Woodworking projects large or small are never complete until it is sanded and finished. If you work with wood often, you’ll probably need a belt sander for quick, aggressive work on rougher surfaces.
In this review I look at a series of best 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 like a deck, or sanding floors with tight corners.
Some belt sanders 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 what you have in mind.
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.
After reading this review, you should have a good grasp on the best rated belt sanders and which one suits whatever woodworking project you’re working on.
Belt Sander Quick Comparison
10 Best Belt Sander Reviews
My #1 Choice – Makita 9403 4”x24”
If you are looking to knock out a large woodworking surface such as a deck or flooring project, this is the best belt sander not to overlook.
It performs flawlessly as the 4” x 24” does quick work to any large surface, like a deck. This belt sander is not only easy to use, but it is quite powerful given the 11amp motor it has.
Makita put in some 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. It 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.
This one always gets great reviews and it’s easily my no.1 recommendation.
- 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
My #2 Choice – SKIL 7510-01 Sandcat 6 Amp 3-Inch x 18-Inch Belt Sander with Pressure Control
As a premier choice for top belt sanders, SKIL’s Sandcat has a lot to offer. A powerful 6 amp motor and clear dust container are just two of many attractive features.
The clear dust collection canister allows you to easily see when it’s becoming full, making it much easier to keep the sander working flawlessly.
Using/purchasing a powerful and durable belt sander for the first time? Then this one should be on your shortlist 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, the 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 I 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 3×18 inch sander size
- Great for beginners
- Pressure control technology alerts you 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
My #3 Choice – 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, you’ll often see this in their kit.
The innovative design and functionality of this belt-sander are just two features that make it hard to overlook.
This Makita belt sander 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 you 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
4. 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 in 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 you 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 you to produce a nice finish for all those more 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 you to match the speed to the application
- Compact with less weight (4.6 lbs.) for use in close quarters
- Ball and needle bearing construction for smooth operation and longer tool life
- Narrow belt and exposed front pulley for use 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
5. 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 you to sand deep into tight corners or odd shapes, 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
6. BLACK+DECKER DS321 Dragster 7 Amp 3-Inch by 21-Inch Belt Sander with Clot
Black and Decker’s Dragster Belt Sander is 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 you to adjust to your best grip.
Paired with the redesigned front roller, sneaking into tight spaces and corners are no worries, and promises 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
7. 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 or serious hobbyist.
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
8. Hitachi SB8V2 9.0 Amp 3-Inch-by-21-Inch Variable Speed Belt Sander
Hitachi’s SB8V2 Belt Sander offers soft grip handles and a trigger lock, so you can set the sander to stay on and comfortably guide it across the surface until the project is completed to your liking.
This top 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 for an extended time.
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 3×21 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
9. 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. This one will give you the least fatigue, 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. You can change out the included belt once worn down within seconds with the quick release 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 ‘bargain’ 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
10. Ryobi One Plus Cordless Brushless Belt Sander P450, 18V
As one of the smallest and best budget belt sanders we’ve reviewed, this Ryobi still packs a powerful punch in performance. You can take it anywhere and work on anything with the cordless design. Great for unfinished spaces, it flawlessly sands tight corners. Also, use it for the 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. You can 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.
If you 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 a 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 – this means it has 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 9403. 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 appreciate 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 9403. It’s versatility, power, and use across multiple applications makes it my 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 – and check the pros and cons we’ve laid out for each one.