The 7 Best Belt Sanders to Buy in 2018

Take your toolset to the next level for carpentry products

GEN5X Brushless 18-Volt 3 in. x 18 in. Cordless Belt Sander
Courtesy of Home Depot

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Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Makita 9403 Belt Sander at Amazon

"A 'beast,' though it keeps its roar down, boasting the title of quietest belt sander in its class."

Best Budget: WEN 6321 Corded Belt Sander With Dust Bag at Amazon

"Matches the quality of a higher-end model at a fraction of competitors' prices."

Best for Auto Repair: Astro 3037 Air Belt Sander at Amazon

"Offers unparalleled control, an easy-to-adjust lever so you get the right angle every time."

Best for Home Use: Black & Decker DS321 Dragster With Cloth Dust Bag at Amazon

"You'll be doing less work for the same high-quality results."

Best Detail Sander: WEN 6307 Variable Speed Detailing File Sander at Amazon

"An adjustable handle that pivots 55 degrees ensures that its users have full control."

Best Cordless: GEN5X Brushless Cordless at Home Depot

"Performance to rival higher-end models and enough power to put corded competitors to shame."

Best for Sharpening Tools: Central Machinery Mini at Amazon

"Ideal for carpenters, hunters -- really anyone who needs to keep their tools as sharp as possible."

  • 01 of 07

    Best Overall: Makita 9403 Belt Sander

    For a tool that delivers professional quality sanding at a price tag that buyers can get behind, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better entry in the belt sander game than the Makita 9403. Happy customers describe this belt sander as a “beast,” though it keeps its roar down, boasting the title of quietest belt sander in its class with noise levels limited to 84 dB.

    Equipped with a 4” by 24” belt that zips by at a speed of 1,640 feet per minute, the 9403 is a master of wood removal, easily stripping layers of wood from a variety of surfaces including floors, tabletops, and more.

    Satisfied buyers report that the only downside of this professional-grade unit is its weight, which clocks in at a whopping 15.8 lbs. As such, it’s unlikely you’ll get much overhead or vertical work out of the 9403. Instead, we suggest limiting use to horizontal surfaces. And remember: there’s no shame in taking a break every now and then. After all, at nearly 16 lbs, this machine can wear out even the burliest handyman after a few hours of work with Makita’s heavy-duty belt sander.

  • 02 of 07

    Best Budget: WEN 6321 Corded Belt Sander with Dust Bag

    The everyday DIYer on a budget knows there’s nothing wrong with opting for a more affordable — and less feature-heavy — alternative to the higher-end belt sanders on the market. The WEN 6321 Corded Belt Sander with Dust Bag is one such unit, but that doesn’t mean it skimps on performance. Host to a seven amp motor that rotates its three-inch belt over 13 feet per second, the WEN 6321 matches the quality of a higher-end model at a fraction of competitors’ prices.

    No matter the project, this belt sander gets the job done — so don’t judge it by its lightweight frame (weighing in at just over six pounds). A plethora of convenient features, like easy belt replacement and adjustment with the flip of a lever or the twist of a knob, alongside a removable dust bag that makes cleanup a breeze, round off this top-notch, wallet-friendly unit. For the homeowner who dabbles in all things handy, the WEN 6321 Belt Sander is a must.

  • 03 of 07

    Best For Auto Repair: Astro 3037 Air Belt Sander

    Like all professionals, a mechanic needs tools that match the jobs he takes on — and his belt sander is no exception. Auto repair belt sanders are specifically designed for use in automotive work, boasting lightweight frames for handheld, vertical use. Well, the Astro 3037 Air Belt Sander takes the cake when it comes to delivering handheld performance at a reasonable price.

    Perfect for sanding down hard-to-reach spot welds or finishing exhaust pipes, the Astro 3037 offers unparalleled control, an easy-to-adjust lever so you get the right angle every time, a ½” belt groove, and variable speed control — with rpm reaching 16,000 for optimum grinding.

    While it’s perfect for working on your favorite vehicles, the Astro 3037 is an exceptional addition to every amateur’s — and professional’s —toolshed. Happy customers report that they’ve used it for all sorts of sanding work, from wrought iron railings to tackling fiberglass repair jobs.

    Though customers are raving about this tool, they do warn potential buyers to wear gloves and eye protection — the Astro 3037 doesn’t boast a dust bag, after all, which means it may kick up metal fragments that could lead to injury.

  • 04 of 07

    Best For Home Use: Black & Decker DS321 Dragster Belt Sander with Cloth Dust Bag

    While most home jobs don’t require professional-grade tools, that doesn’t mean you’re never going to run into a problem that can only be solved with a belt sander. And while hiring a professional is usually the best course of action — depending on the project, of course —amateur home improvement aficionados would be hard-pressed to find a more worthy purchase than the Black & Deck DS321 Dragster.

    This handy belt sander, weighing in at a mere 6.5 lbs, is host to a truly innovative feature: a front roller that allows you to reach extremely tight corners while helping users maintain a flush sanding. In other words: with Black & Decker, you’ll be doing less work for the same high-quality results. And an adjustable handle means you can approach every job from any angle you prefer, providing a ton of extra control —and a little less pressure on your joints after hours sanding down your deck, countertop or unfinished wood floor.

    Indoor, outdoor — level or uneven — happy buyers report putting this beast of a belt sander to work in all sorts of different work conditions, to exceptional results!

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Best Detail Sander: WEN 6307 Variable Speed Detailing File Sander

    Depending on the home improvement job, a detailing sander is a far more safe and practical tool than a full-sized apparatus. A traditional belt sander could be used for detail sanding, but they’re typically pretty bulky and cumbersome, whereas the WEN 6307 Variable Speed Detailing File Sander is specially designed to take on smaller projects— or jobs that only require sanding specific sections of a larger surface.

    While much shorter and more slender than a standard belt sander at ½” by 18”, the WEN 6307 doesn’t sacrifice performance for size and shape — it rotates 1080-1800 feet per minute, and it boasts an adjustable handle that pivots 55 degrees to ensure that its users have full control in order to tackle difficult, hard-to-reach areas.

    Customers report putting this baby to use for a variety of diverse jobs, from sanding down unlevel edges of cabinets to shaving down the tops of jammed doors. Certain buyers, while mostly satisfied, did make note of how loud this sander can be — so, buyer be warned: Headphones are recommended when using the WEB 6307.

  • 06 of 07

    Best Cordless: GEN5X Brushless Cordless Belt Sander

    GEN5X Brushless 18-Volt 3 in. x 18 in. Cordless Belt Sander
    Courtesy of Home Depot

    Getting tangled in cables and wires is an unavoidable part of any handyman’s day-to-day — so when cordless versions of their beloved power tools crop up, you can bet your bolts they’re going to give them a swing. Well, the verdict is in on the RIDGID GEN5X Brushless Cordless Belt Sander, and seasoned pros and aspiring handymen alike agree: it’s a versatile, user-friendly sander with performance to rival higher-end models and enough power to put corded competitors to shame.

    The GEN5X boasts a brushless motor, which, in laymen’s terms, means a smarter tool thanks to improved resistance detection, a heightened motor life, longer run-time, and generally less friction and voltage drops — in other words, power depletion results in continuous energy loss rather than sporadic jolts of power loss.

    Happy customers were surprised at how long this cordless, battery-powered belt sander lasted after just a single charge. But it’s worth noting that this power tool doesn’t come with a complimentary battery or charger — so be sure to pick up the appropriate AH batteries before you take the plunge and purchase this portable powerhouse.

  • 07 of 07

    Best For Sharpening Tools: Central Machinery Mini Belt Sander

    Belt sanders are more versatile than you might think — in addition to sanding down surfaces and stripping unwanted paint off of renovation-ready furniture, bench belt sanders can also be used to sharpen tools like axes, shovels, and knives. But not only is using a traditional sander to sharpen your tools difficult—it can be extremely dangerous too. Enter the Central Machinery Mini Belt Sander, a bench belt sander that’s ideal for carpenters, hunters — really anyone who needs to keep their tools as sharp as possible.

    This little devil, as one customer affectionately calls his sander, proves that big performance comes in small packages. Central Machinery’s bench belt sander boasts a motor that rotates its 1” by 30” belt 3400 rpm, but what it lacks in power it more than makes up for in versatility. Happy buyers vouch for this sander’s ability to shave down wood, plastic, and even aluminum sheets with ease.

    Whether you’re an amateur chef seeking the world’s thinnest slice or a hunter hobbyist aiming to shave his arrowheads down to fine tips, you’ll find that the Central Machinery Mini Belt Sander gets the job done every time.