The word that best describes the Ridgid oscillating belt sander is “workhorse.” It is one of those rare tools which ends up at the heart of your workshop — fast, precise, durable. The belt rotates like a standard sander, but also simultaneously and automatically oscillates up and down 60 times per minute, giving you better space coverage and a wider stroke (about 1 in.); this is especially helpful with larger pieces, because you don’t need to reposition or flip the piece to sand the whole thing.
I use mine almost daily to fabricate parts in wood, metal, and plastic. The metal platen provides plenty of support for serious, precision sanding. I routinely sand to the center of a 1/64 slot on an Incra ruler. Not bad. It’s also very quick to swap out the belt and use it as an oscillating spindle sander, meaning you can handle both flat and curved sanding.
It’s designed to sit on a bench top, but they also molded slots into the bottom so that it rests stably on a sawhorse. It has an incredibly well made tilt table, with fence, that folds down onto a molded storage bay which holds all the accessories it comes with. And a vacuum port is molded into the back of the unit for clean up.
Two things to know: I find I often have to adjust the belt tension to prevent the belt from rising or falling, but this is easy to do on account of a large, well-placed knob. Also, the belts and spindles it comes with are extremely aggressive and are meant for hogging away wood. If you want to do more delicate work, you need to get higher mesh belts from a specialty store like Rio Grande, Klingspor, or maybe Grainger or McMaster-Carr.