- The BR318 has a dust collection bag that’s easy to use and remove. The bag just slides on and off. This is an improvement over other models of sander that have spring-loaded clips holding them on. The BR318’s bag can be removed with one hand.
- The dust collection bag is also considerably larger than other sanders’. This means more tool use before the user has to stop and empty the bag.
- Rather than having a manual adjustment knob, the BR318 has an auto-tracking system. This is supposed to keep the belt centered on the sander’s platen. The belt needs to be centered to reduce gouging of the workpiece and to increase belt life.
- The BR318 does not have a variable speed motor. A 6 amp motor, though, should not run away on the work piece like a larger motor might.
TOOL DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION
At first glance, it’s clear why the BR318’s price is so low. The entire housing is made of a plastic that is pretty lightweight as far as power tools go. This can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on the intended use. For any kind of household DIY work, this belt sander is plenty durable. For intense commercial use, this sander will probably give out and have to be replaced. However, it’s so cheap to replace that it’s not really a big deal.
Another benefit of the lightweight plastic housing is the overall weight of the tool. Many belt sanders weigh eight or more pounds; some even weigh up to fifteen pounds! Tool manufacturers often design belt sanders to be as heavy as possible so that users do not have to apply much pressure when sanding for long periods of time. However, that weight means most belt sanders are very difficult to use on a wall or upside down, such as in drywall work or a job that requires the tool to be moved around from place to place. The BR318 only weighs 3.6 pounds, meaning it’s no problem to hold the tool in almost any position.
The BR318 has a standard pistol grip rear handle with a trigger-style on switch. This type handle is especially useful with such a light sander. The angle of the handle allows the user to apply more pressure to the tool, which comes in handy with a light tool.
Black and Decker has included a large front handle on the BR318. This is an essential feature on any belt sander. The left hand is placed on the front handle so that the user can both rest his hand during use to find a more comfortable position, and so that both hands could be used to apply pressure to the workpiece. Again, with a lightweight tool, it’s important that the user’s grip on the tool allows the user to push on it.
This tool has a 6 amp electric motor. This is a small motor as far as belt sanders go, but it’s plenty to handle the lightweight projects the BR318 is made for. Again, this tool is great for sanding on walls or crown molding, neither of which are hard enough to require a large electric motor. This is just not the belt sander to go to for chewing up exotic hardwood flooring.
The BR318 has a 3”x18” sanding belt. This is as small as it gets on handheld belt sanders. That’s the point, of course. This sander is great in tight spots. The company boasts that the tool is 13% narrower than any other sander on the market. It could be useful in conjunction with a heavier sander for big projects. Use the larger sander for the bulk of the work, and pull out the BR318 for the hard-to-reach spots, such as corners or narrow nooks.
The BR318 has a flush sanding feature, meaning it can be used right up against a perpendicular surface. The BR318’s flush feature actually works in two directions. The front of the sander can be pushed up against the perpendicular surface, like a wall, without sanding the wall. In addition, the BR318 can be turned sideways to use the sander longwise without scuffing a perpendicular surface.
It also has another unique design feature. The front roller wheels are about half the size of the rear. This is supposed to let the sander get into even tighter spaces. The narrower noise allows the sander to fit into places with little amounts of clearance.