This has been one of those sanders I have been eyeballing for a long time. There was always something about it. Maybe the size or maybe the low profile, but either way I have been waiting to check this one out. If you're looking for a way to remove a massive amount of material quickly, well then you know you need a belt sander. With a belt sander, there is no messing around. I have to say while I have used this tool to an extent, I don't have tons of hours on it. But before I go on about my opinion, let me introduce you to the sander.
First and most important is since this is a Ridgid tool, you get a lifetime guarantee with this tool. Just make sure you complete the registration card. This sander is a 3″ x 18″ belt sander that weighs 5.8 lbs. Inside the sander lays a 6.5 Amp motor that will spin the belt from 400 – 950 rpms. Looking at the stats, this seems like a good work horse and for $99, it's hard to beat. As with most other belt sanders, this has a simple lever in order to change sanding belts.
A couple cool features of this sander is first the dust collection system. I have to admit while it doesn't trap all the dust, it does a great job, one of the best I have seen in a long time. The second cool feature is the electronic feedback system. This system will match the speed to the desired removal rate. Which basically means you don't have to worry about the motor slowing down while using it. If you end up pushing hard on the unit, the unit will do it's best to increase the motor speed to match your speed setting. Another feature is the automatic belt tracking system. I have to say it has done a good job at tracking the belt and keeping it in line. If you are old fashion or still need to make adjustments, you can still use a thumb screw to make changes on the fly. You may notice on one side of the sander, it's pretty flush which makes it great for those applications where you're sanding against vertical surfaces.
So here is my low down on this sander. Overall I really like this sander. For my needs which is projects here and there, it does a great job. Now if you are a guy using a belt sander all day long, I am not sure how this will work out for you. It might work great or it may not, I just can't speak on that part. The grip is comfortable and the sander is very easy to control. As with any sander, just watch what you're doing with a belt sander as you can remove a lot of material very quickly, especially pine. I love the dust collection system and the fact you can hook it up to your vac. With the provided bag it does a great job collecting dust, however I really wish they would have made the bag much bigger. I like the smaller bag, but having a bigger bag for larger projects would have been nice. My last gripe about this sander is it doesn't come with a case or tool bag. I am huge on organization and I just love my tools to have a place. Plus I like having accessories all with the tool. It would have been nice if they provided a case or even a bag to keep this sander in when not in use.
Besides those two gripes about this sander I have to say Ridgid did a great job with this sander. It's powerful, easy to control and love the added features. There is plenty of power to get most jobs done not only quickly, but leaving it with a nice finish. If you're in the market for a belt sander, you should check this one out. At the time of this article I did find it on Amazon for $143. However on Home Depot it was only $99. I would still check both prices to see if either has changed.