My Belt Sander Review: Makita 9403 Belt Sander
What Should You Want in a Belt Sander?
A belt sander is simply a sanding machine that uses a seamless loop of sandpaper (rotating around two drums) to sand down wood, sheetrock, and other materials. If you have ever spent a couple of days sanding and repairing a painted fence like I have, you learn very quickly what you want in your “belt” sander. My personal “wants” for my belt sander are: powerful, large sanding surface, a very good dust collection system, quiet operation, easy belt changing, and good belt tracking/centering. Another belt sander user might add “light weight” to their list of personal wants but I personally prefer a little heavier sander. Using a little heavier sander on a vertical surface may be a little more tiring for the user but to me a heavier sander seems to hold to the surface I am sanding a little better than a light weight sander does, and consequently does a little quicker and better sanding job. Additionally, when you are sanding horizontally (e.g., a wooden deck), the extra weight in the sander helps hold the sander down on the sanding surface, helps remove a little of the sander bounce, and improves the sanding process.
After comparing my list of personal wants in a belt sander to the features on the belt sanders that are presently available and after researching their respective customer satisfaction ratings, I am recommending that you purchase the Makita 9403 4-Inch-by-24-Inch Belt Sander with Cloth Dust Bag for your belt sanding needs.
My Personal Wants in a Belt Sander and How the Makita 9403 Stacks Up Against Them
1. Powerful – The bottom line is that if you want to do a fast, high quality sanding job, you must use a powerful sander. The Makita 9403 has a powerful 11 ampere motor that provides a belt speed of 1,640 feet per minute. In addition, it is electrical corded which provides the sander with continuous and steady sanding power. Almost every individual who had purchased a Makita 9403 and who provided a customer review to Amazon commented on how powerful this Makita sander was. As one customer put it: “I love power! This tool delivers boat loads of it.”
2. Large Sanding Surface – This sander uses a 4-inch-by-24-inch (100 mm X 610 mm) belt which provides plenty of sanding area. I have used both 3-inch belt sanders and 4-inch belt sanders, and for small sanding jobs a 3-inch sander is usually adequate. But if you have a large sanding job (e.g., a fence or a deck) to do, you want to use a 4-inch sander. It will reduce your sanding time and effort by a substantial amount. In addition, with the wider spread provided by a 4-inch belt, you end up with a more evenly sanded surface when you are done. Many tool buyers follow the “Tool Up” buying philosophy when buying their tools. This philosophy says that when choosing a tool that you should always select a tool that can do more than what you are planning to use it for. I think that is a good philosophy to follow when selecting a belt sander.
3. Very Good Dust Collection System – This is a “must have” feature for a belt sander. I will never forget using a 3-inch belt sander which had a very poor dust collection system. Even wearing safety goggles and a nose and mouth mask, I had a really tough time sanding. Very little of the dust and debris ended up in the dust collection bag. The vast majority of it ended up in my eyes, mouth, hair, shirt, etc and in the air around me. It was not a pleasant tool-using experience. The Makita 9403 has an exceptionally good dust collection system. A number of Amazon customers commented on the excellent job done by the sander’s dust collection system. In addition, the sander’s dust bag swivels 360 degrees so the user can move it around to keep the bag from obstructing their view of the sanding surface. (Note: One commenter complained that his Makita 9403 became clogged when sanding a latex painted redwood deck. Another commenter replied and suggested that the latex paint should have been scraped off the redwood deck before sanding it as the heat generated by the sander probably melted the latex and caused the clogging. No other commenter reported a clogging problem with the sander’s dust collection system.) I strongly recommend that you wear safety glasses and a nose/mouth mask when you do your sanding. Additionally, a Makita vacuum cleaner can be attached to the sander for a cleaner dust collection operation.
4. Quiet Operation – This is one of the biggest pluses of this sander. This sander is quieter than most other sanders. The Makita 9403 was selected as “quietest belt sander in it class” (at only 84 decibels). The quietness of the sander was favorably commented on by several of the Amazon customers. (However, when using any sander or other power tool, I would still recommend that the user wear ear plugs or some sort of ear protection.)
5. Easy Belt Changing – Even when using a 4-inch-by-24-inch belt if you are sanding a large surface area, you will need to change out the sander’s belt a number of times. The Makita 9403 has a very efficient belt changing system. Replacing a belt is quick and easy and requires very little effort. Just pull out the belt lever, remove the old sandpaper belt, insert a new sandpaper belt over the roller’s, and push the belt lever back to its original position. That’s all there is to it.
6. Good Belt Centering/Tracking – One of the biggest frustrations for someone who is sanding is when they are using a sander that does not keep the sanding belt centered. I well remember using one sander which had very poor belt tracking. I spent what seemed like half my time either re-centering the belt on to the sander track or replacing the belt itself because it had moved up against the inside of the sander and become damaged. This is another one of those “must have” features that you want in your belt sander. The Makita 9403 has a belt adjustment knob that allows the user (while the belt is running) to easily adjust the belt tracking. Several Amazon customers favorably mentioned the Makita 9403’s belt tracking/centering.
Other Features To Be Aware Of
1. The Makita 9403 is double insulated and comes with an approximately 10′ electrical cord.
2. The sander’s motor and bearings are sealed to prevent dust/debris contamination.
3. As one of the sander’s features, Makita advertises that the electrical cord is located on the upper portion of the handle for operator convenience. However, one customer commented that with that positioning the cord was in the user’s way. No other customer mentioned the cord location as being a problem.
4. The Makita 9403 is 13-7/8 inches in size and weighs 13 lbs. One commenter mentioned that the sander was great for horizontal sanding but was too heavy for vertical sanding. As I mentioned previously, I personally prefer using a heavier sander.
5. There is a large grip located on the front of the sander for operator comfort. This provides the user with better control over the sander as well.
6. The design of the Makita 9403 sander allows the user to sand “flush” against walls. With some sanders, their design prevents the user from doing this.
7. The sander has a trigger lock button located near the sander’s trigger. You will appreciate this feature whenever you have an extended sanding job to do. The lock button will keep the sander’s trigger switch squeezed so you don’t have to keep squeezing the trigger. To engage the lock button, just squeeze the trigger and push in the lock button. The trigger will stay squeezed. When you want to release the lock button, you just squeeze the trigger. The lock button feature will keep your hand from “cramping”.
8. Makita provides a limited one year warranty on this sander. In addition, as with all Makita tools, if you are not satisfied with this belt sander within 30 days of purchase, you can return the sander and Makita will provide a replacement or refund.
What Comes In The Box?
- The Makita 9403 Belt Sander
- The Makita Sander Dust Bag
- 1 #80 grit Abrasive Belt
The Makita 9403 Belt Sander was rated 4.8 out of 5 stars on the Amazon website by customers who had purchased and used this belt sander. This is an extremely high customer satisfaction rating and indicates that they were very pleased with their purchase! Only one customer rated the belt sander less than 4 stars – giving it a rating of 2 stars. Here are some of the comments that were made by the customer reviewers.
“One great sander. This sander is quiet, it starts soft, the belt stays centered, it has comfortable handles, the cord is very long (What a concept, put on a long cord so you don’t have to use an extension most of the time.), it only draws 11 amps so I can run it with my shop vac without tripping the breaker. They spent time at the drawing board on this one. A tool that’s a joy to use, at a good price.”
“Belt sanders may be one of those power tools that aren’t pulled out often, but when you need to remove large quantities of stock, you will want to have one. The 9403, 4×24 sander is powerful, has good balance, good belt tracking and easy belt change. This Makita also picks up a very decent amount of sanding dust, has comfortable handles, a nice soft-start, and, most importantly, chews through stock with ease. This belt sander is possibly the best 4×24 on the market. I am very, very pleased with it.
It is a genuine pleasure to operate this Makita, compared to my old Craftsman 3×21 which I had received as a gift years ago. I spent as much time adjusting the belt tracking on the Craftsman as I did sanding, but since I used it infrequently, I just put up with the excessive noise and generally less than stellar performance. After using the 9403 for 2+years, I shake my head every time I use it, wondering why I waited so long to replace my old one. I find myself pulling this sander out and using it more often. Long cords are always a big plus for me, often eliminating the need for extension cords in the shop. I just can’t find anything negative to say about this machine yet.”
“The Makita 4×24 is a workhorse with all the power you’ll ever need in a belt sander. It also has a very comfortable feel to it and is very easy to use. The bag collects dust better than any other model I’ve tried and being able to reposition it with the swiveling fitting is a major plus. I’ve also tried the Dewalt and a Bosch, and there is no comparison in the products; the Makita works best, hands down.”
“I got my sander this past Monday…I can’t keep my hands off it! It was already set up with 80 grit…all I had to do was place the collection bag on top and plug it in. She runs so quietly yet is so strong. The dust collection is wonderful, there is virtually no dust in the air…or on the wood. I’ve been reclaiming some 4×10 pine beams that were totally destroyed by sun and moisture and have been waiting for something like this sander to come along for the past 10 years. I changed from the 80 to 60 grit…and couldn’t be happier! I’m used to my Craftsman 21×3 which is so loud you need ear muffs and is so difficult to change belts that you avoid it like the plague. This Makita is just the opposite, quiet and belt changing is as easy as pie. I just wish I bought this a long time ago!”
“I have been a hobby woodworker for nearly 30 years and I admit I may not be an expert in belt sanders – for years I have suffered with smaller, cheaper models. When faced with a very large, rough cut wood slab to finish, I made the investment. Spent a lot of time looking at models, reviews, etc and made the choice. It has proved wonderful in every way. This is a heavy, solid machine with plenty of power – using a 40 grit belt, it was still nearly impossible to slow down and in fact, little pressure is required. My arms felt it just trying to keep it from running away. The dust collection was superb. It even seemed to suck in dust laying on the workpiece next to the belt. Release of the roller tension was very nice and changing the belt a breeze. Belt tracking adjustment is easy and it tracked perfectly. For a belt sander, it is very quiet – let me say that again in case you can’t hear very well from using another model – incredibly quiet. The long power cord is a real bonus, no extension cord necessary. I am happy to add this machine to my shop.”
You can purchase this Makita 9403 Belt Sander on Amazon. Presently, Amazon is selling this Belt Sander for less than $245 with free shipping included to shipping addresses in the lower 48 states. This Belt Sander normally lists for $418, so the current Amazon price represents a 45 percent savings. Click here to view the Makita 9403 Belt Sander on Amazon.
Where Can I Read More Customer Feedback Reviews for the Makita 9403 Belt Sander?
Amazon is a very good place to read additional customer feedback reviews on the Makita 9403. Click here to read more reviews from people who have purchased and used this belt sander.