A belt sander is a two-handed power tool that uses an abrasive belt to smooth and shape wood, plastic, or metal surfaces. It has a flat base with a motor that drives the belt. The belt sander is made up of two parallel drums. An endless sandpaper belt runs around this drum. The belts are available in varying grits. Belt sanders are also designed with a convenient mechanism that enables you to quickly remove the belts and replace them whenever they are worn out or when you need to use a different grit.
Belt sanders come in different sizes, but the most common is the benchtop sander. The belt moves from one end of the base to the other in a continuous motion, either sideways or up and down. Belt sanders are versatile because they can be used for many different woodworking projects, including removing paint from old furniture pieces and cutting boards into smaller pieces. They remove material quickly and get into tight spaces easily because of their small size.
Belt sanders come in handy when you are working on a flat surface where you have to do considerable sanding such as when you are stripping off paint or performing the initial sanding after the planing. You can also use belt sanders where you need to prepare a large flat panel or plank in order to complete sanding your DIY project.
The belts are large in size and have high speeds and can, thus, strip off massive amounts of materials within a very short time.
Belt sanders are, however, not suited for intricate work for close-in work as it is difficult to navigate around tight corners. There will be some corners or nooks where the belts just won’t reach.
Besides, using a belt sander, particularly over an extended period of time, can be tiring. It is more efficient and comfortable to use them on smaller wood DIY projects.
There are different sizes and shapes for belt sanders. However, most woodworkers use the 3-inch and 4-inch belt width sizes. The belts must correspond to the length of the sander body for smooth and efficient sanding work. Longer belts will correspond to longer and larger belt sanders. Typical belt lengths include 18-inch, 21-inch, and 24-inch belts.
Belt lengths of 24-inch and above are typically the domain of professionals. However, they tire you fast, particularly when used on vertical surfaces. For DIY projects, a belt length of 21 inches would be ideal.
Some of the best belt sanders that you can buy include: –