Belt Sander vs Orbital Sander: Which one is Better

Sanding is a tough job that requires stamina, and many people don’t like the job. However, you can make the process easier if you choose the right tool. Power sanders are designed to make sanding faster and effortless, and they do an impressive job. If you invest in the wrong tool, then you might not get the best from your projects.

You can use a belt sander or an orbital sander to do your job. These two tools use sandpaper to help you smoothen and shape your wood. However, the two tools are different in their operation, and they are designed for specific projects. You need to understand the difference between the two sanders to determine which model suits your sanding projects well.

I will give you a detailed comparison between a belt sander and an orbital sander so that you can understand their features, pros, and cons. You will also find top recommended models for each of the sanders and a buying guide to enable you to pick wisely.

Differences Between a Belt Sander and an Orbital Sander

An orbital sander and a belt sander vary in some aspects. Here are their main differences.

  • Belt sanders require sandpaper in a continuous loop, while an orbital sander requires sanding disks that rotate in small circles.
  • A belt sander is great if you need more power on larger materials. On the other hand, an orbital sander is ideal when handling small furniture pieces and works well in tight spaces.
  • Belt sanders perform well on flat surfaces, while orbital sanders handle tough angles.

Top 2 Best Belt Sander Reviews

If you need to buy a quality orbital sander that will deliver exemplary sanding results, we recommend these two models from top brands.

1. Makita 9403 4″ X 24″ Belt Sander

Makita Belt Sander Reviews

Makita 9403 4″ X 24″ Belt Sander Achieve effortless material removal with the Makita belt sander. This is a low noise sander that provides easy operation. It produces 84dB of noise which makes it quiet than other models that produce much noise. This tool is great for furniture makers, woodworkers, floor installers, carpenters, and general contractors in too great sanding outcomes.

The sander has a powerful motor of 11-amps that provides a speed of 1,640 ft./ min to give you faster material removal. Users also love the durability of this tool which is designed to give you many hours of use. It features a Labyrinth construction to seal the bearings and the motor to ensure they don’t get contaminated.

It is comfortable to use since it has a large front grip handle. You will also love the 360-degrees swiveling dust bag that offers convenient use. Additionally, the sander has a large footprint grip that contributes to comfort. It also has a nice innovative design which makes it easy to sand flush to the wall with minimal noise.

Pros

  • A quality sander that provides faster material removal.
  • The sander provides a comfortable operation.
  • It features durable construction and produces little noise.
  • You will enjoy easy operation with the variable speed dial.
  • It has a large foot grip to maximize your comfort.

Cons

  • The sander burns through the belt.
  • It is powerful but not smooth.
  • The balance of the tool would have been better.

2. TACKLIFE Belt Sander

TACKLIFE Belt Sander

This is another money-saving machine that gives you the performance of two tools in one since you can use it as a bench and belt sander. You will get two metal screw clamps to help you change it to the tool you want, giving you great flexibility and convenience.

Additionally, you will get 13-piece sanding belts, 6x 120 grits, and 7×80 grits. This saves you more money because you don’t have to spend extra buying these items. You can perform various projects, and with the metal clamping lever, it is easy to change the sanding belt.

The tool has a 5-amp motor and a variable speed design to help you meet your projects’ requirements. The power is sufficient to enable you to achieve high-quality finishes. You can choose the variable speed with the knob that has 6 dials from 0-560 rpm. This sander also features a top-notch dust collection box that you can detach and attach easily. You will also find two vacuum adapters and a hose to help you connect to your vacuum to get a better dust collection.

Pros

  • A great sander that works as expected.
  • The sander is heavy-duty and good for the price.
  • It has a highly functional dust collection system.
  • Changing the sanding belt is easy.
  • The sander provides great flexibility and convenience.

Cons

  • It can get hot if you break the sanding belt.
  • It works well, but it is noisy.
  • The belt adjuster slips easily.

What Exactly Is an Orbital Sander?

This is a sander that uses sanding disks that spin in smaller circles. The tools have a square design which makes them ideal for edges and corners. Orbital sanders are great if you are dealing with large furniture pieces, and they give faster sanding.

Compared to a belt sander, an orbital sander is weaker, but it doesn’t damage your wood-like when using a belt sander. An orbital sander also leaves swirl marks, but they do an impressive job when sanding furniture and wood you intend to paint later.

Speed

The speed of an orbital sander is measured in opm (orbits per minute). This indicates the speed at which your orbital sander is operating. Orbital sanders have a speed of around 10,000 opm. However, you can get more speed if you are sanding a larger surface. The only problem you will get is a lack of control when the tool is running faster. In this case, you are likely to make many mistakes when operating at high speed. You can get some orbital sanders that give you variable speed to choose from depending on your project. Such a sander is great, especially if you want to handle different tasks.

Power

You should also consider the power of an orbital sander. A powerful tool will run faster than a tool with less power. An orbital sander’s power is measured in amps. Orbital sanders are not designed with much power, especially if you want to remove more materials. If your project involves removing more materials, you can consider using a higher power tool.

Handles

The type of handle you choose for your orbital sander determines how comfortable you will be when working. There are different types of handles that you can choose depending on your liking. Here are the various handle types you can find in orbital sanders.

Pistol-grip handle– This type of handle provides control and helps you operate the tool with both hands. One hand directs the orbital sander while the other one exerts pressure. These handle types are common in orbital sanders for professional use.

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Jug-grip handles- This handle is best if you are planning to sand wood or under the furniture.

Pal-grip handles- The handle is the most popular you will find in many orbital sanders. It has a comfortable grip which makes your work easier.

Sandpaper

You should also know that orbital sanders have varying sanding surfaces. The larger the sanding surface, the larger area you can handle. Most orbital sanders have a quarter sheet sander that has the same size as a ¼ sandpaper sheet. Putting sandpaper on an orbital sander is easy since you only need to peel and then stick it or Velcro. If your budget is tight, any sandpaper will work well on your orbital sander.

Corded/Cordless Models

Orbital sanders are also available as corded or cordless models. Each of these models has its benefits and drawbacks. Using a cordless orbital sander allows you to get too tight spaces easily, so you will not have to think about the cord’s length. The only problem with a cordless orbital sander is less power compared to the corded models. Also, you will require to charge the tool’s battery after every use.

Dust Collection

Sanding is a job that produces a lot of dust. It doesn’t matter the type of sander you use; dust will always be inevitable. Inhaling this fine dust can harm your respiratory system. That is why we recommend getting an orbital sander that features a dust collection system to collect most if not all the dust produced.

Some sanders use a dust bag that collects the dust as you continue sanding. You can also choose a vacuum-powered that also collects the dust as you continue with work. The best orbital sanders have filters and sealed-in switches that prevent the dust from getting the tool. This can, in turn, compromise the life of the tool.

Uses of an Orbital Sander

Orbital sanders are great sanding machines, but they leave swirl marks on the surface. Therefore, this makes them unsuitable for sanding furniture that you would like it to stay untreated. The machines provide quick operation, and they reach the corners and other tight spaces perfectly. Additionally, orbital sanders are great for rounded edges.

If you want to sand a piece of furniture that you plan to paint soon, then the tool will work well. You can also use them when you want to sand baseboards, stairs, and other items that have corners.

What Exactly Is a Random Orbital Sander?

This is a sanding tool that vibrates that features ball bearings where you fix the sanding paper. The ball bearing makes the pad rotate randomly when you are sanding. This tool is different from the normal orbital sander because it utilizes a circular sanding pad instead of a square pad. Also, the way the tool moves is different.

A random orbital sander can spin and rotate simultaneously to ensure it doesn’t leave swirl marks on the surface. A random orbital sander is used to strip paint from furniture, clean up finish coats and prepare new molding. On top of that, you can use the tool to clean and smooth composite materials, metal, and countertops.

What Exactly Is an Orbital Finishing Sander?

An orbital finishing sander is a lighter and smaller tool that works well to get to hard places like edges and corners. The tool works well, but it is not as powerful as other orbital sanders.

Orbital Sander Pros

  • They work well when sanding and reduce swirl marks on the sanding surface.
  • The tool works fast; hence great if you are handling a large surface.
  • It is great if you intend to sand a piece of furniture you want to paint afterward.
  • They work well when you want to reach corners and tough angles easily.

Orbital Sander Cons

  • They might not have more power than other sanders.
  • Sometimes they can leave swirl marks if you are using the traditional models.

Top 2 Best Orbital Sander Reviews

Here are great orbital sanders that you can consider buying. Check their full reviews.

1.DEWALT Random Orbit Sander

DeWalt random orbit sander

When it comes to orbital sanders, Dewalt has plenty of options that you can choose from. This random orbital sander is among the best in their series of orbital sanders. The tool has a 3-amp motor that provides a variable speed from 8,000-12,000 opm. It has a separate counterweight to reduce vibration when you are working.

Additionally, the tool features a rubber over-mold grip that contributes to comfortable sanding. You will also like the tool’s shorter design to help you get as close as possible to the working surface. This tool is also equipped with a one-handed locking dust bag that helps collect most of the dust. Changing the pads on this sander is easy, and you can easily control the sanding process when working on the edges.

It can also work well with other vacuum systems that have 1-1/4-inch hose because you only need to use the DWV9000 universal quick connector. This orbital sander also comes with a carrying bag to make transportation and storage effortless.

Pros

  • It has a comfortable grip.
  • The dust port works well with other vacuums.
  • Shorter height makes it easy to reach your work surface.
  • It has a powerful motor with more speed.
  • You will get a carrying bag and a dust bag.

Cons

  • Great but doesn’t connect well with a shop vac.
  • It has some vibrations on your hands.
  • The on/off switch is hard to use.

2. Random Orbit Sander

Random Orbit Sander

This is another powerful orbital sander that has a compact design. The tool features six variable speeds that you can choose from for efficient and powerful operation. You will also find working the sander easy since it has a compact body, unlike other sanders. You will receive the sander with different accessories to suit your projects.

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It comes with 15-piece sander papers (5×80 grit, 5×120 grit 5×180 grit), wool disc, and sanding disc to meet your needs. Therefore, you can perform a wide range of projects like varnish, paint removal, sanding, polish, blemish, and stains, among others. It is also easy to replace the sandpaper with a self-adhesive disc design.

This tool will give you easy material removal in less time. It also has a dust box that you can easily disassemble. Moreover, the micro-filter dust removal filter offers maximum absorption of the finest dust. Additionally, it features a dust-proof switch design that minimizes environmental pollution and prolongs the tool’s life.

Pros

  • It has a transparent dust box to make it easy to see the inside.
  • The tool is comfortable to use and provides desired results.
  • It works while producing less noise and vibration.
  • Replacing the sandpaper is an easy task.
  • It has variable speed and comes with various accessories to meet your needs.

Cons

  • Great sander, but it is heavy.
  • It works well but is loud, although not that loud.
  • You can still find more dust coming from the sander.

What Exactly Is a Belt Sander?

A belt sander is another sanding machine that has different features from an orbital sander. It has an electric motor that operates two drums that are connected to the sandpaper loop. Belt sanders are bigger compared to orbital sanders, and they also have more power.

You can remove more materials faster on larger surfaces with a belt sander. Belt sanders are also great at the starting stages of sanding when you want to shape and finish the wood faster. Additionally, you can use a belt sander to achieve smooth finishes on the surfaces.

Stationary Belt Sander

This is a type of sander that you don’t move to different places. It is normally attached to a workbench, and you are required to bring the material to want to sand closer to the belt sander. You should hold your material against the tool’s sanding belt while it turns.

You can use this sander when sanding small wood pieces, and it also works well as a sharpener for your tools. Additionally, the tool can work with wood and metal.

Handheld Belt Sander

Unlike a stationary sander, a handheld belt sander is more portable giving you the freedom to move it from one point to another. These tools have a disc sander, and you need to use both hands to operate them. One hand is always on the trigger while the other one is holding the forward handle. The tools are powerful, so you need to use more power to hold the tool down. If you practice well, you will find sanding with this tool pretty easy.

Speed

Belt sanders operate at a speed that is measured in feet per minute (ft min). The more the speed, the faster the tool will spin. You can also find belt sanders with variable speed, which makes them ideal when sanding various materials.

Power

As I said, belt sanders are powerful, and their power measurements are amps. Most of them have motor power ranging between 8 to 11. A powerful tool will work well on wood, and you can achieve faster sanding. It would help if you took extra caution when using a belt sander because of its high power.

Sandpaper

A belt sander utilizes a loop of sandpaper compared to the orbital sander. Most of them are available in 3-inches sanding belts, and this makes them great for versatile applications. A smaller loop makes the tool lighter, which you can use when doing small sanding tasks. A larger loop provides a bigger work surface; hence you can complete sanding larger wood pieces faster.

You can find belt sanders with zirconia or aluminum oxide belts. The two materials are durable and tougher. On top of that, they carry a higher price than the normal sandpaper. You can perform different types of jobs by changing the grit. For instance, using a course grit offers easy material removal.

Dust Collection

Just like an orbital sander, a belt sander also produces dust. Some sanders feature an efficient dust collection bag that collects all the dust produced when sanding. Other belt sanders use a vacuum system that sucks the dust as you continue sanding. Uses of a Belt Sander

If you are sanding small furniture pieces, then a belt sander might not be the right tool for the job. Their larger size and high power make them ideal for sanding rough surfaces. They also provide smooth and even finishes when you sand using grain. Therefore, a belt sander comes in handy when you are dealing with home renovation projects.

Belt sanders work well on more oversized furniture like cabinets and tables, and you can also use them to fix doors. Additionally, the tools offer versatile to use because they work well in metal finishes when you have suitable sandpaper.

Belt Sander Pros

  • A great tool that works well with metals.
  • They offer quick sanding on larger wood and operate at high speed.
  • They are suitable for larger surfaces like doors and other bigger furniture.

Belt Sander Cons

  • You can risk sanding too much material.
  • The sanders are not the right pick for tight spaces and smaller projects.

How to Buy a New Sander

If you are considering buying a new sander, there are some essential tips that you should know to help you get the right one. These tips include:

Price

Before you buy any product, you have to think about the price. The same case applies when buying a sander. Sanders come in different price ranges, so you need to determine how much you want to spend on your machine. You can get cheap to expensive sanders to suit your budget. It is great to read reviews from other buyers before you buy to make the right purchase decision.

Versatility

How do you intend to use the sander? Can it perform a wide range of projects? Of course, you want to have the most versatile sander for home renovation and doing other projects as well. You might not know the kind of projects you will want to do with the sander. Therefore, make sure the tool you choose can do a variety of jobs to be useful in the future.

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Safety

Everyone wants to work with a safe machine to minimize injuries and accidents. You must check the safety measures included in your tool to get the safest sander. Check if it has a safety feature to prevent overheating. You should also consider the dust collection feature to ensure you don’t breathe the fine dust that can lead to health problems. Make sure the sander you choose has positive reviews regarding safety so you can enjoy a safe operation.

Warranty

A quality tool should come with a reasonable warranty to ensure your purchase is safe. Most power tools carry a 2-3-year warranty depending on the manufacturer. Check reviews and determine if the company offers good customer services and how easily they can serve you if you have some problems with the tool.

Sander Safety Tips

Any power tool requires some caution when using it for a safe operation. I have some safety tips you should know when operating a sander. Check them out below.

Avoid jewelry and loose clothing

Wearing loose clothing and jewelry can lead to accidents when you are using a sander. Avoid long hair, ties, baggy sleeves, and other items that might pose a potential danger. Such things can get easily sucked by the sander’s mechanism. Therefore, ensure you don’t wear anything that can get easily tangled by the sander.

Eye and ear protection

Most people do not take the required safety measuring when operating sanders. Sanding is a job that produces both noise and dust. You should protect your eyes from dust particles by wearing safety glasses. This ensures that dust particles and wood chips do not get into your eyes. Some sanders also produce noise during operation, and this can cause hearing damages if you don’t have the right ear protection. Wear ear protectors when working with a louder sander to keep you safe.

Mind about the dust

Some sanders produce too much dust such that you can end up breathing more dust. It is crucial to consider having a mask to prevent you from inhaling the dust. Living sawdust for a long time is harmful to your health, so you should always wear a mask.

Always disconnect power before you make any changes

When working with your sander, you will need to change the sandpaper or empty the dust bag. You cannot do these changes while the sander is still connected to power because this can pose a health hazard. Always disconnect the tool from the source of power and then make your changes.

Familiarize with the instruction

I believe every sander comes with operation instructions from the manufacturer. Please go through the instructions thoroughly to understand how the tools work. This will help you assemble and use the tool following the manufacturer’s requirements.

Perform proper tool maintenance

You have to maintain your sander the right way to enjoy the best performance. This will also determine how long your tool will last. Make sure you frequently empty the dust bag and change the sandpaper once it wears out. Doing all these will keep your machine working well.

If you are using a belt sander, always draw the drum after using an air hose and check the wheels. You should also check the plugs, cracks on the belt, and wear and tear.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How to sand hardwood floors with an orbital sander

You need to prep your floor by removing all items and fixtures. And before you start the work, ensure you wear the right protective gear like gloves, earbuds, goggles, and face masks. Check the floor thickness, and your hardwood floor should be .75-inch thick so that you can sand several times. Get sandpaper in different grits and then start sanding the room. Vacuum and then wipe the dust produced and refinished the floor with a sealer.

Q: How to use a belt sander

Using a belt sander is easy if you follow the proper steps. First, you should choose the right belt. Clamp your material and then start sanding. Make long but even strokes while applying a steady amount of pressure on the sander. However, avoid pressing it too much because this can damage the board. Finish up and then take out the bag from the also, empty it, and reattach it.

Q: How to use an orbital sander

The first thing you need to do is to get the proper safety equipment. You should wear your gloves, dust mask, and eye protection. Cover the delicate surfaces and choose the right sanding disc to do the job. Other tips you should know when working with an orbital sander is to secure the sanding disk, use ventilation, ensure the sander is moving, keep a constant pressure level and keep the sander in level.

Q: How to use a random orbital sander

To use a random orbital sander, apply some pressure on the orbit palm sander and take your time to figure out how the tool moves on the surface. Use the tool on a secure surface and ensure your tool has a dust collection system. Get to the edges and do not angle the tool. Lastly, know the sanding disk and choose the right one for the job.

Q: Can you use an orbital sander on furniture?

If you are sanding a large piece of furniture, you can use a palm sander or a belt sander. An orbital sander is also known as a finishing sander which you can use once you remove the larger bits of paint or stain. You can use an orbital sander if you want to achieve a smooth finish.

Final Verdict

So, which one should you choose? An orbital sander or a belt sander? This entirely depends on you and the type of projects you intend to handle. You can select an orbital sander if you are sanding some angles like the stairs. Such a tool offers easy to use, and it is portable. Additionally, you can use normal sandpaper, and it is best suited for DIY and preparing surfaces you want to varnish or paint.

If you need more power, then you should consider a belt sander. This is a versatile tool that is ideal for sanding larger surfaces. You can also choose a belt sander for thicker pieces where you need more material removal.

Our top pick is an orbital sander because it provides great versatility, ease of use, and it is small in size for easy handling. It is also a top choice for DIY lovers, woodworkers, and homeowners.

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