It’s Important That You Choose The Best Wide Belt Sander, And Here’s Why.
If you’re reading this, you’re not messing around. You already know your stuff because a wide belt sander is a serious piece of machinery. Wide belt sanders are a next-level solution for individuals or enterprises that need to quickly and consistently give a smooth finish to large volumes of wood or other materials.
This guide takes you through the seven best products on the market so that you can decide which machine best suits your needs. There is also a buyers guide, where I’ll run through all the features you need to look for when shopping for a wide belt sander.
Why is it so important that you pick the best sander? Well, these machines are going to cost you some serious money. This isn’t an entry-level tool, as I’m sure you know. A wide belt sander is a professional finishing machine that will give your enterprise an edge over your competition in both the quality of your product and turnaround time.
You need a sanding machine that turns out quality work consistently and reliably, and you need one that will last you for years.
Read this guide, and you’ll learn everything you need to know to make an informed choice and buy a wide belt sander that will take your enterprise to the next level.
What’s The Difference Between A Wide-Belt Sander And A Drum Sander?
You might already have a drum sander. If so, you will know that they are handy tools and that they are cheaper than wide belt sanders. They turn out decent work pretty quickly. But (and it’s a big but), they sometimes leave ripples in the sanded surface, and you need to revisit these with an orbital sander. This is time-consuming work that detracts from the automation of the process and affects the consistency and quality of your end product.
Also, a drum sander simply can’t turn stock around as quickly as a wide belt sander.
Drum sanders are a reasonable solution up to a certain level, but for quick turnaround and a reliable finish time after time, wide belt sanders are simply a cut above. Put it like this: I don’t know of anyone who has gone from a wide belt sander back to a drum sander.
The Seven Best Wide Belt Sanders For 2021
- Shop Fox W1738 37-Inch Three Phase Wide-Belt Sander – Best Priced 37” Sander
- Safety Speed Cut 3760 10hp Wide-Belt Sander – Best Mid-Range Wide Belt Sander
- Powermatic Wb-25 25″ Wide Belt Sander, 15hp, 3ph 230/460v – Best 25” Inch Sander
- Grizzly Industrial G0527-18″ 5 Hp Wide-Belt Sander – Best 18 Inch Wide Belt Sander
- Grizzly Industrial H2934-37″ 20 Hp 3-Phase Double Head Wide-Belt Sander – Best Wide Belt Sander
- Grizzly Industrial G0446-37″ 15 Hp 3-Phase Platen Type Wide-Belt Sander – Best Value 37” Wide Belt Sander
- Powermatic 1632 16″ Open-End Belt Sander, 5hp, 1ph 230v – Best Budget Wide Belt Sander
1) MOST AFFORDABLE 37” SANDER – SHOP FOX W1738 37-INCH THREE PHASE WIDE-BELT SANDER
This Shopfox sander is a powerful industrial-grade wide belt sander with an impressive array of features. It’s a whopping 37 inches wide and can deal with stock up to 36 ½ inches in width. The machine has a powerful 15 hp, three-phase motor housed in a heavy-duty steel cabinet.
This sander has adjustable platen controls that allow for three different types of sanding, platen up, platen even, and platen down. The platen up position allows for aggressive sanding when you need to remove a lot of material. Platen even is a median setting for regular sanding, and platen down is a setting allowing fine control work in detail sanding for the smoothest of finishes.
The machine has a programmable digital control pad that is easy to master. The machine’s accuracy rating is 0.005 inches, making this Shopfox an excellent sander for producing consistently accurate work.
This is an excellent fully featured wide belt sander that is highly adjustable and customizable, so there’s plenty of scope to get it to perform exactly the way you want. While it’s not the quickest machine on the market, this degree of fine control makes it one of the most impressive products out there. There are three 4-inch dust ports and a safety shut-off bar.
The two-year warranty is a bit disappointing, but this is a sturdy tool that you can expect to work for many years.
- The digital control pad allows you to automate work to a very high level of accuracy
- The adjustable platen and oscillation controls offer a high degree of control so that you can tailor the operation of the machine to get top-quality results
- 37 inches is plenty wide for almost all sanding needs
- Speed is adjustable, but at a maximum of 49 ft/m, this isn’t the quickest product on the market
2) BEST MID-RANGE WIDE BELT SANDER – SAFETY SPEED CUT 3760 10HP WIDE-BELT SANDER
Sanding Width: 36” Inches
Horsepower: 10HP 1 Phase / 15HP 3-Phase
Weight: 1,400 Pounds
Dimensions: 63 x 57 x 76 inches
Feed Rate: 14-60 Feet Per Minute
Power Source: 220V/440V
Control interface: Analog
The Safety Speed Cut 3760 is one of the most affordable wide belt sanders that can handle stock up to 36 inches in width. It includes impressive features like photoelectric belt tracking and pneumatic belt tensioning to allow high accuracy and fine control.
This is an attractive and sturdily built machine that’s rugged enough to meet your sanding needs for years to come. If you’re on a budget and don’t mind sacrificing some features like an electronic control panel, then you should consider this machine. If you’re experienced with the use of wide belt sanders, then you’ll be comfortable with the control system.
Five emergency stops are a significant plus in my book since safety has to come before everything else. But just one dust port is disappointing.
- Good value for a 36-inch capable machine
- Five emergency stops cover all the bases for safety
- No electronic control panel
- The conveyor speed of 18 ft/m is slower than most machines
3) BEST 25” INCH SANDER – POWERMATIC WB-25 25″ WIDE BELT SANDER, 15HP, 3PH 230/460V (1790825)
This is a super powerful sander with a maximum cutting width of 25 inches. This puts it in the mid-range size, but if the stock you’re sanding falls within its parameters, then this might be the machine for you.
It offers some excellent features like a digital, programmable control panel and the powerful fifteen HP 3 Phase drive system, featuring three motors that power sanding drums, the feed table, and the feed system separately.
The Powermatic has good provision for emergencies with safety stops and a disc brake that stops the machine but fast.
This sander looks the part too. It’s a sturdy and chunky steel-cased machine in a cheery yellow. I like the fact that it comes with sanding belts in two grades as well as tools and a toolbox.
- Excellent control system with programmable thickness settings
- Powerful machine with three separate motors
- ” Air-eye” system that controls the oscillation of the sanding belt, keeping it on the drum and ensuring uniform sanding
- 25-inch maximum width
4) BEST 18” WIDE BELT SANDER – GRIZZLY INDUSTRIAL G0527-18″ 5 HP WIDE-BELT SANDER
This 18-inch machine is Grizzly’s entry-level model, and it packs some fantastic features into a compact unit available at a very competitive price.
It’s a sturdy machine with a compact footprint of just 33” x 40”, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding space for it in your workshop.
The machine includes many of the specifications that come with the more expensive Grizzly machines, including a disc brake for emergency stops, an industrial rubber conveyor belt with four rubber pressure rollers, and twin 4-inch dust ports.
I’m particularly impressed that there is a digital control pad that allows you to program and automate repetitive table adjustments and cutting specs. The machine keeps you honest, too, since there’s an electric limit switch to prevent damage caused by over adjusting the table. It’s great that they help stop you from breaking your new toy.
Sure, you have to make some sacrifices at this price, and the 5 HP motor running on single-phase power isn’t the most powerful, but this sander still has a very respectable top performance speed of 49 ft/m.
This is an all-around quality belt sander that has received excellent customer feedback.
- An excellent specification for a budget price
- Can handle stock down to a 1/8” thickness
- Programmable digital control panel accurate to 0.005”
- The sender can’t handle anything wider than 17 ½ inches
5) BEST WIDE BELT SANDER – GRIZZLY INDUSTRIAL H2934-37″ 20 HP 3-PHASE DOUBLE HEAD WIDE-BELT SANDER
If money is no object, then look no further than the Grizzly Industrial H2934-37. This beast of a machine has extremely impressive specifications. Time is money, and this machine runs dual sanding heads that can double your output at speeds of up to 60 ft/m., running at 20 hp on a stable three-phase power supply.
The digital display is programmable and accurate to 0.005 inches. The sanding drums, table elevation, and rubber conveyor belt have independent motor controls, allowing you to fine-tune the machine for the best results.
There’s a disc brake to quickly stop the machine in the event of an emergency, and no less than six dust ports make for a dust-free working environment.
All in all, if you’re running a business that needs to process a lot of stock quickly to an extremely high level of accuracy, this machine will meet those requirements.
- Dual sanding heads halve your time
- Highly adjustable and programmable
- Very powerful
6) BEST VALUE 37” WIDE BELT SANDER – GRIZZLY INDUSTRIAL G0446-37″ 15 HP 3-PHASE PLATEN TYPE WIDE-BELT SANDER
This is the third Grizzly sander on this list, and it offers many of the best features of its pricier cousin, including accurate pneumatic belt tensioning and tracking, 34-inch dust ports, and a display for emergency stops.
The digital controls are highly accurate, and you can automate repetitive table adjustments saving time and effort. The powerful fifteen HP, 3-phase motor drives a feed rate of up to 49 ft/m and a drum surface speed of 2600 ft/m. The G0446-37 can process stock between 6”-⅛”.
One of the most amazing things about this machine is its size. it’s only 19 inches wide. This is super impressive, and I can’t believe how they fit everything into such a compact unit.
- A compact unit with a small footprint, perfect for smaller workplaces
- Great features at a reasonable price make this machine the best value 37” wide belt sander
- Perfect for automating repeat tasks and ensuring your stock comes out precisely
- The sander is heavy
7) BEST BUDGET WIDE BELT SANDER – POWERMATIC 1632 16″ OPEN-END BELT SANDER, 5HP, 1PH 230V
Sanding Width: 32 Inches
Horsepower: 5HP, 1 Phase
Weight: 996 Pounds
Dimensions: 36 x 36.5 x 0.5 inches
Feed Rate: 15 – 32.5 Feet Per Minute
Power Source: 230V
Control interface: Analog/Digital
Many of the other machines on this list have more impressive specifications than this Powermatic machine, but they cost around double the price.
If you’re on a budget and want to benefit from the excellent performance of a wide belt sander, then it’s worth looking at this machine. In a way, you shouldn’t be comparing it with other wide belt sanders but instead comparing its performance to drum sanders. And as I mentioned above, even the most humble wide belt sanders offer a better quality of finish than a drum sander.
The machine has an optional digital readout, which I strongly suggest you invest in since it gives you more control. The conveyor belt is pneumatically powered and has a belt tracking system that keeps the sanding belts centered.
All in all, this is a reliable and affordable wide belt sander that receives excellent customer feedback.
- Great price for a sanding width of 32 inches
- The machine is open-ended, allowing you to double its 16-inch sending width to a maximum of 32 inches
- This is a versatile and light machine perfect for use in multiple locations
- The five HP single-phase motor isn’t very powerful
A Buyer’s Guide To Wide Belt Sanders
Here are the most important features to look for when you’re shopping for a wide belt sander.
Maximum Sanding Width
Maximum sanding width is one of the major limiting factors of a wide belt sander’s performance. For example, if you will be finishing 34-inch wood panels, you’ll need a sander that’s wide enough to cope with this.
Just make sure you’re getting a sander with a maximum sanding width wide enough to deal with all of your anticipated projects.
Minimum And Maximum Sanding Depth
Make sure you buy a belt sander that can deal with the thicknesses you need to process. Most machines are pretty versatile, and since these are precision tools, some can sand down to thicknesses of just ⅛”.
Control Panel & Measurements
A wide belt sander must be easy to use and operate. An intuitive control panel is a real plus.
You also want a sander that gives you precise digital measurements in your chosen unit of measure. A machine that you can control down to increments of a thousandth of an inch will give your finished work incredible quality and precision.
Perhaps the most important control feature of a wide belt sander is the ability to program the same output time after time. You’ll probably be using your machine to do the same job again and again, and a wide belt sander gives you the ability to create unparalleled uniformity of appearance.
Digital control panels that are accurate up to 0.005 inches are the way to go.
Wide belt sanders get through stock at an impressive pace. Performance speed is measured in feet per minute. Typically, more expensive machines process stock faster than cheaper units. It’s a good idea to set a target speed that meets the needs of your business.
Make a spreadsheet and work out how many units of whatever product you work with you want to finish per day. You will be able to figure out the total length of stock you need to sand per day and then divide this by the number of minutes in your working day.
Voila! Now you know how many feet per minute you need from your sander. This will help you buy a machine that meets your requirements.
Wide belt sanders kick out a lot of dust. Remember that these are high-performance quick turnaround tools that sand a lot of stock very quickly. Lots of dust in the workplace doesn’t simply create a cleaning overhead. It’s also a health risk.
All the machines reviewed here feature some form of dust collection. Most machines have several dust collection ports.
You should think about where you plan to install the device. If you’re working in an enclosed space, then dust collection is a big issue, and it’s vital you buy a product with good dust collection ports.
What kind of power supply do you have? Wide belt sanders have different power specifications. Some units can run on single-phase power, but larger machines use three-phase power.
What’s the difference? Well, a three-phase power connection gives you more stability of output than one phase.
Single-phase power supply is vulnerable to fluctuations in voltage that reduce the consistency of power delivery to the machine. Three-phase power provides a stable voltage that allows machinery to work more efficiently.
And three-phase power the advantage of carrying three times as much energy as one phase.
You need to be aware of the power requirements of different machines so that you can either buy one that fits the power specifications of your place of work or upgrade your power supply.
Belt Changing Speed And Difficulty
Sometimes, you’ll need to change an old belt. More often, you’ll need to change belts of different grades of abrasion.
When choosing a wide belt sander, you should check the speed, convenience, and efficiency of belt-changing. A user-friendly construction that allows for the rapid switching of belts will save you time and money.
Wide belt sander mobility might not be an issue for you. After all, these are big pieces of equipment that you won’t often move from place to place.
However, you might need to use your belt sander in several locations. If so, you should look for a lighter model with a rugged design and good casters that make it (relatively) easy to move around.
Safety features are of paramount importance when using a wide belt sander. These include features like multiple safety stops located within easy reach of the machine operator and disc brakes to stop operation quickly. Make sure that you check the machine for safety features like automatic cutouts and protective brakes.
You may also like
The 8 Best Sanders For Cabinets In 2021 And A Detailed Buyer’s Guide
In this guide, I road test the eight best sanders on the market in a real-world environment and tell you how they perform.Read more
The 9 Best Sanders For Refinishing Furniture In 2021 [Detailed Buyer’s Guide]
Whether your favorite household furniture is starting to look a bit tired or you’ve picked up a diamond in the rough from a yard sale, you need the tools and know-how to restore them to their former glory.Read more
The 12 Best Sanders For Trim Work And A Detailed Buyer’s Guide
In the detailed buyer’s guide to choosing the best sanders for trim work, I’ll show you everything you need to look for when shopping for a sander to help you prepare your trim.Read more