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The Best Belt Sanders of 2020

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Updated August 8, 2020

We have been testing belt sanders and believe the Makita 9911 is the best belt sander for sale in 2020. It is easy to manoeuvre and has packed a lot of power into a compact size. For those who want to work efficiently, this is a really good belt sander on the market right now.

How we did the reviews

A good belt sander should be effective, have efficient dust collection and shouldn't leave scratches on the material being sanded. In this test, these have been the primary parameters considered. In addition, we have taken a number of other factors into account, such as user-friendliness, ergonomics, noise level, build quality and any guarantee included.

To verify the performance of the belt sanders, they have been exposed to several different types of material and tested with different grit sizes of sandpaper. The paper for our test was from the Mirka brand and the grit sizes were 80, 100 and 120.

All belt sanders were tested on oak, pine and epoxy. They were also used to sand an elm dining table. Finally, we carried out a function test on a resinous pine board where we investigated how quickly the sandpaper got clogged up. The quicker it clogged, the worse the belt sander's dust collection.

All of these aspects have been considered together to produce an overall score which also includes their value for money. Read our reviews below!

1. Makita 9911 - BEST BELT SANDER 2020

Easy to handle and powerful compact machine – but with some risk of static electric shock!

Dimensions: 262x132x141 mm Input power: 650 watts Weight: 2.7 kg Belt dimensions: 75x457 mm Belt speed: 75-270 m/min Noise level: Medium | Measured mean value 89 dB Vacuum nozzle: No Frame: No Variable speed: Yes Auto mode: Yes

Makita 9911

With its combination of compact design, raw strength and price, the Makita 9911 gives the most belt sander for the money, and is therefore designated our best belt sander of 2020. It only takes 10 seconds to remove 1 mm across a 45 mm wide pine plank, which is extremely good. Nor was the task of sanding an oak table a tough ask for this belt sander. And it removes the material evenly across the entire surface. The quality of the end result means that although the sander is definitely capable of preliminary tasks, but because it tends to leave scratches, it's not suitable for fine carpentry where you’ll need a better surface finish. The dust collection system can't cope with epoxy sanding. However, it can sand a resinous pine without immediately getting blocked. We'd have liked to see a nozzle to connect the belt sander to a vacuum cleaner. Instead, we had to cobble together our own solution made from tape. Another disadvantage is the relatively short cable, which popped out of the socket a couple of times during use.

Working for longer periods with the Makita 9911 is no problem. Ergonomically, it’s a high-quality design which is easy and pleasant to operate. The two handles are close to each other, giving you complete control over the machine. However, one major disadvantage is that the filter builds up static electricity. On more than one occasion, we got a couple of hefty shocks. And naturally enough this has a negative impact on the otherwise high levels of user-friendliness. In terms of construction quality, the only thing that’s not quite so good is the tension spring. The noise level is normal, but the noise profile is annoying because it whines. Otherwise, this is a belt sander that feels extremely well made and is easy to get to grips with. We would have liked it to have a frame and the possibility of fixing it in place to use it as a stationary machine. However, the Makita 9911 does have a number of other intelligent functions. For example, you can adjust the speed yourself and lock it in auto position. It also has lateral adjustment, but unfortunately you have to set this using a screwdriver instead of a simpler rotating control, which we would have preferred. However, this is a minor negative considering how easy it is to operate the belt sander in general. The neat size makes it easy to store when it's not in use. Despite a couple of shortcomings, this is a good belt sander for rougher sanding regardless of whether you're an amateur, professional or for industrial use.

Compact and time efficient sandingeasy to operateeconomical
Lacks a vacuum cleaner nozzlethe filter builds up staticwhining noise

2. Bosch PBS75A - BEST BUDGET CHOICE BELT SANDER

Very efficient sanding and intelligent bench accessories with dust extraction performance

Input power: 710 W Weight: 3.4 kg Belt dimensions: 75x533 mm Belt speed: 350 m/min Noise level: Medium | Measured mean value 89.5 dB Vacuum nozzle: Yes Frame: No Variable speed: No Auto mode: Yes

Bosch PBS 75 AE

The Bosch PBS75A is an efficient belt sander that removes a lot of wood in a short time. Sanding 1 mm of pine from a 45 mm board takes only 7.5 seconds, which is extremely good. The result is also smooth and better than we'd expected. We detect minor scratches on the surface when we sand using 120 grit paper and dark stain, but nothing that a 150 grit paper wouldn't remedy. Unfortunately, the PBS75A has no speed control. This makes it difficult to control sanding at a detailed level. Given how powerful this belt sander is, the lack of a speed control is a relatively big negative. But the build quality is high. The machine makes no strange noises and feels well balanced and substantial. The long, narrow design means that you can get in close to walls and corners.

The Bosch PBS75A has been well-designed in many ways. The belt sander is compact, and you can adjust it so you can get right up to the wall when you're sanding. It's easy to change the belt with a spring that you release and tighten. The start button is in the right place, as is the auto mode switch. We'd have liked a much longer power cable and a 90-degree angle on the dust exhaust. As it stands, the power cable often falls out when you're working on larger pieces of material and you have to drag around a large exhaust hose sideways. We would have preferred a design where the hose ended up behind the machine. The actual dust extraction is fine when it comes to resinous pine and similar materials. But it's not effective at sucking up allergenic materials such as epoxy. This means the environment actually ends up hazardous, even if you're wearing a mask. One major advantage with the PBS75A is that it comes with accessories for bench mounting. It's easy to operate and you can work with it for a long time without physical discomfort from the small vibrations. Overall, the Bosch PBS75A is good value for money and despite its weaknesses, you get a lot of belt sander for your money. This machine is perfect if you need a belt sander, but you won't be using it every day or professionally.

Good machine lengthvery efficient sandinggood resultscan get close to wallsincludes a bench mounting kit
Very short power cablepoor dust collectionno speed controlpoorly oriented dust exhaust

3. Bosch GBS 75 AE Professional

Slow but well-balanced with a uniform sanding result

Dimensions: 440x117x130 mm Input power: 750 watts Weight: 3.4 kg Belt dimensions: 75x533 mm Belt speed: 200-330 m/min Noise level: Average | Measured mean value 88 dB Vacuum nozzle: Yes Frame: No Variable speed: Yes Auto mode: Yes

Bosch GBS 75 AE Professional

The Bosch GBS 75 AE gives a uniform sanding result, which is the belt sander's greatest strength. It's not particularly efficient in terms of time, but the end result is better than expected. For example, when we sanded an uneven oak plank, you could see and feel that the finish was more than acceptable. Not sufficiently good for cabinet making, but it does a very good rough job. Two additional advantages are that you can lock it in auto mode and you can set the speed yourself. The GBS 75 AE is supplied without a frame, which sets high demands on the belt sander's build quality and design to achieve a desired result. Because it has no overhanging motor and is relatively elongated, it's well balanced. It stays flat on the surface and doesn't wobble during use. This is one of the reasons why the end result is so even. It also has a long cable, which means that you don't have to drag vacuum cleaners and extension cables around with you. Other than the front handle, which could have been better ergonomically, the design of the GBS 75 AE gets a thumbs up.

The dust collection is also acceptable, but here there are things worthy of comment. Because not only must the filter sack be installed using a screw, it can't cope with tougher tasks. For example, the epoxy test had to be abandoned completely because the sander produced so much dust that the work environment became dangerously unhealthy. But the dust collection system worked well with all of the other tasks we gave it. You can also connect a vacuum cleaner to the nozzle. The biggest disadvantage of this belt sander is that it's inefficient. For example, it takes 20 seconds to sand 1 millimetre of pine across a 45-millimetre width, which is a relatively long time for a belt sander in this class. There's also no way of attaching the GBS 75 AE to a workbench and use it as a stationary unit. But in general, it's a solid and stable belt sander with good build quality. It delivers a clearly acceptable result, even if it takes a bit longer than you'd like.

Uniform sanding resultvariable speedwell-balancedvacuum cleaner nozzle
Slow sandingNot cheap!

4. Ryobi EBS800

Competent and strong but slightly unbalanced and produces a lot of dust

Dimensions: 360x150x150 mm Input power: 800 watts Weight: 3.3 kg Belt dimensions: 76x150 mm Belt speed: 320 m/min Noise level: Medium | Measured mean value 87 dB Vacuum nozzle: No Frame: No Variable speed: No Auto mode: Yes Manual: (PDF)

Ryobi EBS800V

The Ryobi EBS800 is a machine that reveals a number of positive surprises. The belt sander is strong and removes 1 mm of pine across a 45 mm plank in barely 10 seconds, which is exceptionally good. Nor will hardwoods pose this machine any problems. At the same time, it produces a flat, attractive sanding result. Not good enough for fine carpentry, but sufficiently good for the majority of the rougher tasks that a belt sander is intended for. Its major shortcoming is dust collection. When sanding a resinous pine, the sandpaper quickly gets clogged, which is an indicator that the dust collection system isn’t up to the task. And this was confirmed when we tried to sand an epoxy surface. The gigantic filter seemed to do absolutely nothing, and nor was it possible to connect it to a vacuum cleaner. In addition, during even simple tasks producing a lot of dust, we discovered that the filter wasn't very effective, as a great deal of dust was produced even when we sanded an elm table. The filter seems to be unnecessarily large. We would have preferred a vacuum cleaner nozzle to be included.

The EBS800 is made of plastic, but despite this the build quality feels reasonable. It doesn't make any surprising noises or knocking in use. The front handle can also be adjusted up and down. A really positive surprise is the small drive wheel right at the front which means you can get really close to obstacles, corners and walls when you're sanding. The only disadvantage we noted was that the belt sander is slightly unbalanced, which can make it less easy to operate – particularly as it doesn't include a frame. Two other functions we'd like to see is the opportunity to attach the Ryobi EBS800 to the bench so it could be used as a stationary machine, together with a speed adjustment setting. But given its price class, this is a very powerful and competent belt sander offering good value. If the dust collection system had been better, making the working environment a little healthier, the score would have been significantly higher.

Effective sandingtilting handlegets into corners
Dust collection, unbalanced

5. AEG BHBS18 75BL

Battery-powered belt sander with powerful performance

Dimensions (L): 457 mm Dimensions (W): 75 mm Operation: Battery, 18V, 4Ah Battery life: 10 min under load, 14 min 30 s unloaded, 3.5 min/Ah Weight: 3.4 kg Belt dimensions: 75x457 mm Belt speed: 0-11000 rpm, 135-300 m/min Dust vacuum nozzle: Yes Frame: No Variable speed: Yes (adjustable in 6 steps) Auto mode: Yes Guarantee: 6 years on machine, 3 years on battery

AEG BHBS18-75BL-0 Solo

The AEG BHBS18 75BL is a powerful cordless belt sander with a brushless motor, solid build quality and a long guarantee. The fact that it doesn't have a power cable gives you greater freedom while you work.

Unfortunately, the package only includes one battery and this runs out after about 10 minutes of active use. This is disappointing. You need to buy at least one more battery so that you can swap them over, but they're quite expensive.

However, the belt sander is very well built. It feels stable and robust in the hand and makes no worrying noises. The charging station is also robust and stable. It has large, clear indicators and can even be mounted to a wall.

In terms of performance, the BHBS18 75 BL is very powerful. It removes 2 mm of pine in approximately 10 seconds, which is very good. If you apply too much pressure, it shuts down. This can be seen as a disadvantage, but it's actually a useful feature. The motor is protected, and it prevents the machine from digging itself into the material and creating an uneven surface.

The result is even, although you'll need to go over the surface again with other tools to achieve that perfect finish.

Can be placed upright while sanding

The AEG BHBS18 75BL is relatively user-friendly. All of the buttons and controls are well positioned. Despite the fact that it's battery-powered, it doesn’t feel particularly heavy. Rather, it's well balanced and easy to use, but you do have to remove the filter bag to change the battery.

It does produce a lot of dust despite the filter bag. The dust extraction is too poor for you to use it in an enclosed environment for long periods, particularly if you're going to sand tougher materials such as epoxy adhesive. Because it produces a lot of dust, we'd have preferred it to include an adapter so you could connect different types of vacuum nozzles.

One advantage with the BHBS18 75BL is that you can stand it upright on the battery and then hold smaller pieces of material against it to sand them.

We like AEG's belt sander. It feels pretty good for the home DIYer who wants a durable no-fuss machine. And it comes with a very long guarantee. If you're going to be belt sanding for days at a time, this machine is probably not suitable because of the short battery life and the cost of extra batteries. But if you're only going to use it periodically in your home workshop, and you have more AEG machines so you can share the batteries between them, this will be a great addition to your toolbox.

Even sanding resultoverload protectionsturdy build qualitysuper long guarantee if registered
Short battery lifeexpensive extra batteriesno adapter for dust vacuumwith dust extraction limitations

Price Comparison

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6. RYOBI R18BS

A good finish but poor dust extraction

Dimensions (L): 457 mm Dimensions (W):76 mm Operation: Battery: 18V, 5Ah Battery life: 13 min, 2.6 min/Ah Weight: 3.4 kg Belt dimensions: 75x457 mm Belt speed: 250 rpm Noise level: 89.2 dB Dust vacuum nozzle: Yes Frame: No Variable speed: No Warranty: 3 years

Ryobi R18BS-0 Solo

The mini RYOBI R18BS belt sander is a neat battery-powered belt sander. Because the dust extraction is so poor, however, the fact that it's not mains powered doesn't help much, at least not indoors. You'll still need to attach a vacuum cleaner to get a healthy working environment as it produces a huge amount of dust even under straightforward conditions. The actual dust bag lets small particles through. This also negates a good part of the advantage of a battery-powered machine because you're limited by the vacuum hose. The battery is slightly in the way when you come to connect the hose. Once you've installed it, however, it works well. An aspect that's considerably better designed is how you adjust the sandpaper. There's a large and clear adjustment button, which is much more functional than many other manufacturers' solutions where you sometimes have to use a screwdriver. It's also very easy to replace the sandpaper; you simply have to release a spring.

The RYOBI R18BS produces good sanding results. It doesn't work in a particularly efficient way. We can see with the naked eye that it rotates more slowly than other models, but it's easy to get a smooth result. The finish is really good. Unfortunately, it wobbles quite a lot when you do coarser sanding. But this disappears when you move down to finer sandpaper. The machine gets plus points for being able to get so close to the edges as it sands - and also for its accompanying long guarantee. We measured the battery life with a 5 Ah battery at around 13 minutes, which is pretty short given that it doesn't work very quickly. But the quick charger included with the machine charges the battery fully in just under an hour, which is undeniably fast. The RYOBI R18BS is most suited to someone who already has Ryobi series tools and thus has a set of Ryobi batteries. Then you can get a good sanding result without worrying about how long it will take.

Produces a good finishlong guaranteeeasy sandpaper adjustment
Terrible dust extractionsometimes wobblyslow

7. Black & Decker KA88

Quick sanding, but poor build quality

Dimensions: No information Input power: 720 watts Weight: 3.7 kg Belt dimensions: 75x533 mm Belt speed: 250 m/min Noise level: Average | Measured mean value: 86 dB Vacuum nozzle: No Frame: No Variable speed: No Auto mode: Yes

Black & Decker KA88

The cheap Black & Decker KA 88 is good at effectively sanding with a uniform and attractive result. It can cope with sanding both soft pine and hard oak, and even epoxy. 1 millimetre of pine was sanded in just 10 seconds, which is a good result. But this belt sander also suffers from a number of shortcomings which make its user-friendliness and performance not so impressive. For example, dust collection is less effective than expected. The sandpaper quickly got clogged when sanding resinous pine, and a great deal of dust was produced when sanding epoxy. However, on the plus side it does include a nozzle for the vacuum cleaner. The build quality is the KA 88's biggest downside. The machine feels clumsy and unbalanced during use, and also has physical problems over time. For example, the button that tightens the spring to hold the sandpaper in place felt loose after only two changes. The machine also creaks and grinds alarmingly during operation. But it has a rubber handle, so it does at least feel stable in your hand.

A major advantage of this belt sander is that you can tilt the handle. It also has one intelligent function – a small drive wheel at the front – which enables you to get very close to obstacles as you're sanding. But we would have liked to see functions like speed adjustment and the opportunity to attach the belt sander to the workbench for stationary use. Nor is there any frame, which makes it still more important for the actual belt sander to be well balanced so you don't sand away too much material, especially when you're using such an effective machine as the KA 88. Including a frame would have outweighed a number of the shortcomings we found in the design. As it now stands, the machine is hard to manoeuvre during use. It bounces around a lot and is difficult to control. We think this is a shame, given how efficient the KA 88 is in terms of time. The machine has a number of very good features, but also several that need to be addressed before we can widely recommend this belt sander.

Tilting handleeffective sandingcan get into cornerscheap
Build qualitydust collectionnoiseshort cable

What is a belt sander?

A belt sander is a sanding machine intended to roughly sand large spaces quickly. It's useful for a number of tasks, but primarily to roughly sand material along the grain. Belt sanders are used for everything from sanding workbenches to an entire floor. The machine essentially consists of a sanding belt, motor and dust extractor. These work together to give as good a performance as possible on the basis of the design and build quality of the model in question. The dust collection is an important aspect of the design because dust leads to impaired performance and a poor – sometimes unhealthy - working environment. Some belt sanders also come with a nozzle so you can connect them to a workshop vacuum cleaner to keep your working environment free of dust. To be able to sand something, you also need sandpaper. This is attached to the sanding belt, normally with a device consisting of a spring that you tighten to keep the sandpaper in place. Some models also include a frame that prevents you from removing too much material. Another accessory that is often included is a device enabling you to attach the belt sander upside down to the workbench and use it as a stationary machine. These may come with clamps.

Belt sander prices vary significantly. You can find a belt sander for around £30, or one for a couple of hundred pounds. At first glance, machines with such different prices can appear very similar. But often a higher price tag means a better end result and a cleaner working environment. That's what we discovered in our test of different belt sanders. However, the accessories also affect the price. For example, a belt sander with frame attachments costs much more than a similar functioning model without one.

Considerations when buying a belt sander

There are a number of parameters to consider when you look for a belt sander for sale. Here is the key information to consider:

Performance

The higher the wattage, the more powerful the belt sander. But it's above all a combination of power, dust collection and the sanding belt that determines the performance of the belt sander.

Dust collection

The dust from the sanding process significantly affects the durability of the sandpaper. If the machine's dust collection is poor, the sandpaper will wear out quickly because it will become clogged. Dust collection also affects your working environment. It's not healthy to work for a long time in a dusty environment. In other words, a good belt sander has good dust collection.

It's also useful if the machine includes a nozzle so that you can connect a workshop vacuum cleaner. The working environment becomes significantly better with a workshop vacuum cleaner connected to the belt sander than when you only use the belt sander's own filter solution.

Ergonomics and vibrations

It's a well-known fact that vibrations occur when you use electric tools. And given how a sander works, a belt sander is obviously no exception. So, this makes it even more important that the ergonomics are good to avoid HAVS.

The belt sander should have sufficient weight and should be easy to hold in place during sanding. It should also be ergonomically designed so that you can use it for longer sessions. This involves aspects such as the balance of the machine, material choices and the design of the handle.

Design

As well as being ergonomically designed, the belt sander should also have a number of features that mean you can get to every part of the material you're sanding. With a good belt sander, you shouldn't have to hand sand the last bit. For example, the handle and the front should fold out of the way so that you can sand very close into corners. Some models have a wheel that makes this easier. Some of them have an extra handle, which means you can hold them steady on vertical surfaces.

Build quality

Build quality and dust collection often go together. But there are other parameters that play a role. For example, the quality of the sanding belt is an important factor when it comes to the belt sander's performance. Another is whether the sandpaper stays in place as you work or whether it comes loose and moves along the sanding belt.

If the build quality of the belt sander is good, you save time spent on adjusting problems and have more time for the actual sanding process.

Ease-of-use

A belt sander is normally quite simple to understand. There aren't loads of functions and buttons to work out. But ease of use is still important. For example, it should be easy to replace the sandpaper and any filter, and to fold the handle if this function is present. Ideally, it should be possible to adjust all functions without using a tool.

Variable speed

Variable speed is a useful function if you want to control how fast the belt sander moves over the material. If you can control the speed, you can also set how much material is removed.

Frame

If the belt sander comes with a frame, there's reduced risk that you will work the material too hard and damage it as you sand. Thus, a frame is an accessory that many people appreciate but isn't always included as standard.

Bench mounting

Another function that far from all belt sanders have is the possibility of attaching it to a bench for stationary use. This normally involves attaching it upside down.

Noise level

The noise level is important if you want to work for a longer period. But it's not only about how quiet the machine is, but also what the noise profile is like. For example, a quiet belt sander can have just as high a noise level as a competitor, but if the noise is more of a whine it will be perceived as noisier. You should always wear hearing protectors while working with a belt sander.

Sandpaper

The belt sander's most important accessory is the sandpaper. When you choose sandpaper, the quality and grit size determine how coarsely and how well it will sand.

But remember that the quality of the belt sander largely affects the quality of the sandpaper; poor dust collection means that the sandpaper will wear out more quickly because it gets clogged up.

Guarantee

A belt sander perhaps isn't the most expensive electric tool in your tool cabinet, but some models cost more than £100. Naturally, you want factory faults and similar problems to be covered by the guarantee if it breaks down. It's always important to check the guarantee when you buy an electric tool like a belt sander.

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