10 Greatest Belt Sanding Tools for Sharpening & Fine Woodworking
Sanding is not the most glamorous job around, but it needs to be done and if you are going to buy a sanding tool you need to select the best belt sander you can get. We take a look at ten of the best on the market that are available at Amazon now and give you in insight into their size and weight, how much power and variable speeds they offer. We look at how easy it is to change out the belt, if they offer dust collectors and how comfortable they are to use.
The Top Belt Sander for Knife Making & Woodwork in 2017
We look at how they operate, how ergonomically designed their handles are and for what kind of jobs they are most suitable and best at. Our reviews are comprehensive and in addition to the basics you can expect from each sanding tool we review, will cover the most frequently asked questions when looking to purchase a belt tool in our buyers guide.
Buyers Guide Questions
If you have ever tackled a DIY job of sanding down your table top, or stripping paint off of something in order to repaint it then you know that these are very tiresome tasks that take a long time if you do it by hand, to the best of your ability. DIY enthusiasts and professional craftsmen, general contractors and deck builders use sanders to get through the physically tedious job of sanding down surfaces, smoothing rough edges and stripping off paint in the best way.
What is a Belt Sander?
A belt sander is a power tool that are true workhorses in your arsenal or tools and make your life so much easier when tackling large sanding jobs (click here to read the study). There are many different brands of sanders as well as different types of sanders including the all-in-one belt disc sanders.
A sander consists of an electric motor, this motor turns a pair of drums and over these drums a continuous loop of sandpaper is mounted. Sanders come with various size motors and various features such as variable speed control, automatic belt tracking and more (view the study from ALCE on the different parts of the tool).
These sanders vary in size from the small handheld versions (click to read the study of uses) which we have reviewed for you to the very large that are used in manufacturing plants. Most of them are used for sanding wood but can be employed for sanding other materials including metal, and of course other purposes such as stripping paint.
Are Sanders Difficult to Master?
These power tools are very different to your standard power tools such as a drill-disc and yes they do take a little getting used to. They are a lot larger and heavier than these tools and they are also very lively when in operation and controlling your sander is paramount to getting the best result you are looking for. In saying that, once have used one of these best rated power tools once, you will wonder how you ever coped without them.
If you have never used one before it is very important that you spend some time getting to know the product, read your manual and understand all of its functions such as how to change the belts, how to use the adjustable belt tracking and how to apply it to your material best. Although most sanders are very similar in operation, their features do differ from product to product.
Once you know how to work your sanders best, you will need to practice on a few types of material that you are usually working with before tackling your actual project. You need to gain some experience, or you may find that you can ruin your sanding project and have to start again.
Getting used to how it will gnaw at the material you are working with as you sand, is one of the aspects you need to master when starting to use your tool. Try it out on soft woods, hard woods and even plastics or laminated sheets and get used to the feel of the machine as you work with it.
What is Belt Sander used for?
Usually a these tools are used to remove unwanted material from your surfaces, such as smoothing out edges, and removing splinters from surfaces rapidly by sanding them out. They have an aggressive action and are mostly used only in the beginning stages of a project. A sander can also be used to remove paint or various finishing’s from wood.
These tools are used to shape and finish off your wood and other materials as well, depending on the type of sandpaper you are using. I you have your sander fitted with fine grit sandpaper, you will get the bestgre, super smooth surface after sanding. Your all-in-one sander can also be used to polish your surfaces once you have a finished product.
How to use a Belt Sander on a Deck?
A lot of people see the size of a deck and think a big floor sander is needed for sanding such a large surface (view the study here). Not so, in fact these are not the best tools for the job of sanding your deck. They will not be able to get to every part of the planks as well as not handling surfaces that are not completely flat very well and deck boards tend to be a little curved so when sanding with floor sanders will not end up sanding evenly.
Your best bet when doing this job is a sander tool. Combining your sander with a palm sanders and sanding sponges for the more inaccessible areas of your deck is ideal. Be sure to have the best safety gear such as goggles and dust masks before you start your project as the dust made with sanding such a large area can be quite stifling and not to mention bad for your health.
You will start with a heavy grit belts, in the range of a 50 grit, and then work backwards on the boards. Cover all the boards on your deck and use the palm sanding tool for areas you cannot reach and then the sanding sponge for the areas your palm sanding tool cannot reach. Once this is done, you will start from the beginning again, this time using a lighter grit for your sanding such as a 60/80. Once this is done you will see that your deck has a lovely smooth surface best to be able to take the stain you will apply consistently.
Can you use a Belt Sander for Hardwood Floors?
The short answer is yes you can. However you must be aware that it is going to be a lot of hard work and it is not the best tool for the job; that distinction will fall to the floor sanding tool (click here for random orbital sanders). However a lot of people choose sanding their floors by hand, and the best out of all the handheld sanding tool for this job is the sanding tool. These may not be as fast as your floor sanding machines but it will get the job done with a reasonable amount of speed.
Try and keep with the grain of the wood and keep your machines moving in circular motions or backwards and forward and side to side. The more pressure you apply to your sanding tool the quicker you will be able to get the wood back to bare through your sanding efforts.
How to Change Sandpaper on a Belt Sander?
There are five basic steps to change the sandpaper on your sander no matter what brand you are using.
- You need to release the belt tension lever as all belts on these tools are tensioned to be held in place. You do this but pulling it back and you will see that it will become slack.
- Remove the old one.
- Align your new one with your sander. Make sure that it is placed in the right direction, there should be arrows on your belt and on your sander, make sure these arrows match up. If you put it on in the wrong direction it will break.
- Slide the belt onto the sanding tool and then align it to the wheels making sure it fits best.
- You will need to re-tension your belt. You can do this by using engaging the tension lever on your sander.
How to use a Belt Sander Correctly
Every type of sander will be different in design and features, however most have the same basic operation. It is always best for you to read your particular products manual thoroughly to understand its particular functionality. It is best when using your tool, no matter which one you have purchased, you must remember that your sander must always be switched on before you place it on your material and not switched on after you have placed it on the material.
You must make sure that the flat paten is always parallel to it when you lower it down onto your material. Once you have your sanding tool in contact with your material it is best to keep it moving to avoid dishing out. Remember your sanding tool is heavy so the pressure it exerts on your material is more than enough, if you add more pressure by bearing down on it you could ruin your material, all you need to do is guide your tool in the direction you want it to go.
Another best tip is to move with the grain of the wood when using it to sand any kind of wooden material. If you go cross grain, you run the risk of creating a deep groove and especially if you leave your sanding tool in one position for too long.
Then there are the best practice safety aspects to using these power tools and we cover a few of them here for you to keep in mind when operating these power tools. Best practice in safety is always advisable when using any of your power tools (read the study on safety).
First and foremost you will need to protect your ears as these power tools can be very loud and can damage your ears if you do not take proper precautions. Make sure that when you want to change the belt or empty the dust bag you switch the machine off, if you do not do this to try to save time, you could end up at the emergency room. Remember if you are going to be sanding metal, you are going to create sparks.
This mixed with sawdust which is in the dust bag you could start a fire. Ensure that the dust bag on your machine is empty, it is best to either blow all the dust out, or vacuum it out to ensure there is no residual sawdust before you attempt sanding any metal materials. Hold your machine securely always, these are powerful tools and if you relax too much you could find it sliding away from your or worse into you.
Finally, make sure that the machine is switched off before you plug it in. This may seem like a simple thing, however it is remarkable how many times these tools are switched on when plugged in and as many of them have a trigger lock which keeps it in the on position. If you do not make sure your machine is on the off position before plugging it in, your machine could end up flying across the room when plugged in. This is not only dangerous to you, but also can damage your expensive power tool.
Sanders are powerful tools used for sanding that will make your DIY project a lot easier and make those physically tedious tasks a lot more pleasant to perform. Buying the right tool for you is essential and we have reviewed the best available on the market for 2017 for you to consider when making your choice. Consider all the benefits each one offers such as power, variable speed control, and quick-change belt lever to name but a few.
We hope that our reviews of the best sanding tool available at Amazon today is helpful and our buyers guide offers you some insight into these best machines. The only thing left to do is get your sander and start that project that you have been wanting to tackle.
The Makita 9903 Variable Speed Belt Sanding tools are the best tool for DIY enthusiasts and professional general contractors alike. It has a powerful 8.8 AMP motor that maintains a consistent speed even under load and it offers electric speed control. The auto-tracking belt system allows you to track the belt without needing to adjust it and the innovative design lets you sand flush to the wall suing the nose and side of the sanding tool.
Best of all the Makita has a low 85dB noise output. With its large front grip efficient dust collection and 16.4 foot long power cord for the best maneuverability as well as a low profile design allowing for the best balance make this tool one of the best on the market for 2017. The best power for the large projects as well as being comfortable to hold and ease of use make Makita 9903 Variable Speed tools for sanding are our best choice of belt sanding tools for 2017.
Don’t let the price of the best sanders put you off. It is best for both the professional and DIY enthusiast offering variable speed control and a hugely powerful 12 AMP motor. The motor is placed over the plate which gives these sanders best balance. It is ultra-durable with a heavy-duty all metal design. Adjust your belt easily with the belt-tracking knob and select your speed settings using the variable speed dial. Changing your belt has never been quicker or easier using the quick release belt change lever and the fingertip belt-tracking knob will reduce excessive down time and allows you to dial in belt alignment over the rollers.
Belt Sander Cleaner
The large 360 degree swivel dust collecting bag will effectively and efficiently ensure that the majority of sawdust gets contained keeping your workspace clean. For all its best features and superb power the Porter-Cable 362 sanding tools are our premium choice for 2017 and you will not regret spending the extra money to acquire this best rated power tool.
Versatile, fast and extremely efficient the Genesis GBS321A is our pick for the best value for 2017. The powerful 8.0 AMP motor operates with consistent speed even under load. Match your speed to application with the variable speed control dial. The low profile design offers superb balance and with a flat-side you can get into those tight spots that are difficult to access. The auto-tracking belt system tracks the belt without adjustment and it offers minimal downtime, which is especially important to general contractors with it quick-change belt change.
The dust collection bag is large enough and efficient enough to keep your work areas clean and clear. The 6.5 foot power cord is long enough to allow the best maneuverability which is best for larger projects. With a front grip handle that is adjustable to offer the best comfort and ease of operation as well as being a lot less noisy than other belt sanders the Genesis GBS321A Belt Sanders are the best cheap option for any DIY enthusiast or professional contractor.