Bench sanders enable you to sand down large surfaces quickly and easily, so you can finish a woodworking project faster than you would with a handheld tool. They’re essentially a power sander with a weighted base for stability. They’re made to sit on a workbench and are not portable, but high power and the ability to handle an array of materials makes up for this lack of mobility.
The best bench sander models include additional sanding tools, like a disc sander, belt sander, and spindle sander; some may also include a grinding or sharpening tool. To decide on one for your workshop, consider the type of projects you work on, how much power the sander has, and the adjustability of the sander.
From belt sanders to disc sanders, this guide will tell you what features to consider when shopping for the best bench sander. Read on to learn about the workings of bench sanders and why the models below are top performers.
- BEST OVERALL: WEN 6502T Belt and Disc Sander
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Shop Fox W1831 Oscillating Spindle Sander
- BEST PROFESSIONAL: Bucktool BD4801 Bench Belt Sander
What to Consider When Buying the Best Bench Sander
Here are some things to consider when looking for the best bench sander for your workshop.
It’s important for a bench sander to be heavy enough to remain steady as you push wood against it, but light enough to move around as needed in your workshop. A tool in the weight range of 30 to 40 pounds is ideal. Even with sufficient heft, the sander should also have a nonslip base, so that it remains stable on your workbench during use.
The amount of power a bench sander needs depends on how it will be used. Large projects benefit from a sander with a powerful motor that can rip through a lot of material in a short period of time. Smaller, delicate projects need a less powerful sander, as too much force can ruin a design or tear the material apart.
Additionally, a powerful sander is harder to control, which is not ideal when you’re working with a small piece of wood. A bench sander with 1/3 horsepower (HP) to 3/4 HP—or about 1 to 5 amps—should be sufficient for most DIY sanding projects.
The best bench sanders can be adjusted to customize motor speed, sanding angle, and sanding surface, allowing you to handle a wider range of projects and materials. A bench sander with speed controls lets you lower its motor’s power output.
Some belt sanders let you adjust the sanding angle to horizontal or vertical. There are also bench sanders that can be set to use a range of sandpaper types so you can smooth materials other than wood.
Ease of Use
Bigger isn’t better with bench sanders. A powerful tool isn’t a lot of use to you if you struggle with the controls, adjustments, or replacing the sandpaper. Look for a sander with intuitive controls, clearly indicated measurements, and clear instructions for use.
Also choose a bench sander with the right tool for the work you’ll be doing. If you plan on doing fine work, a bench sander with a spindle sanding tool is your best bet. If you do a wide range of projects, a sander with a belt sanding tool, disc sander, or grinding wheel may be the best choice.
Bench sanders produce dust and debris that can be a safety hazard. Look for models with built-in dust collectors; when running, these produce suction that pulls dust from the sandpaper into a dust collection bag. You can dispose of the dust when the work is done.
Our Top Picks
Based on the shopping considerations above, this guide highlights some of the top-performing bench sanders available.
This WEN bench sander comes with two sanding tools—a 4-inch wide belt sander and a 6-inch diameter disc sander—so it can handle a wide range of projects. It weighs 39 pounds, making it portable, while heavy enough to not wobble or slide during use. The sander has a durable, heavy-duty cast iron base. Both sanding tools have adjustable sanding angles.
The WEN belt and disc sander is powered by a 4.3 amp (1/2 HP) motor and has a simple tension release lever for changing the sandpaper. The belts on this sander are also designed for easy replacement as well. Its dust collection port doesn’t direct the flow of sawdust on its own, but provides an available place to connect a dust collector.
This Shop Fox packs a lot of versatility into a low price, thanks to its five sanding drum sizes and six sanding sleeve sizes. As a spindle sander, it’s a good pick for delicate finishing work. It has a 3.5 amp (1/2 HP) motor and a wide base with nonslip feet to prevent the sander from moving while in operation.
The Shop Fox sander weighs just 30 pounds, so it’s light enough to move around the workshop. It has storage slots in its base for keeping accessories organized and close at hand. For additional safety, its power switch can be locked with a removable key.
This Bucktool bench sander is a high quality tool with a powerful 6.5-amp (3/4 HP) direct drive motor and a pair of sanding tools. It’s powerful and versatile enough to handle a variety of sanding jobs, with a 8-inch disc sander and 36-inch belt sander mounted on a cast aluminum base, stabilized by nonslip rubber feet.
There are two ports for attaching a dust collector or shop vac to make cleanup easier. Each sanding tool has an adjustable aluminum table. The belt sander adjusts from 0 to 90 degrees, and there’s a miter gauge included for angle sanding.
Tips for Using a Bench Sander
Safety is important when working with a bench sander. It’s crucial to use personal protective equipment (PPE) including: safety gloves, safety glasses, hearing protection, and a dust mask.
Operate the sander with a slow, deliberate pace to avoid accidental oversanding of the material. Like any benchtop power tool, a bench sander should be operated on a flat, stable surface so it doesn’t slip, wobble, or fall over. To recap:
- Use PPE when operating a bench sander.
- Don’t force the wood against the sander; move slowly and deliberately.
- Place the bench sander on a sturdy, flat surface so that it won’t shift while running.
FAQs About Bench Sanders
If you still aren’t sure how to choose the best bench sander, here’s more information to help you decide.
Q: What are bench sanders typically used for?
Bench sanders may have several different sanding tools built into them, including disc, belt, and spindle sanders. Each type of sanding tool on the bench sander has a different purpose. Disc sanders are good for sanding a lot of surface area in a hurry or stripping paint from old furniture.
Belt sanders can handle rough surfaces, and you can use them to round and shape wood. Spindle sanders are designed to produce a smooth finish on detailed edges and curves, so they’re good for fine carpentry and refinishing furniture.
Q: What is the difference between belt sanding and spindle sanding?
Belt sanders have a horizontal belt of sandpaper that runs through the tool like a conveyor belt. This type of sander can trim edges, level surfaces, and shape materials.
Spindle sanders have a single, vertical oscillating spindle with a piece of sandpaper wrapped around it. They’re good for shaping edges, adding curves, and doing detailed work.
Q: What’s the size range of materials that I can use with a bench sander?
Bench sanders can handle everything from smoothing long boards to beveling the edge of a dowel. They can handle big jobs or smaller jobs you would normally do with a rasp or handplane. The size of materials a bench sander can handle depends on the type of sanding tools it has and the size of the sanding surface.