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Thread: Belt Sander Size & Brand

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Ardmore, OK

    Angry Belt Sander Size & Brand

    One of the tools that I am lucky enough to be purchasing at the moment is a belt sander. Now, my first thought on this was the bigger the better, and after reading some reviews on the internet, I settled on the b.

    Well, I actually got the sucker home last night, pulled it out and realized how freaking heavy it is. Now, I am sure the large belt and all will be nice in some applications.

    However, at 15.5 lbs, it is a beast to carry around for long.

    So, I wanted to check in with the creek and ask if people think I would be better served with a smaller, lighter weight unit. There are standard 3x24 and 3x21 models around that sound reasonable.

    And while I am at it, does anyone have any specific recommendations of brands and models that are good choices?

    For instance, for a while I had been thinking about the Dewalt 3x21 Variable Speed Belt Sander. Any thoughts?
    Paul Thompson, Ardmore OK

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Hudson Valley, Upstate NY
    I have a Bosch 3x21 and like it. Its flat sides allow me to clamp it for a variety of applications. Ryobi's 3x21 has a similar design, and fared pretty well in a FWW test. Before I sprang for the Bosch, I did try out a few bigger ones, and immediately dismissed them because of their weight- a 4x24 is quite a bit of sander. A friend swears by his PC 3x24- another reliable machine. Good luck.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Laguna Beach , Ca.
    I have the PC 3x31 which is a good size for most projects. I think the Bosch has some advantages since the sides are flush. I would get the Bosch if I had it to do over again. The PC has been reliable and will sand very flat.
    "All great work starts with love .... then it is no longer work"

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Griswold Connecticut
    I have a Porter Cable 3x21. It does what it is supposed to do. Dust collection is a little tough, the supplied dustbag doesn't do much, so I adapt it to a Fein Vac with some tygon hose.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    NW Indiana
    Been there did that, I started with a 4x24. Then went down to a porter cable 3x21. I dont use it much but been very happy with it's performance.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    I so rarely use a belt sander, but did buy a 3"x21" Bosch a few years ago and am very pleased with it. I pretty much have only used it on some slabs...a task that in the future I'll built a router jig to do. The nice thing about this size, however, is that it has manageable weight which is perfect for those odd jobs that the tool is appropriate for.

    It used to be that belt sanders bore the bulk of panel preparation, etc, but anymore, those tasks have moved to drum sanders and ROS. (I now use my Rotex 150 for heavy removal tasks)

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  7. #7
    The Porter Cable 3x21 sander is bulletproof for the most part. Been around a long time, well made, and can do about what ever you want. The 3x24 units don't really get you much since they are largely based on the heavier 4x24 units. For even lighter sanders you can look at the inline belt sanders (I think Bosch has one), but if I could only have one belt sander I would go for the 3x21 VS PC.


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Modesto CA
    I have a PC 3 x 21 but it mostly just sits. It works great when needed.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    La Habra Hts., CA
    I have the PC 4X24 and like it for rough sanding wide boards, as I don't have a wide belt sander. It is very aggressive and OK for rough work, but it is heavy. I could never use it for vertical work. I use a ROS and a PC finish sander for final sanding.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    I don't like belt sanders because I find that I really can't control them. However until recently, I did use belt sanders when aggressive removal of material was called for. I used a heavy Makita 24" x 4" for about 10 years then about 5 years ago I decided that I was not going to put up with such a heavy beast any more and replaced it with a more easily controlled Skil 3" x 21". I figured that, since I basically did not like the tool, why buy a good one. (And, YES, for those of you who may be thinking "what does he know?", I have used better brand 3 x 21 inch sanders and I have used a belt sander with a support frame. I still don't like the tool. )

    Late last year, I bought a Festool Rotex sander that does both aggressive and fine sanding. What an improvement! My belt sander has been relegated to rough construction work.

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