Bench sanders are designed 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. Made to sit on a workbench, they are not portable, but are high powered and have the ability to handle an array of materials.
The best bench sanders include additional sanding tools, like a disc sander, belt sander, and spindle sander; some may also include a grinding or sharpening tool. When searching for the right one for your workshop, consider the type of projects you work on, how much power the sander offers, and the adjustability of the sander.
From belt sanders to disc sanders, this guide describes important 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 some of the best on the market.
- BEST OVERALL: Ryobi 4 in. x 36 in. Belt and 6 in. Disc Sander
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Shop Fox W1831 Oscillating Spindle Sander
- BEST PROFESSIONAL: Wen Belt and Disc Sander
- BEST VERTICAL: Bucktool Combo Belt Sander Bench Grinder
- BEST FOR WOODWORKING: Jet J-41002 2 in. x 42 in. Bench Belt and Disc Sander
- BEST PORTABLE: Wen 5-Amp Variable Speed Portable Spindle Sander
- ALSO CONSIDER: Rockwell Belt/Disc Combo Sander
How We Chose the Best Bench Sanders
We researched the most sought-after bench sanders in their respective categories. The best models are determined by their type, power, user-friendliness, and other special features included by top brands.
After extensive product research, we included options in our list of oscillating spindle sanders as well as disc and bench sanders made with outputs of 3.5 to 6.5 amps of power for light- to heavy-duty sanding tasks. Many of the top picks selected come with features such as miter gauges, adjustable tables for horizontal and vertical sanding, and dust collection systems or ports for added user-friendliness.
Plus, some select picks have added safety features such as safety switches, LED lights, and adjustable eye shields to prevent any injury or misuse. For added help, we included options that have nonslip feet to prevent unwanted vibration or movement while sanding. Finally, some of these models are made to be compact and lightweight for transporting, and others are made with large, heavy constructions for professional use.
Our Top Picks
After reviewing some of the important features bench sanders offer, you may have decided on the best type for the work that’s planned. To help with the tool search, this list of some of the best bench sanders on the market is organized by type. You may find that one of the tools below is exactly what you need in the workshop to create that goal finish.
The Ryobi benchtop belt sander can get a lot of sanding done in a hurry, thanks to the wide 4-inch by 36-inch belt sander and the driving force of the powerful 4.3-amp motor. This impressive bench sander also has a 6-inch disc sander and an adjustable sanding table that can be set from 0 to 45 degrees for optimal material positioning. It features an adjustable belt sander that can be positioned from 0 to 90 degrees for horizontal or vertical sanding.
The integrated dust port can be connected to a collection bag or to a vacuum to quickly and efficiently remove sawdust as it’s created, keeping the work area clean and clear of obscuring debris. For angled sanding, the sanding table has a miter gauge intended to support material at user-specified angles for smooth, accurate results.
- Type: Belt and disc sander
- Power: 120V / 4.3 amps
- Additional accessories: Integrated dust port, sanding table, and more
- 6-inch disc sander and adjustable sanding table; can be set from 0 to 45 degrees
- Can be adjusted from 0 to 90 degrees for horizontal and vertical use
- Can be connected to a collection bag or vacuum through the integrated dust port
- Miter gauge supports materials at any angle for precise sanding
- Base/frame is not finished and may damage the surface it’s placed on
- Heavy sanding may burn wood; may be best suited for light to medium sanding tasks
Get the Ryobi disc table sander at The Home Depot.
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 (½-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 and a dust port for collecting debris. For additional safety, its power switch can be locked with a removable key.
- Type: Oscillating spindle sander
- Power: 3.5 amps
- Additional accessories: Storage slots, wide base, and nonslip feet
- Versatile construction; 5 standing drum sizes and 6 sanding sleeve sizes
- Suitable for delicate finishing work and/or sanding types
- Wide base and nonslip feet prevent the sander from moving around while in use
- Light enough (at 30 pounds) to be portable in a workshop or on a jobsite
- Storage slots in the base can hold smaller tools and accessories
- Smaller oscillating range than similar oscillating sanders
- May not be compatible with some shop vacs and vacuums
Get the Shop Fox bench sander at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Northern Tool + Equipment.
This Wen bench belt sander comes with two sanding tools—a 4-inch-wide belt sander and a 6-inch-diameter disc sander—so it can handle a range of projects. It weighs a portable 39 pounds, which is heavy enough to not easily 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 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.
- Type: Belt and disc sander
- Power: 4.3 amps
- Additional accessories: Dual sanding tools and tension release lever
- 4-inch-wide sander and 6-inch-diameter disc sander; suitable for tackling multiple sanding projects
- Heavy-duty cast-iron base is less likely to wobble or move during sanding
- Simple tension release lever; easy to replace the sandpaper if necessary
- Dust collection port redirects dust and debris into a collection bag
- Heavy compared to similar options; may not be suitable for transporting
Get the Wen belt and disc sander at Amazon or The Home Depot.
This Bucktool bench sander has a 2-inch by 42-inch belt sander that can be adjusted from 0 degrees to 90 degrees, so it can be set up to run horizontally or vertically, depending on needs. There’s also a 6-inch bench grinder that can be used for sharpening and a brush wheel for removing rust from tools.
The combination belt sander/bench grinder has a 5-amp motor and a cast-iron base for better support while working. The grinder also comes with an adjustable eyeshield and a built-in LED light, which illuminates the work area while the wheel is in use.
- Type: Belt and disc sander
- Power: 5 amps
- Additional accessories: Cast-iron base, eye shield, and LED light
- 42-inch belt sander adjusts from 0 to 90 degrees; horizontal and vertical sanding offered
- 6-inch bench grinder can be used for sharpening
- Brush wheel included; suitable for removing rust from tools and other items
- Multiple accessories included for additional safety and user-friendliness
- Tension on the belt cannot be adjusted; may be tricky for some users
Get the Bucktool belt sander and grinder at Amazon.
Woodworkers in search of a highly functional benchtop belt disc sander may want to check out this tool by Jet that has a powerful 6.5-amp motor. This ¾-HP motor drives the vertical 2-inch by 42-inch belt sander at up to 3,100 SFPM (surface feet per minute) and the 8-inch disc sander at up to 3,450 RPM (revolutions per minute), helping to ensure a smooth finish on woodworking projects.
The high level of power and the heavy-duty steel and cast-iron construction adds to the weight of the sander, sitting at a hefty 60 pounds, so it may not be a good choice for users who want to pack it up and take it to multiple job sites. However, the 45-degree sanding table does come with a removable miter gauge to help users produce a smooth, accurate finish while sanding at an angle.
- Type: Belt and disc sander
- Power: 6.5 amps
- Additional accessories: 45-degree sanding table and miter gauge
- High-functionality benchtop belt; suitable for multiple sanding tasks
- Belt sander is capable of 3,100 SFPM and the disc sander produces 3,450 RPM
- Heavy-duty steel and cast-iron construction provides long-lasting durability; suitable for use as a stationary belt sander
- Heavier than other bench sanders; may not be suitable for frequent transporting or portability
Get the Jet belt and disc sander at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Northern Tool + Equipment.
Wen combines portability, affordability, and functionality in this portable oscillating spindle sander. It comes with three rubber spindle sizes at ¾ inches, 1 inch, and 1½ inches. The tool can be used as either a handheld spindle sander or a benchtop spindle sander when it’s secured to a workbench with the included mounting hardware. It’s equipped with a powerful 5-amp motor and features adjustable speeds between 1,800 and 3,200 RPM and oscillation rates between 50 and 90 strokes per minute.
This spindle benchtop sander is a compact option that’s about the same size as a standard drill, making it easy to carry the sander to the workpiece or to take the piece to the sander. The 1½-inch dust collection port helps collect some of the mess and minimizes cleanup as well.
- Type: Oscillating spindle sander
- Power: 5 amps
- Additional accessories: Dust collection port
- 3 rubber spindle sizes included; ¾ inch, 1 inch, and 1½ inches
- Can be used as a handheld spindle sander or benchtop spindle sander
- Adjustable speeds between 1,800 and 3,200 RPM; oscillating rates between 50 and 90 strokes per minute
- Suitable for portability; lightweight and compact enough for transporting
- Some users report some difficulty while using with limited visibility of what is being sanded
- May not be suitable for heavy-duty use; use for light- to medium-duty work
Get the Wen sander at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Lowe’s.
The Rockwell Belt/Disc Combo Sander can get a lot of work done fast, thanks to its wide belt sander and 4.3-amp (½-HP) motor. The Rockwell tool also has a 6-inch disc sander and an adjustable sanding table that can be set from 0 to 45 degrees for optimal material positioning. This belt sander can be adjusted from a horizontal position to a vertical sanding position.
The Rockwell has a safety switch for preventing accidental starts. For convenience, both the belt and disc sandpaper are easy to change. The Rockwell sander also comes with a dust collection system. It weighs 42 pounds, which is light enough for most to move it around or store it away.
- Type: Belt and disc sander
- Power: 4.3 amps
- Additional accessories: Adjustable sanding table, safety switch, and dust collection system
- 6-inch disc sander and adjustable sanding table; adjusts from 0 to 45 degrees
- Versatile construction; suitable for horizontal and vertical sanding projects
- Built-in safety switch prevents accidental starts and unwanted sanding
- Dust collection system built in helps prevent particles from circulating in the air
- Some users report poor construction and difficulty while using; belt tends to strip out easily
Get the Rockwell combo sander at Amazon, The Home Depot, Lowe’s, or Acme Tools.
What to Consider When Buying the Best Bench Sander
There is a lot to consider when searching for the right bench sander. From the space available to the type of sander, the following are some things to think about when looking for the best benchtop sander for a workshop.
One of the best features of a bench sander is that many different types of sanders fall under the category of bench sander, giving tool users a range of options for their woodworking projects. Bench sander types include belt and disc, drum, and oscillating spindle sanders.
- A belt and disc sander is a combination bench sander that includes a horizontal or vertical belt sander and a disc sander. This benchtop belt disc sander is a great choice for DIYers who enjoy woodworking projects because it provides more than one method for sanding, smoothing, and shaping woodworking pieces.
- Drum sanders have traditionally been large freestanding tools with impressive power, but recently manufacturers have started producing a type of drum benchtop sander that can sit on the work table or workbench. Drum sanders are designed to smooth long boards, panels, or doors, and can be thought of as a large, stationary belt sander.
- Oscillating spindle sanders have a vertical spindle where the abrasive sleeves are installed. This spindle rotates and oscillates up and down simultaneously, helping to prevent any lines from forming in the wood or alternate material. The result is a smooth finish on curves, contours, and other irregular shapes.
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 working with a small piece of wood. A bench sander with a ⅓- to ¾-horsepower motor (HP)—or about 1 to 5 amps—should be sufficient for most DIY sanding projects.
The best bench sanders for woodworking can be adjusted to customize motor speed, sanding angle, and sanding surface, which gives the tool the ability to handle a wider range of projects and materials. A bench sander with speed controls lets users throttle its power output.
The sanding angle on some belt sanders can be adjusted to horizontal or vertical. There are also bench sanders that can be set to use a range of sandpaper types for smoothing materials other than wood.
Ease of Use
If the goal is to find a tool that’s easy to use, look for a sander with intuitive controls, clearly indicated measurements, and clear instructions for use. It’s important for a bench sander to be heavy enough to remain steady as wood is pushed against it, but light enough to move around as needed in the workshop. A tool in the weight range of 30 to 40 pounds is usually ideal. Even with sufficient heft, it’s helpful for a sander to have a nonslip base so that it remains stable on the workbench during use.
Make sure to choose the right kind of bench sander for the work that’s planned. If the plan is to do fine work, a bench sander with a spindle sanding tool is the best bet. If a wide range of projects are planned, a sander with a belt sanding tool, disc sander, or grinding wheel may be the better choice.
Bench sanders can come with several different accessories or built-in features to help make it easier to control the sander and achieve the best finish possible on projects.
- Safety: Staying safe is the first concern while using a bench sander, so manufacturers have included safety features like a removable key to prevent the power from being turned on and a lockable power switch. Some products may come with other safety gear like gloves, safety glasses, hearing protection, or a dust mask.
- Bevel capacity: Beveling is the process of sanding or cutting a square edge to create a sloping one. Bench sanders can include a beveling device that controls the specific beveling range or beveling capacity, though this feature is more common on circular saws, miter saws, and table saws. Bench sanders tend to rely more on miter gauges for angled cuts.
- Miter gauge: Some bench sanders have a built-in slot that can be used to secure a miter gauge, which holds the material in place during sanding. This is especially useful for sanding on an angle because the miter gauge keeps the angle consistent.
- Dust collector: Bench sanders produce dust and debris that can become a safety hazard. Look for models with built-in dust collectors. When running, these collectors produce suction that pulls dust from the sandpaper into a dust collection bag. After the work is done, the dust can be easily emptied from the bag.
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.
With so many bench sander options and features, it’s understandable to have some lingering questions. If you still aren’t sure how to choose the best bench sander, the following helpful answers to common questions about bench sanders may help.
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 or vertical adjustable 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 a range of tasks, from smoothing long boards to beveling the edge of a dowel. They can handle big jobs or smaller jobs that would normally be done with a rasp or hand plane. 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.
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