Best Belt Sanders 2020

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Best Belt Sander Reviews

best belt sander reviewsBelt sanders are a great choice if you want a powerful, multi-use sander that can handle everything from small tasks all the way up to demanding ones. Their size varies from medium to large, although they are always bigger than the small and compact sanders but they are still easy to handle and boy are they powerful. You can take care of large surfaces very quickly with these machines due to their wide and lengthy sand paper belts. You’ll find that belt sanders are not only strong and sturdy but that they can run a long time without changing belts or stopping the machine, they endure a tough job very well. For an amateur or occasional user, a belt sander ensures a quick and good looking result, it’s a breeze to completely sand a small object or surface and their straight belt helps to not leave any marks or scratches. For the experienced or professional sander it’s usually a must-have tool in your sanding arsenal due to its versatility and potency – ready for you to pick up anytime to quickly start or finish a job. Look at it as a trusty sidearm that never tires.

I’ve used quite a lot of belt sanders throughout the years, some I have are on the smaller side and others are bigger but more versatile as the belts go in front (similar to a chainsaw) instead of being below which gives them the ability to sand hard to reach tight spots and makes them my favorite of the two.

There are a lot of brands that offer quality belt sanders but I’ll only list the ones that are true and tested, actually worth the money and of course top quality in not only power but also the materials used to construct them and how well they perform at any given task. Let’s take a look.

Best Rated Belt Sanders

This is a quick overview of the best belt sanders I’ve tested.

MachineBlack & Decker DragsterWEN 6321SKIL Sandcat Belt SanderRyobi ZRBE319PORTER-CABLE 352VSHitachi SB8V2Makita 9903Makita 9403Makita 9031Makita 90323M 28366Generic MiniKalamazoo 1SM
Price $ $ $ $ $$ $$ $$ $$ $$ $$ $$$ $ $$$
Power 7 AMP 7 AMP 6 AMP 6 AMP 8 AMP 9 AMP 8.8 AMP 11 AMP 5 AMP 4.4 AMP 0.6 HP 1/3 HP 1/3 HP
Max Speed 800 FPM 820 FPM 1050 FPM 820 FPM 1,300 FPM 1,475 FPM 1,440 FPM 1,640 FPM 3,280 FPM 5,600 FPM 4,990 FPM 3,260 FPM 1,800 FPM
Belt Size 3x21 Inch 3x21 Inch 3x18 Inch 3x18 Inch 3x21 Inch 3x21 Inch 3x21 Inch 4x24 Inch 1-1/8x21 Inch 3/8x28 Inch 1/2x18 Inch 1x30 Inch 1x42 Inch
Variable Speed
Special Features Incredible Bang for Buck Super Silent + Potent + Built to Last Super Silent + Potent + Built to Last High Speed + Compact Design Crazily High Speed + Compact Design Stunning Quality and Performance American Made + Heavy-Duty
Type Handheld Handheld Handheld Handheld Handheld Handheld Handheld Handheld Handheld Handheld Handheld Stationary Stationary
Power Source Electric Electric Electric Electric Electric Electric Electric Electric Electric Electric Pneumatic Electric Electric
Warranty 2 Years 2 Years 1 Year 90 Days 1 Year 5 Years 1 Year 1 Year 1 Year 1 Year 30 Days 30 Days 1 Year
Availability Shop at Amazon Shop at Amazon Shop at Amazon Shop at Amazon Shop at Amazon Shop at Amazon Shop at Amazon Shop at Amazon Shop at Amazon Shop at Amazon Shop at Amazon Shop at Amazon Shop at Amazon

Belt Sander Reviews

Here you can read an in-depth analysis and opinion of each belt sander seen above.

Black & Decker DS321 Dragster 7 Amp 3-Inch by 21-Inch Belt Sander with Cloth Dust Bag

My father swore that Black & Decker was the best brand you could get. After trying this belt sander you’ll understand why he said it. The Dragster is a good and, in my view, an insanely inexpensive belt sander that features great power output, an appealing and ergonomic design and a cloth dust bag to keep your work area clean. Although the build materials are on the low end and fairly easy to damage, it’s still well built like any other Black & Decker machine and will satisfy anyone that’s looking for a simple, entry-level belt sander. Keep in mind that it lacks a few more advanced features like variable speed and I’ve found it to be quite loud and sadly the belt tends to move from side to side, needing to be adjusted often. All in all, the Dragster is in my opinion the best belt sander under 100 available on the market.

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WEN 6321 7 Amp Heavy Duty Belt Sander with Dust Bag, 3″ x 21″

This entry-level incredibly inexpensive belt sander from WEN features great power output, an appealing and ergonomic design and a cloth dust bag to keep your work area clean. Although the build materials are on the low end and fairly easy to damage if it falls, it’s still well built and will satisfy anyone that’s looking for a simple, entry-level belt sander. It’s lightweight and easy to handle which ensures that you won’t feel fatigued after using it but keep in mind that it lacks a few more advanced features like variable speed or belt tracking and I’ve found it to be a bit loud. All in all, the price tag makes it very appealing and it’s a good beginner’s belt sander.

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SKIL 7510-01 Sandcat 6 Amp 3-Inch x 18-Inch Belt Sander with Pressure Control

Just got my hands on the Skil Sandcat recently due to heavy recommendations from a few of you readers. After a few tests I’ve gotta say it’s not bad at all and you do get some nice features for such a low investment. First of all the build quality is solid, on par with the Ryobi machines seen below, and the power (6 AMP) while not incredible still does the job for regular users. What sets it apart is the trademark pressure control which comes in handy for beginners and both the auto belt tracker and the dust filtration work smoothly which is great news for a budget machine. The 3×18″ belt is a little smaller than the usual 3×21″ but it doesn’t really get in your way. It trades belt size but delivers a bit more speed (1050FPM) and a few extra modern features, making it a solid entry on the list and a favorite among beginners.

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Ryobi ZRBE319 6 Amp 3 in. x 18 in. Belt Sander

The Ryobi ZRBE319 will make lovers of the brand smile, it has all the qualities that Ryobi has accustomed us to and the price is just right. With 2 smooth and comfortable grips, it’s easy and enjoyable to work with even for long periods of time. It comes with a 6 AMP motor that puts out a decent 820 FPM – enough to take care of regular tasks with ease. It features a 3”x18” belt which is a little bit smaller than the regular 3”x21” but it might come in handy for sanding tighter spaces. Changing belts is easy since it uses a simple tension lever and it has a toolless tracking knob which is always a plus for convenience. The body is well assembled and uses decent materials, it will hold up against regular use. It’s compact, inexpensive and an overall good little machine. Although it lacks variable speed and a higher-quality body, it’s still a solid machine for the price.

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Ryobi One Plus Cordless Brushless Belt Sander P450, 18V

The 18-Volt One Plus is Ryobi’s most popular and in my opinion best cordless belt sander to date. When it comes to battery-powered machine I’m always expecting a drastic lack in power but with the One Plus, Ryobi managed to successfully make a decently potent machine while still being cordless. With its 4 AMPs of power, the 3”x18” belt runs at 850 FPM which is enough to deal with any common task you throw at it. This might be due to it using a brushless motor that, as Ryobi puts it, offers you corded power with cordless convenience. While during testing I proved this to be true, I’d still keep a replacement battery because with hard use it won’t last a very long time. Other than that, this thing does a great job and surprised me at how well it performs. For light-duty tasks, it’s a beauty. The body is well-built and smartly designed, featuring great and comfortable grips that won’t bother you even after long use. The dust collection works fairly well too. It’s by far the best cordless belt sander I’ve ever used and it will certainly be a great buy for casual users and hobbyists that want to enjoy a care-free cordless experience while still getting great sanding results. Don’t forget though, the battery and charger aren’t included – those are sold separately but you can get them in the same cart.

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PORTER-CABLE 352VS 8 Amp 3-Inch-by-21-Inch Variable-Speed Belt Sander with Cloth Dust Bag

Porter cable delivers again with a great belt sander that matches professional features such as variable speed, dust bag 360º rotation and amazing belt tracking with possibly the best price point in the market. The sanding pad size is 3-Inch-by-21-Inch, ensuring a quick sanding process and I see this machine as the definition of bang for your buck. It features a beautiful design, common to all Porter-Cable machines, and the build quality is very solid, featuring an all-metal housing which is something I value immensely. This means that this machine will be there for you no matter what, making it hard to damage and even giving you an extra push on the sanding due to the weight. My favorite aspect of the 352VS has to be the quality job it does at belt centering, anyone who’s used belt sanders will agree that constantly having to re-center the belt is one of the worst and most frustrating issues you have to deal with but this machine completely fixes that problem. As a bonus, it’s easy on the ears and the metal body helps to really dissipate the heat, keeping the machine at a good temperature. Great belt sander for beginners and professionals alike.

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Hitachi SB8V2 9.0 Amp 3-Inch-by-21-Inch Variable Speed Belt Sander with Trigger Lock and Soft Grip Handles

Does it get any more classic than this? The famous Hitachi belt sander gives you its well-known power and performance at a fantastic great price. With a potent 9 AMP motor that makes the 3”x21” belt run at a variable speed of 820 to 1,475 FPM, this thing packs a punch! During testing I had a blast, it’s very comfortable to use due to the excellent soft grip handles and it takes care of rough stock easily while also being able to deliver a high quality finish when using higher grit sandpaper. One feature that will make people fall in love with it is how unbelievably quiet it is, they really did an outstanding job in that department. The build quality is what you’d expect from hitachi, well-assembled, smartly designed and built to last. While the Makita 9903 is still my favorite, the Hitachi fought valiantly for my consideration. With an attractive price tag and a 5 year warranty, this is a great belt sander for hobbyists and professionals too, especially if you’re on a budget and still want a really solid machine.

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Makita 9903 8.8 Amp 3-Inch-by-21-Inch Variable Speed Belt Sander with Cloth Dust Bag

I’ve grown accustomed to Makita always delivering quality products, I tend to like them a lot since they hit all the marks of a good machine and this Makita belt sander is no exception. In my honest opinion, not only is the 9903 the best belt sander for woodworking but it’s also the best belt sander for the money you can get. The newer version of their classic belt sander, the 9903 features a very powerful motor (8.8 AMP) that loops a 3-Inch-by-21-Inch sand paper belt to ensure a quick and strong sanding experience and variable speed to go along with it. One thing I enjoy immensely is this machine is the auto tracking belt system, it automatically centers the belt without needing constant adjustments which I’ve found to be a staple of any good belt sander. It has a dust bag that works very well in keeping the air and surfaces clean and it is one of the quietest belt sanders I’ve ever used in my entire life. It’s easy to handle, doesn’t strain your arms and it has a durable build quality plus a very long power cord which is a nice little bonus that shows they care about the user. The Makita 9903 is my favorite belt sander of its type (sand paper pad below the machine) and with very good reason. It’s a potent, smooth and extremely accurate machine that will win a spot on your favorites as soon as you use it.

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Makita 9403 4″ x 24″ Belt Sander with Cloth Dust Bag

A variation of the formerly reviewed 9903, the Makita 9403 features a 4 inch by 24 inch belt sander and it has been rightfully dubbed “the best 4″ x 24″ sander on the planet” by publications. It presents all of the common Makita features such as durable high quality build materials and power like no other. The belt tracking system makes sure that the belt will not move and stays centered without needing for you to adjust it constantly. The dust collection on this thing is one of the best I’ve ever seen, effectively keeping your object and the air dustless and clean. Just like the other Makita belt sander, it’s quiet, effective and potent, making it, in my view, the top of its class.

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Makita 9031 5 Amp 1-1/8-Inch by 21-Inch Variable Speed Belt Sander

Compact and lightweight, the Makita 9031 is a great front facing belt sander. It uses a 1-1/8-Inch by 21-Inch sanding belt, variable speed and great power for its size (5 AMP). Having a front facing belt makes it easier to sand hard to reach spots and irregular shapes and coupled with how lightweight this machine is, it makes for a versatile sander that offers excellent maneuverability. Great build quality meets smart design as well, it has a very well thought out multi-position side handle to ensure a comfortable and easy sanding experience and also a lock-on button for continuous operation. While it is a compact machine, the belt width is surprisingly large and as a result it makes sanding a surface quick. When it comes to smaller and more compact front facing belt sanders, the 9031 is in my opinion the top choice.

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Makita 9032 4.4-Amp 3/8-Inch Variable Speed Belt Sander

This is the very next model after the previous 9031 and as such it also features a front facing sandpaper belt. The build quality is top notch as Makita has grown us accustomed to and it’s a potent and durable machine as well. The difference comes in the shape and overall handle of the machine, also that it’s very commonly used for metalworking as well due to the great ability to remove welding marks and enough power to either remove material or polish a surface. First of all the belt is thinner but it spans out much more in the front without any handles, this means that it is unbelievably great to reach hard to get spots. It presents itself as a compact sander much like the previous one and also features variable speed. An amazing perk that this machine has is the belt tracking knob, centering the belt is as simple as turning it. At 3.5lbs it’s lightweight and easy to maneuver but it still has a lot of power, reaching speeds of 5,600ft/min. The belt itself is thinner than the before mentioned model but you can switch it to 3 different widths, 1/4-Inch, 3/8-Inch or 1/2-Inch to suit your needs. In short, while it doesn’t have enough belt width to deal with very long surfaces, it trades that off for the ability to reach any tight spots of an object. If you want a powerful, versatile front facing belt sander that can sand hard to reach areas, this is a great option.

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3M File Belt Sander 28366, 6 HP Motor, 14-9/16″ Length x 5-61/64″ Width x 2-15/16″ Height (Pack of 1)

When it comes to file belt sanders (front facing belts), this is the top of the line. The 3M File Belt Sander has the most powerful motor in the market and it’s a top notch quality machine, from the build materials to the durability and performance. It’s mostly used for metalworking instead of woodworking, and enjoyed by collision repair technicians and bodyshop workers all around the world as it delivers amazing weld spot removal, deburring, cleaning, blending and finishing in tight areas. It has a great ergonomic design, it’s easy to handle and it has 8 different arm attachments to maximize its versatility. For woodworkers, you’ll most likely be better off with the before mentioned models but for metalworkers this is an indispensable tool. Keep in mind that it is pneumatic and as such works with air, not electricity.

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Harbor Freight’s Generic Mini 1 x 30 Belt Sander 3400 RPM

Of all the benchtop belt sander reviews I’ve written I’ve never encountered a cheaper stationary belt sander in my life, it stays true to Harbor Freight’s name – quality tools at ridiculously low prices (it’s made by Central Machinery). With an insane price point and surprisingly good power output, the Generic Mini Belt Sander is a decent entry-level machine. I’ve found it hard to center the belt quite a few times, it doesn’t feature a sturdy and durable body and it can’t exactly keep up with highly demanding tasks but for the price you really couldn’t ask for more. It’s a beauty for some tasks and in my opinion for hobbyists it’s the best belt sander for sharpening knives that you can get. Furthermore, with this price tag it’s also, in my view, the best belt sander for beginner knife making as well. Harbor Freight’s belt sander is a solid and very inexpensive solution for simple and light sanding tasks.

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Kalamazoo 1SM 1″ Belt Sander, 32 lbs, 1725 RPM, 1/3 HP Motor, 1″ x 42″ Belt, 4″ Contact Wheel

Looking for a stationary belt sander? Look no further, the Kalamazoo 1SM is famous for a reason. It has been dubbed by many the best belt sander for knife making and I personally think that it’s the best belt sander for knife sharpening as well. It has top notch build quality and durability, power that can face any challenge you bring to the table and its versatility means that it can adapt to anyone – from the professional woodworker to a knife sharpener, this machine has you covered. The 1″ x 42″ sanding belt turns a tedious long task into a quick and easy one and the Baldor 1/3hp direct drive motor is a beast that won’t back down no matter what. While it’s not the most affordable solution, it’s one that’ll be there for you whenever you need without fail.

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My Recommended Belt Sander

My personal recommendation for a belt sander is without a doubt the Makita 9903. While all of these are incredible machines the Makita 9903 gives me power and response like no other. I use it in nearly all my woodworking jobs and not only is it a fine piece of equipment but it is a beauty to handle and a pleasure to work with. In my opinion it’s the best belt sander on the market, it makes the sanding experience fun and easy and the price for this amount of quality is unbeatable.

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Those are in my opinion the very best belt sanders you can buy right now. Reliable, well-built, strong performance and the most bang for your buck. I hope you enjoyed my best belt sander reviews and that I was able to clear any doubts you had about these machines and find you the perfect one. Thanks for reading!


  1. Can I flip the makita 9903 to make it stationary

    • Hi Tracy, absolutely. With a little handiwork to make a sturdy base for it (to ensure it doesn’t move), you can easily turn it stationary – especially with its power lock-on button. Couple a dust collector into the equation and you’ve got a powerful, effective stationary belt sander. Thanks for the great question and have a good one!

  2. I got the Makita 9903 that you recommended and just gave it a whirl today. It’s so good that I had to come back here to say THANK YOU. You’re the best.

  3. What a surprise! I’m more (or was more) of an air-tool guy but the Makita 9903 is unbelievable, it’s interesting how far these machines have come. I really appreciate the recommendation James, I even like the design and feel of it, it hit all the marks!

    • I’m very glad you like it Shane, it’s one of my favorites as well! I’m right there with you, the design and handling is fantastic, they really knocked it out of the park with the 9903. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Can’t decide so I’m getting two – the Hitachi and the Makita 9903. Great work James

  5. Beautiful selection and even better presentation James, it’ll be the Makita 9403 for me!

  6. Very nice design and well written Mr.Draper, I enjoyed reading a lot! I’m trying to find a good belt sander to give to my dad on his birthday and you are being excellent help. He always says he wants the best, no matter the cost, because “you get what you pay for” haha, which one would you recommend for him? Thanks in advance!

    • Hey Mona, hope you’re having a great day. If he loves quality above everything else, I’d have to go with the Makita 9403. It’s big, potent and will last a lifetime. It’s very sweet of you to take the time to find your dad a good gift, I’d sure love it if my kids did the same for me. Have fun!

      • Mr.Draper thank you so much for the quick reply! It’s settled then, I just know he’ll love it. Thank you so much, it’s dearly appreciated. I wish you the best!

  7. Man I really like your analysis, I’ve been reading some others on a few forums but your work is just top notch James, I appreciate it.

  8. Very good work James, made my life easy with that comparison table. I’ve been a longtime fan of Hitachi so that’s the one I’m going with. Thank you.

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