I have to say I love having a Bench Sander. I don't know how many times I have relied on this type of sander over the years. For a long time I used the Craftsman Bench sander and was extremely happy with it. I was recently in the need of a new one and decided to take a look at the Ryobi bench sander since Craftsman seems like it has been going down the tubes over the recent years.
As you would expect with any bench grinder, this does have some weight to it. The unit weighs 53 lbs. The base is made of cast iron. Even most of the covers are metal. Really the only plastic I found on this machine was the cover in the back to hook up your dust collection. As you can see this is a dual sander, meaning it has a 4″ x 36″ belt sander and also a disk sander on the side. The table on the disk side will allow you to perform bevel sanding (0° to 45°) operational while the belt sander can adjust from a down to upright position.
The unit does come with a sanding disk and one belt, which was already installed. If you need to change the belt, it does have a tool free belt tension release to make changing the belt a snap. You can see on the side there is a large dial, which is a tracking dial. The motor is an induction motor which should make the unit quiet.
I read through some reviews and while most people agreed this is a great sander for the money, some people did have some gripes with it. Some people said the belt would stop if they used forced. While I could get this to happen, in reality that is not the way you should use a sander. I could do the same with my Craftsman. For me, I tend to let the tool do the work and just guide what I need sanded.
Overall I am happy with this sander. I don't use it everyday, so if you're looking for an everyday bench sander I am not sure how this will work out. For the rest of us, I think the Ryobi is a great option. For the price and the quality, it's pretty hard to beat. I did find this at Home Depot much cheaper than Amazon. At the time of this article I found it at Home Depot for $119. On Amazon it was much more expensive at $178. If you are going to buy this, I would take a look at both in case the prices have changed.