Belt Sander Vs Orbital Sander: What’s the Difference in 2024

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Picture yourself in a world where sanding becomes a breeze, where surfaces are effortlessly smoothed and transformed. Now, imagine standing at the precipice of this sanding utopia, facing a choice that could determine your sanding destiny.

Belt sander or orbital sander? In this article, we will delve into the realm of sanding tools, comparing the power and speed of the belt sander with the versatility and finesse of the orbital sander.

Prepare to be captivated as we unravel the secrets behind the Belt Sander vs Orbital Sanders, leaving you with all the knowledge needed for your quest on the perfect sanding companion.

Key Differences Between Belt and Orbital Sanders

When comparing belt sanders and orbital sanders, there are several key differences to consider:

The first difference lies in the sanding method. Belt sanders push sandpaper in a loop, while orbital sanders move sandpaper in a circle while laid flat on the surface. This distinction affects the way the sandpaper interacts with the wood.

The second difference is in the type of sandpaper used. Orbital sanders can use almost any sandpaper, providing flexibility and cost-effectiveness. On the other hand, belt sanders require specific sandpaper, which can be more expensive.

The third difference is in power and material removal. Belt sanders have more power and can remove more material, making them ideal for large surface projects that require aggressive sanding. Orbital sanders, while not as powerful, have the right amount of power to avoid removing too much material.

Lastly, the sanding speed differs between the two. Belt sanders have higher sanding speed, allowing them to remove material quickly. In contrast, orbital sanders provide a slower, more controlled sanding speed.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall Belt Sander

WEN 6321 7-Amp 3 in. x 21 in. Corded Belt Sander with Dust Bag , Black

WEN 6321 Belt Sander

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.

Best Overall Orbital Sander

DEWALT 20V MAX Orbital Sander, 12,000 OPM, Brushless Motor for Extra Long Run Time, Bare Tool Only (DCW210B)

DEWALT 20V MAX Orbital Sander

Brushless motor provides optimal runtime and efficiency.

Variable-speed control allows for precise speed adjustment.

Low-profile height enables precise sanding in tight spaces.

WEN 6321 Belt Sander

Reasons to Buy

Reason #1 – 7-amp motor rotates the belt at over 13 feet per second.

Reason #2 – Compact design weighs in at a mere six pounds to limit the fatigue of the user.

Reason #3 – Includes a detachable dust bag to minimize clean-up.

Reasons to Avoid

Reason #1 – May leave visible sanding marks.

The WEN 6321 Belt Sander is the best choice for those seeking a compact and lightweight option with a powerful motor and convenient features. With its 7-amp motor, this belt sander rotates the belt at over 13 feet per second, allowing for quick and efficient sanding.

Weighing in at only six pounds, it’s incredibly light, reducing fatigue during extended use. The sander also includes a detachable dust bag, minimizing clean-up and keeping your workspace tidy.

One of its standout features is the lock-in safety feature, which enables continuous sanding without requiring a constant grip on the trigger, providing convenience and ease of use. Additionally, the WEN 6321 Belt Sander comes with a two-year warranty and a nationwide network of skilled technicians, ensuring that you’re covered if any issues arise.

Best For: Those who need a compact and lightweight belt sander with a powerful motor and convenient features.

Product Dimensions‎12″L x 6″W x 6.5″H
Grit Type‎Coarse
Power Source‎Corded Electric
AC Adapter Current‎7 Amps
Grit Number‎60
Item Weight‎6.2 Pounds

DEWALT 20V MAX Orbital Sander

Reasons to Buy

Reason #1 – Brushless motor provides optimal runtime and efficiency.

Reason #2 – Variable-speed control allows for precise speed adjustment.

Reason #3 – Low-profile height enables precise sanding in tight spaces.

Reasons to Avoid

Reason #1 – May not remove material as quickly as a belt sander.

With its brushless motor and variable-speed control, the DEWALT 20V MAX Orbital Sander offers the perfect combination of runtime and efficiency for any sanding job. The hand sander features a variable-speed control that allows you to adjust the speed from 8,000 to 12,000 OPM to match the speed to the application. This ensures that you have the right amount of power for any sanding task.

The low-profile height of the power sander allows you to get close to the work surface for precise sanding. The sander also comes with a replaceable 8-hole hook-and-loop sanding pad, making it quick and easy to change the sandpaper. With a dust-sealed switch and a dust port designed to fit directly to dust collectors, this sander helps keep your work area clean.

The DEWALT 20V MAX Orbital Sander is comfortable to use, thanks to its texturized rubber overmold grip. It also comes with a one-handed locking dust bag for easy disposal of dust. Overall, the DEWALT 20V MAX Orbital Sander is a top choice for any sanding job.

Best For: DIY enthusiasts and professionals who require a versatile and efficient orbital sander for various sanding tasks.

Product Dimensions‎8.8″L x 5.7″W x 6.3″H
Grit Type‎Fine
Voltage‎20 Volts
Power Source‎Battery Powered
AC Adapter Current‎5 Amps
Grit Number‎220
Maximum Rotational Speed‎12000 RPM
Item Weight‎0.09 Kilograms

Belt Sander Pros and Cons

The belt sander offers efficient material removal from large surfaces and is ideal for heavy-duty sanding tasks. One of the benefits of using a belt sander is its ability to quickly sand large areas, making it a powerful tool for projects that require aggressive sanding. It has a sanding belt that rotates rapidly, allowing it to remove material at a faster rate compared to other sanding tools like orbital sanders or sheet sanders. Additionally, belt sanders often come with variable speed options, giving you better control over the sanding process.

However, there are some drawbacks to using a belt sander. One disadvantage is that it can leave visible sanding marks on the surface. This is because the sanding belt rotates in a single direction, which can create a pattern of scratches. Another downside is that belt sanders tend to be heavy and bulky, which can limit maneuverability and make it more difficult to use in tight spaces.

Orbital Sander Pros and Cons

Orbital sanders offer a versatile and efficient solution for sanding various materials and accessing corners and tight spaces.

One of the pros of using an orbital sander is its square design, which allows you to easily reach corners and tight spaces that may be difficult to access with other sanding tools. Additionally, orbital sanders create swirl patterns that enable quick sanding of large sections, making them ideal for projects that require a smooth finish.

However, there are some cons to consider when using an orbital sander. Firstly, orbital sanders have a slower material removal rate compared to belt sanders, which means that it may take longer to achieve the desired result. This slower pace may require multiple passes to get the job done. Additionally, orbital sanders may not be as effective for heavy material removal as belt sanders. If you’re working with rough surfaces or need to remove a significant amount of material, a handheld belt sander might be a better choice.

It’s worth noting that orbital sanders come with different features and options, such as variable speed settings, which allow you to adjust the sanding speed based on your project’s needs. This flexibility makes orbital sanders suitable for a wide range of applications, from sanding wood floors to preparing surfaces for painting.

Another advantage of orbital sanders is their random oscillation motion, which helps prevent visible circular sanding marks on the workpiece.

Material Removal Speed: Belt Vs Orbital Sander

If you’re looking to compare the material removal speed of belt sanders and orbital sanders, it’s important to understand how these two tools differ in their sanding capabilities. When it comes to material removal speed, belt sanders have the upper hand. Here’s why:

  • Belt sanders are designed for heavy material removal. They’ve a higher speed and can tackle large areas and rough surfaces with ease. If you have a lot of material that needs to be removed quickly, a belt sander is the way to go.
  • On the other hand, orbital sanders, also known as random orbital sanders, are designed for finer finishes. They’ve a slower material removal speed compared to belt sanders. This makes them more suitable for tasks that require precision and a smoother finish.

Sanding Finish: Belt Vs Orbital Sander

For achieving a smooth finish, the orbital sander is often the preferred choice over the belt sander. The belt sander is powerful and efficient for heavy-duty sanding tasks, but it may leave visible sanding marks due to its aggressive nature.

On the other hand, the orbital sander with its random orbital motion is ideal for achieving a swirl-free finish. It’s more maneuverable and versatile, making it suitable for sanding in tight spaces and corners.

The speed of an orbital sander is lower compared to a belt sander, but it excels in providing a finer sanding finish. This makes it the go-to choice for most finishing jobs.

The handheld or portable belt sander, while efficient at removing material quickly, may not be as effective in producing a smooth finish and can potentially damage the wood if not used with caution.

Therefore, when it comes to sanding finish, the orbital sander is the recommended sanding tool over the belt sander.

Maneuverability and Ease of Use: Belt Vs Orbital Sander

When it comes to maneuverability and ease of use, the belt sander and orbital sander offer distinct advantages. Here’s what you need to know about the differences between these two types of sanders:

Belt Sander:

  • The belt sander is a powerful tool that works well for heavy material removal.
  • It’s available in both corded and cordless options, with handheld and stationary models.
  • The belt sander has a larger size and more powerful motor, making it less maneuverable.
  • It’s better suited for larger, flat surfaces and aggressive sanding.
  • However, it may leave visible sanding marks and requires more skill and control to handle.

Orbital Sander:

  • The orbital sander is a versatile tool suitable for various materials and applications.
  • It’s available in corded and cordless options, with a lighter and more compact design.
  • The orbital sander is more maneuverable and easier to use in tight spaces.
  • It provides a smoother finish and is easier to handle and control.
  • The orbital sander is adaptable for various shapes and sizes of workpieces.

When choosing the right sander for your project, consider the surface you’ll be working on, the amount of material removal needed, and the level of maneuverability required. Understanding the differences between belt sanders and orbital sanders will help you make an informed decision.

Applications and Best Uses for Belt Sanders

When it comes to the applications and best uses for belt sanders, understanding their capabilities and limitations is key. Belt sanders are ideal for heavy-duty sanding tasks that require material removal. They excel at quickly removing material from large surfaces, making them suitable for rough sanding and leveling sub-floor sections during flooring installation.

Belt sanders are also great for cleaning large pieces of wood like boards from pallets. They can be used for both wood and metal sanding, and are faster than orbital sanders when it comes to sanding large areas like table tops. However, they aren’t recommended for finish work or delicate surfaces, as they may leave visible sanding marks. It’s important to use caution when using a belt sander, as staying in one place too long can result in over-sanding or uneven surfaces.

In order to get the best results, it’s important to choose the right sandpaper grit for the job and to keep the belt sander moving at a steady pace. Remember to always wear appropriate safety gear, such as goggles and a dust mask, as belt sanders can generate a significant amount of dust.

When it comes to selecting the right tool for the job, consider the size of the sanding surface and the level of material removal required. If you need to remove a lot of material quickly, a belt sander is the way to go. However, if you need a smoother finish or more versatility, an orbital sander may be a better choice.

Applications and Best Uses for Orbital Sanders

To achieve a smooth and flawless finish on a variety of materials, orbital sanders are the go-to choice for light to medium sanding tasks. Here are some of the best applications and uses for orbital sanders:

  • Floors: Orbital sanders are ideal for light to medium sanding on floors, making them perfect for preparing the surface for a new top coat of clear finish. They can efficiently remove imperfections and provide a smooth base for the finishing process.
  • Surface Stains and Finishing: When it comes to removing light surface stains and achieving an ultra-smooth finish, orbital sanders excel. They reduce hand fatigue and create a polished look without leaving behind visible sanding marks.
  • Countertops and Paint Stripping: Handheld orbital sanders are also great for smoothing composite countertops and stripping paint. Their lightweight design and easy maneuverability make them effective in tackling small pieces and hard-to-reach places.
  • Versatility: One of the key advantages of orbital sanders is their versatility. They can handle both rough sanding and finish sanding, making them suitable for a wide range of materials and applications. Whether you’re working on wood, metal, or plastic, an orbital sander can help you achieve the desired results.

Belt Sander Vs Orbital Sander: Which One Should You Choose?

If you’re wondering which sander to choose between a belt sander and an orbital sander, consider your project’s size, material type, and desired level of control.

The differences between these two sanders make it important to choose the right tool for your specific needs:

The belt sander is ideal for larger projects that require heavy material removal. It has a higher removal rate and is great for aggressive sanding. On the other hand, the orbital sander is measured in terms of orbits per minute and is more versatile. It’s suitable for both rough and finish sanding, making it easier to use on various materials.

The orbital sander provides better control and produces smoother finishes compared to the belt sander. It’s also more maneuverable due to its palm grip design.

Final Verdict: Belt Sander or Orbital Sander?

For the final verdict on whether to choose a belt sander or an orbital sander, consider the specific needs of your project and the desired finish. Here are some key factors to help you make the right decision:

Material Removal and Power:

  • If you have a large, flat-surface project that requires high sanding power and quick material removal, the belt sander is the way to go. It excels at heavy-duty tasks and can tackle aggressive sanding with ease.
  • On the other hand, if you’re working on smaller, delicate surfaces or need a smoother finish, use an orbital sander. While it may not remove material as quickly as the belt sander, it offers versatility and finesse for both rough and fine sanding tasks.

Finish and Ease of Use:

  • The belt sander leaves linear scratch patterns, which may not be suitable for final finishing touches. If you want a swirl-free and smoother finish, the orbital sander is the better choice.
  • The orbital sander is also more maneuverable and easier to control, making it ideal for working around surfaces and achieving precision.

Belt Sander Vs Orbital Sander – FAQ

What is a belt sander and an orbital sander?

A belt sander is a powerful woodworking tool that uses a continuous loop of abrasive belt to sand down materials. It is a power tool designed for rapid material removal and is known for its efficiency in flattening and smoothing surfaces. On the other hand, an orbital sander is a more versatile and maneuverable sander that utilizes a sanding disc in a random orbit to provide a finer finish on surfaces. It is typically used for detail work, finishing, and smoothing curved surfaces.

What are the key differences between a belt sander and an orbital sander?

The primary difference lies in their sanding motion and application. A belt sander operates in a rectangular motion, providing aggressive material removal, making it suitable for large, flat surfaces. Meanwhile, an orbital sander moves in a random orbit, making it ideal for finer finishing and more delicate work, as it minimizes visible sanding marks.

Which type of projects are ideal for a belt sander?

A belt sander is well-suited for projects involving significant material removal and leveling, such as hardwood flooring installations or large woodworking projects. Its aggressive nature makes it efficient for working with wood grain and rapid stock removal.

When should I use an orbital sander instead of a belt sander?

An orbital sander is preferable for tasks that require precision and a finer finish, such as working on edges and corners, refinishing old furniture, or dealing with more delicate materials. Its ability to produce a circular pattern makes it suitable for achieving a smoother, swirl-free surface.

Does the speed of sanding differ between a Belt Sander and an Orbital Sander?

A belt sander operates at feet per minute, providing a high-speed sanding action for rapid material removal. In contrast, an orbital sander uses a random orbit pattern and typically offers lower sanding speeds—ideal for controlled and precise sanding.

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Ira Njoroge

Hey, I’m Ira Njoroge, the founder of MySpaceAffair. Early on in my life, I had a passion to embark on a mission to create a cleaner, and more organized household. With a bachelor's degree in engineering after graduating from the University of Maryland in 2015 and seven years as a General Contractor and professional cleaner, on top of my DIY Enthusiasm. I saw the need for a reliable information source for homeowners. My passion, diligence, experience, and hired professionals confirms the reliability of all the advice given in My Space Affair and I hope to provide you all with reliable and thorough content!