Belt Sander Suggestions #1: Looking to purchase a belt sander

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Blog entry by DamnYankee posted 05-25-2011 01:07 AM 2491 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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I’m looking to purchase a belt sander and looking for recommendations. As I’ve never had one before I don’t know how much I will use it. Based on past experience with new tools I will use it more than I do now and more than I think I will. I know I prefer to spend the money, when needed, on a good quality tool up front (buy quality pay once, buy junk pay several times..usually more than you would have if paid up front). This is not to say money is no object but… Thanks for any suggestions.

-- Shameless - Winner of two Stumpy Nubs Awards

9 comments so far

View NiteWalker's profile


2735 posts in 1998 days

#1 posted 05-25-2011 01:31 AM

When I was shopping for a belt sander I knew I wouldn’t use it too often. I ended up with the Porter Cable 371K compact belt sander. I don’t use it much, but when I do it’s been great. I really didn’t have the need for a full sized belt sander.

If it’s a full sized belt sander you’re looking into, a good place to start would be to check amazon’s reviews and see what others say on here and woodnet as well. Those things usually are enough for me to make a decision.

I carry the same philosophy in buying tools; I don’t like to pay more than once.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View Gary's profile


8965 posts in 2854 days

#2 posted 05-25-2011 01:34 AM

Just my opinion but, I wouldn’t go for the best. Unless you have a specific – dedicated job for that type of a sander, you won’t use it much. You can really ruin a project with one of those things. They are hard to control and easily dig into the wood. It’s hard to use them evenly unless you use them quite a lot. Again, just my opinion. I do have one….been in the cabinet over a year with no use

-- Gary, DeKalb Texas only 4 miles from the mill

View devann's profile


2200 posts in 2114 days

#3 posted 05-25-2011 01:36 AM

Are you looking for a hand held or bench top/ floor model? If you want a hand held I always liked my Porter Cable. But when it finally died I had began using one of those cheap Black and Decker dragster model sander that my brother had purchased. We used it at work for a couple years so I went and bought one of them too. I like it. I don’t usually buy tools in that category but mine is going on two years now and my brother is still using his. We use them for scribe fitting counter tops mostly.

I got an old used Craftsman 6”x48” w/ 9” disc a few years ago and every woodworking friend that has come by and used it has gone out and purchased their own belt /disc sander shortly after using mine.

-- Darrell, making more sawdust than I know what to do with

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

2506 posts in 2859 days

#4 posted 05-25-2011 02:35 AM

I use my two a lot. I’ve got a craftsman 6”x48”. It’s very old and works great. I also have one the same size that comes from harbor freight. I must say that it has worked really well. Is rugged and does the job. I don’t usually recommend HF powertools but this one has held up.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View robert triplett's profile

robert triplett

1566 posts in 2526 days

#5 posted 05-25-2011 03:30 AM

I wore out a Craftsman a few years ago. It was 25 years old. I bought a Porter Cable 3” x 21 ” belt sander and i use it a lot for flattening cutting boards and getting rid of glue before they go through the drum sander. a 50 grit belt is pretty fast. They can ruin a project if you don’t pay attention and keep them level and moving. I also have an old Craftsman 6” x 48” sander and I use it a lot on boards and boxes. I took the disk sander off for boards to fit across the surface. I also have the smaller PC sander and I use it for edges, but it is pretty heavy for one hand. Handy size to have though.

-- Robert, so much inspiration here, and now time to work!!!

View cabmaker's profile


1472 posts in 2230 days

#6 posted 05-25-2011 03:43 AM

Two words: porter cable. I would recomend skipping the 21 inch and go with a 3×24, you will not regret it. As said there is potential for doing damage with one but thats how we learn, right. I have a pc that is approx. 24 yrs old and one that is approx. 15 yrs old. They get use often. Good luck with your decision

View William's profile


9906 posts in 2263 days

#7 posted 05-25-2011 01:02 PM

Are you looking for a stationary or hand held? For a handheld, I recommend Rigid. For a stationary I recommend Rigid.
At one time I thought Rigid tools were overpriced. After owning a few now though, whenever possible I buy Rigid, as long as it’s something that’s been out a while. For example, the table saw they have out now, I wouldn’t buy. They completely scrapped their tried and true design and went with, well, something else. Something that’s been out a while though, like their stationary bench/spindle combo sanders are great.
When I bought that sander combo, the going price of them were around two hundred bucks. I had a hand held belt sander and actually just needed a spindle sander. After getting it though, I use both all the time. I don’t know how I ever done some jobs without it.
My hand held sanders I use for rough shaping on certain project, like my rocking toys. That’s all I use them for. From what I have seen, some people think they want a hand held, until they get one. They are hard to control sometimes. If you’re not careful with them, you can ruin a project with them, very quickly.
You have much more control though with a stationary.


View Don W's profile

Don W

17878 posts in 1989 days

#8 posted 05-25-2011 01:22 PM

I’ve had a 3×24 porter cable for over 20 years. I bought it when I was in the remodeling business. My son followed in my foot sgteps and has it now. I liked it enough to buy another used one off ebay (to replace the stolen one) :-)

For a bench model i just bought the $200 ridgid Home depot a couple months ago that works great. It converts quickly from a belt to a spindle sander.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

View DamnYankee's profile


3297 posts in 1983 days

#9 posted 05-25-2011 06:05 PM

I am looking for a hand held. The immediate need driving me to get one is the need to smooth/flatten the top of a butcherblock-topped workbench (>30” wide). I could have used one in the past but have ended up using my orbital sander…takes longer but as some have pointed out about the hand held belt sander, an orbital sander is not as likely to destroy a project.

-- Shameless - Winner of two Stumpy Nubs Awards

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