Belt sanders are used by both DIY enthusiasts and manufacturers to shape and sand wood and other materials such as aluminium. Belt sanders are suited to flat surfaces and can be hand-held or stationary. They have been designed to move easily over the material they are sanding.How does a belt sander work?A belt sander rotates a continuous loop of sandpaper by using a powerful high-speed electric motor which then turns two drums. This abrasive action removes the surface material leaving a smoother surface.When sanding soft metals such as aluminium, stationary belt sanders are the best choice as they are less prone to clogging due to the small grooves in the sandpaper.Belt sanders vary in size due to the fact they can be used in large-scale manufacturing or by a carpenter in their shed. A large amount of sawdust can be produced so some belt sanders are equipped with a dust collection system. This could be a cloth filter bag or a vacuum system designed to suck away the particles.Common belt widths for belt sanders are 3 inches or 4 inches, with the belt lengths being between 18 inches to 24 inches. The sandpaper itself can have different grits – coarse to cut down rough surfaces or fine to get a smooth satin surface.Uses of belt sandersIn carpentry, belt sanders can get you great results in your DIY projects. They can be used to sharpen tools, smooth down worn wooden decking or even restore wooden garden furniture. As they can be used over large surface areas, they are ideal for removing paint and varnish quickly.Some belt sanders have variable speed control, a heavy-duty construction and have long cables making them ideal for site work.