date. At its lowest speed it creates a very fine finish that can useful for finishing work on tables and cabinets. At the highest speed it has more than enough power to work on large lumber or hardwood flooring removing a large amount of stock in a short time.
- Motor Speed – At 8.8 amps the 9404 has one of the weakest motor in what is consider the large belt sander class.
- Weight – What the sander loses in power it more than makes up in weight coming in at just under 10.6 pounds. This makes the sander the lightest 4×24-inch sander on the market by about 2-3 pounds. 3 pounds may not seem very much but for long sanding work or projects that require lots of vertical sanding this can decrease the strain on your body by quite a bit.
- Auto Belt Tracking – this is a very useful feature as it keeps the sanding belt from moving away from the center and save lots of time from manually adjusting the belt.
- Lightest 4×24-inch sander.
- Quiet Sander.
- Flush dust bag design.
- Variable speed.
- Automatic belt tracking.
- Mediocre Dust Collection.
- Some users found noise to be loud.
Overall I would recommend the Makita 9404 for anyone that is looking versatile belt sander for any job medium to large sanding jobs. It’s variable speed and auto belt tracking allows for quick work without much down time. It flush design allows you to get into tight spaces and is great for against the wall work. The weight difference is good for vertical sanding and less strain on the body. The downside would be you would be giving up an average of 3-4 amps in power. If you do not mind that one flaw, then I would keep the 9404 in mind for your purchase.
Makita 9920 Review
All Makita tools are made with excellent quality and reputation. The Makita 9920 is no exception and it backs it up on this sander with a 30 money back guarantee and 1-year warranty. The Makita 9920 is a belt sander that combines speed with power. It is well designed with a low center of gravity. The auto tracking allows for a flat sanding with no dimples. The 9920 has been praise by many online users about its control and accuracy, adjust the belt before and use it you don’t need change it again until you replace belts. It is an ideal tool for cabinetry, woodworking, furniture and more.
There are many more features of the sander you should consider before you buy continue read for more in depth features and specifications.
Features on the Makita 9920
- The Makita 9920 comes equip with an auto tracking belt systems that helps prevents dimples and provide a flat sanding experience without the need to adjust pressure when using the sander. With a belt speed that can be adjusted for 690-1440 ft/min it is an excellent sander for fast stock removal and is good for large areas. The front grip is place in a good position allow for an easy grip. The dust bag stays flush directly in the back and does not hang out to the side like other models. This is very useful as it does not get in the way when you are sanding against wall.
- With a motor speed of 8.8 amps it also has the best ratings for being one of the quietest sanders in the market. While not the lightest model in the market at 9.9 pounds it is still fairly comfortable with one hand and provide less fatigue when using for long periods. The dust bag does a good job with collecting dust and with a long 15 feet cord means on most jobs you won’t require an extension cord.
- Good dust bag placement, allowing for easy sanding by wall surfaces.
- 16 feet cord, eliminates the need for extension cables.
- Dust collection.
- Does not come with carrying case.
At 9.9 lbs it is only 0.8 pound heavier than its cousin 3×21” Makita 9903 cousin. The bag place is also perfectly place to sand against walls. So with its relatively light weight and design it would also work well for vertical sanding jobs. Overall I would recommend the Makita 9920 as it is currently one of the highest rated 3×24” sanders on market.
Porter Cable 362v Review
If you are looking for a nice lightweight sander for sanding, you antique table then you should definitely not get this belt sander! The Porter Cable 362v is a 4 inch by 24-inch Variable Speed Belt sander with a powerful 12-amp motor that is designed to be a workhorse among sanders. It’s all metal design provides durability while still giving it good handling features. This is definitely made for medium to large sanding jobs with an emphasis on “large jobs”.
This porter cable sander comes with a 90-day money back guarantee; 3 year limited warranty and a 1-year service warranty.
There are many things to consider when buying a sander of this size. If you looking for sander on small home projects, you probably want something smaller but if you have a huge project like removing stock on a hardwood flooring project then you should take a look at the Porter Cable 362v. There are also other factors to consider when purchasing this sander, I will be looking further into its features and specs below.
Features on the Porter Cable 362v
- The first feature of this sander you will notice is the metal casing surrounding the chassis. The Porter Cable 362v weighs in at around 15.5 pounds, and with a motor speed of 12 amps. Running this sander at full throttle can definitely be a challenge for a novice woodworker but with this spec it definitely made for users who want to remove a large amount of stock very quickly. If you find the Belt speed to be to be too fast the variable speed dial is located conveniently on the handle allowing you to adjust the speed without stopping.
- The belt tracking knob allows for quick belt adjustment and the belt can be remove and replace with the quick release lever. Both features allow for making quick adjustments on the job without losing too much work time.
- At about 15 pounds it is heavier than its competitor Bosch and Black & Decker.
- Can sand vertical surfaces.
- Large Capacity Dust bag the can be move 360 degrees.
- Professionally built for large projects.
- Heavy at 15.5 lbs.
- Mediocre dust collection.
Overall the Porter Cable 362v provides great dependability and durability. As mention before it is one of the biggest size belt sanders you can get outside of industrial sanders. A great suggestion before using this sander is use the variable speed function and lower the speed if it you are having problems controlling it. This sander will probably be too big if you doing a lot of work that requires you to reach into tight or low spaces but otherwise I don’ it will disappoint.
Porter Cable 371k Review
Porter Cable 371k belt Sander is a very uniquely designed compact belt Sander. This handy little handy little tool has a very ergonomic build. There really can’t be a comparison that can be made about this little belt Sander. It has a belt size of 2.5 wide by 14 inch and weighs in at just less than 5 pounds. To put this in perspective it is about the size of a small loaf of bread. So an average person can comfortably hold and carry this Sander with one hand. Do not let the size of the Porter Cable 371k fool you though it has a decent amount about of power and will surprise you if you are not ready.
There really is no comparison that can be made with the Porter Cable 371k it is “the” sander to have when looking for a compact belt sander. Click here to check on the price of the sander. Ultimately though if you a curious to learn more about the sander read further down for the features and listing.
Features on the Porter Cable 371k
- As discussed earlier the Porter Cable 371k has a belt size of 2.5” in width and 14” inches in length. The entire length of the sander is just under 17” and it weighs just under 5 pounds. This makes the sander very maneuverable and most users can comfortably use the sander with one hand without it getting away.
- The motor has 5 amps of power and can run at 1100 surface feet per minute. This is more than enough power for most jobs. Do not underestimate the power of this Sander because even though it is meant to be use with one hand if you do not have a firm grip, it can still get away from you. The downside is it doesn’t have variable speed function so you cannot change the speed of the belt. But as long as you have firm grip when sanding and let the sanding run with putting too much pressure on it then it should be fine for any wood surface.
- The texture rubber grips and lower center provides good handling and control in tight spaces. The flush designs allow for better sanding up against walls and perpendicular surfaces and the power switch is dust sealed preventing from unintended shut offs. It does not include a dust bag but has a standard rounded connector that is compatible with most shop vacuums. The Sander comes with an 80-grit sanding belt and carrying case.
- Compact and lightweight.
- Great for jobs requiring work on tight spaces like stairways, fences.
- Relatively Inexpensive.
- Not suitable for jobs requiring large stock removal.
- No built in dust collection.
As discuss earlier this Sander is uniquely built. It does not really fit in the regular size Sanders and you won’t be using the Sander for big floor or deck home improvement projects. The small belt size will make most projects take a little bit longer than normal but then again most people who would buy this Sander won’t be intending to use it for such projects anyways. Most will have their regular 4×21 Sanders and will be using the 371k as side tool when needed.
The great thing is the Sander won’t break the bank because depending on how hard you look you can probably find one. The Porter Cable 371k would make a great addition to any garage tool collector!
Skil 7500 Review
Belt sanders are relatively simple power tools. It’s built with continuous loop of sandpaper that is spun between 2 wheels’ power by a motor. It has been improved over the years with extra features such as variable speed, improved power, auto belt tracking, etc to make things more efficient. For most amateur woodworkers they may find it hard to justify spending that amount of money for something they will only use 2-3 times a year.
The Skil 7500 does a good job of filling in that niche I for these users. It has more than satisfactory power and has a regular size 3×18-inch belt. The main selling point though is the price. If you are looking for a relatively inexpensive option take a closer look at its features and what others are saying below.
Features on the Skil 7500
- The main selling feature of the Skil 7500 is its relatively cheap cost but if you take a closer look at its features it does boast some very competitive specs. It has a 6.0-amp motor speed which is more than enough for small and medium jobs. Most belt sanders with a 3×21 belt has about 8.0 amps of power so there is not that much of a difference.
- It has a belt size is 3×18 inches is smaller than the average belt sanders which are normally 3×21 inches. The smaller belt size and weight makes the sander very easy to control and maneuver around tight spaces. make sure you are getting the 3×18 belts as most will try to sell you the 3×21 belts.
- It has very sturdy design and the case is built flushed on the side so you can do your sanding right up against a wall. It does not include a dust bag but is compatible with attachment to a wet/dry vacuum for dust collection.
- Very inexpensive.
- Solid Construction.
- Flush edge, allowing you to sand right up to the edge.
- Complaints of belt shredding – User that have bought better sand belts does not seem to have this problem as often.
Overall the Skil 7500 does its job very well considering the cost. It doesn’t have a lot features that many of the higher end sanders but for the price most people would not expect it to come with these features. The only drawback it seems is the complaints about the high rate of belt shredding. It does seem that this issue can be resolved by buying higher quality belts. One good option is to go to sears and get some craftsmen sanding belts and stay away from generic no name brands. Otherwise I can see this sander being very useful for people looking to get into some small home projects and are looking for an inexpensive option or even a professional looking for a back up sander.
Dust Bag Guide
Most belt sanders come with a dust collection system in the form of a dust bag. Attaching the dust bag is an easy process of connecting the bag to a nozzle on the belt sander and making sure it fits snugly. Some attachments might be a little more complicated so if you are not sure read the instruction manual that came with the sander. Once the bag is properly secure it is time to start sanding.
Dust Bag Maintenance
Dust build up can cause problems with operating the belt sander. Much like when a grass catcher in a lawn mower it will stop collecting grass. If the dust bag gets full it will stop collecting dust. Once the dust bag is you will start to see dust flying off to the side of the sander causing a mess. So it is a good idea to clean out the bag regularly. The process is fairly simple, just detach the dust bag from the sander and there should be a zipper you can unzip and dump the dust into a garbage container. Make sure there is no extra dust on the nozzle and then just simply reattach the bag back onto the sander. On big jobs you will need to empty the dust bag more then once.
Dust Bag Design
Different model of belt sanders come with different designs. Most manufacturers use the same type of dust bag on all their belt sanders so it is not hard to find a replacement. You should probably not use a bag that was not made for a different company though.
Dust Bag Safety Issues
Even though the dust bag prevents most of the dust from flying back into your face you should still use safety protection as there will dust and particles flying around when you are sanding. It is very important to use a dust mask and eye protection when operating a belt sander. Regular eye glasses and sunglasses do not count as eye protection.
Even the best dust collection will not be able to collect everything so make sure after you finish sanding to manually sweep up the extra mess. Wood dust leftover is very flammable and if left unclean a spark from other work can be very dangerous.
Other Options for Dust Collection
Another option instead of a dust bag is to attach the belt sander to a shop vacuum and use that as an alternative. This is a better option if you want a higher capacity of dust collection. Although it might limit your maneuverability as you will have to move the vacuum around. Also some belt sanders that do not come with a dust bag can also be connected to a vacuum depending on the model. Check the specification on their instruction manual but in most cases if the attachment fits then you are good to start sanding.
Making the Final Choice
When making a choice on which best belt sander to use there are several factors to remember. For big jobs you would want one of the workhorse sanders which will speed up your work of evening and smoothing a large surface area. Larger Belt Sanders weight will make it more tiresome if you have to do a lot of vertical sanding or even overhead sanding.
For smaller jobs you need to fit into tight spaces such drawers and cabinet shelves so in those cases you will need a smaller sander. For some jobs you may even need to work up against a wall. Some models allows you to do this better then others by allowing you to adjust hand and bag positioning so you need to look into that also.
If you are still not sure which sander to choose then buy 2, one for small projects and one for large projects!