I bought the Black and Decker DS321 for one reason—my big Milwaukee and Craftsman belt sanders wouldn’t get anywhere close to a corner.

That’s the problem with most traditional belt sanders—the radius of the big roller at the front end of the sander means you just can’t get the tool into a tight 90-degree corner. This makes sanding anything but a flat board a real chore, increasing your hand-sanding time or requiring you to take apart whatever you’re trying to sand.

But not with the Dragster—that’s what Black and Decker calls this belt sander, presumably because of the “rubber rake” angled belt effect produced by its big back wheel and tiny front roller. That small front roller allows you to get into tight corners much better. You can get a lot closer to adjoining surfaces, which cuts your sanding time and makes things a whole lot easier.

This sander also has a pretty handy retractable hood over the front portion of the top of the sanding belt, which flips up for really close work. Be careful when you’re using the sander this way, though—that feature can potentially be a safety hazard if you don’t watch what you’re doing.

The Dragster takes a standard 3” x 21” sanding belt, and works well with just about all grits. Like most modern belt sanders, it has a dust collection feature with a small bag, or can attach to your shop’s sawdust collector. (Dang, I wish I had one of those) The tool has a nice balance, is reasonably lightweight, and features a three-position adjustable handle.

The DS 321 produces about 7 amps of power, which isn’t much for a belt sander if you’re tackling a rough job. Dragging a heavy-grit sanding belt across a flat surface is apparently a lot of work, and with higher-grit belts this little sander will slow down or even stop, indicating that it doesn’t have the horsepower it should. That makes it just barely sufficient for some of the heavier-duty sanding tasks, but it does do a good job with finish sanding, using grits of 150 or more. Don’t count on it with 36-80 grit belts.

You’ll need to stop fairly often to shake the sawdust out of this sander’s inner workings, too. Just tap the tool sideways against a board or a sawhorse once every few minutes to clear any material out of the upper area where the belt rotates—that area tends to collect a bunch of sawdust, and can clog it you don’t clear it.

The inexpensive Dragster retails for about $50, but you can sometimes get it a bit cheaper on Amazon for $49.99 with free shipping. All in all, I find this a useful tool to have in my shop, because it makes close-in finish work a faster and simpler process.

Summary

This belt sander has insufficient power and performance for heavy sanding tasks, but some unusual features make it very useful for finish work. The Black and Decker Dragster DS321 Belt Sander gets a good Contractors.com rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars.

Pros

  • Reliable
  • Solid and well-built
  • Inexpensive
  • Small nose area makes some sanding tasks much easier

Cons

  •  Not that powerful
  • No constant-on trigger button
  • Needs belt alignment adjustments often