Benchtop sanders are stationary equipment generally used for woodworking. These sanders come with a belt sander, but sometimes they also provide a disk sander. In this instance, they are known as a combination sander. Generally fairly heavy to prevent vibrations, benchtop sanders are often used to shape the project.
Mounted to a workbench, benchtop sanders usually have a powerful motor and aggressive action which may make them unsuited for finishing without an expert-level skillset. The belt sander is generally fairly reliable and less prone to clogging, though the disk sander of combination benchtop sanders may have issues with softer or treated materials.
This is an interesting benchtop sander, because it includes both a belt sander and a disc sander. One of the relatively more recent entries into the benchtop sander market, the WEN comes affordably priced—possibly to draw in customers who have not hear of it or to entice those who might be wary of it pulling double duty.
However, the WEN hums along perfectly without some of the issues seen in the other combination sanders. Part of this is due to the cast iron base which does an effective job at minimizing vibrations. Also, the work table is cast aluminum, and the single solid piece prevent further wiggling at the actual workspace.
With a belt that tilts anywhere from 0-90 degrees, this benchtop sander can accommodate most work spaces and needs for your projects, allowing you to sand on a curved edge if need be. With the dual sanding duties and the wide range of belt angle, the WEN may be one of the more versatile sanders on the market, and is definitely one of the most versatile benchtop snaders available.
The dust collection system works exceptionally well, and the machine is a breeze a breeze to use from start to finish. Whether you are setting it up, need to change belts, or adjust the angle, all of the levers work smoothly and allow transition without a hassle.
With a 4.3 amp, ½ horse power motor, the WEN may not be the most powerful benchtop sander out there, but it is generally more than powerful for most jobs. Moreover, while the motor may leave a bit desired for power, it runs clean for long periods of time. That means you do not have to worry about the motor burning out on you while still being able to handle a large load.
There may be better sanders out there for belt sanding or disc sanding needs individually, but the value this versatile machine provides is without question impressive. Still, from an all-around perspective, this is the one to go with.
The Rockwell benchtop sander has a lot in common with the WEN. Both models use a 4.3 amp ½ horse power motor, so they are able to handle a heavy load, but they are not the most powerful benchtop sanders on the market. Of course, unless you are dealing with the densest of materials, this should not be an issue.
Like the WEN, the Rockwell also includes a disc sander, however the Rockwell has a bit of an advantage over the WEN in this category. While both the Rockwell and WEN have belt sanders that offer an angle range between 0-90 degrees so that they can be accommodated in a wide variety of work spaces, the Rockwell’s disc sander also offers a tilt range between 0-45 degrees. This can be especially useful for sanding those occasionally difficult rounded edges.
However, the disc sander may have a tendency to get clogged depending on how you use it. In this instance, the disc is probably best used for untreated, stained, or otherwise pure lumber. Still, much like the WEN, the belt tension system enables an easy and quick change of the belt itself.
However, there is one area in which the Rockwell performs poorly compared to both the WEN and the next benthtop sander in the review, the Porter-Cable. The Rockwell does not come with its own cast iron base, so while setup is generally just as simple as with the WEN, using the Rockwell can be a bumpy ride. Of course, depending on your needs or your skill level, this may not be an issue. But for the most refined and precise work, the Rockwell will likely provide a frustrating experience if nothing else.
There is just no easy way to say this, but the Porter-Cable simply does not stack up well against the other two entries on this list. Now you should not take that as a statement that this benchtop sander is of poor quality. Quite the opposite, this is an excellent benchtop sander for a wide variety of needs. However, this specific sander seems to have an issue with dust accumulation.
Essentially, the dust collection can become jammed and stop working even if regularly emptied. Moreover, the dust collection has gaps in its range, so there will definitely be more clean up than with some of the other benchtop sander models. This becomes more of an issue since the motor is not fully enclosed, and the dust can make its way into there as well—which brings up the next possible knock against the Porter-Cable.
If you use your benchtop sander for many hours over a period of weeks or months, the Porter-Cable has been known to burn out on you. However, this may have more to do with its location than anything else, so you should make sure that the Porter-Cable is placed in a covered, cool location if you plan on using it regularly for long periods of time. Moreover, it may take a little bit of time before the machine gets to a humming condition where it starts and runs smoothly without trouble.
However, the Porter-Cable offers an easy setup with only the aluminum worktables and dust collection adapter needed to be assembled. The benchtop sander is mostly made of aluminum and steel so it is sturdy and feels solid. The base is cast iron which really helps keep the vibrations down to a minimum so that you can ensure that your work remains precise. The motor is a powerful ¾ horse power ball bearing mechanism which provides plenty of power—though keep in mind of the potential issues mentioned earlier. In fact, it is the most powerful motor in the review.
Basically, even a full-time furniture maker, carpenter, or some other profession that has use for a benchtop sander can find a real solid piece of equipment here. However, just to be safe, it would probably be best to split workloads on it to be sure and prolong its life.