Big, black and green, the Hitachi SB 8V2 is quite a handful. Its 9-amp motor is mounted atop the belt assembly, just like the Makita, Porter-Cable and Craftsman. But the SB 8V2’s drive belt, motor cover and dust fan — almost half of the width of the sander — protrude to the left of the belt, making it the widest sander in this group.
Fortunately, the Hitachi is very user-friendly, with comfortable rubber overmolds covering both handles. I liked the unit’s wide trigger, although the location of its variable-speed dial is less than optimal. The Hitachi’s sanding belt runs between a solid rubber drive roller and cast alloy front roller that’s the same diameter. It has a nice, thick steel platen with a rubber pad and thin stainless steel cover. The belt tracked well, although the tracking knob is located so far back and below the enormous belt cover assembly that it wasn’t easy to reach. The sander has a clear plastic cover on the front to provide a window for viewing the belt and to assist tracking, but I found this feature virtually useless.
The dust port atop the left motor bell cover is made of durable cast alloy instead of plastic as on most of the other sanders. Its clip-on canvas bag has a zipper that’s located on the top edge, rather than on the bottom; a nice touch.
The first thing I noticed when I powered up the Hitachi was how smoothly it ran, I imagine that this is due to its ribbed drive belt; all the other models use toothed belts. But the SB 8V2’s power output disappointed me, as its motor slowed noticeably when I used the tool with a coarse belt for some heavy stock removal.