Updated: June 8, 2015
Belt Sander Reviews:If you are a homeowner who likes DIY projects or an avid woodworker or someone that works with wood, the belt sander is the ultimate tool. Whether you are smoothing out decks, stripping paint from a porch or sanding floors, owning a quality belt sander can make the job much easier. Belt sanders do the heavy duty work when the project starts so you want them to be reliable and durable. Top brands include Bosch, DeWalt, Porter Cable, Makita, Skil, Ryobi, Ridgid, Hitachi, and Black & Decker. Prices range from $50 to $250 and you can find them in home improvement stores like Home Depot, Lowes, and Sears. We also found a great selection online at Amazon.com. What features should you consider? Which brand is best? How can I find reviews? We answer all those question below.
Choosing a Belt Sander - When it comes to belt sanders you will hear terms like power (amps), variable speed, tracking control, hand positioning, duct collection, and size (3 inch or 4 inch wide belts). Feet per minute (FPM) is how you rate a belt sander in terms of power. The more amperage the better the power. Most sanders (belt) will be between 4 and 12 amps. The top rated models tend to have at least 6 amps of power with 11 amps being plenty. How about size? The average belt sander will have 3 inch by 21 inch belt. A compact belt sander like the Porter-Cable 371K has a 2 1/2 inch by 14 inch belt while the larger Makita 9404 features a 4" by 24" belt. The wide belt sanders are great for stripping paint from cabinetry or furniture and finishing wood. The variable speed control is what sets some models apart from others. The reason why variable speed is important is because some work requires that you adjust the motor speed as you move along. You don't want to damage the wood surface and some of the powerful models could do just that if not used properly. The speed control switch location is another factor to consider. In reviews we found, models from Bosch, Ryobi and Craftsman score well for this while Porter Cable does not. The release lever should be sturdy and be able to handle years of switching out sandpaper grits depending on the job. The level should be easy to maneuver. Tracking controls are good to have as well. They will allow you to keep the front roller aligned and the belt centered. The Bosch units and Makita rate high for hand positioning and comfortable use. Remember, you may be working with the belt sander for hours and comfort can't be forgotten. Lastly, we have dust collection. There is no hiding the fact that belt sanders create a lot of dust and experts say consumers should buy only models with cloth dust bags or those that hook up directly to dust collection systems. Noise levels are loud, although some are rated as "quiet" only when compared to the really loud models. Always wear noise canceling earmuffs to protect your hearing. Belt Sander Reviews - There is no lack of reviews for belt sanders - find them online, in magazines, and in books. Trusted sources like Wood Magazine, Fine Homebuilding, and About.com all feature comparisons and tests of the top brands. Lon Schleining did a great article for Fine Homebuilding as he took on the task of testing 3 inch by 21 inch belt sanders. Belt Sanders at Home Depot are listed on their website and you can read consumer reviews that are posted. Consumer Reports does some general buying guide for sanders and sanding, but nothing specific on belt sanders that we could find. You can browse the best selling belt sanders online here.