Best Belt Sander Reviews 2017

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For those of us who need to buy a sander, then invariably we need to pick the right one for the job. We all know that any type of sanding is just a dull and boring task, but it does need to get done. On this page we will look in particular at the best belt sanders.

So we will examine what they are and look like, and for what tasks they should be used for. That way you will be able to pick the one best suited for your needs.

What Is A Belt Sander Used For?

These are basically heavy duty tools for the fast removal of stock and to help make surfaces smooth. They are used for doing large wooden areas such as kitchen cabinets, floors and decks.

Now for something like doing kitchen cabinet doors, chairs and smaller jobs then the preferred sander would be the random orbital sander. We have reviewed those in detail. You can read all about random orbital sanders by clicking here.

The belt sander is essentially the work horse for getting sanding done as quickly as possible. Belt sanders excel at the rapid removal of wood.

That makes them the best handheld power tool for either levelling or smoothing rough boards covering a large area. Using an 80-grit sandpaper is good for starting, then switch to 120-grit to get a much smoother finish.

Don’t Be Afraid

So we now know that these are large sanders used for the bigger and tougher jobs on large areas. It is also worth pointing out that belt sanders do take a bit of getting used to. They are heavy and as the name would suggest come with belts that will require changing.

It is a fact that many woodworkers buy these and are then actually afraid to use them. That is because they can quickly remove stock, and often far too quickly.

They can indeed be a challenge to use, but with a little practise, these can be a super tool to use. There are three golden rules to follow before buying a belt sander.

Golden Rules for Buying a Belt Sander

  1. Bigger really is better – this refers to the size of the belt (4 x 24 is ideal as it covers a good area of wood)
  2. Variable Speed – (It gives you a ton more control) – We recommend a slow speed with a fine belt grade for absolute control
  3. You really do need good dust collection as these remove a lot of wood and sawdust

Many people also choose to rent one of these out rather than make a purchase, if for example, they only plan on doing one major project. That is a good idea if you only plan on using this for a one-off larger task. Mainly these are used on wood, but they can also be used on laminates, plastics and metals.

How Much Do Belt Sanders Cost? – Price Check

You can get them as cheap as $50 and all the way up from that. Brands who make these at the lower end prices include Black & Decker and also Skil. The higher and better quality ones will set you back between $200-250 depending on exactly what you need. The brands who make these are Makita, Porter-Cable and Grizzly.

The main difference in the pricing is the actual quality of the materials used in the construction, the power of the motors and other additional features that I will cover later in this article review.

You will notice that for most general use, belt sanders are more or less, really quite similar. Our advice would be that if you are doing a few floors, or perhaps a deck, either just rent one or buy one at around the $50-60 price point. Most people will not need the more expensive options. Those that do are likely to be professionals, contractors or people who do a lot of wood working.

The video below, I would recommend watching, as it shows exactly how you should use a belt sander for the very best results. You will notice he uses a slow speed and fine belt for great results.

Top Rated Belt Sanders Under $100

Below you will find a table that shows the best ones that will cost you less than $100. Our recommendation from this list would be the Black & Decker Dragster, simply because it has a good size of belt for this grade of sander, and gets consistent reviews. The Genesis would come a very close second choice.

Anyway, in the table below you will find a list of what we believe to be the top 5 belt sanders under the $100 price point.

Top Rated Belt Sanders Under $100

Comparison Table of the Top 5 Rated Belt Sanders currently on the market. Please note that we use average market prices which are always subject to change. The ratings are out of 5 stars and we use our own method of working out those ratings, based on average customer and buyer reviews.
      
Product
Name
POWERTEC BD1500Black & Decker DS321 DragsterGenesis GBS321ASKIL 7510-01 Sandcat Grizzly H6070
Buyer Rating4.94.54.44.34.2
Average Price$100$50$64$39$90
Belt Size In Inches1" x 30 "3" x 21"3" x 21"3" x 18"1" x 30"
Weight (Pounds)17.68.27.87.520

Overall Best Rated Belt Sanders

Now if price was not a restriction, then there are some great choices available on the market, so we thought we would put together a list of the best rated irrespective of price. Please note these can cost a lot of money, so just be sure you get the right one for the particular type of work that you are going to be doing.

No 1 Choice – Makita 9903 8.8 Amp 3-Inch-by-21-Inch

makita-9903-belt-sanderThis one gets very high ratings by actual buyers with a very high average of 4.8 out of 5 stars. This is a 3 x 21″ belt sander and buyers really do like using it. It is an expensive option and can set you back anything between $220-250, depending on where you make your purchase.

It is however a very high quality product with a very powerful motor. If money was no object this is the one that I would buy myself. I just don’t use a belt sander often enough to justify the spend. It comes with a long power cord, an auto tracking belt system and has full variable control.

No 2 Choice – Makita 9403 11 Amp 4-Inch-by-24-Inch Belt Sander with Cloth Dust Bag

makita-9403 belt sander 4 x 24Like the one above this is also a very high end belt sander that can handle just about anything that you can throw at it. It is a bigger one as it is a 4 x 24″, which will really remove a lot of stock quickly. It is also a very quiet version and again buyers do seem to enjoy using this one.

This 4″ wide belt really does cover a lot of ground very quickly. The front grip is really comfortable to use, and helps if you have a lot of sanding to do. It weighs around 13 pounds so that makes it portable, should you need to use it in different work areas.

No 3 Choice – PORTER-CABLE 371 2-1/2-Inch by 14-Inch Compact Belt Sander

porter cable belt sanderA popular choice from the Porter Cable brand that costs less than $100. This type of price point will be more suitable for people who want to own a belt sander, but don’t want to spend a fortune. This one attracts an average rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars.

It makes use of a 14 x 2.5″ belt so decent coverage with this one as well, though not as big as the two shown above. That said it is a great deal cheaper to buy. The flush side on this one is very useful, as it allows you to get up close and personal with any vertical surfaces such as walls and squared corners.

It uses all metal components, is dust sealed and has a nice rubber grip. For under $100 we think this is very good value for money.

No 4 Choice – Black & Decker DS321 Dragster

Black & Decker Dragster in actionA cheaper option at a very good price of around $55. The attractive price point makes this belt sander, a best seller over at Amazon.  Now it is not a high end sander by any means. That said the 21 x 3″ belt is a decent size and it certainly gets the job done quickly and effectively.

For most people all they will ever use one of these sanders for is to sand down floors, doors or the odd table. You don’t need an expensive sander to be able to do that.

That is why this “Black & Decker Dragster” fits the bill nicely. Buyers rate this one as 4.1 stars out of 5. That means that around 80% of buyers think this one does a good job.

This one also comes with a medium grind sanding belt, a dust bag and a full instruction manual.

It also comes with a 2-year warranty which should offer some peace of mind. Weighing only a tad over 8 pounds, this one is light and portable. A good choice for people who want a good quality sander, without breaking the bank.

No 5 Choice – Genesis GBS321A

genesis-gbs321a belt sanderTo finish off our top 5 list, we include the popular Genesis brand. This one also offers great value at around $55, which is a very good price for this belt sander. It is the same price as the one above, and gets a higher rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars.

This is also a 21 x 32 belt sander, with a nice design, and a flush side setting to get right into any perpendicular surfaces. I like the fact that you can adjust the front handle which allows you to make this suit your hand movements. That in turn makes this one comfortable to use.

This one is quiet in use, has variable speed and also makes really good use of an 8 amp motor, which is pretty powerful.

TOP TIPS

Belts for these sanders are not cheap. If you watched the video, you will have noticed that the guy uses an abrasive cleaning stick, to remove sawdust from the belt.

This I would recommend highly as it makes your belts last a great deal longer. Aside from that they also make sure that the belt is in the best condition to give a nice uniform sanding.

Belt Sander vs Palm Sander vs Random Orbit Sander?

Belt Sander

If you are new to sanding then knowing which sander to pick can get just a little confusing. There are a few of these out there on the market, and each has a specific purpose.

If you need something that can remove a lot of wood quickly, or have a large surface area to sand, then most likely a belt sander is what you are after.

So if you think of floors, large tables then that is what you would use a belt sander for. They use a belt drive that normally runs along two pulleys with a sanding belt attached.

Palm Sander

This is often referred to as a finish sander, and as the name would suggest, it comfortably fits into your hand and is used for finishing off and making a really smooth finish. With these you basically attach some sandpaper to the bottom of a square or circular pad. That is then held on using a clamp or with some models a couple of clamps.

When the sander is switched on the sander pad then moves in small circular motions and gently removes the wood until you have a very smooth finish.

These are used, or were used to finish work, get into corners and smaller areas and to give an ultra smooth finish. These used to be a popular choice but have all but been replaced by the random orbit sander.

Random Orbit Sanders

The problem with the palm sander above, was that unless you were very skilled in their use, they tended to leave circular swirl marks on the finished surface. This is not a great look and the swirl marks were caused by the basic circular motion.

For a woodworker they would know how to move quickly and expertly to reduce this happening, but for most people, the end result would not look that good.

With the random orbit, the sander moved not only in a circular motion, but in random movements. This prevented circular motions repeating on a small surface area, and as such became swirl free.

We have reviewed these types of sander in a lot more detail. That is because they are by a very long way, the most popular in the market place. if you would like to find out more about these, then please click here to read more details.

Belt Sander Sizes

So if you think a belt sander is for you, then you should be aware that these come in different sizes. These are measured in inches and the sizes are as follows:

  • 3 x 18″
  • 3 x 21 “
  • 3 x 24″
  • 4 x 24″
  • 4 x 36″

Our advice is to pick a 3″ belt as they are so much easier to use and control. The 4″ is a bit of a beast and although professionals will normally pick this size, they use these every single day, and know how to use them with great success. The 3 x 21″ is an ideal and very sensible choice for most people.

Enda McLarnon
 

Enda McLarnon is now retired and is now enjoying writing about his love of power tools. All types of these tools are now available and they make working on projects and DIY jobs around the home a great deal of fun