When it comes to metalworking, one of the most important phases is the detailing and finishing phase. It doesn’t matter if you are machining automotive parts, aircraft parts, custom lathe bits, knife blades, sword blades, or even axe heads, you are going to need to grind off the rough edges and put a silky smooth finish on that piece with a high quality belt sander. However, unless you have spent extensive time working in a machine shop or been working with metal for years, the selection process for getting the right metal sander can be a little daunting for first-time buyers. Here are the most important considerations when purchasing a sander for metalworking, as well as some product reviews to help guide you in the right direction so you get the best sander for your needs and budget.
General International 15-232M1 Belt Sander/Grinder
OrangeA Belt Disc Sander Combination 4 x 36 Inch Belt Sander and 6 Inch Disc Sander Grinder Sander with Adjustable Belt and Sanding Table
Frank Mind 1/3HP Disc & Belt Sanders 1" X 30" Belt 5" Disc Sander Benchtop Combination Stand Electric Motor Polish Grinder Sanding Machine
Grizzly 389001 3-Phase Metalworking Belt Sander, 4 HP
Generic 1" X 5" Belt Disc Sander Wood Metal Hobbyist 3600 RPM
If you are looking for a general hobbyist-type metal sander that you can mount to your workbench with a minimal footprint, this is the sander for you. Let’s take a look at what makes this an ideal sander for basic metal sanding tasks:
For metalworkers that are looking to have a sander that pulls double duty, OrangeA offers this versatile belt and disc sander combo. Take a look at how this unique design can save you a lot of time and headaches.
Another excellent combo offering, this dual belt/disc sander is a good option for those with both wood and metalworking needs that need their machine to serve as a multipurpose finisher. Check out what makes this combo special:
From a manufacturer that lives up to its name, Grizzly offers this 3-Phase powered 4 HP belt sander designed specifically for metal work. Look at the key features that make this sander a true beast:
If you are hobbyist that only works with small scale wood or metal parts, this may be just the right sander for you. Thanks to its combination design of a belt and disc sander, this makes for an exceptional sander to keep in your hobbyist workshop or garage. Let’s look at the key features that make this a standout value:
If I was shopping for a metalworking sander for my workshop, i would definitely choose the OrangeA Belt Disc Sander Combination 4x36. It has all the features I want in a metal sander: adjustable belt angle, large disc sander, adjustable locking sanding tables, and a sturdy die-cast aluminum construction that will mount easily to any workbench. Get an OrangeA combo sander for yourself, and enjoy the benefits of a high quality, versatile sander in your metal or wood working shop.
Obviously, if you already work with metal you know what you work with every day around the shop. High carbon steel, stainless steel, aluminum, and cast iron all require different types of sanding belts or orbit sander pads, and some machinists also want a belt sander they can use with wood for glassmaking, carpentry, cabinetry, or woodworking as well as metalworking. It isn’t too difficult to find a sander that will pull double duty, but you may need to swap the orbital pad before beginning work each time if you intend to use your sander for multiple types of material, and you may need to airblast your sander thoroughly before switching materials to preserve and protect the motor and other moving parts.
These options are generally important to consider based on the type of finishing work you are doing and what kind of metalworking you primarily do in your home or professional machine shop.
Belt sanders are generally best for polishing and finishing straight edges and corners, or taking metal burrs or chips off of tool blades. They allow for superior angle control to maintain the shape of the cutting edge while providing it with a smooth uniform surface. You also need to consider how wide and how long you want the belt to be, as longer and wider belts stay cooler during operation, but they tend to be more expensive, and often you only really need a smaller 2-inch belt for finishing work.
Orbit metal sanders are generally best for shaping rounded edges and corners, such as on metal piping or certain automotive/aircraft parts that require a little finesse machining to get that perfect fit. As with belt sanders, the diameter/surface area of the wheel determine how cool it stays during operation, but you may not need a larger wheel if you work on mostly small scale projects.
There are also numerous models that offer both types of sanding surfaces, so more likely than not you won’t need to choose one or the other.
The prevailing preference for most metalworkers is that 50-grit sandpaper is the way to go in terms of overall utility in metalworking, but opinions vary widely when it comes what kind of material is best for the composition of the abrasive.
The basic reddish-brown aluminum oxide is the vanilla standard sandpaper, but it does not tend to last very long for sand certain materials like steel that has a higher hardness rating. It also generates heat very quickly, which means it will need to be allowed to cooled or have coolant sprayed on it more frequently. Additionally, if you are sanding aluminum parts or materials they tend to “gum up” or quickly render aluminum oxide sanding pads and belts.
Silicon oxide makes a good alternative for working with aluminum, but is similarly vulnerable to overheating and may require some lubrication with water or other a cooling agent to keep it from literally burning up on you.
Many metalworkers swear by using cubic zirconia (industrial diamond) sand paper and orbit pads though, as these generate the least heat and require little to no lubrication. Due to the hardness of CZ paper, it also lasts much longer than other types of belts or orbital sanding pads. You may have to invest a little more up front, but in the long run the extended lifespan and cooler operating temperature make it a worthwhile investment.
Higher-end metal sanders may require more voltage and current than your typical household electrical system, especially if you need a sander that can handle higher RPMs for fine detail finishes. Make sure before you purchase a metal sander that you know if it requires a 110-volt household outlet or the beefier 220-volt system for major appliances like ovens, laundry dryers, etc. You also need to check to see if the current is 2-phase or 3-phase as well, since some machines require one or the other.
This may seem like rather obvious consideration, but it really is very important. Make certain that you have sufficient space on your workbench or in your workshop if you get a bigger free-standing model.
Generally, ⅓-½ HP is more than enough power for hobbyist or small-scale professional work, but more powerful models are available for larger-scale work.
I believe there is a handyman in all of us as long as you have the right tools. I started this blog to help anyone who is interested in fixing things to learn their way around the different tools and to know how to perform different DIY tasks. I have been doing this for years and believe I am a master of this art.