At some point, every handyperson reaches the point where they’re ready to take their workshop to the next step. That could mean getting your first heavy-duty machine.
One useful big tool that will get a ton of use in any workshop is the bench sander, an impressive step-up from a detail sander (top models here).
Bench sanders make a great addition to a home workshop. Bench sanders, also known as belt disc sanders, are often used to finish or shape wood or other materials.
They are used in both residential and commercial construction projects, with price ranging from $100 to 600, which is lower than the range for top rotex sanders.
When shopping for one, it’s important to consider what sort of sanding work you’ll be doing. Too big of a tool for the job isn’t just expensive overkill. It can damage the work you’re trying to do.
You’ll also want to consider if this is solely for use in your workshop or garage, or if it’s something you’d like to bring to offsite jobs. If it is meant to stay in one place, how much space will you want to allot to it?
Below is a guide explaining what bench sanders are and what they’re used for. We’ll also cover what some popular brands and models of sanders are and how they compare. You’ll learn how you operate one, and what you want to look for when you buy one.
What Are Bench Sanders?
Table of Contents
- 1 What Are Bench Sanders?
- 2 How Much Do Bench Sanders Cost?
- 3 Comparing the 5 Best Bench Sanders
- 4 1. WEN 6502T 4.3-Amp 4 x 36 in. Belt and 6 in. Disc Sander with Cast Iron Base
- 5 2. BUCKTOOL BD4801 4 x 36-Inch Belt and 8-Inch Disc Sander with 3/4HP Motor
- 6 3. Rockwell RK7866 Belt Disc Sander
- 7 4. RYOBI BD4601G Bench Sander Green
- 8 5. Grizzly H6070 Belt and 5-Inch Disc Sander, 1 x 30-Inch
- 9 Belt Disc Sander Brands
- 10 Factors to Consider Before Buying a Belt Disc Sander
- 11 How to Use a Belt Disc Sander
- 12 Ready to Use a Bench Sander for Your Next Project?
Bench sanders are powered sanders that are meant to be used in a stationary location, like a workbench. They are distinct from portable hand sanders in that they’re usually much more powerful and they allow you to control your workpiece with both hands.
There are often two sanding components to these machines: a round sanding disk and a flat sanding belt. Between those two modes, a range of sanding is possible for a variety of jobs.
The disc sander is ideal for any edge work or anything requiring a bit more precision. The belt is more for applying brute force sanding to a large area.
The workpiece to be sanded sits on an adjustable table which can be set to a range of angles. Most sanders will also have some form of dust collection built into it.
Bench sanders are typically very powerful and noisy. They’re usually in a workshop environment. They’re the big gun to use when you have a good-sized project that needs heavy-duty sanding or finishing.
How Much Do Bench Sanders Cost?
Bench sanders have a relatively low price of entry for most home workshops. There are a wide range of bench sanders available, most are priced anywhere from $100 to $600.
The biggest distinction between them is power, so it’s worth thinking carefully about how much you need for the work you do.
Is this for small projects that need a lot of precision? Or for sanding down large surfaces, like the edges of doors? If this is something you can see using a lot on big projects, it’s worth spending the extra money for a bit more power.
It’s always good to be cautious about a brand you don’t recognize but note that some of the models we list are from names that aren’t sold in big box hardware stores. Durability, flexibility, amount of power, and increased size may increase your cost.
Below are the top five models with a good range of options in price and power. Consider your current workshop situation, what sorts of projects you’ll most likely be tackling, and how much you want to spend.
Comparing the 5 Best Bench Sanders
|WEN 6502T 4.3-Amp 4 x 36 in. Belt and 6 in. Disc Sander with Cast Iron Base|
|BUCKTOOL BD4801 4 x 36-Inch Belt and 8-Inch Disc Sander with 3/4HP Motor|
|Rockwell RK7866 Belt Disc Sander|
|RYOBI BD4601G Bench Sander Green|
|Grizzly H6070 Belt and 5-Inch Disc Sander, 1 x 30-Inch|
The belt tilts from zero to 90 degrees, making it very versatile for any job without awkward maneuvering. The disc portion has a cast aluminum worktable that ensures you can sand safely and accurately.
It’s a powerful machine as well, running on a 4.3 amp, ½ HP motor that goes up to 3600 RPMs. If you need to change the sandpaper due to wear or just switching grit, it’s incredibly easy.
You just release the tension lever and swap it out. All of this sits on a sturdy cast iron base, so you know it’s solidly placed with no vibrations. You can hook it up to your dust extractor with the 2.25-inch port connector.
Like any WEN product, it has a two-year warranty and the backing of skilled technicians and customer service help.
Both the 4 by 36-inch sanding belt and the eight inch disc are driven directly by the motor shaft. Because of this, there’s no belt tension adjustment to worry about or belts to replace.
This direct drive design can increase your sanding efficiency up to 25% more than a standard sander. The belt can be adjusted from zero to 90 degrees, helping to avoid awkwardness while handling your workpieces.
It all rests on a cast aluminum base with rubber footing, so vibrations are low, and it sits sturdily. The sander has a one-year warranty. Should there be any problems, the machine would be replaced and any spare parts for repair would be sent free of charge.
Its relatively small footprint means it can fit most workbenches or table spaces. The 4 by 36-inch belt and 6 inch disc sanders provide enough flexibility to handle any home workshop job with ease.
It’s powered by a 4.3 amp, ½ HP induction motor giving you enough power to get whatever you need done. The sanding belt adjusts from zero to 90 degrees, allowing you to tackle any project – vertical, horizontal, or in between – without an awkward angle getting in the way.
Accurate sanding is easy with the 45-degree miter gauge and the adjustable sanding table (adjustable anywhere from zero to 45 degrees). If you need to change the belt, a quick-release lever adjusts the tension easily.
It’s a combination 4 by 36-inch belt and six inch disc sander. It’s powered by a ½ HP, 120 volt induction motor.
It rests on a cast iron base, ensuring its stability, stillness, accuracy, and safety. The belt can be used horizontally or vertically, with the belt arm adjustable from zero to 90 degrees.
Add a multi position worktable that can be adjusted from zero to 45 degrees and you have a lot of flexibility. Access to the belt for adjustment or changing is easy and doesn’t require special tools. The lockout power switch and integrated dust port ensures safety and cleanliness.
Ryobi is a trustworthy name in workshop tools and their three-year warranty stands behind that.
This portable unit weighs a little over twenty pounds. That means it’s good for offsite jobs, construction sites, or anywhere away from your workshop.
The Grizzly H6070 has a 1 inch by 30-inch belt and five-inch disc sander. It’s powered by a ⅓ HP, 110-volt, single-phase, direct drive 3450 RPM motor.
It’s solid enough to not vibrate, ensuring that it’s safe and accurate.
It’s ideal for sanding intricate parts, detailed work, contours, or dry sharpening of tools. Both sanders have good-sized tables that adjust to 45 degrees.
It also has a removable belt platen and idler roller guard for sanding any contours easily and accurately. There are two dust ports making workshop cleanliness that much easier to maintain.
Belt Disc Sander Brands
There’s a wide range of bench sanders on the market, which can make the selection process very difficult. Just as when you shop for any tool for your workshop, brand recognition can go a long way towards narrowing down your search.
Given the narrow niche of bench sanders, some reputable names might not be familiar to you. Listed below are a few brands whose bench sanders have a high reputation.
As they proudly state, RIKON carries “Pro Tools for Tool Pros”. They are a Chinese-based company that produces a wide range of woodworking machinery. Their products carry a five-year warranty.
Grizzly produces a range of woodworking, metalworking, and hand tools. Founded in 1983, Grizzly Industrial is one of the largest machinery companies in the United States.
Their in-house technical documentation department is also noted as one of the best sources of machinery technical manuals in the industry.
Established in 1951, Wen produces a range of power and machine tools, lawn and garden tools, and generators. Their research and development teams have played an important part in developing a lot of hand tool innovations.
These include the chainsaw, the electric soldering gun, and the electric jigsaw. They also helped develop the electric engraver and the knife and wet wheel sharpener.
Ryobi is a well-known Japanese company that produces hand power tools. Owned by the Ryobi Corporation (makers of automobile technology, electronics, and telecommunications components), Ryobi Tools emerged from Diehl Motor Company, once the supplier of Sears Craftsman handheld tools.
Now in partnership with Home Depot, they are very popular with home workshops while also used by contracting professionals.
DeWalt was founded in 1924. Primarily making power tools for construction workers and woodworkers, they are currently owned by Black and Decker.
In 1992, Black and Decker rebranded their high end and professional tools to the DeWalt line.
Founded in 1958, Jet tools is owned by JPW Industries. They manufacture a range of woodworking and metalworking tools and machines, air tools, lifting systems, and warehouse equipment.
They also offer “Jet Red Assurance”: one of the industry’s most comprehensive warranties.
Factors to Consider Before Buying a Belt Disc Sander
So is a belt disc sander right for you? The answer, of course, depends.
These days belt sanders are incredibly easy to use, whether handheld or mounted. You can have access to a lot of power in your home workshop.
Lots of Power
This can also be a potential downfall: you can have a bit too much power for the projects you do, increasing the possibility of damage to whatever you’re working on.
For example, one common home-related sanding project is finishing drywall, which most belt disc sanders are much too powerful for.
Good for Big Jobs
But if you need to remove a lot of material quickly through sanding, a belt disc sander is the way to go. The results with sanding properly with one look clean and professional.
If you do any sort of wood finishing on a semi-regular basis, a bench sander is a must-have. Think of it as a good investment in not only your workshop, but in your work as you continue to grow as a woodworker.
If you’re doing a lot of work offsite that involves heavy-duty sanding or finishing, a bench sander may still be what you need. Just consider one of the more portable models listed above.
Doing Detailed Work
If you’re looking at mostly smaller or detail-focused projects, consider a hand belt sander, or even nothing mechanical at all and just use sandpaper. This is not to say you wouldn’t find a use for a bench sander.
But again, use the right tool for the job:
don’t bring your small and detailed work to a larger sander. You’ll end up ruining your work.
Lots of Dust
A belt disc sander is perfect for a home workshop. But It’s worth keeping in mind that they kick up a lot of dust.
Do you currently have a dependable dust filtration/vacuum system? Given the fact that most of the models described here have ports for connecting to one, it’s worth considering if you’re ready for that next step.
Lots of Noise
Bench sanders are also very loud machines, which might be something you’re accustomed to now if your workshop is heavily outfitted. If this is one of your first large-scale machines, consider the effect that this would have on anyone you live with or your neighbors. Don’t forget to invest in hearing protection as well.
How to Use a Belt Disc Sander
You’ll want to make sure all tables on the sander are secure, as well that any vacuum system (if you have one) is connected. Make sure the angles on the table and miter are set how you want them.
The table should be roughly an eighth to a sixteenth of an inch away from the disc.
Look at what direction your disc is turning:
clockwise or counterclockwise.
You want your workpiece to start at the center, moving towards the downstroke side. Your workpiece should always be moving against the disc – never just press it directly in. This can burn your wood and ruin the sandpaper on the disc.
The principles for the belt sander are very similar. The belt sander also needs a secure table that is roughly an eighth to a sixteenth of an inch away.
Again, keep the piece moving, never pressing directly into the belt. Keep the piece firmly flat on the table.
This video follows these steps in a very easy to follow manner. As always, consult your sander’s manual for specific instructions.
Ready to Use a Bench Sander for Your Next Project?
Before deciding on a bench sander, consider the size of your projects, if you need a lot of power, and if you have a good space for using one safely. Consider the work you do and see if it makes sense.
If you need powerful sanding for medium to large projects, then yes, a bench sander is most likely the way to go. Large planes of wood, doors, or any large-scale projects are perfect here.
But, if you’re sanding jobs are focused on forging knives, it’s better to purchase a knife belt sander (choose the best one from this page).
If you mostly work on smaller pieces, a bench sander shouldn’t be off the table for you. But consider there may be smaller and less intrusive tools that will work better. You might be better off with a hand sander or just straight sandpaper.
The products described here are a good, dependable range of options for you to choose from. Anything you select here would make a valuable addition to your workshop. Need to hold items in place? Consider getting a bench vise!