The 7 Best Belt Sanders of 2021

Take your toolset to the next level for carpentry projects

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Our Top Picks
"You’d be hard-pressed to find a better entry in the belt sander game than the Makita 9403."
"The WEN 6321 matches the quality of a higher-end model at a fraction of competitors’ prices."
"If you do auto repairs professionally or as a hobby, this is the belt sander you need in your garage."
"The adjustable handle means you can approach every job from any angle you prefer, providing a ton of extra control."
"This sander, designed for detail work, might not be as big as the others, but it's no slouch in the power department."
"Here's a versatile, user-friendly sander with performance to rival higher-end models and enough power to put corded competitors to shame."
"If your main need is a belt sander for sharpening blades, tools, garden implements, or knives, this is the one for you."

Basically, a belt sander consists of two spinning drums rotating a loop of sandpaper at a high speed. While a belt sander isn’t a tool needed by the casual DIYer, it’s a must-have for those involved in big projects that involve a lot of sanding, such as refinishing floors, sanding down cabinets or doors, or removing paint. Belt sanders aren’t for jobs that require finesse; for those types of jobs, a random orbital sander is the better choice. But if you want to sand a large, flat area quickly and easily, you’ll appreciate the power of a belt sander.

Here, the best belt sanders for your next DIY project.

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 x 24-inch 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 pounds. 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 pounds, this machine can wear out even the burliest handyman after a few hours of work with Makita’s heavy-duty belt sander.

Best Budget: WEN 6321 7-Amp Corded Belt Sander with Dust Bag

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 7-amp motor that rotates its 3-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 6 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.

Best For Auto Repair: Astro Pneumatic Tool 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-inch 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. You can use it for all sorts of sanding work, from wrought iron railings to tackling fiberglass repair jobs.

Be aware, however—the Astro 3037 doesn’t have a dust bag, which means it may kick up metal fragments that could lead to injury.

Best For Home Use: BLACK&DECKER DS321 Belt Sander with Dust Bag, 7-Amp

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&DECKER DS321 Dragster.

This handy belt sander, weighing in at a mere 6.5 pounds, 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.

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 x 18-inches, 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, such as the tops of doors or cabinets.

Best Cordless: RIDGID 18-Volt GEN5X Cordless Brushless Belt Sander with Dust Bag

GEN5X Brushless 18-Volt 3 in. x 18 in. Cordless Belt Sander

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.

You'll be surprised at how long this cordless, battery-powered belt sander lasts 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.

Best For Sharpening Tools: EX ELECTRONIX EXPRESS Mini 1 x 30 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 EX Electronix Express Mini Belt Sander, a bench belt sander that’s ideal for carpenters, hunters, or anyone else who needs to keep their tools as sharp as possible.

This tool proves that big performance comes in small packages. It boasts a motor that rotates its 1 x 30-inch belt at 3400 rpm, but what it lacks in power it more than makes up for in versatility. You'll appreciate 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 EX Electronix Express Mini Belt Sander gets the job done every time.  

Final Verdict

Rough surfaces don’t stand a chance against the rugged strength of our top belt sander, the Makita 9403 (available at Amazon). This beast of a sander boasts professional quality, yet a remarkably quiet sound level for its size and power. If budget is a concern, however, you’ll find that the WEN 6321 Corded Belt Sander (available at Home Depot), while admittedly not as powerful or quiet as our top choice, still gets the job done satisfactorily and has a very reasonable price.

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