Small, versatile benchtop sanders
For sanding small workpieces, a scaled-down belt/disc combo sander fits the bill perfectly. These easy-to-lift machines have 1–4" belts and 6" or 8" discs, helping you sand with more control and finesse. We tested several models in the WOOD® magazine shop, and recommend these.
To connect to the unusual-sized dust ports—each machine has separate ports for the belt and disc—you might have to buy a new shop-vacuum hose, or pull out the duct tape for a quick fix. Once connected, we enjoyed excellent dust collection on all models. All machines come with toyish miter gauges; you'll need to use a reliable square or angle gauge to set them accurately.
1×42" belt/8" disc
Each of these nearly identical machines (see photo, top) has a cast-iron table that reduces vibration. The 3⁄16 ×7⁄16 " miter slot in each table works only with the included miter gauge; we found a sloppy fit in the Grizzly and Shop Fox models. The 1" belt works great for sanding small or delicate workpieces, and for smoothing contours above the platen where the belt flexes. The nicely sized disc runs at 1,725 rpm, a slower speed that lessens friction burning.
Belt dust port: 13⁄4 " OD, 11⁄2 " ID
Disc dust port: 17⁄8 " OD, 11⁄2 " ID
Rikon 50-144, $300
Shop Fox W1850, $300
Grizzly H8192, $255
4×36" belt/8" disc
Rikon 50-114, $230
Belt and disc dust ports: tapered 13⁄8 " to 11⁄2 " OD, with tapered reducer
This model delivers most of the functionality of a bulky 6×36" belt/12" disc sander, but with a smaller footprint (and price). The belt platen has 81⁄4 " of sanding surface, and the belt can be positioned vertically, horizontally, or anywhere in between. We like the disc size, but at 3,450 rpm, it quickly heats up workpieces.
1×30" belt/6" disc
The nearly identical sanders below have variable-speed motors, which we prefer to use at the slowest speed—especially the disc—to minimize burning and maximize control. We like the 1" belt on each, but wish the 6"-diameter tables were larger.
Belt dust port: 13⁄4 " OD, 11⁄2 " ID, with tapered insert 19⁄16 " OD, 11⁄4 " ID
Disc dust port: 11⁄2 " OD, 11⁄4 " ID