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Help me choose a belt sander

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PerryGunn

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I've decided the time has come for me to buy a belt sander and, while I've narrowed down the choice, I'm hoping people can help me pick between them.

Most of the use will be either in my workshop or, for larger pieces, in the garden. The largest thing I'm likely to use them on in the near term is some oak stave worktops from our utility room that I need to 'refresh'. Then, in the spring, I'm starting my garden landscaping project which will involve constructing built-in bench seating etc. Whichever one I get, I'll be making a jig/frame to allow them to be used on their side/upside down to act as a bench sander.

Over the last couple of weeks I've managed, through a process of elimination involving budget, research, non-objective brand preference and the sacrifice of several virgins, to narrow my shortlist down to the Makita 9404 and the Makita 9903.

Both are available at (near enough to make no difference) the same price and, as far as I can tell, with the exception of size & weight, they are both built to the same spec - even down to using the same motor.

The main differences between the two seem to come down to
Size:
- 9404 is 4"/100mm using 24"/610mm belts
- 9903 is 3"/76mm using 21"/533mm belts
Weight:
- 9404 is 4.8Kg
- 9903 is 4.3Kg

My head says the 9903 will be large enough and easier to use as it's lighter, more compact and the smaller contact area should mean less chance of the motor bogging down, but I have a nagging doubt that I may end up missing some of the benefits that a 4" sander would offer such as a larger working area when bench mounted.

I need to get off the fence and make a decision so would appreciate comments & advice (but don't say 'buy both' as that's not an option ;) )
 

okeydokey

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9904 as the bigger size will give you more choice/flexibility the smaller one cant be made bigger but the bigger one can be used for smaller - if that makes sense - unless weight is an issue --- thats my pennyworth - better get some more toast and tea now :)
 

Spectric

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The 9404 is a good portable sander and has a flat top which will help when you
I'll be making a jig/frame to allow them to be used on their side/upside down t
It is available here at £248 inc and you can spread the cost over three months for no interest.

 

PerryGunn

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It is available here at £248 inc and you can spread the cost over three months for no interest.
Cheers Roy, but I can get the 9404 for £229 or the 9903 for £237 both inc. VAT & delivery - the 9404 includes a 10% off offer that ends tomorrow
 

Trainee neophyte

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As soon as you discover you can clamp it to the bench a whole new world of sanding and sharpening opportunities open up. Get the big one - you know you want to.
 

PerryGunn

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As soon as you discover you can clamp it to the bench a whole new world of sanding and sharpening opportunities open up. Get the big one - you know you want to.
That's the thing - sensible head says 3" is big enough but the tool-wh0re in me says 'bigger has to be better' (starting to sound like my wife there... ;))
 

Doug71

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I would go for the 4", I used their 9401 for years which weighs 7.3kg and the weight was never a problem when using it as it just kind of floats around, more weight actually helps.

The 9404 does seem to get lots of praise, the adjustable speed could be handy.

The only thing I see against it (although I have never used one) is that the dust bag seems to be on the wrong side if you are right handed? I have always had the 9401 and 9403 and they have the dust bag on the opposite side so if you are right handed the dust bag is away from you but on the 9404 it will be between you and the sander? Like I say never used one so don't know if it gets in the way or not :dunno:

If you went for the super heavy duty 9401 it comes with a bench stand, would save you making one ;)
 

PerryGunn

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It's through buyaparcel's ebay store - it's priced at £258 but they've a 10% off coupon which takes it down to £228.59

It's a rubbish business name but buyaparcel are an authorised Makita dealer and I've bought from them before and had no issue registering them with Makita for the 3-year warranty
 

baldkev

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Buyaparcel are good.

4" all the way!
When my old makita 4" sander died i bought a red mt makita. For £80!!!
It is plasticy and had a short lead originally, but i was short on cash. Its actually been a fantastic buy and cones with a bracket for table mounting. I have a benchtop sander in my workshop but i have used the bracket on site a few times
 

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baldkev

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Oh and..... buy some cheap 60 and 80 grit belts for fast stock removal, but buy some abranet belts for 100 grit and above, you wont regret it.
 

weekend_woodworker

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Buyaparcel are good.

4" all the way!
When my old makita 4" sander died i bought a red mt makita. For £80!!!
It is plasticy and had a short lead originally, but i was short on cash. Its actually been a fantastic buy and cones with a bracket for table mounting. I have a benchtop sander in my workshop but i have used the bracket on site a few times
+1 for Red Makita MT. I have had one for a few years for DIY. It can be used upside down and has never missed a beat.
 

hlvd

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I’d go for the 4” as a 150mm random orbit sander can do the same and if not more than a 3” belt sander.
In fact, I’ve not used a belt sander since I purchased a Metabo 450 duo about twenty years ago. I’ve even sold both my 4” and 3” belt sanders around three years ago.

Have you considered the 4” Bosch belt sander? You can buy a sanding frame and I believe an inversion stand for that machine.
 
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xy mosian

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I have one of the big 'uns. Badged as Wolf, that will give you some idea of the age. Still works a treat.
But a big tip.
Hold tight onto the thing when you fire it up. My wife attempted to sand a bit of floor with mine. It took her for a ride!

Enjoy, xy
 
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