Last Updated on 2020-12-23 by Harry Masterton
For most hobbyists, working on a budget is a necessity and not just someone cutting corners buying cheap woodworking tools. Power tool manufacturers understand this and offer “budget-friendly” or “entry-level” products that are aimed at budget conscious woodworkers and DIY’ers.
Belt sanders are no exception, with many of the most popular brands selling models at lower price points. Let's take a closer look at what you get, as well as what you will sacrifice when shopping for the best budget belt sander.
Table Of Contents
- 1 What do the best budget belt sander designs sacrifice?
- 1.1 What do the best budget belt sander designs offer?
- 1.2 Best Budget Belt Sander Models
- 1.3 The Best Budget Belt Sander Review – Belt Sanding On A Budget
What do the best budget belt sander designs sacrifice?
Top brands usually sacrifice one or more of the following:
- Build quality
- Extra features
Most manufacturers have a line of products that range from budget-friendly choices to professional-grade models. The reality is, no company will sell a cheaper tool that includes its top-tier components. Power tools, including belt sanders, will sacrifice some parts of its build quality to make it more affordable.
That can include using more plastics than metals on the housing. Substituting in plastic or lightweight knobs and levers is another example.
Top 3 Best Budget Belt Sander Featured In This Review
- 7.0 amp 3in. X 21in. Belt sander with an angled belt Design to sand closer to adjoining surfaces
- Max 800 FPM For fast material removal
- Tool-free belt release for quick and easy belt changes
- High performance dust collection featuring onboard dust bag
- 3position over molded handle improves comfort during use
- 7-amp motor rotates the belt at over 13 feet per second
- Compact design weighs in at a mere six pounds to limit the fatigue of the user
- Includes a detachable dust bag to minimize clean-up
- Lock-in safety feature allows for continuous sanding without requiring a constant grip on the trigger
- Backed by a two-year warranty and a nationwide network of skilled technicians
- ➤2 IN 1: Comes with 2 screw clamps to fix the belt sander to the table to act as a bench sander, providing increased flexibility.
- ➤13PCS SANDING BELTS: Equipped with 6pcs 120 grit and 7pcs 80 grit aluminum oxide belts to provide more possibilities for your different applications.
- ➤VRABIABLE SPEED KNOB & LOCK-ON BUTTON: The variable-speed knob with 6dials allows you to choose the exact speed from 0-560rpm; Lock-on button reduces fatigue for long hours work.
- ➤2 VACUUM ADAPTERS: Dust box collects most dust during sanding, 32mm, 35mm vacuum adapters is easier to connect your vacuum cleaner to maintain a clean environment.
- ➤WHAT YOU GET: TACKLIFE PSFS1A Belt Sander; 13Pcs Sanding Belts; 2 Screw Clamps; 2 Vacuum Adapters; User Manual; 24 Months Warranty Card.
The overall power of a budget sander is often less than the top-end models. It might be due to a smaller electric motor, a less-effective gearbox, or a lack of control circuitry.
Features found on professional-grade tools might be missing on budget items. Features often sacrificed include variable speed controls, ergonomic handles, high-contrast markings, or other proprietary designs that a company trademarks for their brand or product line.
What do the best budget belt sander designs offer?
Is a budget design worth buying? It can be if the power tool meets your woodshop's needs and improves your woodworking enjoyment.
Power is perhaps the most important feature on a belt sander. The higher the amps, the better, especially for stripping protective coats and deep stains.
Another consideration is weight, with lighter models creating less fatigue (usually at the expense of more vibration transfer, however).
Features like variable speed controls and easy loading designs add versatility and speed up your workflow.
Don't overlook warranty coverage. Brands that stand behind budget belt sanders are offering a decent product for most hobbyist's needs.
Best Budget Belt Sander Models
CRAFTSMAN CMEW213 3 x 21-Inch Belt Sander
The list of the best budget belt sander products begins with the CMEW213. This model by CRAFTSMAN uses a 3 x 21-inch belt for sanding. That is a standard width, and you will find the 21-inch belt length takes longer to wear-out than the 18-inch.4.5 out of 5.0 stars
CRAFTSMAN CMEW213 features
A 7.0-amp electric motor supplies power to the Craftsman CMEW213 belt sander. That should be enough power for most beginner and intermediate level projects. The speeds may slow down a bit when using large grit belts, but not enough to be a deal-breaker.
One feature highlighted in this Craftsman 7 amp belt sander review is the angle of the belt. The back roller is larger than the front roller, creating the tapered belt path. This feature provides closer sanding near adjoining surfaces on glue-ups.
The feature that feels like a letdown in this Craftsman CMEW213 7 amp belt sander review is the single-speed control. The sander has a maximum rating of 800 feet per minute under no-load conditions, meaning it will take longer to take down the surfaces you are attempting to remove or smooth out.
An over-molded handle provides a hold for larger hands. The secondary handle on the front is not the most ergonomic design, though. Weight distribution is placed on the rear, so you will have to keep this in mind as you hold and apply pressure during sanding.
CRAFTSMAN CMEW213 – Things We Like
- Its over-molded handle is comfortable for large hands
- An angled belt design for seam work
- Handle matches belt angle for good control
CRAFTSMAN CMEW213 – Not So Good
- The CRAFTSMAN CMEW213 sander is single-speed
- The plastic housing transfers more vibration
WEN 6321 3 x 21-Inch Belt Sander
This best budget belt sander list continues with WEN's 6321 model. It uses a 3 x 21-inch sanding belt, representing another mid-sized belt sander with standard width sanding capacity.
4.3 out of 5.0 stars
WEN 6321 features
The motor highlighted in the WEN 6321 belt sander review is a standard 7.0-amps in size. The product will handle light and medium sanding tasks without issue. You will find the electric motor a bit under-whelming for heavy-duty jobs, however.
The 820 feet per minute rating of the 6321 under no-load conditions is slightly faster than the CRAFTSMAN reviewed previously, but the single-speed rotation is not ideal. Stripping thick top-coats or penetrating stains will take longer at just over 13 feet a second.
You will find the WEN 6321 budget belt sander both compact and lightweight. The sander measures approximately 12 x 6 x 6.5-inches, giving it a small enough profile to operate inside of cabinets. Weighing just over six-pounds is an advantage on longer running sessions as you will not fatigue as quickly.
The stand out feature in this WEN 6321 belt sander review will be the lock-in safety feature. Activating this allows you to remove your finger from the trigger as you work. That will prevent cramping and fatigue during use.
You might feel that the housing is a bit flimsy, but this belt sander comes at a reasonable price and does have a two-year warranty.
WEN 6321 – Things We Like
- It is fairly lightweight
- A Lock-in safety feature
- It has a compact body
WEN 6321 – Not So Good
- The dust bag is too small
- Its seams are uncomfortable on the handles
We felt it was necessary to add to this manufacturer's range with a short WEN HB3216 Combination Belt Sander review. Use it as either a hand-held sander or as a face-up sander that mounts to your benchtop.4.3 out of 5.0 stars
The HB3216 uses a 7.0-amp motor and a 3 x 21-inch belt system. It is variable speed, allowing adjustments between 787 and 1,312 feet per minute. A lock-on power switch and dust port adaptors help its benchtop role.
- Easy to use face-up
- Variable speed
- Trigger handle is poorly placed
Black & Decker DS321 Dragster 3 x 21-Inch Belt Sander
Black and Decker continue the best budget belt sander reviews with the DS321 model. It is another mid-sized sander with a 21-inch belt and sands at three-inches in width.
4.3 out of 5.0 stars
Black & Decker DS321 features
Often referred to as the Black and Decker Dragster DS321, the design makes the sander look like a dragster (which may appeal to you if you like to race your power tools when you’re bored). In the shop, the 7.0-amp electric motor is not quite as “high-octane” as the nickname would imply.
The stand out operating feature on the Black and Decker Dragster Belt Sander is the nose. Its hood is retractable, allowing you to uncover the top portion of the belt. That narrow tip can fit into places that other belt sanders would struggle to reach.
A higher price tag in the budget range is noticeable in the overall build. Heavier components add to the weight (8.2-pounds), but they also add to the durability of the belt sander.
The Black and Decker Dragster DS321 has an ordinary trigger handle, with texture added for grip. Its front handle is adjustable, though. You can set it to three positions, giving you a variety of operating positions that add to comfort and control.
Black & Decker DS321 – Things We Like
- The hood that adjusts on the front roller
- A retractable three-position handle
- A solid design that feels durable
Black & Decker DS321 – Not So Good
- Its belt tracking could be improved upon
- A higher price point for a “Budget” sander
TACKLIFE PSFS1A 3 x 18-Inch Combination Belt Sander
The final product on the best budget belt sander list comes from TACKLIFE. The PSFS1A is a smaller 3 x 18-inch sander design. Your purchase includes clamps that help you mount it to a benchtop, making this a combination kit like the WEN HB3216.4.2 out of 5.0 stars
TACKLIFE PSFS1A features
The TACKLIFE 600W belt sander review starts with a look at the electric motor. It rates at 5.0-amps, which is adequate for light workloads and some medium applications (when used by hand). Heavy-duty jobs will tax the power that the 600W offers.
The TACKLIFE PSFS1A belt sander is variable speed. It has six different speed settings, giving you a lot of options. Those settings may be hard to distinguish during operation, though, especially at the range of 0 to 560 feet per minute.
Accessories are what stand out in this TACKLIFE 600W belt sander review. Your purchase includes two different vacuum adaptors that will let you connect to a variety of shop vac hoses. The belt sander includes 13 sanding belts (seven 80-grit sheets and six 120-grit sheets) and two metal screw clamps.
The trigger handle bends downward at nearly 45-degrees. That allows you to apply a lot of pressure, but it also places your wrist at an awkward angle as you sand, especially for long periods. The front knob is more ergonomic, with a top cover that provides some comfort.
TACKLIFE PSFS1A – Things We Like
- Comes with extra sanding belts
- Six speed settings
- Mounting holes to attach clamps
TACKLIFE PSFS1A – Not So Good
- Trigger handle has a low angle
- Its 18-inch belts will wear out faster
These budget belt sanders remove rough-sawn surfaces as well as paints, protective coatings, and stains. Finding the best budget belt sander for you should involve matching your projects with your needs.
Most of the belt sanders reviewed use a 3 x 21-inch belt, which is standard on mid-sized units. Variable speeds on the HB3216 from WEN and the TACKLIFE PSFS1A provide more sanding control for those needing it.
Using a 7.0-amp motor allows the manufacturers to keep the price competitive while serving hobbyist's sanding requirements. The TACKLIFE PSFS1A is the exception in our best budget belt sander list, with an under-whelming 5.0-amps best used for small parts and light sanding.
Combining hand-held and benchtop designs in the WEN HB3216 and TACKLIFE PSFS1A provides more versatility and is worth considering.
If you’re looking for a great variable speed finishing belt sander then the TACKLIFE PSFS1A is the one to go for.
The WEN 6321 Belt Sander with the lock-in safety feature is a contender for overall winner of the ‘Best Budget Belt Sander’ Awards but overall we feel the crown has to go to the CRAFTSMAN CMEW213 Belt Sander with it's ‘dragster' style design for those difficult corners and slightly better build quality then the other woodworking power tools in this best budget belt sander review.
Always remember when you’re buying woodworking power tools like the best budget belt sander your wallet will stretch to they are limited in their capabilities and will never match the durability and power of higher end belt sanders like the Makita 9403 and Makita 9404.
Last update on 2021-03-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API