The Best Belt Sanders on the Market in 2019 – Reviews & Comparison
Woodworking projects large or small are never complete until it is sanded and finished. When finding the right sanding solutions, it can be quite overwhelming to determine what kind of sanders you are going to need to complete your woodworking or other sanding projects.
In this review you are going to find a series of belt sanders that can get the job done, but it is essential to understand what each belt sander offers and if it is the right one for the job you are trying to complete, such as removing paint, sanding large flat surfaces such as a deck, or sanding floors with tight corners.
Various belt sanders can have specific features to help you complete a specific job. In this review, we will identify those features to determine if it is the right fit for you. Primarily we'll look into the dimensions of the sanding surface, the power it can produce, the different modes it offers, the jobs it can handle, and the different materials it can sand.
Table of Contents
- 1 Best Rated Belt Sanders Comparison
- 2 12 Best Belt Sander Reviews
- 2.1 1. Makita 9403 4”x24”
- 2.2 Porter-Cable 371 2-1/2” x 14”
- 2.3 Makita 9903 3”x 21” Variable Speed
- 2.4 Makita 9031 1-1/8” x 21”
- 2.5 Porter-Cable 352VS 8 amp 3”x21”
- 2.6 SKIL 7510-01 Sandcat 6 Amp 3-Inch x 18-Inch Belt Sander with Pressure Control
- 2.7 WEN 6318 6-Amp 3-Inch x 18-Inch Heavy Duty Belt Sander
- 2.8 BLACK+DECKER DS321 Dragster 7 Amp 3-Inch by 21-Inch Belt Sander with Clot
- 2.9 Makita 9903 8.8 Amp 3-Inch-by-21-Inch Variable Speed Belt Sander with Cloth Dust Bag
- 2.10 Hitachi SB8V2 9.0 Amp 3-Inch-by-21-Inch Variable Speed Belt Sander
- 2.11 WEN 6321 7-Amp 3 in. x 21 in. Corded Belt Sander with Dust Bag
- 2.12 Ryobi One Plus Cordless Brushless Belt Sander P450, 18V
- 3 How to Buy the Best Belt Sanders
- 4 Recommended Best Pick
- 5 Conclusion
Best Rated Belt Sanders Comparison
12 Best Belt Sander Reviews
1. Makita 9403 4”x24”
If you are looking to knock out a large woodworking surface such as a deck or flooring project, this is a belt sander not to overlook. It performs flawlessly as the 4” x 24” does quick work to any deck surface, saving you thousands of dollars by not having to replace the deck altogether. This belt sander is not only easy to use, but it is quite powerful given the 11amp motor it has.
Makita thought about the user when designing this belt sander. They have knocked the dB (decibel) sound down to 84 making it one of the quietest sanders in its class. It also has a fantastic dust bag that has a 360-degree rotation to make sure it doesn’t get in your way no matter what job you are trying to knock out.
The best feature of this powerful belt sander is the body design. The belt sander design has both a large back handle and front stabilization handle which makes using this powerful machine quite easy for any woodworker. The Makita 9403 also includes a unique design that makes flush sanding walls a breeze.
- Low noise (84dB) for operator comfort
- 4'' wide belt with a speed of 1,640 ft./min. for fast material removal
- Labyrinth construction seals and protects motor and bearings from contamination
- A large front grip is positioned for operator comfort
- Innovative design for sanding flush to the wall with nose and side of sander
- Quietest belt sander in its class
- Wide and longer belt size
- Large front grip
- Labyrinth construction
- 360-degree swiveling dust bag
- Single speed belt sander
- Relatively expensive
Porter-Cable 371 2-1/2” x 14”
Whether you are a homeowner that is ready to tackle a DIY project or a professional carpenter that has a new project, this belt sander is an excellent option for you for a variety of woodworking projects. Small and compact, this tiny workhorse weighs just five pounds, making one-handed control a breeze. Need the extra control of two hands? The cord exit grip offers an extra space for a second hand to master control of the job.
Although this sander only has a 5amp motor, it is quite robust due to the grand design by Porter Cable. This design is rare and quite versatile as it provides a double-wide rubber grip allowing you to use one or both hands to handle about any flat surface wood project. The best part about the design is the removable front stabilization handle allowing for a superior grip on any job.
The only downside to the design of this belt sander is the location of the dust collection fan, which can make the user uncomfortable due to the hot exhaust being released on their hands. Still, ergonomic comfort during sanding projects will keep most users comfortable as they work.
- Textured rubber body grip provides a comfortable non-slip surface
- Flush side enables sanding up to a perpendicular surface
- Metal components provide durability for professional applications
- Dust sealed, recessed switch offers accessibility while minimizing unintended turn-offs
- Removable auxiliary handle offers better control when two-handed use is desired. Cord exit grip offers auxiliary gripping for various orientations
- Powerful 5 amp motor
- Easy to operate to produce a superior finish
- Great for a large wood surface like decks and flooring
- Variable speed options
- Great design for multiple projects
- Large dust collection bag
- Bad location of the dust collection fan, kicking off hot exhaust on the user’s hands
- The dust bag locking and location
- Struggles to stay securely locked during operation
- Due to the location at the top of the sander, if the bag becomes loose it will shoot into the operator’s face
Makita 9903 3”x 21” Variable Speed
When it comes to carpenters and contractors that are constantly working with various flat surface wood-working projects, this is the belt-sander that was designed for you. The innovative design and functionality of this belt-sander are just full of surprises that make it hard to overlook.
It is not only powerful with an 8.8amp motor, but it is intuitive with an auto-tracking belt system that tracks the belt without adjustments! As a matter of fact, it is so powerful that is can handle metal finishes and it can remove paint and rust as well.
Although this belt sander is powerful and intuitive, the coolest feature has got to be the extendable base that allows this sander to sand flush to a wall with both the nose and side of the sander. Additional features, like the extra-long 16.4-foot power cord and the front grip designed for added comfort and control, make the Makita 9903 an attractive and powerful option for heavy-duty sanding jobs.
If you are looking for a belt sander that is easy to operate, can kick out professional finishes on large surface woodworking projects, the Makita 9903 is a hard belt sander to pass up.
- Powerful 8.8 AMP motor; only 85dB
- Variable speed control dial (690-1,440 ft./min.) enables the user to match the speed to the application
- Auto-tracking belt system tracks belt without adjustment
- Innovative design for sanding flush to the wall with nose and side of sander
- Front grip design for comfortable operation
- Dust bag for a cleaner work environment
- Long 16.4 ft. power cord for easier maneuverability
- Optional sanding shoe available for precise sanding depth control
- Sands wood or metal and removes paint and rust
- Double insulated
- Innovative design with an extendable base
- Variable speed options
- Auto-tracking belt systems
Makita 9031 1-1/8” x 21”
This belt sander is a must have for those hard to reach places and for irregular shapes that still needs a professional finish, plus it is ideal for front facing projects as well. The innovative design of this belt sander is hard to beat as it is both powerful with a 5 amp motor and stable with a modular grip for ease of use in those hard to reach spots within your sanding project. Specifically built with detail work and close quarters work in mind, the Makita 9031 weighs less than five pounds, making controlling the sander a breeze for beginners and experienced contractors alike.
The innovative lightweight modular design of this belt sander gives the operator full control and comfort due to its capabilities of providing multiple hand position settings. This compact smart design comes with a side handle grip that can lock into place in multiple positions creating amazing stability for the operator to produce a nice finish for all those complicated sanding jobs.
As an added bonus, the Makita 9031 includes 10 belts, ranging from #40 to #120, so you’ll be ready to get to work right out of the box.
- Variable speed control dial (656-3,280 ft./min.) enables the user to match the speed to the application
- Compact with less weight (4.6 lbs.) for use in close quarters work with excellent maneuverability
- Ball and needle bearing construction for smooth operation and longer tool life
- Narrow belt and exposed front pulley for use in close quarters or on irregular shapes
- Multi-position side handle for easy and comfortable operation
- Lock-on button for continuous operation
- Connects to a dust collector for a cleaner work environment
- Compact design
- Very versatile for wood and metal projects
- Locking modular side handle grips
- Powerful motor
- Great for hard reach places and irregular shapes
- Handle can’t be put on either side of the sander
Porter-Cable 352VS 8 amp 3”x21”
If you are looking for a versatile, reliable, ‘built tough’ belt sander, this may be the one you have been looking for. Porter-Cable focused on durability and reliability with this design as the entire housing is made out of metal, giving it a solid feel, making it tough to damage, and giving it weight to ease the amount of pressure needed by the operator.
The metal design is also able to disperse the heat allowing the belt to stay cool and stay in place, and the even balance of the entire machine is designed for ultimate user comfort and control.
Not only is it reliable but it is easy to use and operate as it provides a sound back handle grip to power the sander and a front stabilization handle to maximize control to produce a superior finish. Additionally, the dust bag swivels 360 degrees so you can sand into tight spaces, corners, or at odd angles, and each time ensure that the bag doesn't get in the way of your work.
All-in-all if you are looking for something that is reliable with variable speeds, that is easy to transport, built tough, and can adapt to multiple jobs, this might be the belt sander that needs to be your next investment. With a 90-day money back guarantee and a 3-year limited warranty, the Porter-Cable 352VS includes additional protections to that investment for years to come.
- Variable-speed belt sander with cloth dust bag; variable-speed dial 850-1,300 SFPM
- Belt and gear drive system transfers power from the motor to the sanding belt
- Designed for flush sanding up to vertical surfaces; dust bag swivels 360 degree
- Fingertip belt-tracking knob; quick-release belt-change lever
- The motor is located over the plate for maximum performance and perfect balance
- 8 Amp motor, ac only
- variable-speed dial 850-1,300 SFPM
- Belt and gear drive system transfers power from the motor to the sanding belt
- Designed for flush sanding up to vertical surfaces; Dust Bag Swivels 360 degree
- Full metal housing
- Hard to damage
- Variable speed
- Belt adjustments are needed more often
- Not as powerful as others in the same class
- Dust collection does not fit with regular vacuum adapters
SKIL 7510-01 Sandcat 6 Amp 3-Inch x 18-Inch Belt Sander with Pressure Control
As a premier choice for belt sanders, SKIL’s Sandcat has a lot to offer. Powerful 6 amp motor and clear dust container are just two of many attractive features. The clear dust collection canister allows the user to easily see when it’s becoming full, making it much easier to keep the sander working flawlessly.
Using/purchasing a belt sander for the first time? Then this one is a must look for its pressure control technology. The Sandcat alerts you when you are applying too much pressure during the job. This allows you to readjust for a smooth and polished finished application. When it is time to switch out your belt, easy one lever release opens access and gets you back to sanding in no time.
Small and capable, this entry-level belt sander is surprisingly powerful and resilient. With a low price point and features designed for beginners and experienced DIYers alike, the Sandcat offers a great value for home improvement projects, and we especially recommend it for those beginners who don’t have a lot of previous experience using belt sanders and other power tools.
- Pressure control technology
- 6 amp motor
- Wide-set 3x18 inch sander size
- Great for beginners
- Pressure control technology alerts users when too much pressure is being applied
- Clear dust container has exceptional storage space
- Belt change is done in seconds
- Likely won’t hold up to extended heavy commercial use
- Dust container isn’t easy to disconnect and reconnect
WEN 6318 6-Amp 3-Inch x 18-Inch Heavy Duty Belt Sander
Need to cover a lot of ground with your sander and fast? WEN’s Heavy Duty Belt Sander is up for the challenge! With rotation speeds reaching over 820 feet per minute, count on it to sand over large surfaces and more significant projects like decks or doors in a jiffy.
The extended front roller design allows the user to sand deep into tight corners or odd, making the WEN 6318 one of the most versatile heavy duty belt sanders included in this guide. The manufacturer offers a two-year warranty on the product.
To complement its heavy-duty capabilities, this model offers a lock-on power switch to eliminate the need for a constant grip, reducing the likelihood of fatigue throughout the project. Like most belt sanders in its class, the WEN 6318 also includes a detachable dust bag. Weighing in at just 5.5lbs, it packs a massive amount of power for its low profile and lightweight design.
- Detachable dust bag for easy cleanup.
- 6 amp motor
- Quick release lever for easy belt changes
- Lock-on power makes extended use easy
- Fast 820 feet per minute rotation
- Heavy-duty construction will hold up to commercial use
- Track alignment is quick
- The dust bag isn’t the most efficient on the market
- Warms up quickly after extended use
BLACK+DECKER DS321 Dragster 7 Amp 3-Inch by 21-Inch Belt Sander with Clot
Dive right into your project with no hesitations or hiccups with Black and Decker’s Dragster Belt Sander by your side. Designed with comfort and long-term use in mind, this sander offers a multi three level adjustable handle to fit the needs of the space and allows the user to adjust to his or her best grip. Paired with the redesigned front roller, sneaking into tight spaces and corners are no worries, and promise a consistent, flawless job.
Its best use is with DIY pros or hobbyists as it isn't rated for extended commercial use, but offers an affordable and versatile solution for the home improvement weekend warrior.
- 3-way adjustable handle
- Front roller
- 6 amp motor
- Fits nicely into tight spaces
- Comes with high-quality medium grit belt
- Adjustment knob helps to keep sanding belt in alignment
- Dust bag prone to clogging
- Can overheat with extended use making it uncomfortable to hold
Makita 9903 8.8 Amp 3-Inch-by-21-Inch Variable Speed Belt Sander with Cloth Dust Bag
Designed for professional, heavy duty use, Makita’s 9903 model is a luxurious choice for a contractor with a frequent need for a belt sander. A powerful 8.8 amp motor goes above and beyond the standard 6 amp motor most belt sanders feature for that added “oomph.” Despite the powerful motor, Makita’s 9903 is one of the quietest sanders out there, making it perfect for jobs where you’re working around clients or in a busy home.
Another unique feature is the auto-tracking belt system. Eliminating the need for manual adjustment, the auto-tracking belt system automatically tracks the belt and adjusts as needed.
This industrial strength belt sander offers variable speed control that allows for supreme control in a variety of applications. Ideal for cabinetry, woodworking, furniture, closets, wood panels and more, the Makita 9903 truly is a contractor-grade sander designed for hard work.
- Easy to clean dust bag
- 8.8 amp motor
- 9.5 lbs
- Front grip design
- Sands both wood and metal with ease
- Long 16.4-foot power cord
- Additional accessories available
- Dust bag clips on and off in seconds
- Motor exhaust blows towards operator in most positions
- Not always as easy to sand within tight spaces
Hitachi SB8V2 9.0 Amp 3-Inch-by-21-Inch Variable Speed Belt Sander
Sand through your entire project comfortably with the help of Hitachi’s SB8V2 Belt Sander. Offering soft grip handles and a trigger lock, set the sander to stay on and comfortably guide it across the surface until the project is completed to your liking.
This belt sander’s 9 amp motor is built for heavy-duty jobs, making it suitable for use on wood, steel and paint removal. Suitable for DIYers and professional contractors alike, the Hitachi SB8V2 is an industrial-grade sander.
A key highlight of this model is the unique wear resistant V belt that extends the life of the sander versus other models in its class, meaning it is a tool in your arsenal that you can rely on. Hitachi offers a wide range of accessories which make upgrading and improving your sander for various projects easy and quick. Optional upgrades include a variable speed dial, softer grips, and a clear front cover.
- Tracking window to easily see surface ahead of the sander
- Dust bag mounted on the left side to ensure easy sanding on corners
- Rated for use with paint, steel, and wood
- 9 amp, 1,020-watt motor
- Wide 3x21 inch sanding surface
- Wear-resistant V Belt design
- Excellent at catching all size dust particles for clean work surface and air
- Noisier than other available models
- Harder for left-handed users to use
- Allows for static electricity build up
WEN 6321 7-Amp 3 in. x 21 in. Corded Belt Sander with Dust Bag
As a premier option for home and hobbyist use, WEN’s 6321 model offers versatility and reliability from start to finish. Take it with you anywhere and send worries of fatigue packing, as it is incredibly lightweight.
Spinning at 820 feet per minute, the motor backs up this model’s need for speed with power and a track that is simply adjusted with the front facing knob. Change out the included belt once worn down within seconds with the quick releases lever and quick tune knob.
Surprisingly powerful given its size and price-point, the WEN 6321 belt sander is backed by a two-year warranty against defects. As an entry-level model, it’s an excellent choice for beginners or for those users who only tackle a few projects a year.
- Incredibly lightweight and portable.
- 7 amp motor spins at 820 feet per minute
- Continuous use option
- Front roller extends out for easy corners and edges
- Change the belt in under a minute with no tools needed
- Detachable dust bag for easy cleanup
- Easy to use, a good option for beginners
- Not an ideal choice for extended use or bigger projects
- Tracking needs frequent adjustment
- Noisier option compared to others on the market
Ryobi One Plus Cordless Brushless Belt Sander P450, 18V
As one of the smallest belt sanders we’ve reviewed, it still packs a powerful punch in performance. Take it anywhere and work on anything with the cordless design. Great for unfinished spaces, it flawlessly sands tight corners. Also, use it for removal of paint or on steel for a smooth surface.
With an 18V battery, Ryobi promises up to 325g of material removed on a single charge. Sand comfortably and benefit from the ability to adjust the handle five different ways. Our experts highly recommend this Ryobi option for someone who frequently works on small projects and needs the option to go portable or work within unique spaces.
Have other Ryobi tools? The Ryobi One Plus Cordless Brushless Belt Sander is compatible with any Ryobi ONE+ battery so you can swap out power with other cordless Ryobi power tools.
- Handle adjusts five different ways, offering the most choice on the market
- Cordless, runs off of 18V battery
- Tool-free belt tracking
- Covers up to 850 feet per minute
- Lightweight and small profile
- Doesn’t hold a long charge, the user might want to purchase a backup battery
- Not ideal for large projects or extended use during a session
How to Buy the Best Belt Sanders
How Belt Sander Works
Belt Sanders are built to provide superior speed, force, and strength to a flat surface to produce and smooth finished sanded outcome. There are 4 primary features that every belt sander has in order for it to operate correctly.
- The drums – There are 2 drums, a front and back drum in which the sanding belts wrap around.
- Back Drum – The back drum is driven by the belt sanders motor.
- Front Drum – Rotates freely allowing the sanding belt to rotate around and between the 2 drums.
- Belts – This is the specialized sandpaper that is wrapped around the drums that allow the tool to sand the surface. The belts come in various sizes and grits depending on the belt sander and the job you are trying to complete. Belt size is usually in the description of the model you are viewing (i.e., Makita 9031 1-1/8” x 21” = 1/8” x 21” is the belt size)
- Motor – This is the driving force to the back drum that allows the belts to rotate.
- Speed – This option will vary depending on the tool
- Constant – only 1 speed
- Variable – multiple speeds allow the tool to adapt to the project you are working on.
When to Use A Belt Sander
Belt Sanders are typically used for large surfaces that requires a smooth sanded finish so that a stain or lacquer can be applied. Using a belt sander instead of manual sheets or other similar tools can save a pro upwards of hours of time during a project. They are a must-have tool for bigger projects or someone who works with wood frequently. Examples of jobs that fit this tool’s designed function would be:
- Deck surfaces
- Wood flooring
- Other flat surfaces
Belt Sanders Safety and Operational Tips
Although this tool is great for sanding flat surfaces, it is also great for working with metals and removing paint. DIY warriors and professional carpenters alike will appreciate what it offers and find the tool very forgiving in terms of the learning curve. Below are some safety tips to keep in mind when using belt sanders.
- Always wear protective eyeglasses and a mask. Sanding down wood or paint stirs a lot of harmful chemicals into the air.
- Unplug the sander before changing the paper.
- Have the belt sander in contact with the surface you are sanding before switching the power on.
- Seek out a model that has a top rated ventilation system to ensure that as much debris as possible is absorbed without going airborne.
Recommended Best Pick
All in all, our top-rated belt sander pick would be the Makita 9903 8.8 Amp 3-Inch-by-21-Inch Variable Speed Belt Sander. Those using it in a professional application won’t be let down by the features and feel that its performance is on par with all of the other tools on the job.
Home users will relish in feeling spoiled by the power and quiet motor. The dust bag is superior to others and helps to keep the work surface and air clean of as much debris as possible. Empty and reattach the bag with ease and get back to work in moments. It’s a comfortable fit that glides effortlessly across wood or steel.
Beginner belt sander users can appreciate the auto track adjustment technology built into the Makita 9903. It’s versatility, power, and use across multiple applications makes it our recommended best pick.
By taking the time to survey the options available on the market, you’ll be able to apply your new-found knowledge to your situation and pick the belt sander that best fits your needs.
Consider the scope of your project, your experience with working with power tools and your future goals for the best buying success.
Have a belt sander that you love? Want our experts to review something you’ve had your eye on? Let us know!
We love hearing from people using the products out in the field. Together, we can help more DIY Warriors and pros to get tools that work seamlessly; like it should be.