What is a Belt Sander?

A belt sander comprises a belt of sandpaper that runs around a loop over two drums, which are rotated by a powerful motor. It is designed to sand down surfaces in one of the fastest ways possible.

Most belt sanders are used as handheld tools, where the user moves them over the surface to be sanded. However, they can also be installed as fixed bench sanders. In this case, the sander remains stationary and the workpiece is moved along the running belt.

Some advanced sanders have a dust collection system, which collects the debris that comes off during sanding. A belt sander can be used with different sandpaper grits and thus is applicable to wood and other materials, such as metal, concrete, etc.

Belt sanders provide a linear sanding motion. They deliver a lot of power and can handle even coarse grit sandpaper belts. They ensure a homogenous and smooth finish, no matter what the grit of the belt is. Although you might not find a belt sander in a household toolbox, you will hardly find a woodworker or a DIY project enthusiast without one.

What Is A Belt Sander

What is a Belt Sander Used For?

A typical belt sander will have a 3- or 4-inch-wide belt of sandpaper that runs around two rollers. The rollers are distanced from each other to ensure that the sandpaper always remains flat against the surface being worked on.

Belt sanders may be employed for a broad range of tasks, making your projects go quicker and simpler. They can refinish metal or wood surfaces, such as tables, cabinets, and even floors quickly and efficiently since they are designed to be used on flat and large surfaces. Remember to equip the sander with the appropriate grit of sandpaper.

As the number on the sandpaper increases, the grit gets finer. If you are attempting to remove a stain or layers of paint, you should use a high grit of sandpaper, such as 60 or 70. If you are sanding an unfinished shelf, cabinet, or other items, you may use a medium or fine grit ranging from 100 to 200.

Belt sanders can handle large tasks, but they are also an excellent alternative for certain smaller ones. If a door sticks or does not close correctly, remove it and shave a little off the side or top. Typically, removing around one-eighth of an inch is sufficient to resolve the issue. A belt sander can get this job done within a few seconds.

Handheld belt sanders are best used on large surfaces, and bench-mounted stationery sanders shape and sand down small materials. They are great for sharpening tools such as chisels, axes, and even knives.

What is a Belt Sander Not Used For?

When working on fine or delicate surfaces, a regular orbital sander may be better. They are also a better option if you are working with smaller workpieces. Belt sanders are very strong and can rip through strong materials as well as layers of varnish and paint, but they are not always the greatest option for delicate work.

Factors to Consider in a Belt Sander

If you are planning to purchase a belt sander, there are three essential features that you should pay attention to:

Motor Power

The motor is probably the most essential component of a belt sander. It is essential to understand the motor power and its capabilities before deciding among the belt sanders. This holds for both handheld and stationary types. It is a good idea to get the most powerful motor while staying in your desired price range.


The motor’s power will often determine the speed. However, it is best to opt for a sander with variable speed control. By controlling the speed, you can work with different sandpapers’ grits and control the abrasion rate.

Dust Collection

This is a practical feature that every sander on the market shave. Sanding generates a lot of debris and dust, which requires a system to collect this dust. Most sanders come with a dust bag, and some may be linked to a vacuum. While vacuums outperform dust bags, you should confirm compatibility before purchasing a sander that works with a vacuum.

Pros and Cons of a Belt Sander

There are more than just a few great things about belt sanders. However, some precautions need to be taken. Here are the pros and cons.


  • They are pretty easy to use, whether you like to use them as a handheld or mounted.
  • They have immense abrasing power and can take on tough surfaces without difficulty.
  • They are fast and allow you to remove thick layers very quickly.
  • Since they utilize a broad belt of sandpaper, they leave a smooth and homogenous surface.
  • They can be used on a variety of surfaces, including metal, wood, and concrete.
  • Work amazingly when the surface area to be covered is large. They allow the user to efficiently cover large areas in little time.


  • Considerably noisy and require the user to wear high-class ear protection.
  • Have the potential to cause permanent damage if not used properly.
  • Not suited for delicate finishes, and can often end up damaging delicate objects due to their immense power.
  • Not suited for drywall. The gypsum can clog the grit of the sandpaper and cause it to lose efficiency. Similarly, they cannot be used anywhere where sandpapers are not suitable, such as with limestone.

Our Final Thoughts

A belt sander has a sandpaper belt that goes around a loop over two drums. It is designed to sand down surfaces as quickly as possible. Although most belt sanders are handled instruments, they may also be mounted and fixed table sanders.

Belt sanders have enough power to handle coarse grit belts. Handheld belt sanders work well on large surfaces, whereas bench-mounted stationery sanders can shape and sand smaller materials.

If you are wondering what is a belt sander good for, we would like to tell you that they are easy to use and offer great abrasing power to quickly and efficiently process large surfaces.

About The Author

Scroll to Top