One of the great things about the relationship between Ridgid and Ryobi is that Ridgid’s Pro-focused technology often trickles down to Ryobi users. In some cases, it’s a matter of months or years, in other cases tools come out within days of each other. Fortunately, it’s the latter with the new Ryobi One+ 18V Brushless Belt Sander.
The Ryobi cordless belt sander arrived the same day as Ridgid’s so I put them to work side by side to see what One+ users can expect compared to the only other cordless model currently on the market. Well, sort of the only other one. There’s a cordless pipe belt sander running around out there, but that’s a different tool class completely.
Top 5 Features
Rather than go into exhaustive detail about every minor detail, I’ve picked out the most noteworthy for concerned carpenters. A more complete bulleted list is below.
Ryobi only recently introduced brushless motors to their cordless lineup and that’s a good thing. The cooler running, longer lasting motors extend runtime, meaning you can create a tool that pulls more power from the batteries without limiting the tool to just a couple minutes of use. The Ryobi One+ 18V Brushless Belt Sander takes advantage of this technology and it should – belt sanders are power hungry!
Ryobi includes a 5-position pivoting pommel for a support handle. It doesn’t slide up and down like Ridgid’s, but the pivoting action allows you to find a comfortable angle for your guide hand.
Easy Belt Removal
Releasing tension on the belt is simple with a lever on the side. The belt slips off easily and a new one can be installed in just a few seconds to keep you productive. The only concern is that the lever is made of plastic. If you or your crew is tough on tools, it’s one point that’s susceptible to damage while it’s sticking out.
There’s a belt tracking knob on the side so you can slide the belt left or right. On a large workpiece that’s still being prepped, it’s not a major feature. However, if you’re sanding material that’s already installed, it can help prevent damage to other finished pieces around it.
One thing you’ll want to be aware of is that the tracking knob can pull the belt all the way to into the housing 1/8-inch or so. The belt will chew through the tool plastic with almost no noticeable performance loss, so pay attention to your adjustments.
Lock on Switch
A lock on switch for a belt sander is a must since you’re typically working on larger pieces for at least several minutes at a time. Without it, you’ll understand finger fatigue on a personal level. Even though this is a standard feature, it’s worth noting that the Ryobi One+ 18V Brushless Belt Sander has it. I found that my thumb is too fat to engage it, so I have to use two hands to set the lock. Pressing the trigger down fully will release the lock when you’re finished.
With the included dust bag, dust collection is pretty weak. In our tests, I left more dust outside the bag than inside. Connecting the Ryobi One+ 18V Brushless Belt Sander to a dust extractor is better, but far from perfect. You’ll want to stick to outdoor, garage, or shop use with this rather than bringing inside an occupied space if you can help it.
Like Ridgid’s model, the trigger is simply on or off rather than variable speed. Unlike what Ridgid offers, there’s no variable speed dial, so 850 feet per minute needs to be a good speed for you to use all the time.
I have a pile of reclaimed wood that has suffered from the effects of weathering but is still quite usable underneath. I took the Ryobi cordless belt sander to work on a few pieces that I needed for a project to see what kind of sanding performance and runtime to expect.
As soon as you grip the Ryobi One+ 18V Brushless Belt Sander you’ll notice their Gripzone overmold is in place. Similar to Ridgid’s HexGrip, it’s an overmold with a raised texture that offers solid grip even when your hands are wet. It’s just on the main handle, though, the pommel is just tool plastic.
With the timer going and the lock on switch engaged, I set to work removing the top layer of weathered wood and getting to the good stuff underneath. At 850 FPM with an 80 grit belt, material comes off at a very reasonable rate. Like many Ryobi cordless tools, this sander straddles the line between DIY pricing and entry-level Pro performance.
I worked for 5 minutes at a time before giving the sander a break to cool down and then getting back to it. In the end, the Ryobi One+ 18V Brushless Belt Sander ran for 11 minutes, 15 seconds continuously with a 4.0 amp hour battery pack. Even though I gave the tool breaks, at no time did I feel like it was overheating and neither battery nor motor felt terribly hot after 5 minutes of use.
The Bottom Line
The Ryobi One+ 18V Brushless Belt Sander isn’t a showstopper for Pros, but it is a handy cordless option for the punch list work that maintenance and repair crews often tackle. It’s certainly more convenient than dragging the extension cord around and the material removal is excellent for that kind of work.
For the DIYer, you can call on this model as a primary tool. Just keep in mind that if you have a lot of sanding on your plate, you’ll want several batteries to rotate through since you’re looking at roughly 10 – 12 minutes of real world runtime.
The only real negative on this sander is that the belt tracking can send the belt into the housing and start to cut through it. Just be aware of how far in you’re tracking the belt and it shouldn’t be an issue.
For $129 at The Home Depot, you can add the bare tool to your One+ collection. That’s a decent price to cut the cord, but for $20 more, you can jump up to the Ridgid model.
Ryobi One+ 18V Brushless Belt Sander Key Features
- Brushless motor provides corded performance with cordless convenience
- Pommel handle adjusts to five different positions for added versatility and comfort
- Up to 850 FPM (feet-per-minute) for true corded performance
- Remove up to 325-grams of material per charge
- Tool-free belt tracking maximizes user control and convenience
- Ability to hook up to a wet/dry vacuum hose (not included) for dust collection
- Lock-on switch reduces user fatigue
- Front-mounted motor for even weight distribution
- Gripzone overmold with micro-texture for optimum grip and user comfort
Ryobi One+ 18V Brushless Belt Sander Specifications
- Model: Ryobi P450
- Battery: 18V
- Battery Power Type: Lithium Ion
- Maximum speed: 850 FPM
- Belt width: 3″
- Belt length: 18″
- Height: 6.63″
- Depth: 13.63″
- Width: 7″
- Weight: 7.6 lbs
- Color: Green
- Switch Type: Standard trigger switch
- Dust Collection Method: Bag
- Includes: Dust Bag, 80-Grit Sandpaper Belt, Operator’s Manual
- Warranty: 3 years limited
- Price: $99