Bosch Belt Sander

The belt sander is a technology that for the most part hasn’t changed much. Much like the equipment that people used in the 70’s and 80’s today’s sanders are driven by a belt and rely on the sandpaper to grit up the object.

Some people don’t even use their devices for sanding at all, instead choosing to enter their sanders in the weird world of power tool drag racing but that’s neither here nor there.

As we examined a few of the top belt sanders on the market the ability to tear off in a straight line for 50 feet or modifying the device to go faster than 5 MPH was the least of our worries.

Here’s what we found out about 5 popular belt sanders so you can find the best belt sander for your projects.

Porter-Cable 362 Belt Sander with Cloth Dust Bag

This Porter-Cable belt sander is a load.

From the 12 amp motor to the size of the belt to the 1,550 SFPM speed there is no obstacle standing in the way of this 362 model.

The unit was 17 pounds and some people might worry that the unit is just to intense but we’ve found that the motor balance and the ergonomic handle could enable sanding for hours.

If you have heavy-duty sanding to perform especially in an industrial setting we’d definitely recommend this as your go-to unit because of its durability and skills in getting the job done.

A nice feature included with the P-C 362 include an attached dust bag to help keep your work area cleaner. With the type of large scale sanding jobs that this product enables, there’s bound to be a lot of dust and debris floating in the air and the 362 attempts to limit it.

Some things to remember if purchasing this model is that it’s really not for small, minimal jobs both in price ($250-$450) and high-tensity performance. The PC 362 is great for sanding down doors and hardwood floors but is probably a waste or resources for small crafts…also a pair of earplugs would be a useful accessory.

Porter-Cable 371K Compact Belt Sander Kit

A better belt sander for mid-level jobs would be the Porter-Cable 371K model.

We’ve found that this model is lighter at just under 10 pounds and is easier to handle than devices designed for industrial jobs.

The 2.5 X 14 inch belt also lends itself to better control and direction for Saturday projects instead of everyday use.

The 120 volt, 5-amp motor is again useful for moderate sanding around your house but it tended to get really hot after we used it for an extended period of time.

A person on our crew had the idea of using a better grade sandpaper to cut down on the run time to see if the unit wouldn’t get as hot and that ended up alleviating some of the heat.

Another problem we encountered was the belt tracking coming adjusted too often. It is controlled by a plastic knob that is fashioned as a bolt head and we almost had to be physically aware of the knob so that we wouldn’t accidentally hit it and have a minimal rub throw off the tracking.

If you’re handy you can replace the factory spring with a much stronger one that will keep the knob in place, although making adjustments harder at the same time.

Makita 9903 Variable Speed Belt Sander with Cloth Dust Bag

Makita 9903 Variable Speed Belt Sander with Dust BagMakita 9903
4.8 rating

We also decided to review a couple Makita belt sanders to get a good idea how the industry leaders vary in the building and design of their product.

The first thing we noticed is that the Makita 9903 is that it’s much quieter than any of the other models we sampled. Looking up the specs the 9903 runs at 85 decibels which is supposedly the quietest in its class.

The Makita model we tried was noticeably bulkier too but that could’ve been due to the dust bag, which is a nice feature but sacrifices some ergonomics to operate.

The motor is 8.8 amps which falls generally in the middle of the scope of power tool speed.

One thing we found that makes the Makita 9903 a versatile option is not only a motor that is mid-range in power but the ability to adjust speed with a variable control. This is great if you want to use the same sander on a wide scale of projects from cosmetic detailing of small objects to the intense ripping down of floorboards or old doors.

We never had to adjust the tracking the whole time we were sampling the unit which is could be attributed to the auto-tracking belt system.

Makita 9032 Variable Speed Belt Sander

Makita 9032 Variable Speed Belt SanderMakita 9032
4.9 rating

Now the Makita 9032 belt sander is an interesting project.

We wouldn’t recommend it as your first belt sander but it does make a great addition to an expanded tool arsenal.

Whereas other sanders feature a 2.5 to 4 inch wide belt this particular Makita model features three assemblies, just 1/4”, 3/8” and 1/2”. The smaller setup is perfect for amateur hobbyists that deal in intricate details and cramped areas. It really holds no benefit if you want to sand down a bunch of boards or strip paint off a cupboard but the 9032 definitely fits in a niche.

We’ve found that the belt is very easy to track despite its small size. The unit is only 3.5 pounds which makes it incredibly easy to operate and perform intricate designs on small pieces like stair spindles and other home décor.

We like the fact that the arm pivots 100 degree which makes almost any hard-to-reach area accessible. We never used it in this fashion but the 9032 is supposedly great for metal workers who need to clean up welds in tight areas or for those who operate a sharpening business.

We’ve found that the 9032 doesn’t work well as a clean-up batter in your sanding lineup but it can be a big hit in a unique situation.

Hitachi SB8V2 Variable Speed Belt Sander

Hitachi sb8v2 Variable Speed Belt SanderHitachi SB8V2
4.2 rating

We thought we’d sample one more belt sander from a different manufacturer by testing out a Hitachi model.

Their SB8V2 seemed like a nice product, powerful with a 9 amp motor but manageable with a variable speed control. The Hitachi might be the most ergonomic of the units we tested out because it had soft handles, clear visibility in the front and a dust bag that wasn’t too invasive.

The 9 pound sander is on the high side of weights in the industry but that can be a good thing. A quality belt sanding job is done by letting the device do a majority of the work with your hand just serving as a guide.

We feel the Hitachi was well priced as they can be found for a little over $200 and the 5-year warranty provides a sound peace of mind. The belt was easy to install and stayed still while we used the product.

Sander Wrapup

There are a number of different factors that determine what kind of belt sander is the perfect model for your specific needs. You need to take into account the types of projects you usually need the sander for and the frequency of use. Of course price is always a factor as well and your cheapest belt sanders will more often than not sacrifice quality.