Porter Cable Bench Sander Review

April 19, 2013 | by Ethan (email) |

I’ve just finished a Pottery Barn farmhouse table knock-off, and already Jocie has put in a request for more. As I delve deeper and deeper into woodworking, the lack of certain tools has become very obvious, and it makes completing these projects even more challenging. If you keep up with OPC on Facebook, you know that we’ve had some new additions to the workshop. Lowe’s offered to provide a sander, and I’m excited to put our new Porter Cable 4″ x 8″ Belt / Disc Sander to work!


The Porter Cable 4″ x 8″ Belt / Disc sander is available from Lowe’s for $179.00. You can buy it online or purchase it in store. Be sure to check for a Lowe’s coupon before you do any online shopping.


The PCB420SA features a 3/4 HP, 5 amp motor. This motor is right in line with more expensive options, and it’s powerful enough for a wide variety of applications and materials.

Disc diameter is 8″ and belts measure 4 x 36″ (with a work platen of 4 x 8″). These are standard sizes and easily replaced when the time comes. Obviously bigger discs and belts provide more surface area to work, and these dimensions are middle-of-the-road.



The belt sander and the disc sander have dedicated, aluminum worktables. Each table includes a slot for the miter gauge and can be angled from 0 – 45°.


A dust port can be found on the backside of the sander, and PC includes a dust bag. The port is conveniently sized at 2-1/2″ for easy connection to a shop vac or dust management system.



The belt station can be operated vertically or horizontally. This is nice because it allows you to position the workpiece in the most comfortable orientation. However, to move between positions, you have to loosen a hex screw. This is common for bench top sanders, but I hope to see tool-free adjustments in the future.


Setup & Adjustments

This sander requires very little setup. Out of the box, all you have to do is attach the two tables and the dust exhaust port. I used a combination square to ensure the tables were set perpendicular to the sanding disc and belt. I plan on mounting this to a work bench eventually, but at about 50 lbs. I’m not convinced it’s necessary.


A small knob makes belt tracking adjustments very simple, and it’s easy to keep the belt perfectly aligned.


Changing Belts and Discs

Changing the belts and discs is a straight-forward procedure. Unfortunately, replacing a belt or disc begins with removing the associated worktable (and later re-aligning it). Next, you back out several screws to remove the disc cover or belt cover. The belt has a quick release lever for belt changes, and discs are held in place with a stick-on backing.



So far I’m really pleased with this sander. The aluminum tables and cast iron base seem very durable. The motor is powerful enough for small, precision sanding or large sanding projects. The belt can be positioned horizontally or vertically and the end can be used for curved sanding. I like that the tables are adjustable for angle sanding and include a miter gauge. I feel like this sander is on par with much pricier options like the Grizzly and Jet combo sanders at a fraction of the cost.


  • Motor: 3/4HP, 5 Amp
  • Speed: 3450 rpm
  • Abrasive Belt Size: 4 x 36 “
  • Disc Diameter: 8 “
  • Table Size: 4-15/16 x 6-11/16 “
  • Dust Collection Outlet: 2-1/2 “
  • Table Tilt: L: 0 – 45 °
  • Miter Gauge Groove: Yes
  • Height: 14 “
  • Length: 20 “
  • Width: 23 “
  • Weight: 51.10 lbs
  • Shipping Weight: 58.15 lbs
16 Responses
  1. poiboybf says:

    How tight are the tolerances on the miter gauge slots? Sometimes with the less expensive options the gauges have some play, which is not helpful. Good to hear a review of this sander, haven’t heard much about it before. I’d love a sander like this one, but alas, don’t have room in my shop. Thanks!

  2. Reuben says:

    looks like a cool tool. Thanks for the review.

  3. AZ DIY Guy says:

    Great review. It seems like a good value. I’m curious how it will stand up over time.

  4. I think this and the RIDGID are somewhat comparable. With the RIDGID you get spindle and oscillating capability but lose the disk. It’s too bad that changing the belt is a little involved. It would be nice to have a bunch of different grit belts and then just swap to the finer ones as sanding progresses.

    • Ethan says:

      I’m not sure which I’d prefer more- spindle or discs. They both had advantages. I agree about the belts. I like tool-free and easy changes, but I’m not sure any competitors offer that either.

      • Since writing that comment the RIDGID showed up at my doorstep. It’s completely tool-less. When the belt apparatus is on there is a quick tension release so I can swap belts in seconds. Spindles are a screw knob. Disc sander would be nice though since I already have sanding spindles on the drill press.

  5. marc cote says:

    my son has one of these pcb420sa grinder, by accident he dropped and broke the switch, he purchased a new switch, but we don’t have an electrical wiring diagram to put it back in running order. please if you have some info for me I would very much appreciate that . thank you a retired Vermonter.

  6. Dave Kline says:

    I really like the form and function of this sander in comparison to other models in this general price range but have read some terrible reviews on Amazon and am now thinking I should look else ware.

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  8. Hello Ethan,

    How has the Porter-Cable bench sander held up? According to many reviews online, the motor on the PCB420SA is completely unreliable. Many have stated that under normal use, the motor usually burns out in less than a year. I would love to hear about your experience so far.

  9. Tom says:

    Mine burned up. Watching for answers.

  10. Baxter Bowers says:

    Motor burned out in less than a year. Used very little. 👎👎👎👎. This tool sucks

  11. Mike S says:

    My burned up the first time I plugged it in. Taking it back to the store tomorrow.

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