Belt sanders are powerful tools. They can be used to shape a project, create fine finishes, and even to help maintain your other tools. With enough know-how (and a few other tools on hand) you can even use belt sanders to create your own custom tools and blades.
There’s one problem with a lot of belt sanders though.
They can be really large.
Not only are larger belt sanders less portable and harder to store, but they also aren’t always the best option for your project. Ideally, you should have both a larger and a smaller belt sander since you’ll be able to get different uses from each option.
That’s why we’ve put together this review of the best mini belt sanders. There’s also a short buying guide at the bottom of the article to help you choose the best model for your needs.
This mini sander still has a reasonable amount of length for you to work with. That means it’s great for detailed sanding, but it isn’t actually a tiny sander. The combination makes it a good choice for sanding spot welds and doing metal prep.
In fact, helping clean up spot welds and metal prep in the shop are two of the biggest reasons for owning this kind of sander.
The arm on this sander can swivel 360 degrees, so you’re able to move the sander to whatever angle is most appropriate for your project. The toolless swivel system is easy to use and highly effective. More importantly, it locks into place particularly well, so you have the security you need to know that your sander isn’t going to move while you’re working.
A simple tensioning system makes changing the belts on this sander relatively easy. It doesn’t require any additional tools, so you can change it out whenever you need to.
An adjustable speed setting gives you the option of going from 0-16,000 RPM and everything in between. That’s a lot of control over the performance and speed of your sander. That way you can control the speed of your results, and slow down when a slightly more delicate touch is necessary.
Why we like it
This sander is a good all-round option that’s generally most useful in metal shops and for cleaning up weld marks. It’s got a versatile and effective design, along with a few ease-of-use features that make it more effective overall.
Wen is a trusted and well-known manufacturer in the mini sander space, so it’s only natural that this mini sander made it onto the list. This sander is specifically considered a medium grit detailing and file sander. That’s great for a lot of detailed work and finishing, not so great when you need to take off a lot of material at once.
This sander makes your job a little easier by including an auto tensioning system. That way you don’t have to worry about the belt stretching while you’re using it and slipping off the sander. It will automatically maintain good tension on your belts so that you can concentrate on other parts of your project.
It’s also nice to see that this sander comes with a dust collection port built-in. It doesn’t have any suction until you hook it up to a vacuum system, but it gives you the option of creating a dust collection system when needed.
Why we like it
Web sanders are almost always a good option for professionals and for home use. This model is great for detailed work and for making sure you’re able to get into tight corners and do as much detailed work as you need. The variable speed control gives you a lot more flexibility with the performance of the sander as well.
This lightweight air-powered sander is a smaller even more detail-oriented option. At a shorter 13” inch belt length, this model isn’t meant to cover a lot of space quickly, that’s a job for bigger sanders. However, this model is perfect when you need to do smaller, more detailed work quickly, or very precisely.
The variable speed control system combined with air as the primary power source gives you a lot of flexibility and control over the performance of this sander. That’s perfect for professionals who are looking for a very particular finish on their projects.
The smaller size of this sander also means that it can often get into spaces where other sanding tools simply can’t reach. The longer thinner sanding belt, compared to a sanding mouse, means that this sander can so place even the smallest hand-held tools often struggles to reach.
Since this sander comes with 3 different sanding belts at different grits, you can get started sanding almost as soon as this sander comes out of the box.
Why we like it
If you’re looking for a small pneumatic sander, this model is exactly what you’ve been looking for. Designed for incredibly detailed work, but with the power for significant sanding and polishing, this tool gives you the versatility and flexibility you really need.
This corded electric mini sander is a good choice if you’re looking for a sander or electric file that’s very consistent in performance and that doesn’t need any additional tools to operate. No need for an air compressor here.
This sander is a very narrow but relatively long belt design. You’ll need 1/2 in. By 18 in sanding belts, and that half-inch width is perfect for detailed work. It’s not quite as good as hand detailing your finish, but it’s about as close as you can get with a belt sander design.
The sanding belt on this design is a little less flexible than some of the designs we’ve reviewed, with only 180 degrees of pivot instead of the full 360-degree rotation. That’s not too bad overall, it’s still plenty of pivot and plenty of power, but it’s worth noting in case you need a little more rotation.
The standard 2 prong plug is versatile and can be safely used anywhere with a standard electrical outlet.
This sander is also incredibly durable, which means it’s a great choice for your main workshop. This sander can be used as a portable option as well, though it’s only functional where you have consistent electricity.
Because this is a corded sander, this sander is able to provide good power and heavy-duty performance in tight spaces. Armed with the right sandpaper this sander can handle just about any materials and challenge you throw at it.
Why we like it
This design might not be quite as flexible as some of the other sanders we’ve discussed in this article, but it’s just as powerful and versatile as the others. This design’s corded power also makes it incredibly consistent as well as detailed and incredibly effective. The power of the motor on this machine is well designed for grinding as well as more delicate sanding polishing and finishing work.
Mini Belt Sander Buyer’s Guide
Now that we’ve talked about some of the best mini belt sanders, let’s take a look at some of the most important features you need to look for to find the right option for you.
The speed range of your sander determines how quickly it works. It also determines how fine a finish you can get, even with the best sandpaper belts to help.
Usually, more speed is better when it comes to sanding. The added speed and friction helps you get to your goal a little faster and can help you polish your finish that much more quickly.
However, speed shouldn’t be your only consideration. Variable speed systems are generally the most versatile sanders because they also give you the option to slow down. Slowing down, especially when you’re using a fine-grit polishing belt, can sometimes give you better results. Certainly, slower speeds can help you be more precise and targeted.
That means that you should look for sanders with a relatively high top RPM or high feet per minute cycle rate, but you should also look for sanders that give you a wide range of RPM including plenty of slower speeds for greater precision and control.
Dust Collection System
Having a dust collection system is an asset on any sander or grinder. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that dust collection is a standard part of the tool. In fact, built-in dust collection is relatively rare.
Most sanders, especially mini belt sanders like these, have a dust collection port rather than a functional dust collection system.
Having a port means that you can hook the tool up to a vacuum, shop vac, or other dust collection systems to provide suction next to your work area. That helps minimize necessary cleanup and keeps your shop a little healthier by minimizing airborne debris.
That’s critical because most small airborne particulates can be dangerous to breathe, especially in high concentrations and for long periods. Just as important, sawdust, metal shavings, and other kinds of grinding debris can cause visibility problems, safety hazards, and can even be flammable while you’re working.
It’s possible to safely work with a sander that doesn’t have a good dust collection system, but it’s better to have one if you can.
The power source determines how consistent and how powerful your mini belt sander is. Usually, the best mini belt sanders are powered either with an air compressor, making them a pneumatic tool, or they are corded electric tools.
Both options can be equally effective and powerful, but it’s important to think about how much space you have. Electric options tend to be a little more expensive for the same power and pneumatic designs, but they don’t take up as much storage space because you don’t need an air compressor.
There are a few battery-powered options, but these are usually less powerful and have a much more limited run time before you need to change the battery. For that reason, corded electric and pneumatic sanders are generally a better choice, especially for your workshop.
Mini belt sanders are supposed to be small. These belt sanders are designed for detailed work, small spaces, and fixing relatively small sections of material at a time. That means that the belt on your sander can’t be too large, or it won’t be able to access the small spaces it’s designed to work in.
That means that you should generally look for mini sanders with narrow belts. Usually, the best models will be no wider than ½-1 inch.
Now that you know a little more about mini belt sanders, hopefully, you’ll feel a little more confident picking the right sander for your shop and your needs. We’ve reviewed the best mini belt sanders on the market, provided a short buying guide talking about common important features, and gone over the biggest advantages of every sander we reviewed.
While we stand behind all of the sanders on this list as being a good option for most shops, the Astro Tools 3037 Air Belt Sander provides the most versatility, flexibility, and strength as a mini sander. It’s precise, powerful, and small enough to fit into the smallest spaces.
I have an unhealthy obsession with contracting and renovation. I’ve been a contractor for over 15 years and I love tackling challenging projects to make them look amazing.