Best Belt Sander Reviews 2018

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.

So we now know that belt sanders 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

Here are our three golden rules for buying the best 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.

Overall Best Buyer 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.

Top 10 Buyer Rated Belt Sanders

If you click on the product name below you will be taken to a concise review of each belt sander. Please note that you can also sort the table in to an order you prefer such as price or sander size.

Sander Name

Sander Size

Buyer Rating

Average Price

3 x 18"

94%

$46

3 x 21"

92%

$225

3 x 18"

88%

$49

4 x 24"

88%

$250

4 x 24"

88%

$300

4 x 24"

86%

$240

3 x 21"

84%

$180

3 x 18"

84%

$90

3 x 21"

82%

$40

3 x 21"

80%

$56

No 1 Choice - Tacklife Belt Sander

94%
Buyer Satisfaction

This one gets very high ratings by actual buyers with a very high average of 94% buyer satisfaction. This is a 3 x 18" belt sander and buyers really do like using it. 

It is an affordable option and that is probably the key to its success. It certainly has some great features given its low price. These include:

  • A 5-Amp motor that rotates the belt at over 14 feet per second
  • Comes with two screw clamps, and can be fixed to a table
  • Attached with a dust box and vacuum adaptor to collect the dust easily
  • Equipped with a lock-in switch, it allow you to sand continuously without a constant grip on the trigger
  • Variable Speed - Speed setting knob with 6 speed dials

No 2 Choice - Makita 9903 8.8 Amp 3-Inch-by-21-Inch

92%
Buyer Satisfaction

This one gets very high ratings by actual buyers with a very high average of 92% buyer satisfaction. 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 3 Choice - SKIL 7510-01 Sandcat 6 Amp 3-Inch x 18-Inch Belt Sander

88%
Buyer Satisfaction

This one gets a high rating by actual buyers of 88% buyer satisfaction. This is a 3 x 18" belt sander and buyers really do like using it. 

At around $45-50 the price on this one is excellent and it has enough features to suit most users. These include:

  • There is a Pressure Control Technology that warns the user when too much pressure is being applied
  • One thing buyers liked was the "Auto Track System" that helps keep the belt centered and on track
  • It is very good at dust collection including fine dust particles and the dust canister is see through
  • Single lever belt changes

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

88%
Buyer Satisfaction

Like 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 5 Choice - PORTER-CABLE 362V 4-Inch by 24-Inch Variable Speed Belt Sander

88%
Buyer Satisfaction

Like 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 3 x 21" belt sander and that is the most popular size. It has some great features that include:

  • Variable-speed belt sander uses a speed dial 850-1,300 SFPM
  • Has an impressive belt and gear drive system that transfers power from the motor to the sanding belt
  • Ideal for flush sanding up to vertical surfaces
  • Fingertip belt-tracking knob and quick-release belt-change lever

No 6 Choice - Makita 9404 8.8-Amp 4-by-24-Inch

86%
Buyer Satisfaction

This is also a very high end belt sander that can handle just about anything that you can throw at it.

It is a 4 x 24" belt sander and that is the type that professionals will use as it does remove the most wood in the fastest time. It is packed with features:

  • Has a wide variable speed control dial (690-1,440 ft./min.)
  • It is a very quiet sander
  • Has a very powerful 8.8 AMP motor for fast material removal
  • Also has an auto-tracking belt system that tracks the belt without adjustment
  • Ideal for sanding flush to the wall with both the nose and side of the sander
  • Has a dust bag and a long 6.4 ft. power cord

No 7 Choice - Hitachi SB8V2 9.0 Amp 3-Inch-by-21-Inch

84%
Buyer Satisfaction

This is a 3 x 21" belt sander and that is the most popular size. It has some great features that include:

  • Variable speed dial that can adjust the speed from 820-1,475 ft/min
  • Soft grip surface on the handles for a comfortable and secure hold
  • A very useful tracking window that improves visibility of sanding surface and sanding belt during use
  • Left-side mounted dust collection bag improves corner sanding applications​
  • Wear-resistant V-belt drives the sander for double the service life

No 8 Choice - Ridgid ZRR2740 6.5 Amp 3-in X 18-in

84%
Buyer Satisfaction

A lot of buyers like this Ridgid brand and this sander is the 3 x 18" model that as you can see gets good reviews. Its features include:

  • Excellent and efficient twin fan dust collection. One fan cools the motor while the other collects dust
  • Has soft grip handles for increased comfort and decreased vibration
  • Comes with a 12-ft all rubber cord
  • Has the important automatic belt tracking tool which adjusts the belt to the center of plate for alignment
  • Strong 6.5 Amp motor belt and gear driven

No 9 Choice - WEN 6321 7-Amp 3 in. x 21 in. Corded Belt Sander

82%
Buyer Satisfaction

This is a 3 x 21" belt sander and that is the most popular size. It has some great features that include:

  • This sander has a 7-amp motor that rotates the belt at over 13 feet per second
  • Lightweight and compact design at six pounds to limit the fatigue of the user
  • Has a detachable dust bag​
  • Lock-in safety feature allows for continuous sanding without requiring a constant grip on the trigger
  • Supported by a two-year warranty

No 10 Choice - Genesis GBS321A Belt Sander

80%
Buyer Satisfaction

At number 4 on 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 similar in price as the one above, and gets a ​buyer satisfaction rating of 80%.

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 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 Tacklife, simply because it has a good size of belt for this grade of sander, and gets consistent reviews.

The Skil 7510 or 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. If you click on any of the product links you can read a concise review on each sander.

Sander Name

Sander Size

Buyer Rating

Average Price

3 x 18"

94%

$46

3 x 18"

88%

$49

3 x 18"

84%

$90

3 x 21"

82%

$40

3 x 21"

80%

$56

TOP BUYING 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?

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 Sanders Explained

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 Orbital 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