Woodworking Tools - Portable Belt Sanders - which one to choose?

How Much Belt Sander Do You Need From All Portable Belt Sanders Out There?
When you begin researching belt sanders for your woodworking workshop or for other use, you'll notice that they're categorized by the size of abrasive belt they use. Mini-portable belt sanders with 2" or 2,5" - wide belts can be excel lent tools for small projects - for vertical sanding or for such tasks as working inside cabinets. Because they're small and light, you can control them easily and work with them for long periods without tiring. Mini-portable belt sanders can be short on power and speed, though - factors that minimize their usefulness on large projects. And their nonstandard belt sizes also limit the availability and variety of abrasive belts that fit them.Do it yourself - Woodworking Tools - Portable Belt Sanders - which one to choose?

Most of the portable belt sanders machines you'll find use 3"X21" or 3"X24" belts. Of the two, the 3"X24" machine is particularly efficient. Its longer belt creates a larger sanding surface, which speeds up the work and im proves the stability of the tool, a welcome characteristic when you're operating the sander near the edge of a workpiece.

For big jobs such as gluing up stock for doors, tabletops, or other large surfaces, a 4"X24" portable belt sanders provides 33% more sanding area than most 3" machines. The substantial weight and power of this size machine allow you to smooth surfaces quickly and evenly. These same features, plus the higher cost of 4"X24" machines, make them less suitable for smaller work or small workshops.

Pay attention to the number of amps a belt sander draws, too. It's this rating that tips you off to how powerful the portable belt sanders are. For light-duty applications, portable belt sanders machines with lower amp ratings will serve you well, but you won't go wrong buying as much amperage as you can afford within the category you've decided on. We've included in the chart the amp ratings of most of the sanders you're likely to come across.

Why Weight and Balance Make a Difference
The ideal belt sander should be heavy enough to cut smoothly on its own, well balanced so you can control it without exerting substantial down-pressure on the tool, and be able to rest evenly on its pad and not show a tendency to tip to one side or the other.

If you have to bear down on the sander to get it to cut properly, or fight the machine to keep it under control, you'll probably leave dips or wave marks in your work. And, likewise, if portable belt sanders are back- or front- heavy, you'll have to compensate continually, which will make controlling the tool a problem, particularly along edges and near corners - you'll also find that using a sander that isn't well balanced will cause hand and wrist fatigue.