A belt sander is super useful if you want to prepare wood surfaces for varnishing, painting, or for any other reasons. If you want to smoothen layers or remove a stock, a belt sander can be your close work-pal.
However, not all of them can help you get a top-notch finish on the project. For this, you need to own the best belt sander that will give you durability and performance.
Speaking of which, we have compiled our list of the 7 best handheld belt sanders that you can check before purchasing one. They have impressed many users for their benefits.
- How Belt Sander Works
- Best Hand Held Belt Sander Reviews
- Makita 9403 (Editor’s Choice)
- Genesis GBS321A (Affordable)
- Makita 9903 (Best Mid-Priced Belt Sander With Variable Speed)
- TACKLIFE PSFS1A (Best Budget Belt Sander)
- SKIL 7510-01
- Makita 9924DB (Best For Large Jobs)
- WEN 6307 (Best Variable Speed Detailing File Sander)
- Porter-Cable 352V (Powerful)
- Handheld Belt Sander Buying Guide
- How To Use Belt Sander?
- Belt Sander Safety Tips
How Belt Sander Works
The handheld belt sander is a great help for smoothing down rough surfaces with high speed and high strength. These kinds of products are comprised of sanding belts, the loop of sturdy cloth that is placed over two cylindrical drums.
The drum in the back is driven around by the unit’s motor, while the one in the front is used to spin around. There is usually a lever attached to the sander that helps the operator move the belt into its appropriate place.
An adjustment option is preferable since it would mean that the belt can be automatically adjusted as the user moves around in the work area.
Besides being useful in removing stock off woodworking, the sander is also great for clearing off old paint, varnish, and spots. The speed adjuster guarantees a smooth finish every time.
There are two kinds of belt sanders: handheld and stationary.
Best Hand Held Belt Sander Reviews
Makita 9403 (Editor’s Choice)
Considered to be one of the quietest sanders of its type, the Makita 9403 is a dream come true for any carpenter, woodworker, serviceman, builder-man, or contractor looking for the best belt sander.
It only weighs 13 pounds and, as aforementioned, offers a very minimum level of noise (only 84 decibels, to be exact). The belt is only 4 inches wide but comes with a great electronic speed that keeps the job smooth and constant. In fact, you can expect to remove stock material at a rate of 1,640 feet per minute with the Makita 9403.
Efficient and practical at the same time, the Makita sander can be used without any worry of it going under the weather. Customers have claimed that the product has run 100 hours without suffering any kind of problem. Although it may be a bit heavyweight, it has a large front grip that enables its user to maintain proper balance while operating it.
Furthermore, the Makita 9403 has solved any portable belt sander’s biggest singular problem: getting rid of the dirt and dust the sander procures while working. The Makita comes with such a strong blower so that there is no requirement for a vacuum. This would save you from wasting time unloading the dirt from the vacuum!
Makita 9403 is a super solid 4-inch belt sander. The brand has constructed it with metal mainly, while some parts are robust polyethylene. It can give you a satisfying balance while you work on flat surfaces.
Moreover, it features a big front handle so you can hold the grip comfortably. You won’t even need to give any pressure when guiding it along with the stock.
Another added advantage is its ability to get the job done with minimum sound. The noise it makes while working can be lesser than its rivals.
However, the machine weighs around 13lbs. So, it can be slightly tough to use on vertical surfaces because of its weight. Not only that, you may expect a bit of fatigue if you plan to work for a longer period.
That being said, the belt sander can excel at its performance. You will get an 80-grip belt along with a dust-bag for collecting the sawdust. The machine features labyrinth construction that seals bearings and motor from dust or other contamination.
Additionally, it comes with a speed of 1,640 feet a minute and an 11 amp motor. So, it can give you a quick and easy stock removal.
Although it may get hot sometimes, it should not disappoint you.
- Comes with a big handle that can give a comfortable grip
- Great to use on a flat surface
- Stock removal is easy and quick.
- Labyrinth construction protects the machine from sawdust.
- Less noise
- A bit cumbersome to sand a vertical surface
- It may get slightly hot.
- Heaviness can cause fatigue.
- Dust bag: Removable, multi-position dust bag
- Belt: 80 grit sanding belt
- Amps: 11 Amps
- Belt Size: 4″ x 24″
- Length: 14 in
- Speed (feet per minute): fixed, 1,640 FPM
- Weight: 12.6 lbs
Genesis GBS321A (Affordable)
More than anything, the Genesis GBS321A hand held belt sander is easy to use and easy to tolerate. It is easy to use because it allows a speed control for its 8.0 AMP motor so the user can regulate the speed as per his or her comfort. In fact, the speed range is from 390 feet per minute to even 1,180 feet per minute. It is easy to tolerate because it is less noisy to operate.
The belt may be a bit longer than it is usually expected to be, being 21-inch in length, but there is a front grip handle that can be adjusted automatically for efficient and hassle-free operation.
Alongside its dependable belt, the Genesis has a structure that has been specially designed to make sure that its user can quickly get into the tight corners. This is why the product is so much more preferable for woodworking and sanding wood panels projects that require flexibility and swiftness.
Other useful features of the Genesis GBS321A include a duct collection bag to collect dust while getting work done and a power cord so that the user can work for a more extended amount of time without worrying about the battery going dead!
Genesis GBS321A can be the best belt sander if you want to use it occasionally. Coming in around 8.5 lbs., it can be a lightweight tool to have.
As for the appearance, the belt sander measures 3X21 inches and comes with a low-profile design. It has a flat side, so it can get into complex spots with ease. Plus, the same feature can help you with flush sanding applications. Moreover, it can do the stock removing job with less noise and precision.
It has a grip handle that you can comfortably adjust to control and operate. Furthermore, it features an 8 amp motor that works amazingly with a constant speed. Speaking of which, it has variable speed control, too, ranging from 390 to 1180 feet a minute. So, you can enjoy its versatility as you control the sanding speed.
In addition to versatility, the machine comes with other useful features. You will get an Auto-Tracking belt system that will help you keep the belt centered without adjusting. It has a quick-change single lever that promises to give you minimal downtime. This way, you can multiply your productivity.
However, the dust-bag may not be very durable. Besides, users griped about the easily breaking zipper too. So, these can be the minor downsides. Another can be the electrical cord that the brand has placed in an awkward position.
- Auto-tracking belt system helps with belt tracking without adjustment.
- Front Grip Handle gives easy adjustment.
- Variable speed control helps give versatility.
- Low profile design helps you get into complex areas.
- Quick change single lever helps increase productivity.
- Less noise
- The dust bag is not durable.
- Zipper is flimsy
- Electrical cord placed in an awkward position
- Dust bag: included
- Belt: included
- Amps: 8 Amps
- Belt Size: 3″ x 21″
- Speed (feet per minute): variable, 390-1,180 FPM
- Weight: 7.8 lbs
Makita 9903 (Best Mid-Priced Belt Sander With Variable Speed)
The Makita 9903 is beefy enough to deliver power with an 8.8 amp motor. Strike it with its variable speed control and adjust the range from 690 to 1,440 feet a minute. With this, you can strip several materials in a short period while getting a precise finish too.
The construction is solid, and it can endure vigorous use regardless of the project. Not just that, it can impress you with its low noise and vibration too.
To add more, the handle can give a comfy grip, so you can remove the stock with ease. Moreover, it comes in just 9.5 lbs. that is light enough to add stability without hurting your hand.
You may love its extra-long 16.4 feet cord on the tool. It can give you easy movement, and you can go a bit far from the power outlet.
Additionally, it features a strong blower that can keep your job site spotless. There is a dust-bag too, but it may sometimes leak that can annoy you. Another issue is that you may find it difficult to attach it even if you plan to get a shop vac.
However, these cons are nothing before the privileges it gives. Speaking of which, the machine has an auto-tracking feature to help keep the belt centered. Plus, there is a manual tracking button that you can use to adjust the position of the belt with ease.
- Can endure vigorous use
- Low noise and vibration
- Smooth finish
- Long cord for easy movement
- Stock removal is easy and quick.
- The dust bag can leak.
- Not easy to attach a shop vac
- Does not include a bag
TACKLIFE PSFS1A (Best Budget Belt Sander)
TACKLIFE PSFS1A comes with 2 metal screw clamps. With these, you can turn the machine over and fix it to the table. So, not only the machine is a 3-inch by 18-inch belt sander, but a bench sander too.
With the tool, you will get 13 sanding belts that can be a big convenience for your projects. You can change the belt easily when needed.
Moreover, you can use the lock-on button that can give you more flexibility. It lets you use the tool with one hand without any issue.
Additionally, the belt sander features a 5 amp motor that can tackle many hard sanding jobs. It has a 6-dial variable speed knob through which you can adjust the speed between 0 to 560 RPM. Such power can be of big help to give you a smooth finish regardless of the surface.
Another great thing is that it features a dust collection box and 2 vacuum adapters to help keep the jobsite spotless.
- Belt sander and bench sander.
- The lock-on button provides flexibility.
- Comes with 13 sanding belts
- Dust collection and vacuum adapters help with a clean job.
- Durable and long-lasting
- Finishing is smooth
- A bit noisy
- Top speed is not speedy enough.
- Gets hot sometimes
SKIL 7510-01 is a 3X18-inch belt sander that the brand has designed for small to medium-sized projects. Weighing just around 6 lbs., its low-profile design can get into complex areas with ease.
Moreover, the belt sander is super comfy. Its 6 amp power can help you with easy wood sanding or stock removal. The speed is not variable, but you may love the constant for its stability.
About the handles, you will get 2 from which you can get a firm grip. Plus, it can be very light to hold and operate since it comes in just 6.75 lbs.
The big advantage is that the machine features an auto-pressure control feedback system with an LED indicator. The light blinking will help you understand when to ease the pressure. With this, you can get a better finish on the material. Not just that, it prevents your belt from wearing out too early.
Plus, the tool includes an auto-track system that can help you keep the belt centered.
Its micro-filtration dust-capture system can impress you too. It helps a lot in capturing the tiniest sawdust particles with ease. Moreover, the dust canister comes transparent so you will know when to empty it. However, the small size of the dust canister can annoy you.
- Micro-filtration easily captures dust.
- Pressure control technology helps you understand when to ease the pressure.
- Transparent dust canister
- Auto-track system helps keep the belt centered.
- Lightweight and compact
- Comes with 2 handles with a comfy grip
- No variable speed control
- The dust canister is small.
- Not for big projects
Makita 9924DB (Best For Large Jobs)
Makita 9924DB excels at handling bigger projects. So, calling it one of the best belt sanders will not be wrong. It possesses a powerful 7.8 amp motor that helps you remove or sand the material fast. The speed control maintains constant speed while being under load by delivering speed up to 1300 feet a minute.
Makita 9924DB is popular for its low-profile design. Not only can it give a better balance, but it helps you use it in complex areas too. Moreover, the extended base is another upside that lets sanding flush the wall with the sander’s nose and side.
With its extra-long cord, you can maneuver the machine with ease and enjoy the flexibility. The handle has a decent grip that does the job, but the small size can make it awkward.
However, the tool is easy to maintain, too, thanks to its replaceable ceramic wear plate. You may love the dust collecting bag for its lightness. Yet, its small size can annoy you too.
Additionally, the 9924DB comes with robust ball-bearing construction. It helps the machine have a longer tool-life. You can expect quick belt changes with an easy-release belt lever.
- Outstanding for bigger projects
- Great speed with easy control
- Low profile design and light
- Easy to maintain
- Quick-release belt lever
- The extended base helps with flush sanding.
- The small size of the handle feels awkward.
- Small dustbag
- Slightly pricy
WEN 6307 (Best Variable Speed Detailing File Sander)
Coming slim and compact, WEN 6307 can reach awkward tight spaces and angles like a breeze. Plus, you can maneuver the tool and work for a longer period without any issue.
Moreover, the machine has a variable speed that goes up to 1800 feet a minute. It can help you have a smooth job. For small to medium-sized jobs, it can be pretty impressive.
When it comes to the belt, it measures ½X18-inch that pivots up to 55 degrees. It means that the tool can meet certain needs of the project with ease. To add more, you will get 3 belts with the tool for more uses. These belts have abrasive textures that help multiply their versatility.
One great thing about the machine is its tool-free changing system. With this, you can switch between the grits effortlessly. Moreover, there is a dial too that lets you change the speed quick.
Additionally, the tool features an auto-tracking system to self-center the belt without the need for adjustment.
WEN 6307 does not come with a dust bag. But it has a dust port attachment, so you can clip one to have a mess-free operation. Another issue with the machine is that it can get slightly hot.
- Belt pivoting can be handy for different projects.
- Includes 3 belts with abrasive textures
- Impressive for complex spaces
- Tool-free changing system
- The dial is easy to change the speed.
- Auto-tracking feature
- Does not include a dust bag
- It may get slightly hot.
- Not good for heavy-duty work
Porter-Cable 352V (Powerful)
With a body entirely built from metal and equipped with an 8 amp motor, the Porter-Cable 352V is indeed a beast that has been designed to withstand prolonged operation without any rest.
It is also heavy itself since it weighs 15 and a half pounds and measures 14 inches high. However, this won’t be a disturbance. All you need to do is guide the Porter-Cable, and it will do all the work.
Why is it easy to guide? The speed dial is placed on the rear of the handle so that changing the speed according to demand is very effortless.
The user also needs not to worry about collecting dust since a collection bag automatically does that job needlessly and can even swivel around for any sign of dirt without causing any distraction. The belt is also the same way: it adjusts itself as you move and does not sway from the track.
Small advantages such as these work together to become a better one: while using the Porter-Cable, the user only needs to focus all their attention on the job itself, rather than worrying about collecting the dust or adjusting the belt.
- Dust bag: Removable, multi-position dust bag
- Belt: 80 grit sanding belt
- Amps: 8 Amps
- Belt Size: 3″ x 21″
- Height: 10.38 in
- Length: 12.5 in
- Speed (feet per minute): variable, 850-1,300 FPM
- Weight: 10.75 lbs
Handheld Belt Sander Buying Guide
A belt sander is a sanding tool that helps give your materials a desired shape and smooth finish. It is one of the best machines to grind away materials.
You can use it for scribing purposes too. With this, your wooden furniture can have that perfect scribed line finish.
Moreover, belt sanders can trim and smooth the material’s edges too. Since its belt runs at a higher speed, it does the work in a few seconds.
Your old wooden chairs and tables can achieve newness simply with some swipes of the machine. Moreover, it can help you eliminate dark-colored stains or paints too.
Not only wood, but a belt sander can also deal with materials like aluminum or metals too.
Plus, it can be a sharpening tool as well. It can sharpen your disposable metal tools like a chisel. However, make sure not to use it to sharpen new tools.
Related reading: What is a Belt Sander Used For?
Belt sander gets power from the powerful motor. When it comes to the corded sander, electric motors have power rated in Amps (A).
The more the power, the more the amps, hence the greater performance you can expect from the tool. You must pick a belt sander with enough muscle to do the grinding and smoothing job.
If you plan to work with smaller or softer materials like wood, then it will be sufficient to have power from 4 to 6amps in the tool. In case sanding is a part of your daily job or you are using it on a metallic surface, ensure the tool has more than 10amp power.
The weight of belt sanders ranges from 5 lbs. to over 15lbs.
If you plan to use the tool vertically and do overhead sanding, ensure using a lighter belt sander. This way, it would be easier for you to handle the machine for a longer period.
Meanwhile, if you are operating it horizontally on a badly-aligned hard surface, pick a heavier one.
A belt sander can differ in size. So, pick the size according to your convenience.
You may find two sizes of belt sanders that people use most.
The belt sander measuring 3X21 inches is one of the popular tools. It’s because you will find it small and convenient. It is easy to handle, but you can work with it for a longer period without any issue.
However, getting the belt sander that measures 4X24-inch will be great to work on bigger and heavier materials.
The suitable size actually depends on your working purpose and the material’s size.
The speed of the belt sander is rated in FPM that is Feet Per Minute. The higher FPM refers to the quicker running belt surfaces.
When it comes to speed, there are 2 types: Single and variable. A single-speed belt sander neither lets you change nor control its speed. As a result, the use and purposes become limited.
Meanwhile, a variable speed tool lets you adjust the speed according to your project type and necessity. Most of the belt sanders with a variable speed range from 500 to 1500 feet a minute.
However, some belt sanders have two speed settings: high and low. Some of them have dials that let you pick any amount of speed.
If you want more versatility, then pick the belt sander that has variable speed. It will help you have the desired rate of the grind without pushing the machine into the materials too hard.
Comfort and Control
Ensure the belt sander includes components through which you get control while sliding the machine through the material surfaces. This is when the sander handle becomes handy. With this, you can control the movement very well.
Moreover, you must pick the handle that will give you great grip and fit. Otherwise, you will end up developing calluses on your hands.
Without the centering system, the belt will not stay aligned. As a result, you may not work productively. That’s the reason why you need a feature that will help with track centering. And this is what a centering system does.
The track centering system will help keep the belt sander centered on its position. This way, you can sand with ease while it saves both your time and efforts.
A durable belt sander can ensure your reliability. So, pick a belt sander that the producer built with premium quality materials. Mainly the belt sanders contain mixed materials. These include plastic, metal and polyethylene.
Moreover, it should have a strong and durable backing too.
As for the belts, aluminum-oxide ones are comparative reliable. These can give you the utmost result if you want to use them for general purposes.
Make sure your belt sander has the longest warranty period. The period can range from 12 months to 5 years, depending on the brands.
This will give you a written guarantee from the producer that promises to replace or repair your tool within the specified period if it gets damaged.
Belt sanders evidently produce a lot of dust. The flying dust may cause harm to your eyes, lungs, and other body parts.
So, pick a machine that has a dust collection system. It can efficiently capture the dust while keeping your workplace spotless.
Safety is one of the most important factors that you should keep in mind while working with the tool.
You must wear protective eye-wears, ear protection, and gloves to keep yourself safe. Plus, tie your hair beforehand if you have long hair.
Moreover, clamp the wooded pieces into a place so you can prevent them from sliding away.
Ensure switching off the machine before plugging it in. Unplug the machine, too, before replacing the sand belt. Or else, this may cause big damage.
The price of a belt sander varies according to its size and quality. You can get a decent machine from $50 to $150.
However, if you want to invest more to enjoy the best quality and durability, then the ones that cost $100 to $250 would be perfect for you.
Stationary Belt Sander vs Handheld Belt Sander
When a belt sander is stationary, it is fixed, and the work must be moved near the unit to be operated on. For the sanding to be perfectly balanced, stationary belt sanders are usually placed on a workbench. In such a case, the tool will be called a bench or workbench sander.
What are stationary models specifically used for? They are used for removing non-ferrous materials, for example, aluminum. Although aluminum and other such non-ferrous materials usually end up clogging wheels, belt sanders are mostly immune to damage since the metal bits pass the wheel by going around it.
A handheld belt sander is more flexible to use since the product can be readily moved to the work area rather than bringing the work to the unit.
Handheld models usually have additional features such as an adjustable power speed regulator, which ensures that despite so much motion, the product remains in perfect balance and does not hamper any work activity.
How does the sander work? It consists of many pulleys to keep putting a coated abrasive material on the wood to remove stock from it. Either the wood is kept fed to the sander, or the sander is moved near the wood.
How To Use Belt Sander?
Here is a quick instruction video about using the belt sander more efficiently.
Belt Sander Safety Tips
- Never use a sander unless you have a dust collector or exhaust system near the work area.
- Be sure to empty the dust collector before it is more than one-quarter full. This dust can quickly become a fire hazard and even threaten an explosion. The issue of ventilating the area is also essential.
- Never press down too hard on the sander. Lighter pressure weighing down on the belt or disk sander is plenty for the majority of projects.
- Be sure that your stock is secured to hold the work firmly in place. Use clamps or stop blocks to secure the material.
- Never overreach and keep your balance and proper footing in place.
- Do not enclose the air vents of any sander.
Belt sanders are popular for being one of the most steadfast kinds of power tools. Not only are they user-friendly, but versatile too. So, you can use it for different applications.
However, you must consider the essential factors that we mentioned to get the best belt sander. You must know the products too that are leading in the market due to their benefits. Hence, we have thought to help you out.
Hopefully, our list and buying guide can help you pick the perfect one for yourself. They have already impressed other users and us with their features and benefits.