Belt Sander vs Orbital Sander – Which One Should You Choose?

Last Updated on October 10, 2021

Sanding a wood project can be the unsung hero of the project, giving it a professional touch.

However, usually, woodworkers fear the part of taking sandpaper and scrubbing the wood project by hand because it takes a lot of time to perfect, and it’s very tiresome.

This is why we have powered sanders to help us save time and energy. Still, it is quite a task choosing between the different kinds of sanders, and choosing the wrong one could ruin your project.

Hence, here is everything that you need to know about the two most famous kinds of sander available in the market. Thus, after reading this belt sander vs. orbital sander guide, you will have no confusion choosing between these two.

What Is Sanding?

For people who don’t know exactly what sanding entails, it’s when you grind off wood fibers off an uneven piece of wood to make it smooth and uniform.

Funny thing is that even though we call it sanding, but no sand is involved in the entire process. Tools are used to trim, mold, and finish a piece of wood until it is smooth or the way the woodworker prefers. Sanding is also used while refurbishing old wood or furniture to give them a whopping new look.

Belt Sander vs. Orbital Sander

Now that we have decided to make use of the power tools that are there in the market, we have to choose between them, and it depends on how you plan to use your sander as each sander comes with a unique purpose. The most popular among all of them are belt sanders and orbital sanders. Let us know them in detail.

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Now that we know the primary purpose and functions of the two power tools, if we know the pros and cons of each of the sanders, it might help us make a better decision. The pros and cons of each of the sanders are described below.

Belt Sander

Belt sanders are called aggressive sanders as they peel off a large amount of wood in a very short time. It is usually used industrially for its regressive behavior. The sanders have two rotating drums that move the sad paper around as they move, covering a large surface.

And belt sanders can scrape off coating materials like paint as well. If you are planning to smoothen out entire planks in a short time, this would be the choice for you.

Advantages of Belt Sanders

  • Large Range of Use: It is not only used for wood, but it can also be used to scrub metal or the floor as well.
  • Fast and Easy to Use: Their primary purpose is to sand a lot of wood very fast, and this is possible only when the sander is easy to operate.
  • Many Varieties: There are different kinds of belt sanders varying in size and strength. A belt sander can also be stationary, used on wood, or handheld, used on surfaces that can’t move like the floor.

Disadvantages of Belt Sanders

  • Brute Force: As the sander uses aggressive force, it may damage the project in case of a slight discrepancy.
  • Too Loud: Belt sanders are said to be too loud to work with.

Orbital Sander

The orbital sander is lighter and gentler than the belt sander, as they display panache rather than brute force. Orbital sanders are used to sander smaller wooden projects that require a lot more delicacy. You can use this to polish or shape a project and make it smooth and shiny.

Orbital sanders do not have the power to scrape off paint or other coating materials from the piece of wood. It is not ideal to use orbital sanders to sand an entire plank of wood because it will take a lot of time, and it might take a belt sander just a couple of minutes.

Advantages of Orbital Sanders

  • Shape: It’s small and easy to carry, and it can smooth out all of the wood projects, including the corners and tough spots, with ease.
  • Sandpapers: There is no need to buy any particular sandpaper or to change them frequently.
  • Smooth Surfaces: It gives us a smooth finish.

Disadvantages of Orbital Sanders

  • Not Fast: It takes time to get a smooth finishing.
  • Not That Powerful: It can’t rub off the paint or other coating materials off a surface.

Hand Sanding Vs. Power Tools

Sanding is often said to be very personal to people who love working with wood. When asked a woodworker what their preferred way to sand is, all the answers will be different because each person has their unique choice of pressures, passes, and duration. The difference between the two methods is as follows.

By Hand

Woodworkers who love perfection love to use their hands manually to sand their wood, using sandpaper as it gives the most control over the surface of the wood. Hand sanding is preferred by most woodworkers because it can reach the corners, and breaks that a machine usually can’t.

However, it takes a great amount of time, and the entire process can be very tiresome, as you have to manually scrub the piece of wood until you think you have reached perfection.

Belt Sander vs Orbital Sander

Power Tools

On the other hand, power tools make your job a thousand times easier and quicker. All you have to do is, brush the machine all-around your wood project.

Although it is quite hard for the machines to get all of those crocks and corners and the finishing isn’t as perfect as one done by hand, it gets the job done, and using these power tools is getting popular by the day.

Final Thought

There is your guide to choosing between the two sanders. The two sanders may sound to be completely different, but if I am honest, most wood projects would require the use of both of these sanders together to get the best result.

You aggressively strip off wood and paint at first and then bring in some finesse. However, one of them works just fine for home projects as well, depending on your purpose and the future projects you have in mind. So make your decision wisely, and let’s give the professionals a run for their money.

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