Two words best describes belt sanders – tough and fast. It is often used to remove a large amount of stock very quickly. It can be used to strip old paint with the proper sanding belt. A belt sander can help speed up work that would normally take many hours. But not all belt sanders are created equally, they come in different types, sizes and speed. So choosing the right sander for the job is very important. There are several points you need to decide before purchasing a belt sander the first is how large of a job is you are doing and the second is the price of the sander.
Types, Sizes, and Speed
The size of the belt sander is normally defined by the belt width or in belt width inches by belt length. The smaller standard sanders use 3-in. by 21 belts. They are very maneuverable enough so you can work in tight spaces such as inside a cabinet. They are light enough to use single-handedly on ceilings and walls.
The bigger workhorse sanders come in sizes of 3-in. or 4-in in width by 24-in. in length. They can weigh around 16 pounds and has much more power then smaller sanders. They are made of bigger jobs such as hardwood flooring and are very effective in removing a lot of stock very quickly.
Many larger sanders will come with a bag attach as a dust collection system. These bags often do a good job with collecting the dust but it is good practice to wear a dust mask. The dust bags will need to be emptied out on a regular basis or it will reduce the effectiveness.
Cost of the sander
Prices of sander depend on several factors. The first one is that the bigger sanders will cost more then the smaller ones. Outside of the size the price of Belt sanders of the same belt size can vary from $70-$100. The more features the belt sanders have the more it cost. Luckily even the highest price belt sander is not that much more expensive compare to other power tools but here are a couple of feature you should look for in a sander.
Variable Speed Control
Models with dual or variable speed controls are very useful; it allows you to control the speed of the sanding belt. By turning the speed down on the belt you reduce the amount of stock removal and will give the wood a finer finish. Increasing speed will allow the sander to quickly remove stock while making it harder to control.
Auto Belt Tracking
Sanding Belts needs to be adjusted regularly or it will move away from the center. This can cause the belt rub and break part of pieces of the sander or cause holes on the material you are trying to sand. This feature allows you to keep the belt center without having to worry.
Quick Belt Release Lever
This feature is more of a time saver then anything else. It allows you to quickly replace a sand belt with brand new one with a click of the switch.
Making the final Choice
When making a choice on which belt sander to use there are several factors to remember. For big jobs you would want one of the workhorse sanders which will speed up your work of evening and smoothing a large surface area. Larger Belt Sanders weight will make it more tiresome if you have to do a lot of vertical sanding or even overhead sanding.
For smaller jobs you need to fit into tight spaces such drawers and cabinet shelves so in those cases you will need a smaller sander. For some jobs you may even need to work up against a wall. Some models allows you to do this better then others by allowing you to adjust hand and bag positioning so you need to look into that also.
If you are still not sure which sander to choose then buy 2, one for small projects and one for large projects!