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Guide to Best Bench Sanders: The Best Options Available!

As with any product, you have to pick the one that’s best for you based on your unique needs and budget requirements. However, there are plenty of great bench sanders on the market that are made from high-quality parts and offer durability and reliable operation.

Before you figure out exactly what you need, you should know more about the types of bench sanders. They all differ just a bit and you may find that you need one feature more than you need another. The types of bench sanders include:

  • Smoothing sanders
  • Belt sanders
  • Edge sanders
  • Heavy-duty sanders
  • Sander vacuums

Pay attention to size, capability, durability, and price. Getting the best bench sander for your needs means maximizing the efficiency of your device, whether you’ll be using it at home or at the shop.

What is a Bench Sander?

Avid woodworkers sand on a regular basis. If you’ve been tediously sanding by hand, you may find that not only is the process messy, but it’s inefficient and sometimes tiring or painful. It’s a lot easier and faster to use an electric bench sander.

what is bench sander

A bench sander is not portable, but it’s a high-powered solution that sits stationary on your workbench. You may also be able to set it up on sawhorses, but it needs to be plugged in and stable.

This gives you a greater capacity for sanding and you have the ability to use both hands on your workpiece rather than operating a sander. The most popular models have either belt and disk sanders, drum sanders, or oscillating spindle sanders.

Any sander type along with an appropriate abrasive will give you the flexibility to sand any edge or surface. Each one comes in plenty of different sizes with a wide range of price tags. Most also have a dust port so you can attach your shop vac to capture the dust, making it much less messy than a portable sander.

Types of Bench Sanders

There are three types of bench sanders, and each serves a unique purpose, so only you can decide which is the best for you, but here’s a quick overview of how they work.

Belt and Disk

Belt and disk sanders have a round disk that rotates for sanding and a flat belt on top. It’s a great two-in-one option for those that want value and options. It’s compact and useful.

It can sand square and curved ends because of its unique configuration and it usually has a tilting work table for working on a square and angled pieces. You can sand precise chamfers, bevels, and other angles.

The belt allows for sanding wide or longboards. The belt on these machines is usually adjustable so you can set it vertically, horizontally, or at an angle. It’s usually easiest to use the belt vertically, but the great thing is you have options.

Drum

A drum sander accepts long, wide boards and other flat pieces for smoothing. They started out more useful as shop tools, but now there are versions acceptable for home use. They’re handy for smoothing doors and panels as well. It’s similar to the belt part of a belt and disk sander, but the belt is stationary rather than adjustable.

The hand crank allows you to open and close the machine to allow for the thickness of the piece you want to sand. The auto-feed system moves your piece through the sander at a consistent speed, and the board comes out on the other side.

You can make several light passes through the machine to achieve the level of smoothing you want, and it’s nearly hands-free, keeping your fingers safe from any moving parts.

Oscillating Spindle

This type of sander has a drum that moves up and down and spins in circles at the same time. It’s incredibly efficient and fun to use. It’s a unique sander that you may think you can live without until you try it.

The dual oscillating motion can sand curves more precisely than other sanders and you’ll end up with nearly perfect contours, shapes, and other sanded surfaces. The drum is interchangeable so you can choose from a variety of diameters and abrasive sleeves.

Some brands make oscillating spindles that convert to oscillating belts, making it a two-in-one tool that may prove more effective for you.

Best Bench Sander – Our Top Pick

There are a lot of bench sanders out there, but I chose my top pick based on versatility, value, and what will work best for most people. It’s a belt and disc sander that’s reasonably priced and a great tool for almost anyone.

WEN 6502 Bench Belt & Disc Sander

WEN 6502 Bench Belt Disc Sander

This one tops my list because it’s one of the most versatile tools and gives you the best value for your money. If you’re going to buy one bench sanding tool, it should be this one.

You can use it to perform a variety of tasks and it is the best all-around bench sander for most people. It uses a common belt type, so maintenance is easy and replacement parts aren’t hard to come by.

It comes with a belt sanding tool and a disc sanding tool so you can clean up edges and create angles easily. The belt rotates 90 degrees so you can it to sand vertically or horizontally with flexibility.

But those aren’t even its best features. The best thing about WEN 6502 is the price. This is by far the best value I’ve found on a bench sanding tool because it’s a reliable, well-known brand at a fraction of the cost of other similar tools.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Two-in-one belt and disc
  • Adjustable belt
  • Wide belt

Cons:

  • Can’t use on metal applications

Other Great Bench Sanders

I would tend to recommend a belt and disc sander because I think it’s the most versatile solution and the one that works best for most people. It’s a great place to start if you don’t have a bench sanding tool already.

However, you shouldn’t dismiss drum sanders or oscillating spindle sanders if you need the functionality those come with or if you already have a belt and disc sander. Here are my top picks when it comes to drum and oscillating spindle sanders, and maybe one more belt and disc sander for good measure.

Grizzly G0529 Oscillating Spindle/Disc Sander

Grizzly G0529 Sander

This is another versatile sander combo. You get a 12-inch drum sander on the side in addition to the spindle sander. You can work on rounded edges, angles, and flat surfaces with a single machine.

Both the drum sander surface and the spindle sander surface are adjustable, allowing you to create angles and bevels, and the drum sander comes with a miter gauge to keep everything in place while sanding.

You can adjust the dimensions and the size of the spindle as needed with four different setup options and while it doesn’t spin as fast as some models, this helps preserve your parts and prevent damage so that the tool will last.

Each sander has a dedicated dust port. That’s two ways to connect a vacuum in order to keep sawdust at a minimum, keeping your workspace cleaner and making it a lot easier to clean up after you’re done.

Pros:

  • Drum and spindle in one
  • Four spindle sizes
  • Adjustable surfaces
  • Durable cast iron
  • Sturdy base
  • Lubricated ball bearings
  • Miter gauge on the drum
  • Two dust ports

Cons:

  • Height is not adjustable

WEN 6523 Oscillating Belt Spindle Sander

WEN 6523 Oscillating Belt Spindle Sander

This combo sander is another versatile two-in-one. It has a belt and a spindle. Switching between the two is efficient and you can keep your spare parts in the storage compartment on the machine so they’re right there when you need them.

It allows you to work on a wider variety of projects without the need for two machines. The surface is adjustable so you can tilt it for bevels and then raise it back up to flat quickly and easily.

It really will make your life easier, but it’s missing the dust port, so easy cleanup is not included. You’ll have to deal with cleaning up the mess manually after you’re done.

Pros:

  • Belt and spindle
  • Durable metal
  • Five spindle sizes
  • Beveling work table
  • Onboard storage
  • Lightweight

Cons:

  • Noisy

JET J-4002 Bench Belt and Disc Sander

JET J-4002 Bench Sander

If you’re crafting wood, this is an excellent choice, although you can also use it with metal. Not that beauty is the most important factor, but this unit is surprisingly attractive, too. It has an adjustable dust port so you can maneuver it around so that it will provide cleaning without being in the way.

The drum is efficient and easy to use with a miter gauge to help you achieve the perfect angles with accurate measurements. It’s a heavier bench sander, so it’s durable enough to withstand the vibrations created by its powerful motor.

Pros:

  • Durable
  • Adjustable dust port
  • Miter gauge
  • Powerful
  • User-friendly

Cons:

  • Heavy and hard to move

POWERTEC BD1030 1-Inch by 30-Inch Belt Sander

POWERTEC BD1030 Belt Sander

This bench sander is on the smaller side, but it’s perfect for a small workshop or home garage. It’s great for the hobbyist who works on weekend projects. It has a sturdy rubber foot to absorb vibration and provide stable operation.

It collects debris in a central location for the adjustable dust port to pick up. It’s a highly affordable solution for someone who doesn’t need a heavy-duty bench sander for big projects.

Pros:

  • Durable
  • User-friendly
  • Affordable
  • Rubber foot to minimize vibration
  • Adjustable debris port
  • Adjustable belt

Cons:

  • Not great for big projects

Shop Fox W1831 ½ HP Oscillating Sander

Shop Fox W1831 Sander

This sander comes with a pretty powerful motor at an affordable price. It provides convenience but isn’t going to be built with the same quality as some of the others. It’s not meant for professional use but is a fantastic option for home. It’s another perfect solution for the hobbyist.

It has excellent features like a ½ horsepower motor and solid cast iron construction for efficiency and stability and It comes with a dust port for easy cleanup so you can connect your shop vac and make life easier.

It has six drum and paper sizes with three spindle washers that fit into an onboard storage container to keep everything all in one place. For casual woodworkers, this is a great unit that offers functionality and convenience.

Pros:

  • Durable
  • Powerful
  • Six sanding drums and paper sleeves
  • Three spindle washers
  • Lightweight
  • Dust port

Cons:

  • Noisy

Not as high-quality as some others

Bench Sander Buying Guide

If you’re in the market for a great bench sander, perhaps before you choose one, you should know what you’re looking for. Learning a bit more about them will help you make an informed decision and a smart purchase. Here’s what to look for.

Ease of Use

There’s really not a point in buying anything unless it’s easy to use. This makes a big difference in how much time you might spend assembling, configuring, and adjusting versus actually getting work done.

The faster you get set up, the faster you’ll get things done. Units that are easy to assemble or come already assembled are most efficient.

Power

A bench sander doesn’t need to have a motor as powerful as a car. It’s a much smaller machine, so typically ? horsepower or ½ horsepower is plenty. A bigger motor is only beneficial if you’re sanding more aggressive materials or larger objects.

Dimensions

Bigger tools can sand more quickly. A belt with longer, wider dimensions or a disc with a bigger diameter will be able to tackle larger projects much easier. Larger dimensions require bigger motors unless you want to suffer a loss of power.

Orientation

Belt sanders come in different orientations. Some stand vertically and some are horizontal. Even with horizontal belts, there are some differences. Some stand on their ends and run horizontally, but face the user, while others run horizontally and are flat, so you place your materials on top of the belt to sand them.

Since you can’t determine which is the best from an objective point of view, it’s really up to each individual user to figure it out.

Dust Management

If you really want to get a leg up on the dust that your sander creates, it’s best to choose a model that has built-in ducts to allow for easy cleanup. Just connect a vacuum and it’ll clean as you work.

Other models have deflectors that keep dust from falling on the floor so you can clean out one reservoir of dust when you’re done.

Weight

Benchtop tools should be light, but lighter doesn’t always mean better. Stronger, more powerful tools need to be heavier and sturdier in order to handle the extreme vibrations that a sander creates.

Weight shouldn’t be your primary consideration. Even if you intend to move it around occasionally, it’s better to get a more durable unit than one that’s too lightweight for your purposes.

Bevel Capacity

Many people overlook this item, but it’s important if you want to protect your digits from the powerful sander. You would want a beveling table for both a belt and a disc sander. It helps to sand and shape odd shapes and awkward angles.

Some tables bevel at 45 degrees while others can bevel up to 90 degrees. Others don’t bevel at all.

Changing Belts and Discs

Just like every other tool, you may need to remove and replace parts from time to time. Belts and discs get clogged with dust and sometimes require changing. A toolless belt changing system makes it easy.

Changing your sanding sheets is also easy if they can simply be pulled off and replaced while other models may require you to flip a switch or loosen latches.

While neither of these has to do with performance, they make the whole tool more convenient and easy to use.

Frequently Asked Questions – Best Bench Sander

Can I place a bench sander on any surface?

In short, yes. You can place your bench sander on any surface as long as that surface is stable, it can withstand the impact of extreme vibration, and the bench sander is secured to it.

That includes a workbench, a table, a sawhorse, or the floor. As long as you take the necessary safety precautions while using your bench sander, you can place it anywhere you need it.

Can I use a bench sander indoors?

Yes, but with some limitations. You absolutely must have a dust collection system in place when using a sander indoors. The dust that a bench sander creates poses a significant threat to people in enclosed areas, so it’s highly important that even if you’re using your sander in a workshop or garage with the doors closed, you are wearing the proper safety equipment and taking care of the mess.

Can I use a bench sander to remove paint?

You can use a bench sander to remove paint, stain, varnish, or any type of coating from your projects. A bench sander will work to loosen paint and scrape it away, but it may also sand away some of your material with it.
 
When trying to remove paint, it’s best to start with a less abrasive sanding material first and work your way up based on how aggressively you need to sand the paint away.

What kinds of materials can I run through my bench sander?

There are many different types of sandpaper with many different grits. You can achieve safe sanding of almost any material with the right kind of sandpaper. You don’t have to stick to wood, but make sure that if you’re attempting to sand metal or plastic, you take all of the necessary precautions to protect yourself from the very dangerous dust particles that will result.

The Verdict

Now that you have a better idea of what a bench sander is and how to use it, you can make a better decision about which one will work for you. The most important considerations are price and functionality, to take a good hard look at the things you anticipate needing to do with your sander and go from there.

Every bench sander on this list is an excellent product and comes highly recommended. However, there are a lot of products out there, so don’t take someone else’s word for it! Go shopping yourself and you’ll find the perfect solution.

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