If you are an experienced woodworker, you probably know that there is no better sanding machine for finishing your boards than the wide belt sanding machine.
But getting the best wide belt sander for a small shop from the sea of brands out there is a tough affair.
What are wide belt sanders?
There are highly versatile sanding machines used to perform different woodworking activities. They make a combination of platens and contact drums to finish wooden surfaces.
The machines are designed to hold tight tolerances to produce a wonderful end product. The machines come in a range of designs and sizes designed to suit a particular set of woodworking activities.
Get the difference – drum sander vs wide-belt sander?
Wide belt sander
While both can do a good job, a wide-belt sander machine is superior, faster and usually delivers a proper finish. As a result, they are expensive.
Examples of the best wide belt sanding machines out there include SHOP FOX W1709, Powermatic 179121 Model 1632 , Powermatic 16-inch Open End sander (model 1791251), Safety Speed Cut 4375 WBS4375101 , among others.
A drum sander, on the other hand, is a bit slow and takes a lot of time to change paper. It also leaves ripples on wood after operation. These ripples have to be tackled for a smoother finishing.
Examples of the best drum sanders out there include Benchtop Drum Sander among others.
3 Best wide belt sander machines for your shop?
While this isn’t as big compared to other sanding machines, the 24-inch wide belt sanding machine is a perfect choice for you if you are a beginner or own a small woodworking shop. The Shop Fox W1710 is easy to use and comes with a digital readout and a numeric control pad.
What makes this sander the best wide belt sander for a small shop? While other sanders need at least a 3-phase power source, this Shop Fox’s model can comfortably operate in a single power phase. Some of its main features include a pretty fast, 10HP sanding motor, 1 HP feed motor, and 1/3 HP elevation motor. It also comes with a perfect, quick-change belt system so you don’t have to spend hours on end changing belts.
The machine is built to last thanks to the ruggedly built parts, close attention to detail, and top-notch quality control program that ensures users of a safe and reliable operation. What’s more? A two-year warranty so you know you have nothing to lose.
- Control pad
- Digital readout
- Easy belt change
- Beginner friendly
- Efficient for small projects only.
This is another smaller and cheaper yet highly effective wide belt sander out there. While its capacity is a little limited, its length is still not limited.
Unlike Shop Fox, Powermatic comes with a separate digital readout. You can choose to get one or not. If you are financially constrained and you or your workers are experienced in using woodworking machines, you don’t have to buy it. However, for purposes of conducting regular checks during the operation, the sander comes with a conveniently mounted load meter.
What makes Powermatic one of the best wide belt sanders for small shops out there? This Powermatic model is an open sander, it is much easier to maintain unlike the closed counterparts. The closed sanders have little space for cleaning. Because they are closed, it also becomes much harder to replace different components on your own.
Besides, the sanding machine comes with a 4-inch dust port. That means you can vacuum clean the dust from the machine. Unfortunately, you might run to a bit of challenges when changing the belts. But, if you have financial constraints and want a sanding machine, you can’t go wrong with this one.
- Beginner friendly
- Digital readout
- Pocket friendly
- Control pad
- You have to buy the digital readout separately.
- Challenges replacing the sander belt
3. Safety Speed Cut 4375 WBS4375101
If you are a serious woodworker, then this is a serious wide-belt sander for your small shop. What makes this model one of the best wide belt sanders for a small shop?
The 36-inch sander packs a ton of great features that you normally find in larger sanders, and an unlimited working length that helps you tackle all the jobs at hand.
Besides, the machine comes with a fully adjustable platen, 3760 wide belt, and a ¾ Hp DC powered conveyor table, pneumatic belt tensioning, dust outlets, and photoelectric belt tracking.
Another brilliant thing about this sanding machine is that it can work optimally both in a single and 3-phase power system. But, unlike the other two, this sander costs more. But you always get what you pay for.
- Three motors – ¾ HP conveyor motor, a 10 HP single phase motor and a 15 three-phase motor.
- Photoelectric belt tracking.
- Dust outlets.
- Pneumatic tensioning
- Costs more compared to other sanders for small woodworking shops.
How to shop for sander machines like a pro
If you have ever gone shopping for wide belt sanding machines you have probably come across statements like “We have wonderful wide belt sanders here for your small shop here.”
Such brilliantly rehearsed and aggressively hammered pitches from salespersons may con your heart into buying that “very best” machine.
However, the truth is, they are not selling you the best, but they are simply trying to squeeze a dollar or two from your pocket. But the truth is, they are not selling you the best, they are out to hit their daily or monthly sales targets.
If you want to get the best, you have to know what works. Here are some of the factors you might want to consider when making a purchase:
Your wide belt sanders machine should allow fast belt changing
If you spend much time changing the belts, you are likely to waste much of your productive time. An easy belt changing will not only save you time but it will also enhance smooth operations in your small shop.
There are times you will be required to work with a wide range of materials. That calls for use of different abrasive belts. If your machine allows convenient belt changing, it will go a long way in freeing more time for your team and foster high ROI.
Your wide belt sander should include digital readout
You might purchase a sophisticated machine bearing highly durable and powerful components, it won’t give you exceptional results if it doesn’t have a digital thickness gauge.
The gauge helps make exact measurements and thus leading to an incredible finishing. The digital gauge helps keep memory so that it can easily calibrate and ensure consistency across different woodworking operations.
Your wide belt sander should be portable
This is especially good for you if your shop houses complex and fast-paced production environments. As a result, it becomes easier for you to quickly rea-adjust the positioning of the machines.
It also makes it easier to move them off the production floor for purposes of maintenance.
Your wide belt sander should be safe
Safety is everything. You don’t want to expose yourself or employees to danger. Your wide belt sander machine should be such that your technicians can safely operate them without being predisposed to any dangers.
That way, you will not only be concerned about their welfare but also will avoid incurring unnecessary costs through fines and footing hospital bills.
If you are a serious carpenter or woodworker, you won’t want to work with sanding machines that keep putting you down.
There are thousands of machines at your disposal out there. However, many of us still find it hard determining the best wide belt sander machine for small shops.
Fortunately for you, we have discussed the best ones out there so that you don’t have to burn time and money on sanders that won’t deliver.