5 Best Wide Belt Sanders for Small Shops


You have been slowly adding woodworking tools to your small workshop over the last few years. Maybe it is finally time to splurge on a wide belt sander for your small shop. But how do you choose the right fit for you? 

The best wide belt sanders for small shops should be durable and last a long time, compact enough to fit in your space, and be designed for an easy belt change. Useful safety features are also important, as a wide belt sander is a powerful piece of equipment and can cause injury. 

In this article, we will suggest several different wide belt sanders under a few different categories. We hope that assigning them to a category will prioritize what you are looking for in a wide belt sander.

We will also go over what you should look for in a good wide belt sander, how to maintain it, and finish it off with some safety tips. Hopefully, you can use the information to determine which will be a good fit for your needs. 

Best Overall: Safety Speed Cut 3760

Straight out of the gate, we’re going to tell you about the best overall sander available to you. Prepare yourself to learn all about the Safety Speed Cut 3760, superior in quality to many of the most popular wide belt sanders. To top it off, the manufacturer offers a three-year warranty so that the buyer can feel confident in their purchase. 

Now it’s time to discuss the features. This sander offers a modest ten horsepower and boasts an impressive five emergency stops, making it one of the safest options available. Safety should always be a top priority when working with powerful equipment, which is why we are so fond of this particular wide belt sander.  

Having multiple emergency stops makes them more accessible from anywhere on the machine. The operator should easily be able to shut down the machine in case there is an accident to prevent injury. 

That’s not all. This machine also includes a six-inch (15-cm) dust collector, a conveyor belt with speed options between 0 and 18 FPM (feet per minute), and a 37-inch (94-cm) sanding belt, which expands your sanding options, but it also means that it has a larger footprint. Lastly, it can work with unlimited length materials because it is considered an “open wide belt sander.”

The founder of Safety Speed is the same man who invented the vertical panel saw back in the 1950s. Evident by their name, they aim to produce the safest tools possible while maintaining superior quality. You cannot go wrong purchasing from this company. 

You can check out this sander on Amazon Here(Link HereOpens in a new tab.)

Most Budget-Friendly: Grizzly Industrial G0819

If you have been shopping around for a wide belt sander for a while, then you know that this is no cheap piece of equipment. Generally, you should expect to spend several thousand dollars at a minimum. 

However, if you are looking to save a few hundred bucks on this purchase, the Grizzly Industrial G0819 could be just what you are looking for. Keep in mind that where you save money, you may sacrifice features or quality. 

Despite being a bit more affordable, this sander still offers quite a few features you might desire in a wide belt sander. This model includes a 15-inch (38.1-cm) sanding belt, 1725 RPM, a safety shut-off bar, a disk brake for emergency stops, and a five-inch (12-cm) dust collector.

One area of compromise will be in the lack of a digital readout. This might not be a deal-breaker for you, but it makes it more difficult to achieve precision and accuracy in your work. Size may also be an issue, as it has a slightly bigger footprint than the Shop Fox W1709 at a 29 by 24 inch (73.6 by 61 cm). Please ensure that you plan to find a place in your shop for equipment this big. 

Lastly, the Grizzly Industrial G0819 only comes in at about five horsepower and does not include a quick belt changing feature. Again, this may be something you are willing to compromise to save a little bit of money. Not having this feature will ultimately cost you time in the long run, so keep that in mind as you consider your options.

If you purchase a Grizzly Industrial product, you will be purchasing from a company that has been producing high-quality woodworking equipment for almost four decades. Their goal is to provide excellent customer service and sell the highest possible quality at the lowest possible price. 

You can check out this sander on Amazon Here(Link HereOpens in a new tab.)

Most Bang for Your Buck: Shop Fox W1709

If you want something somewhere in the middle of the last two options, the Shop Fox W1709 may be just right for you. Coming in a little bit cheaper than the Safety Speed Cut 3760 but with more features than the Grizzly Industrial G0819, Shop Fox W1709 is a superior sander in many ways. 

Its sleek and compact design means that it will fit nicely into your small workshop. Measuring with a 29 by 17-inch (72.6 by 42-cm) footprint, make sure you have a place for it before you expect delivery. 

It has a 20-inch (50.8-cm) belt, which should suffice for almost all of your projects. Other features include a sanding motor topping out at 1725 RPM (revolutions per minute), a safety bar stop, a four-inch (10-cm) dust collector, and options for a manual or motorized table elevation control. 

This model is also equipped with a quick belt changing system, making belt changes convenient and fast, saving you time and frustration in the long run. Lastly, it offers 7.5 horsepower and includes a digital readout, which offers precise measurements down to a thousandth of an inch, enabling woodworkers to produce the most accurate results with ease. 

The only con with this product is the price. You should expect to spend over 6,000 USD on this piece of equipment. However, its long-lasting durability, power, and additional features make it well worth the money. 

Shop Fox equipment is manufactured by Woodstock International, Inc., a company with over 20 years of experience providing the highest quality woodworking equipment and supplies to shop owners such as yourself. You can rest easy knowing that your new wide belt sander people were manufactured by people who truly care about their craftsmanship. 

As one of the top brands in their line, Shop Fox products come with a two-year warranty to ease the mind after such a large purchase.

Check it out on Amazon Here(Link Here)

Most Powerful: Grizzly Industrial G0487

If your wide belt sander’s most important aspect is its power, strength, and speed, then this section is just what you are looking for. The Grizzly Industrial G0487 boasts an incredible 30 horsepower and a conveyor belt speed of up to 60 FPM. This is quite an impressive piece of machinery and should be used with caution and care. 

It is definitely on the more expensive end of the spectrum, but the manufacturer promises that your sanding time will be cut in half. Yes, half! 

Other features of this wide belt sander include ten dust collecting ports for easy cleanup, digital depth control for accuracy and precision, a disc brake for emergency stops, and the ability to adjust the speed at which you feed materials. 

There are a few cons to take into consideration before purchasing this beast. First, the cost is quite high compared to some of the other sanders we have recommended. Think carefully about what components are important to you and if the power this machine offers is worth it. 

It also has a significant footprint, so make sure your small shop has space before pulling the trigger. Lastly, it requires installation assistance from a trained technician. 

Check this sander out on Amazon(Link HereOpens in a new tab.)

Most Versatile: Shop Fox W1738

If you are doing a wide variety of sanding projects with your wide belt sander, you may want one with a few different options. Enter the Shop Fox W1738, which offers an abundance of features and varying motors and sanding levels to optimize your projects. It is almost like three sanders in one. 

This puppy has three different motors, allowing for varying degrees of the conveyor belt, oscillation, and the platens, as well as three different sanding levels. These features combined will allow you to complete any project with impressive timing, accuracy, and quality. Other features include a dust collector, a safety shut off bar, and a digital system to help you avoid manual adjustments. 

Check it out on Amazon(Link HereOpens in a new tab.)

Features You Should Look for in a Wide Belt Sander

As with any equipment, you want your wide belt sander to be made with the most durable and robust components available. Additional features you should look for in a wide belt sander include safety measures, quick and easy belt changing, and a dust collector. 

Safety

When working with large, powerful pieces of equipment such as wide belt sanders, you should always be cautious and careful. While the risks of injury are minimal, accidents happen, and operators lose focus. This is why safety must come first, second, and third on behalf of both the operator and the machine developer. 

For a wide belt sander specifically, this means that they must come equipped with the highest standard of safety precautions. This type of equipment mainly requires an emergency brake system that is easily accessible by the machine operator. However, some wide belt sanders come with multiple emergency stops, which is the ideal feature in a large machine operated sander. 

Easy Belt Change

There are a couple of reasons you would want to switch a belt on your sander easily. First of all, as part of normal wear and tear, the belt will have to be replaced periodically. If it happens to break while you are in the middle of a project, you do not want this minor hiccup to extend your project’s duration. 

The other primary reason is to expand the levels of sanding you can do. Some sanders come with multiple sanding levels included. However, if yours does not, you will want to switch between different belts with ease. Overall, having a system in place for quick belt changes will save you and your team quite a bit of time in the long run. 

Dust Collection

If you have ever had even a small sanding project before, you know how much dust it produces. Imagine that dust replicated on a large, powerful sander. If your wide belt sander includes a dust collector, it will make clean up so much easier. Sometimes this is in the form of a dust bag, and other times it will be a port to which you can connect a vacuum. 

Horsepower

You have probably heard of horsepower in reference to a car’s engine. It is a way to measure the power output of motors and refers to the rate at which work is done. The horsepower of your sander will play a big role in how quickly the work gets done. The higher the horsepower, the quicker the sanding job. 

The recommendations we mentioned earlier range from about 5 to 30 horsepower. This will be a personal preference and should also depend on your experience with this type of machinery. 

Other Features

There are a lot of features you may want in your wide belt sander. Some of these include the size, ease of use, and width of the sanding belt. Most of these things will depend on the setup of your shop, how much space you have, the type of jobs you need to complete, and of course, how much money you want to spend. 

How to Maintain Your Wide Belt Sander

Once you decide to purchase your sander and it is finally set up in your shop, it is crucial to maintain it. As you know, this was not a cheap piece of equipment, and you want to protect your investment properly. Taking good care of your sander will extend its life and prevent costly repairs. Follow these simple tips to keep your sander in the best possible shape for many years. 

It would be best if you cleaned your sander regularly. As we mentioned earlier, a sander of this caliber produces a lot of dust. To prevent issues with your sander’s different components, make sure that your dust collector is working correctly, and vacuum excess dust after each use. You will thank yourself in the long run.  

Respect your sander. Do not ask it to sand materials other than the ones which it was designed to sand. Typically, you should only be pushing wood materials through your sander, but read the manual for your specific sander to determine if other materials are safe. Attempting to sand the wrong materials can result in your materials being destroyed, damage to your sander, or even fires in some cases. 

Make sure the sanding belt is facing the right direction. They are designed to go in a specific direction, and using it the opposite way will damage your sanding belt and possibly the material you are sanding. 

Safety Tips When Using a Wide Belt Sander

As we have mentioned a few times in this article, we want to quickly reiterate the importance of maintaining safe practices when using your wide belt sander. It is a large and powerful machine and should always be used with caution. Wide belt sanders are typically pretty safe tools, but that doesn’t mean you should let your guard down. Remember, safety should come first, second, and third. 

Here are some tips safety tips when using a wide belt sander:

  • Make sure you know the maximum length of wood that your machine is capable of sanding. If it is an open wide belt sander, then the length is unlimited. However, ensuring that you know, this information up-front will keep you safe and protect your sander. 
  • Always wear the proper safety attire when using a wide belt sander. They produce many dust particles, which can be painful and harmful if you get them in your eyes, nose, or mouth. Personal protective equipment in the form of goggles and masks should be worn at all times when using your sander. Hearing protection is also recommended, as they are extremely loud. 
  • If you have to do any maintenance or belt changes, make sure it is turned off or unplugged. This may seem trivial, but it will prevent serious injury in the event of an accident. 
  • Do not ever stick your hand or arm into the machine.

Final Thoughts

We hope this article was able to help you narrow down the search for your wide belt sander. In the end, it merely comes down to what is right for you and your personal woodshop preferences. The decision will depend on where you are willing to compromise and how much you are ready to spend, as a wide belt sander is undoubtedly an investment. 

A wide belt sander is no small purchase. Take some time to think about what features are important to you, and not be afraid to speak with professionals about their experiences. Don’t rush the process!

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