Are 4 Inch Belt Sanders Any Faster?


From original questioner:

My shop is looking at buying new belt sanders. We have a lot of 3" belts in inventory. I was wondering if anyone with a 4" sander feels that it is worth it to buy one and save time on jobs. I don't feel like the extra inch is going to save that much time on a 13' counter top.

From contributor Jo

Probably won't save much time but I personally think they are easier to use Little more stable

From contributor Ji

Do any of you guys sand panels with a
belt sander? I never do because I always
get slight gouges no matter how hard I
try, but my sander is a 3".
Would a 4" belt sander be the answer?

From contributor Ad

Personally I dislike belt sanders. There are few tools that can destroy your work faster than a belt sander.

Obviously you are already using the 3". If you get a 4" make sure it has variable speed. The 4" have way more torque. Most of 3" ones I've used are like toys compared to my 4" Bosch. The 4" has way more surface area because its not only wider, but its also longer. The width makes it more stable, so you should do less damage.

From contributor Do

At a shop I worked at a long time ago we had to beltsand all the face frames on cabinets , we had a Porter cable . We called it a " train" not sure the model # is or was . It was chain driven and used oil and heavy , you could almost just let the weight of the sander work . They are probably 3 times more expensive that the cheaper ones , but it will last forever ! If I had to sand alot all the time I would buy one without hesitating and never look back . Very well balanced , no other beltsander holds a candle to it ! Probably even find one on ebay , dang might go look myself !

From contributor Do

I use a porter cable 3x21 right now , mainly I just use it to sand down laminate edging on top of my countertops , use a router w/ bevel for bottom edge . The variable speed is my trigger finger ! If you have someone sanding and have to have a variable speed for them I would find someone else to do the sanding !

From contributor Ji

Actually I haven't used my belt sander in
several years, like you, I find it way to
aggressive for woodworking.
I just wondered if it was because of it being
a small one. I think I'll stay with what I got.
I use random orbit sanders for my panels.
The new sand discs by Mirka called
"Autonet" are really helping.
They're a screen type material.
they're faster, lasts longer and cut better.

From contributor D

Belt sanders are rated by feet per minute so the speed of the rotation is different from brand to brand .Not sure if faster is better on a belt sander .
I use an old Rockwell freight train belt sander 3"X24" and as Doni said the weight of the machine is such that you don't really need to press downward and the balance is superior to others I have used over the years .BTW they run on worm drive much like a skill saw with 90 wt gear oil inside.
I belt sand all my face frames and doors and smaller panels as I do not have a wide belt .

From contributor Ma

I should have gone into more detail on what we use them for. They are mainly used on laminated tops. There will be no finish work done to these counters. Minimal gouging isn't a problem. The counters are long and flat so we don't really have a stability issue. I'm looking for the fastest way to sand these counters before they are post laminated. Wide belt is out of the question.

From contributor Do

Mark , I use mine for exactly same thing , I use a 3 " wide porter cable . I would say buy a 4" at lowes and just try it . If it dont work take it back . Atleast then you would know

From contributor Ad

Kirk always asks Scottie for "more power"

The 4" are much more powerful than the 3". They have a bigger footprint, so they should cover more area faster.

I like the Bosch and Porter Cable sanders. Get a variable speed 4". It should be an improvement.

From contributor Ge

We use a festool RO 150 for counters prior to laminating. We use a hard pad and it does a good job of flushing the edges also.

I have a belt sander but I only use it for rounding corners on pieces I can't get to the edge sander.


From contributor Jo

Used to use one of the "train" PC belt sanders and they worked great. I don't believe they are available anymore. Bosch had a decent 4x24 but I think they might have stopped production too. PC and Makita still have them and both work well for what intended. As for gouging, a graphite platen will keep them working better and cooler. Less gouging when we added it to the PC.

From contributor Da

We like our Bosch 6" dual mode sander for any large sanding that does not fit into the drum sander. We also have a 4" porter cable belt sander we use for heavy glue removal with a 50 grit belt. Since we got the bosch dual mode we hardly touch that 4" belt sander any more. We find it quicker, easier, and does a much better job on large flat surfaces than the belt sander. Change out the discs often, really often.