Sander: why do you need it?
Here I’ll compare 8 sanders in order to make it easier for you to choose the best furniture sander. But at first, let’s talk about the sanders (if you can’t wait, skip the introduction and start from the second paragraph of the text).
I believe you answered “yes” to the previous question. In this case, I bet that you know that “making things with your own hands” doesn’t always mean “by hands only”. We all use various tools and special equipment in order to make the life easier.
Sanders are exactly the type of equipment you have to pay attention to if you are into DIY activities. The number of the activities you’ll need a sander for is quite large. Take a look:
- Do you need to sand rough surface?
- Do you need to level the surfaces?
- Do you need to scribe a line?
- All in all, are you going to make something of wood and want this “something” to look perfect?
Of course, sanders are the tools that can be called multi-use, so you can buy them for a big number of purposes (we just can’t list them all here). It makes sense that, if there are dozens of purposes, there should be dozens of sanders at the market — and that’s a 100% truth.
In my experience, lots of those who are looking for a furniture sander get confused sooner or later. Why?
Because of two things: different types of such sanders and the variety of brands and models. The thing is, there are three types of sanders, and it’s not the easiest task in the world to understand which one is better and which type will be perfect in your situation.
Today I’ll talk about the belt sanders. Why? I’ll answer this question at the end of the article (spoiler: because they are the best).
8 best furniture sanders for different DIY activities
Belt sanders are very good when you need to remove a lot of material or to level a large wooden surface. They remove material fast and they are perfect as furniture sanders, that’s another advantage.
And that’s why I’ve chosen them for this list. At the end of the article, I’m gonna talk about it in more details, so continue reading!
If you like DIY home activities, you’ve definitely bought something made by Makita. Or you’ve at least heard about it.
The thing is, Makita Corporation is one of the oldest companies that make power tools. Now it’s one of the biggest power tools manufacturers in the world, and its equipment is a synonym to the word “quality”, according to thousands of reviews.
Makita 9403 is a not the biggest Makita sander on the market, but, if I could divide the belt sanders into 3 classes (light, medium, heavy), this one would definitely be in the last one. It’s a perfect workhorse, which you can always rely on.
The cool thing is: it’s a very quiet furniture sander. If you’ve had at least one belt sander in your house, you definitely know that they are really loud — but Makita 9403 isn’t.
It stands between small and professional tools — quite compact and small, but also a really powerful sander (11-amp motor inside). Minimal noise, maximum power, interesting (but not the best) price. Let’s make a conclusion.
Usability: 4.5. I was really confused when it came to this point. This is the most quiet sander in the world, it’s perfect for both outdoor and indoor work, the feedbacks and technical characteristics are perfect — it’s a perfect sander, with almost no doubts. Why “almost”?
Well, I’ve found only one problem: Makita 9403 cloth bag (dust collection attachment) don’t catch all the small particles. And, well, it’s front knob could’ve been bigger, but that’s a very tiny point to harp on.
However, I still recommend to use a bucket, vacuum hose and an improvised tube (google it, it’s not too complex) — that would be the best dust extraction.
Price: 4.5. Nothing to say here — it’s not the cheapest sander on my list, it’s not too expensive and it’s not too cheap. Ideal balance and maximum characteristics for its price.
Reliability and durability: 5. Heavy, well-built, powerful and is worth its price. The performance is great, and you’ll not be disappointed by this Makita sander.
According to the reviews, everything is perfect with the durability, too — but if anything is wrong, you can always return it to the seller and he’ll get your money back to you.
Hitachi is another well-known and reputable brand. They produce both professional and entry-level tools, but this SB8V2 sander is the middle ground, just like the previous sander made by Makita. Check it out.
I’ll start with my own thoughts here. When it comes to the comparison with the previous sander, it seems to me that 9403 tool is more like a professional tool, for professional builders or for furniture manufacturers, for example.
It doesn’t mean that Hitachi is worse, no. It’s really good, even better in some cases, but if you are more like a professional, you should probably pay attention to the previous sander.
If you are an enthusiast, who want to refresh the furniture in his house (to refresh the house itself, to remove paint or to level the surface) — you are in the right place. Hitachi SB8V2 is very good.
It’s quite powerful — 9 Amp. engine would be enough for 90% of the tasks, except for some professional tasks (that’s what I’ve just talked about).
You can also adapt the sander to different materials because of its speed control, its front handle won’t let your arm get tired, and the V-Belt will save your money on consumables.
I also liked the tracking window very much! It’s a window that lets the user see the belt and sanding pads — it’s very practical and innovative.
Usability: 4.9. It’s very lightweight (9.5 pounds only) and very convenient to use. This sander is well-balanced and isn’t heavy so you will be able to perform any DIY activities for as long as you need (unlike the previous sander, for example).
I can’t say that it’s too loud, but it isn’t also too quiet — it’s just more quiet than the majority of big belt sanders, but don’t expect it to be as quiet as Makita 9403.
Dust collection is perfect, too, belts track well, and it’s basically one of the most powerful 3×21 inches belt sanders in the world.
I liked the ergonomics very much. Form-factor is great for those who will use the sander for a few hours, it’s lightweight and customers say that there are no problems with the user experience.
Well, everything is cool. So why is it 4.9 and not 5.0 for usability?
I don’t like two things about this Hitachi sander. The first one is its electrical cord — I prefer longer cords because they are much more convenient to work with.
Another little problem is belt tracking — sometimes you’ll need to readjust it (but it isn’t something rare, the majority of sanders have such problems).
But all in all, it’s great and I can even call this Hitachi tool the belt sander! Let’s continue the review and talk about price and durability of this instrument.
Price: 5. It’s not too expensive and not too cheap, but Amazon offers to save about 30%, and that’s how it becomes one of the cheapest sanders in this list. Wear-resistant belt (it’s called V-belt) leads to long service life which, in turn, means that you will spend less money on belts.
Push lever makes the replacement of belts even easier, so it’s not a problem at all to fix this sander if something goes wrong. And of course, 30-days satisfaction guarantee is here, too.
Want to know more? Here is the video review and the user’s manual in pdf.
Triton is an Australian company that has been making and selling power tools since 1976 — that’s why this brand is as reputable as the previous two, Makita and Hitachi.
TA1200BS is a belt sander with a 10 Amp electric engine and small front roller, which means it’s a perfect tool if you are going to do some detailed work.
It’s a 3×21 belt sander, just like the previous sanders on my list. What I liked most about it was its “flush-to-edge” sanding finish — the majority of other brands offer this option but here it’s finally real.
I also liked (and I’m sure you’ll like it, too) the ability to mount it and to use the Triton TA1200BS on the vertical surface. I can’t say that there are many sanders with such a function.
Variable speed control, inversion stand, all this necessary stuff is here. But, unfortunately, it’s not a perfect sander, and here’s why.
Usability: 4.5. While it’s a very user-friendly sander, it’s also quite heavy. 12 pounds, it’s like Makita 9403 — so it may be not the easiest task if you will use it for 2 or 3 hours. But the ability to turn this sander into a stationary sander adds some points, of course.
Price: 4.5. It’s quite expensive (~$200), but it’s a good price for such a powerful and multifunctional tool. However, the price is quite high so if you don’t need something as professional, try Hitachi’s sander instead.
Reliability and durability: 3.5. The problem is: it’s really a problem to find the replacement parts if the sander suddenly breaks. Another problem: the mounting screw of the sanding frame doesn’t fit in the screw hole of the sander!
It’s not an epic fail, but quite a serious problem, I guess. Unfortunately, many people say that they have the same problem.
As usual, the video is down below and the user’s manual is here.
It’s the thing you need if you want something small, cheap (well, relatively cheap) and well-done. It’s a cool tool that will be ok for 90% of purposes, if you are not a professional who needs a sander for living.
But, well, there are some small problems with it (just as every other sander, of course). Let’s talk about it in more details.
Usability: 4. There are some problems with the usability: thus, the belt size is special, which means you’ll not find the belt for this sander, made by some other manufacturers. You’ll have to buy special belts only, Porter Cable belts. That’s not how it should work.
But it’s probably the biggest problem of this sander. It’s very comfortable to use, it’s very lightweight (only 6 pounds!), and you’ll probably not find better simple and one-hand sander. Well, I haven’t found.
Price: 5. It’s basically the cheapest sander in this list, so if you want to save money, Porter Cable 371 is exactly what you need. But you shouldn’t expect it to be a professional tool, of course.
I also liked that in the box you’ll find a removable auxiliary handle and a dust port, so you don’t need to buy them. That’s how you can save another $10-$20, so why not?
Reliability and durability: 3.5. According to the reviews, sometimes there can be the problems. Thus, some people complain that this sander overheats, the others — that the dust can get into the motor (that’s another reason that can lead to overheating).
Well, it’s a cheap and simple workhorse. If you don’t need a heavy and expensive Hitachi or Makita tool, you can buy this one and it will most likely not disappoint you. Perfect for scribing countertops, for leveling shelves and removing paint/laminate from them.
Here is a video review with unboxing and all this stuff.
It means something when you have a Craftsman tool. It’s the brand, and their power tools are known for their high quality.
But is it so with this 7A 3×21 sander? Let’s see.
Usability: 4.5. It’s a small and cool sander which is really comfortable to use. It’s lightweight, it’s not too loud, the speed can be changed and the dust catcher is really cool. This sander would be great if you need to work at home.
Perfect for the floors, doors, and for removing material from everything. But remember, its belt speed isn’t as fast as the previous sander’s speed, so you will likely spend more time with it than with other, faster sanders.
Price: 5. It’s cheap! The cheapest sander in this list. Dust box and belt is in the box so you won’t need to buy them.
Reliability and durability: 4. Some people complain that during a year or so, the sander can break (because it becomes impossible to tighten the belt).
I’m afraid that it will not last as long as the old Craftsman tools, but it’s not a serious problem taking into account its low price.
I’ve found a video review so if text isn’t enough, take a look.
It’s the monster for professional purposes. Are you ready?
Usability:5. You can use it with ¼-¾ belts so it’s a truly multi-functional tool. Sanding, leveling, polishing metals, plastics, composites… This tool can do everything. But the rules are that you will have to pay for this power and for lots of functions.
Price: 2. I understand that professional tools are expensive, so if you need a sander of this class, it’s not a problem for you. But come on, it’s 2.5 times more expensive than Hitachi/Makita and 5 times more expensive than the previous sander!
Reliability and durability: 5. Can’t say anything bad here. There are no negative reviews or feedbacks on the internet, and it’s quite easy to replace the parts of this sander.
Well, this one is really universal. Let’s talk about it.
Usability: 4. You can use it with both left or right hand, it’s not too loud and not too heavy (8.62 pounds), and of course, it would be perfect for all the basic activities like lining, leveling, cleaning, and sanding. 1.7 hp motor is 100% enough for all this stuff.
What I don’t like is that in the box you’ll find only a bare tool. That’s not how it must work
Price: 3. It’s more expensive than Hitachi/Makita/Craftsman, but according to the fact there is basically only a sander in the package, you’ll have to spend even more money! I don’t like it.
Reliability and durability: 4. There are no negative reviews of this tool on the internet, and it’s a good sign. Universal Tool is a well-known brand with high-quality tools (and sanders, of course), so I don’t expect any problems with this sander.
Usability: 4. It’s not too heavy (just 10 pounds), so you will not be tired if you’ll need to work with it during 2-3 hours. The motor is quite powerful (7 Amp), dust bag is quite good and I like that the power cord is very long here. It’s quite compact and ergonomic so you’ll like it.
Price: 5. It’s cheaper than everything else in this list, except Porter Cable 371. But it’s much closer to a professional tool than the sander by Porter Cable.
Reliability and durability: 4.5. I like that this sander uses 3×18 belts which are quite common, so it wouldn’t be a problem to replace this part if needed.
What are the differences between belt, rotary and random orbital sanders?
I haven’t answered this question properly at the beginning, so I’ll continue here. Well, belt sanders are the most powerful among these three and they are the best when you need to remove a lot of material from a surface.
Rotary sanders are much worse because they can leave scratches on the surfaces, and that’s 100% not what you are looking for. Random orbital tools would be fine for light preparations, not for serious work.
That’s why the best sander for furniture is a belt sander, with no doubts. Well, if you need to work with a furniture, take a look at detail sanders, too — they are very cheap (average detail sander costs about $30), but they will easily get into a corner.
What belt is the best one? Is “The Bigger The Better” true?
No, it depends on the class of a sander you use. Small sanders need 3×18 belts, bigger ones work with 3×21 and even 3×24 inches belts.
You’ll need to choose a material, not the size — thus, aluminum oxide belts are the classic, but zirconia belts are better (last longer and work better) and, of course, they are more expensive.
Which one from these 8 sanders should I choose?
Oh, it depends on the amount of money you are ready to spend and on your purposes. If you are looking for something big, almost-professional and not too expensive — Hitachi and Makita are for you.
Want a big monster which can do everything? Then you need Dynabrade 40320. Maybe, you need something small and ergonomic? In this case, Porter Cable 371 (or Hitachi/Craftsman) are for you.
I’ve tried to find as much video reviews as possible to make the choice easier for you. Hope I’ve succeeded.
How to work safely? What are the safety rules?
- Wear respirator and safety glasses. And hearing protection, of course (if it’s not Makita 9403).
- Clean the dust bag regularly, especially if you sand metal.
- Go slower!
- Check if the sander is turned off and unplugged before changing a belt. I know it may sound too obvious, but I know what I’m talking about.
What shouldn’t you do while working with a belt sander?
- Don’t use a sander if there is no dust collector (of it it doesn’t work well).
- Don’t press your sander too much. Its own weight is usually enough.
- Don’t get too close, keep the distance. And don’t touch the sanding belt if it’s moving!
- Don’t forget to replace the belt if it’s frayed!
- Don’t let the sander slide.
- Don’t use one hand to work with your sander (unless it’s a very lightweight model).