When it comes to removing excessive roughness in the wood prior to any assembly, nothing does the job more effectively than a handheld belt sander. When used correctly, a belt sander provides any woodworker with an easy-to-finish final product. But choosing the correct belt sander is no easy task.
What to Look for When Buying A Handheld Mini Belt Sander?
When it comes to choosing a mini belt sander, there are a lot of options available on the market today. Just 20 years ago, most carpenters were limited to large sanders with 3 or 4-inch-wide belts on them. But today, belt sanders not only come in both corded and cordless versions, but they feature a wide variety of different belt sizes to choose from.
Today, mini belt sanders come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Each manufacturer has its own idea of what the perfect belt sander should look like and how it should function. You will find sanders in a wide variety of different formats, including the traditional corded, cordless models, as well as pneumatic versions.
Corded mini belt sanders are the original power tool. These units receive a continuous supply of power from the mains, so there is never a need to stop halfway through the project in order to replace the battery or wait for a compressor tank to fill up. Because they are powered by the mains, corded belt sanders feature some of the highest power ratings of any model available today. Not only do they provide more torque, but they are able to spin up to faster RPMs than cordless alternatives. Naturally, the only downfall with using corded belt sanders, is you need to have access to a power outlet.
Cordless belt sanders are growing in popularity today thanks to the many advancements and battery technology. The earlier version of cordless sanders, had relatively short battery lives, due to the higher torque and RPM demands of the sander’s motor. Chances are, if you already have several cordless tools in your collection, then you might be able to find a belt sander that uses the same exact batteries. One of the biggest benefits of cordless belt sanders is that their batteries are interchangeable with other power tools from the same manufacturer. This is a convenient feature for just about any woodworker.
While there are a number of pneumatic mini belt sanders available today, the choices are rather slim. Pneumatic belt sanders are most commonly used in industrial processes and are designed to be more resilient. As a result, pneumatic sanders are generally heavier than both corded and cordless models. Because of the way that they are utilized, pneumatic sanders are also more durable than the other options.
The amount of power that a handheld mini belt sander consumes generally depends on the design of the model itself. While cordless models are designed to be more efficient, they lack the torque and speed that are needed for larger projects. Corded models, on the other hand, consume more power than the cordless versions, but provide the torque and RPMs needed for extreme woodworking tasks. At the low end of the spectrum, you can find cordless models with motors that consume about 6 amps, while corded models can consume 12 amps or more.
While some manufacturers of mini belt sanders provide speed ratings and rounds per minute, the more common form of measurement for a belt sander is feet per minute. Lower-end models will only feature a single-speed, which is generally set to around 1500 feet per minute. Mid-range models will feature multiple speed settings, with a low speed of around 500 feet per minute, and a high speed of about 1500. The higher-end models will feature variable speed control, which allows you to adjust the speed from a few hundred feet per minute to a maximum of around 1500 to 1800 feet per minute.
One of the most important features for any belt sander to have is auto-tracking. Although there are some models that are available today, which do not have an auto-tracking feature, they still provide some means of adjusting the belt and preventing it from sliding off the drums. Auto-tracking is much better than manual, as the sander takes care of the alignment for you. Simply put, when you choose a belt sander that features auto-tracking, you can simply replace the belt, and it will automatically center itself.
There are a number of different size options available when it comes to choosing a belt sander. For larger woodworking projects, a 4-inch belt sander may be the best option. However, when it comes to finishing a project, nothing performs better than a 3/8-inch file sander.
The 4-inch belt sander was one of the first models available on the market. They were designed initially to use the same belts as a tabletop sander. Over time, however, most woodworkers opted to use the 3-inch belt sander, due to its versatility.
Chances are, that if you found a belt sander at any hardware store, it is most likely going to use a 3-inch belt. These units are perfect for a wide variety of tasks, including heavy sanding, as well as some finish work.
As you move away from the traditional belt sanders and start looking at belt filers, the largest models available today, feature a 1 1/8-inch belt. Not only can these units handle a limited amount of heavy work, but they are great for finishing work.
The most common mini-belt sander features a 3/4-inch belt. For any woodworker, having both a 3-inch, as well as a 3/4-inch belt in their toolbox, is the perfect combination. When this mini-sander is mixed with a full-sized unit, it provides any woodworker with the ability to complete just about any task.
One of the smallest belt filers features a 1/2-inch belt. This particular mini-belt sander is a very popular size, which means there are a number of different makes and models to choose from.
The 3/8-inch mini-belt sander features the smallest belt available today. This particular model is not as common as many of the others, but can still play a vital role in any woodworking shop. Known as a belt filer, this handheld sander, is able to get into tighter spots than any other sander available today.
Handheld mini belt sanders create a lot of dust, and this can cause some serious problems for any woodworker. The fine particles of sawdust can be thrown up into the air, where a woodworker can breathe them then. This creates potential health hazards. In order to reduce the danger posed by the sander, typical belt sanders have exhaust hoods over the drive pulley.
The exhaust hood is located at the back of a handheld mini belt sander and covers the area just behind the main drive pulley. It is designed for one purpose, and that is to collect as much dust from the belt as possible. Not only does this dust collection reduce the amount of sawdust in the air, but also helps to keep the belt cleaner which allows the belt to last longer. In some higher-end units, there may also be an auxiliary exhaust hood that collects additional loose particles of sawdust.
Although not generally found in handheld belt sanders, jet strippers may be coming soon. The jet stripper is used in most industrial applications, and features an air jet that blows sawdust off of the belt and into the exhaust hood. This jet action keeps the belt clean and reduces how often the belt needs to be changed.
Shape of Sander
When it comes to choosing a handheld sander, you really only have two options. The traditional box-type belt sander has been around for decades and is considered to be the most versatile model still used today. In order to meet a specific demand, file sanders are quickly becoming popular, due to their narrower belt size.
The first and original belt sander came with either a four-inch or a three-inch belt. These units have been around for decades, and come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. You can find these sanders in both corded and cordless models, and they are perfect for large, heavy-duty operations. These units also feature some form of dust collector, that makes them safer to use in enclosed spaces.
File sanders feature a sanding belt that comes in a wide variety of different widths. They look more like a file than a traditional belt sander. These units feature a long arm with a drum at the end, which allows them to be used in both a traditional manner, as well as for reaching inside corners and tight spaces.
With so many great options to choose from, it’s important to take your time and select the perfect belt sander for your particular needs. Many woodworkers opt to have both a traditional belt sander that accepts a 3 or 4-inch belt, as well as a file sander that accepts narrower belts. Having a combination of both styles ensures that you are prepared for just about any type of scenario.
Makita 9031 1-1/8″ x 21″ Belt Sander
The Makita 9031 is a 3/4 horsepower electric belt sander that consumes 550 W of power. This particular belt sander features a variable speed adjuster, which allows an operator to adjust the speed from 656 to 3,280 ft./min. This particular belt sander is a bit on the heavy side and weighs in at 4.6 pounds. Like most electric belt sanders, the Makita features a lock-on button so you can use it without having to constantly pull on the trigger. This unit is capable of handling belts that are 1 1/8-inch wide and comes complete with two 40 grit, two 60 grit, two 80 grit, two 100 grit, and two 120 grit belts.
For ease of use, this unit features auto-tracking, which makes replacing belts a simple process. In order to get into tighter spaces, the 9031 features an arm that can pivot up to 100 degrees which helps to reduce the amount of strain that is placed on your wrist. When it comes to electric power tools, Makita is a name you can trust.
Astro Pneumatic Tool Company Pneumatic Tool 3037 1/2-Inch x 18-Inch Air Belt Sander with Belts
The Astro 3037 is a 1/2 horsepower pneumatic belt sander that needs a steady supply of air and consumes about 4 CFM. The pneumatic sander can be operated at variable speeds of up to 16,000 RPM. For smooth operation, the sander comes with a standard 1/4-inch fitting and requires at least 90 psi of continuous pressure. Thanks to its pneumatic design, this belt sander is very light and comes in at just under 2 pounds.
The Astro pneumatic belt sander accepts belts that are 1/2-inch wide and comes complete with one 40 grit, one 60 grit, and one 80 grit belt. With the help of auto-tracking, you can quickly replace the belts and get back to work sooner. The handle on the Astro 3037 can pivot up to 90 degrees, allowing you to get into tighter spaces without overstraining your wrists. You can rely on the Astro pneumatic file sander to help you complete just about any task.
Chicago Pneumatic Tool 3/4-Inch Heavy Duty Belt Sander
The Chicago Tools pneumatic belt sander features 0.51 horsepower and will consume as much as 30 CFM. This particular pneumatic belt sander is fixed speed and will run at a constant 20,000 RPM when the trigger is pulled. In order to ensure the best operation possible, you will need to be able to supply a steady 90 psi to this unit. Because this particular pneumatic unit is a heavy-duty model, it weighs in at 3.3 pounds.
While most electric belt sanders come with at least one belt, this particular 3/4-inch model does not come with any belts at all. Like most belt sanders available on the market today, the Chicago Tools pneumatic sander features auto-tracking which will automatically align the belt for you when it is replaced. The swivel arm on this sander allows you to use it in many different situations, as it can pivot up to 120 degrees. The pivoting handle is a very important feature for those who use this sander for extended periods of time.
3M – 33575-case File Belt Sander, 33575, 457 mm (18 in), 1 per box
The 3M 33575 is a 0.65 horsepower electric sander that consumes as much as 495 W of power. The sander allows the operator to adjust the speed of the belt, from 0 to 17,000 RPM. As one of the lighter electric sanders available today, the 33575 weighs only 1.97 pounds. For ease of use, this particular belt sander features a lock-on trigger, which allows it to be operated without having to constantly pull the trigger.
Unlike most electric belt sanders, this 1/2-inch unit does not come with any belts, so you will need to purchase them separately. Likewise, this unit also does not feature auto-tracking as you will need to manually adjust it every time you replace the belt. In order to reduce the amount of wrist strain from the use of this belt sander, the 33575 housing can pivot 360 degrees. With one of the highest power ratings in its class, the 3M 33575 file sander has more than enough power to get the job done right.