We're building a belt grinder

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Dec 12, 2013
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12
I've just begun bladesmithing and I'm pretty much to a stopping point with my first blade until I get a grinder. Sure I could get a cheapo bench grinder or use hand tools but my dad has a good 1hp motor and a VFD and so we are designing and will soon build a belt grinder. I'm sure with my dad's experience in engineering and machining that we can design and build a great belt grinder, but I would like to get an opinion from anyone who is willing to share. What kind of design do you prefer? Has anyone else built their own grinder? What were some issues/learning moments that you had? Any recommendations for places to get parts and pieces from?
 
Joined
Jul 17, 2011
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34
Look at the no-weld grinder by Tracy Mickley. It will be a good place to start. I welded mine but it illustrates the basics fairly well. Sunray wheels for a contact wheel will save you quite a bit of money.
 
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Jun 3, 2013
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407
There are free plans available online if you have a little google kung-foo.
Or you can buy plans from one of the knife supply stores for cheap.
 
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Oct 29, 2013
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358
Im new to knife making but I feel jumping straight to a 2x72 highend belt grinder without learning how to do it with hand tools is only going to effect you in the long run. I use only files, with occasionally using the belt sander, I even stopped using a file jig and went freehand. I will eventually move to a KMG or Pheer type but for now I am happy learning how to walk before I run.

If not having a grinder is stopping you from making a knife that might not be good.

Sorry if this comes across harsh, by no means am I trying to be mean, just being honest
 
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Dec 24, 2005
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73
I would second the counts recommendation on the eerf / GIB .I have a EERF grinder with a 2hp with VFD and love it .

Someone else with more experience here may suggest a slightly larger motor than the 1hp . I could be wrong but have read that the smaller motors bog down with flat patterns on them.

Take any of this as a opinion of a relative new maker compared to the vastly knowledgeable guys here .
 
Joined
Dec 12, 2013
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Someone else with more experience here may suggest a slightly larger motor than the 1hp . I could be wrong but have read that the smaller motors bog down with flat patterns on them..

Everything I've seen has been using larger motors as well. I'm going to share that info with my dad. Maybe he has something in mind for making it work. Otherwise I might be looking for a 2hp motor.

Thanks everyone for the advice!
 
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Dec 12, 2013
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Also, what speeds do y'all run your grinders at? We are figuring 6000 feet/min. Is that adequate?
 
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Apr 20, 2005
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Bader B111, or a clone, pretty much all removable tooling arm grinders are
some sort of copy.
Ken.
 

Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

ilmarinen - MODERATOR
Moderator
Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider
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32,849
If building a grinder from the ground up:
A removable tooling arm style is the way to go. These are three wheel type grinders ( four with a flat platen). 1.5" or 2" arms and box tubes will be rock solid.
A second tooling socket below the main arm socket (box) for jigs and work arms. This is a really good feature.
A flat platen the rotates so you can use the 4-6" wheel on the top, the flat part, or the 2" wheel on the bottom.
A contact wheel arm for larger wheels. You can make this with a two wheel rotating end so you can quickly switch from a 6" to a 12" (eg) contact wheel .
A small wheel arm for wheels between .5" and 1.5".
A VFD motor of 1.5HP to 2HP. 1HP will work, but larger will be far more useful down the road.
A foot switch and a remote speed pot are super useful and much safer.
Using gas cylinders or pneumatic cylinders for the belt tensioner. Pneumatic cylinders allow quick increases and decreases in tension.
Making the whole assembly so it can flip on its side and be used as a horizontal grinder.
Overbuild everything. 1/4" plate is a minimum, 1/2" isn't too thick for main components.
Weld everything that isn't adjustable.
Paint the whole assembly except sliding components. Powder coating is even better, and really professional looking.
Make a tooling "tree" type stand with sockets for the arms, and pegs for wheels and other things. Making it with a rotating base will allow more tooling in the same space. Put a box on the top for knobs, wrenches,and tools

Other items, like radiused platens and a water cooled platen mounts are great for those doing high end and production work, but not so much needed by the hobby level maker.

A very good second build is a VFD controlled disc grinder. That would be perfect for the 1HPmotor. This is a very simple build and really useful in the shop. Nathan makes superb precision discs. Wayne Coe makes a quick change disk system.
 
Last edited:
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Feb 6, 2007
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1,291
Also, what speeds do y'all run your grinders at? We are figuring 6000 feet/min. Is that adequate?

That is too fast! My grinder is two speed (step pulleys) 4500 ft/min for rough grinding and 2250 ft/min for finish grinding. If I was building a grinder with only one speed it would be ~3000 to 3500....
 
Joined
Dec 12, 2013
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12
That is too fast! My grinder is two speed (step pulleys) 4500 ft/min for rough grinding and 2250 ft/min for finish grinding. If I was building a grinder with only one speed it would be ~3000 to 3500....

Thanks Bruce, it would have been more accurate if I said max speed will be 6000 ft/min. I will be able to control the speed with the VFD so it won't be fixed at 6000 ft/min, but it is good to know that it will cover the working speeds I need.

Thanks for the great design advice bladsmth! I'll be sure to share those ideas with my father so we can try to include all of those features. Don't want to leave anything out and regret it down the road. Also, I agree about the motor size. I'm going to be sure to set the grinder up so that I can easily put in a larger motor down the road when I can save a few bucks.

Again, thanks everyone for the great advice/input.
 
Joined
Jun 15, 2011
Messages
1,480
Im new to knife making but I feel jumping straight to a 2x72 highend belt grinder without learning how to do it with hand tools is only going to effect you in the long run.

Yes, his quality and production are going to be outstanding right out of the gate. I just do not see/get this "walk before you run" thing in knifemaking. Run and keep running.
 
Joined
Oct 29, 2013
Messages
358
Yes, his quality and production are going to be outstanding right out of the gate. I just do not see/get this "walk before you run" thing in knifemaking. Run and keep running.

Let me apologize for my previous comment, it was at the end of a bad work day and I was a little cranky, it did not come across the way I intended. What I was trying to convey is that if you want to make a first knife don't let not having a belt grinder hinder you, use the hand tools.

Scrolling through past posts on this forum and other forums I see a lot of people talking about wanting to make knives but they don't have the grinder and will not use files as it's too much work and that tends to irritate me. I am sure it's just me, I am kind of odd that way, I wanted to make knives and nothing was going to stop me, not the lack of a grinder nor the funds to buy the equipment I just did it, and granted I am not good at it but every one I do I learn more and more and I can watch my hard work improve with almost every stroke of the file.

But I see your point and you guys are much more experienced and knowledgeable than I, so I would take your advice more than mine own.

Matt
 
Joined
Dec 12, 2013
Messages
12
Matt, No offense taken by me. I should have the grinder done by the end of January and I'm fine with waiting until then to continue work on my first knife. In the mean time I will probably continue working on the craft of moving the stock metal using the forge, hammer and anvil to start on other knives. I think in the future I am going to do some work with hand tools/traditional methods just so I can appreciate and understand how the bladesmiths of the past did their work. It is very interesting to me... it's just not something I want to focus on right now.
 
Joined
Oct 29, 2013
Messages
358
Matt, No offense taken by me. I should have the grinder done by the end of January and I'm fine with waiting until then to continue work on my first knife. In the mean time I will probably continue working on the craft of moving the stock metal using the forge, hammer and anvil to start on other knives. I think in the future I am going to do some work with hand tools/traditional methods just so I can appreciate and understand how the bladesmiths of the past did their work. It is very interesting to me... it's just not something I want to focus on right now.

:thumbup: I did not realize you were forging, good job
 
Joined
Dec 24, 2011
Messages
1,298
If building a grinder from the ground up:
A removable tooling arm style is the way to go. These are three wheel type grinders ( four with a flat platen). 1.5" or 2" arms and box tubes will be rock solid.
A second tooling socket below the main arm socket (box) for jigs and work arms. This is a really good feature.
A flat platen the rotates so you can use the 4-6" wheel on the top, the flat part, or the 2" wheel on the bottom.
A contact wheel arm for larger wheels. You can make this with a two wheel rotating end so you can quickly switch from a 6" to a 12" (eg) contact wheel .
A small wheel arm for wheels between .5" and 1.5".
A VFD motor of 1.5HP to 2HP. 1HP will work, but larger will be far more useful down the road.
A foot switch and a remote speed pot are super useful and much safer.
Using gas cylinders or pneumatic cylinders for the belt tensioner. Pneumatic cylinders allow quick increases and decreases in tension.
Making the whole assembly so it can flip on its side and be used as a horizontal grinder.
Overbuild everything. 1/4" plate is a minimum, 1/2" isn't too thick for main components.
Weld everything that isn't adjustable.
Paint the whole assembly except sliding components. Powder coating is even better, and really professional looking.
Make a tooling "tree" type stand with sockets for the arms, and pegs for wheels and other things. Making it with a rotating base will allow more tooling in the same space. Put a box on the top for knobs, wrenches,and tools

Other items, like radiused platens and a water cooled platen mounts are great for those doing high end and production work, but not so much needed by the hobby level maker.

A very good second build is a VFD controlled disc grinder. That would be perfect for the 1HPmotor. This is a very simple build and really useful in the shop. Nathan makes superb precision discs. Wayne Coe makes a quick change disk system.

These are excellent recommendations.
 
Joined
Jun 15, 2011
Messages
1,480
Let me apologize for my previous comment, it was at the end of a bad work day and I was a little cranky, it did not come across the way I intended. What I was trying to convey is that if you want to make a first knife don't let not having a belt grinder hinder you, use the hand tools.

Scrolling through past posts on this forum and other forums I see a lot of people talking about wanting to make knives but they don't have the grinder and will not use files as it's too much work and that tends to irritate me. I am sure it's just me, I am kind of odd that way, I wanted to make knives and nothing was going to stop me, not the lack of a grinder nor the funds to buy the equipment I just did it, and granted I am not good at it but every one I do I learn more and more and I can watch my hard work improve with almost every stroke of the file.

But I see your point and you guys are much more experienced and knowledgeable than I, so I would take your advice more than mine own.

Matt

Hey Matt, I'd like to apologize too. I was actually at work when I wrote this. Nothing more irritating than being at a day job when you wanna make your living doing what you really wanna do.

When I started I had it in my head that the file and sandpaper route was not going to produce the style and the look that I wanted, so I decided to wait for what I really did want. I just like sharp grind lines with vertical machine scratches...lol. I am not a patient person, and it showed when I threw my files across the damn yard, and it showed here on the forum today with you. I apologize, and appreciate your passion and hard work for this craft.
 
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