Power Sander Reviews
Our Top Pick is the Hitachi Power Belt Sander
Working with wood is a popular pastime, until it comes to sanding. If you surveyed DIYers, furniture makers, carpenters and others who work on wood projects on a daily basis, none of them would rank sanding at the top of the list. Unfortunately, it is a necessary evil when it comes to wood projects. Having a quality power sander can make the project go quickly and create masterful pieces of work you will be proud of.
Sanders come in both hand and bench top models giving you a variety of styles and products to choose from. Among the hand sander you may choose a belt sander, an orbital finishing sander, or a random-orbital sander. These units provide the most efficient way to sand wood, smooth surfaces, and even remove paint from wood.
Belt sanders are best for large smooth surfaces. They have a wider surface area than the other two options and can sand faster and more efficiently for general sanding work. The sandpaper is attached to a belt that takes the sandpaper in loops. The motor on the sander operates the rear drum leaving the front drum to freely spin. The sander features a tension release for quick belt changes. Most will include an adjustment allowing you to adjust the belt and ensure it runs true.
Orbital finishing sanders are hand held units that are smaller and easier to control. They are lightweight and allow you to complete detailed sanding and corners effectively. This sander works through a vibrating motion to move the sand paper around and smooth the wood surface. Random orbital sanders lie between the belt sander and the orbital sander. They also feature a housing that is very compact and easy to use with one hand. The random orbital sander, however has a round pad instead of a square one and moves in “random orbits” or small circles to provide the power to sand wood. This makes it more efficient that an orbital sander.
Belt sanders will give you the most power and still give you the portability and versatility needed in a hand sander. After testing the Hitachi SB8V2 Power Belt Sander stood above its competitors. With its 9-amp motor and variable speed control, you are able to complete both small and large tasks. The handle has a comfortable grip and the dust collector port is efficient in capturing debris.
Who Should Buy This
Hand sanders are good for projects of all sizes. If you are working with wood, you will want a quality hand sander. It can be used for building furniture, building homes and decks, or smoothing out rough wooden surfaces. Want to repaint a door, a sander will help you get the old paint off. Have putty or other objects on wood a sander can make the surface smooth again. Inexpensive sanders will not have enough power to remove finishes like paint and veneer. Some are even strong enough to work with rough spots on metals like steel. These will require the appropriate sandpaper density for success.
If you want to refinish surfaces, or give a wooden project a smooth finish, you will benefit from having a belt driven power sander. Hand held sanders are lighter in weight and easier to use than benchtop sanders and are good for more detailed work.
What Makes a Good Hand Sander?
The belt power sander is more powerful than an orbital or random orbital sander. It operates with two cylinder drums that are operated by a motor in the rear drum. Belt changes are accomplished through at tension release mechanism and the belt is surround the motor and two cylinders. Sandpaper comes in 4 main sizes and also will be changed for different coarseness depending on the job. Belt sanders come in four standard sizes which are 3X18; 3X21; 3X24; and 4X24. The size sander you purchase will determine the belt size you use. The 3X21 is the most common.
Sanders use sandpaper to accomplish the task of removing marks and splinters and smoothing surfaces. The coarseness of the sandpaper is determined by the grit. They run in numbers with the lower numbers representing courser grit and higher numbers a finer grit. 50 grit paper will be courser than 100 grit. Often you will start with courser grit paper and then move to a finer grit for finishing work. This makes the belt changing an important feature.
Motor size and power is always a consideration when working with power tools. You want a motor that is strong enough to get the job done but not too strong that it is difficult to control. The belt should also be easy to change as sandpaper can be changed several times within a single job.
When choosing a belt sander consider what you will be using it for. This will determine the size sander you need. They are useful for trimming wood, leveling, smoothing surfaces and shaping the wood. Also consider the size you will need from the four standard sizes. You want to stick to the standard sizes otherwise it will be difficult to find replacement sandpaper.
A sander that offers variable speed controls will be able to adjust the speed based on the type of wood and project you are working on. Units with a variable start take a few seconds to get to full speed and can prevent gouging the wood and create a smoother surface when finished. Also consider the weight and size of the sander you want to work with. As they are hand held hand fatigue and the ability to control the sander will be a factor.
Dust seals and dust collectors are a factor as sawdust is not healthy to breathe and can be a mess to clean up. Seals prevent dust from entering the sander and a collector directs dust to a dust catcher or a wet vac.
How We Tested
We began with a search of the top brands and models available on the market. We then consulted with professionals and home users to determine which features were most valued when it comes to a power belt sander. Our preliminary research allowed us to narrow the list to the top brands which received further testing and evaluation. We tested the top models and searched home improvement blogs, tool sites, and professionals who use sanders on a daily basis. The final list took into account the performance, durability, safety, and affordability. We then reviewed Amazon purchase feedback before making our final pick.
|Belt Size||3 X 21 inch|
|Speed Range||820 – 1,475 ft/min|
|Dimensions||14.6 X 9.6 X 8.3|
|Warranty||5 year limited warranty|
The Hitachi SB8V2 Power Belt Sander comes with a powerful 9 Amp (1,020 watts) variable speed motor. Speeds range begin at 820 ft/min and can go as high as 1,475 ft/min of no load speed. This is powerful enough to remove paint and even work with metals such as steel. This offers enough power to remove paint and varnish and the adjustable speed gives you better control for finishing and more detailed work. It features a trigger lock to prevent accidental starts and soft grip handle for better comfort. With minimal vibrations and comfortable handles, you can work for hours without experiencing hand fatigue.
The sander includes a tracking window allowing you to see your work as you work, for more precise action. The duct collection system is on the left side which also provides a clearer line of site while working. The left side collector also helps when working with corner sanding. With the bag on the left side you are able to sand to the edge of 90 degree angles. The dust collector includes both a port and a bag to reduce the amount of sawdust that ends up in the air. The bag is easily removable for emptying.
This sander features a V belt drive that is able to keep the motor clear of debris and could double the service life of the sander. It uses standard 3 X 21 sandpaper which is readily available through Amazon or in local hardware stores.
Who Else Likes It
The guys at Airgoolguy.com have this to say about the Hitachi SB8V2, “I can smoothen out surfaces in a minute and fifty-six seconds at its slowest and a minute and fourteen seconds at its quickest…the best sander overall in this category thanks to its sanding speed. Simply put, it won over construction workers everywhere with how powerful and accurate it is when it comes to smoothening out surfaces without creating gouge marks on the material afterwards.”
Amazon reviewers give the Hitachi SB8V2 Power Belt Sander a 4.4 out of 5 from 80 reviews. One five-star reviewer writes, “Having a variable speed on a belt sander is awesome. Belt sanders can remove material very fast, so being able to scale things back is a very handy feature. The VSR (variable speed) function is basically a little wheel on the side of the sander, so it is not a trigger-based VSR, which is good for a tool like this. A 3×21 is a much more maneuverable sander than a 4-incher. And it’s much easier to control…. So doing something like stair treads, where you don’t have much space to work in, having a smaller sander is a lot easier to work with. And this sander is still enough to sand the floors of an entire room pretty painlessly.”
Another Amazon reviewer wrote, “I love this mid-sized belt sander. I am a contractor so I know about tools… 9 amps is a lot of power for a sander and thankfully this one has the variable speed. The variable speed switch is nicely located so that you can adjust the speed with your pinky finger while not taking your hands off the sander…The rubber grips are nice, belt tracking stays put for about forever, and the bushings are simple to replace, as it is on most Hitachi tools.”
The Step Up
If you are looking for a larger sander the Makita 9403 offers 11 amps of power and a 4 X 24 surface area to sand with. This sander is very quiet and only reads 84 decibels when operating.
It has an adjustable speed motor than maxes out at 1,640 ft/min and is strong enough to tackle both wood and metals like steel.
It comes with a comfortable grip and a dust port to keep sawdust from becoming airborne and only weighs 13 pounds.
Top Power Sander Comparison
|Position||Visual||Tool||Belt Size (Inches)||RPM||Amperage||Warranty (Years)
|1||Hitachi||3 X 21||1,475||9.00||5
|2||Porter-Cable||3 X 21||1,300||8.00||3
|3||Black & Decker||3 X 21||800||7.00||2
|4||Bosch||3 X 21||1,100||6.60||1
|5||Ryobi||3 X 18||700||5.00||1|
|6||Ridgid||3 X 21||1,500||10.00||3|
|7||Skil||3 X 18||1,050||6.00||1|
|8||Triton||3 X 21||1,475||10.00||3|
|9||Dewalt||3 X 21||350||8.00||1|
Care, Use and Maintenance
Taking care of your power tool will enable it to last longer and work more efficiently. Using the tool safely will prevent injuries. We have compiled a short list of safety and maintenance tips.
- Use protective goggles and a mask. Even with a dust collector dust and debris can become airborne and damage your eyes and lungs. This is especially important if working with paint, epoxy or veneer removal.
- Keep the sander moving at all times to prevent uneven sanding and creating gouges in wood.
- Use the dust catcher to reduce the amount of airborne sawdust.
- Always sand parallel to the grain.
- Ensure you have a firm grip on the machine and good balance.
- Keep hands away from all moving parts of your machine.
- Do not apply too much pressure when sanding. Allow the sander to do its job.
- Use the correct grit for the job. 60 grit is good for paint removal where 100 grit is great for finishing.
- Clean sander after each use. The sander should not be cleaned with water or allowed to get wet.
- Ensure that the sandpaper is secure at all times and the belt latch is secure.
- Lubricate moving parts according to manufacturer’s instructions.
Wrapping It Up
Power sanders are useful tools that are designed to quickly and efficiently prepare wood surfaces. They can eliminate splinters, remove paint and otherwise create a smooth wooden finish. High grade sanders can tackle jobs that include metals as well as wood. Belt sanders are hand held and compact. They work well on larger surfaces and are very affordable.