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Knifemaking is not a popular hobby and undoubtedly not an easy job. My grandfather used to be a blacksmith. So, I have seen all types of tools for steel and other metals in his garage. My father developed the habit of making his furniture, knives, and other tools and necessities. However, the construction procedure has changed since my grandfather’s time.
All his hammers, chisel, anvils are now replaced by electric grinders and welding guns. Blacksmithing is an art that’s hard to master. But, forging your knife can give you the blacksmith feeling.
And to do that, a belt sander or belt grinder is the crux of all tools. It is a powerful and effective tool for forging or even sharpening your knives. So have you decided on which belt sander you are going to buy?
I have reviewed here the best belt sander and grinder for knife making. This will give you plenty of options to choose from.
9 Best belt sander and grinder for knife making
The belt sander in this list is selected considering their performances, construction, durability, speed, motor, and extra features.
Most of the belt sander here are budget picks for newbies below 150 dollars. The only premium one here is the industry-level jet belt sander.
1. Bucktool Combo 2″ x 42″ Belt Sander 6″ Bench Grinder
Bucktool is a famous and reliable tool manufacturing brand. Their BG2600 has caught the attention of many professional works. The best part is that it can do a lot of work very efficiently alone.
It is ideal for sanding all types of solid materials like metal, wood, and plastic. It is also suitable for making, polishing, deburring, and sharpening knives.
The 0.33 HP induction motor of this belt grinder works fine, nothing exceptional. The wheel speed is 3450 RPM. The power wheel transmits power from the induction motor to the wheel.
But, the more important requirement is the belt speed which is 4480 FPM. It is more than 4100 FPM, so the speed is also ideal for doing heavy work.
It is a multi-function grinder with both a belt sander and bench grinder. The 6-inch 60 grit white grinding wheel is perfect for low-temperature grinding.
The wheel has an attached, easily adjustable, eye shield that requires no tool. The eyeshield also features a LED light for more detailed works. The LED light is a very uncommon feature.
The 2×42 inch belt sander is large enough for all sorts of general sanding and finishing on most metals, plastic, woods, and more. You can make knives on this grinder too.
The belt housing can swivel from 0 to 90 degrees. So, you can adjust the belt position vertically and horizontally according to your project requirement.
This flexibility is very important when you are making knives. You can sand or grind the blades from every angle you need.
Next is the stability of the grinder. It features a cast-iron belt sander work table, locked with a metal handle. So, you can rest assured when you are working with this belt grinder.
Adjusting the belt is also very convenient and hassle-free in this belt sander and grinder. The grinder has belt cover lock knobs, using which you can easily remove the belt cover and adjust it. The tension and tracking mechanism are also very smooth.
This Bucktool combo comes with two worktables. A worktable of cast iron for metals, and another of Aluminum for wood and such materials.
2. WEN 6515T 1×30 Belt Sander with 5-inch Sanding Disc
The Wen 6515T is one of the best budget-friendly high-performance belt sanders in the market now. It is Amazon’s choice for the best belt sander for knife making.
The 1×30 inch belt sander comes with a 5-inch sanding disc at the side with an 80 grit sanding disk. The motor of this grinder delivers a very decent performance compared to its compact size.
The speed of the disc is 3450 FPM. It is perfect for sanding smooth and deburr jagged edges. The 1×30 inch sanding belt is very easy to adjust.
The belt sander comes with a 100-grit sanding belt. You can change the sanding belts on these sanders in a breeze in no time.
With the sanding belt and sander, you can do all sorts of sanding and angling at ease. The chattering problem is solved here with the heavy-duty base.
Though the belt sander is very compact, the heavy base prevents it from vibrating while in use. Both the belt and disc have sturdy beveling work tables for the workpieces.
The 6515T has two separate dust ports for vacuum attachments. Though dust ports play no significant role in knife making, it helps to keep the workstation tidy.
The miter gauge with the disc sander helps to hold workpieces at a set angle while sanding, polishing, or bevelling. You get all these features with a 2 years warranty at below a hundred dollars. It is the best deal you could find for any belt sander.
3. Work Sharp WSKTS-KO-W Knife & Tool Sharpener
It is the best belt sander for knife sharpening. If you are used to sharpening knives by hands only, you will be amazed by how easily the work is done using electric knife sharpeners. And the Work Sharp Ken Onion is the best in the market now.The sharpener comes with an elaborated users’ guide and instruction DVD. So, don’t worry about how to use it.
The sharpener has a variable speed Power Switch with a lockout. So you can do slow speed honing or high speed grinding according to your need. The sharpener has a Sharpening Cassette with Edge Guide. It makes precise edge bevels from 15° to 30°.
The Sharpening Guide has an angle adjustment knob on it marked from 15 to 30 in 1-degree increments. So, there is a wide range of angle selections available in this sharpener.
The sanding belts are easy to set and replace by simply lifting the belt-changing lever, putting the belt or removing it, and releasing the lever. The 6000-grit belt is only a half-inch wide. So, you can sharpen with the most precision.
It comes with five abrasive belts that ensure razor-sharp convex edges. It’s better if you start sharpening with cheaper or more damaged knives other than your best knives, as you might take some time to get used to it.
An interesting feature of the Work Sharp Ken Onion is its upgrade options. The Blade Grinding Attachment turns it into a small belt grinder capable of sharpening and shaping too. Both the cassette and the Blade Grinding Attachment have a good selection of abrasive belts.
4. WEN 6502T 4.3-Amp 4×36-in Belt and 6-in Disc Sander
It’s ironic how the Wen 6502T resembles the Bucktool BG2600 more than the Wen 6515T. The 6502T has an adjustable belt that can tilt from 0 to 90 degrees. So, you can do multi angle sanding with this.
You have to adjust the table bevel knob to fix the belt according to your requirement. The 80-grit sanding disk is suitable for sanding any workpiece you need. The disc sander has a 45-degree beveling work table and a removable miter gauge. The sanding machine also comes with an 80-grit sanding belt.
The 4.3 amp/ 0.56 hp motor is more than enough for a 4×36 belt sander. The belt sander makes 3600 RPM. So, the speed of the belt is perfect for all heavy work. But the 4-inch wide belt is not the best option for detailed works, like bevelling.
The belts are easy to set up and adjust with a tracking knob. The sanding machine features a heavy-duty cast iron base, so you don’t have to worry about its stability either. It also has a dust collection port. The Wen 6502T is the best for woodworks, but you can also sharpen, polish, hone knives with this and much more.
5. RIKON Power Tools 50-151 Belt with 5″ Disc SanderMany professionals applaud this sanding machine as the best value for money. The features that you get for the cost are commendable. Their brushless motor comes with a 5-years warranty.
Though the motor power is not much, it’s very durable and firm. The 0.33 hp is the average motor power of sanding machines. It is enough for beginners.
At no load, the speed of the belt is 3340 rpm, and the disc is 3350 rpm. But at high pressure and during heavy grinding, the belt will significantly slow down.
The base of the sanding machine is very firm, with four rubber feet. So, no shaking of the belt when you are grinding on the belt. The belt sander has a round working table that tilts from 0 Degree to 45 Degree. The 5-inch disc sander has a beveling work table with a miter gauge.
This sanding machine does not have variable speed. It only has one switch on/ off operation. It has a simple belt tracking knob for easily adjusting the belt in the belt sander. The machine also features a 2-inch dust port. The 1×30 inch size is ideal for beginners. One-inch wide belts allow precise sharpening.
6. EX ELECTRONIX EXPRESS Mini 1 x 30 Belt Sander
The size of this Ex Electronix is surprisingly compact for a 1×30 inch belt size. It is super convenient to use right out of the box. All you need to do is plug in, switch on, and start grinding. The 1×30 inch belt sanders are mostly used for woodworks.
However, you don’t need a large 2×72 inch belt grinder for making small and fancy knives. A 1×30 inch is enough for that. The Ex Electronix has a motor power of 0.391 hp or 3 amp. This motor generates a speed of 3400 rpm. It is not the best speed but works fine for making small knives.
The belt sander has a 5×5 inch 0-45 degree tiltable work table. So, you can make a flawless edge on your blade. However, a knife sharpening angle guide would have helped in more precision.
The machine is extremely lightweight, weighing less than a kg. So, it’s very portable. You can carry it to your workstations or project sites easily. It also has a 1 and 3/4 inch vacuum diameter. The price of this belt sander is also very affordable as it’s small and does not have any additional disc sander.
It’s overall a very compact, affordable, and easy-to-use knife-making belt grinder. It is also very silent and firm. It is the perfect belt grinder for beginners who are on a tight budget.
However, I recommend giving the finishing touch on the knives using a more powerful belt sander. The belt grinder has four rubber feet for stability. And the belt is protected with a belt guard.
The JET 4002 and 41002, both are very successful bench belts and disc sanders from Jet. The 4002 has a 1×42 inch belt size, and the 41002 has a 2×42 inch belt size. Other than this, all other features are pretty similar.
The Jet 41002 is seen widely in workshops. Though the sanding machine is very heavily made, weighing 60 pounds, it is easy to carry, thanks to its attachable parts feature.
The motor of this sanding machine has 0.37 hp, and the belt speed is 3100 sfpm. And the speed of the disc sander is 3450 rpm. It is not the best, but the performance of this sanding machine is great and satisfying.
Its deluxe miter gauge with the 8-inch disc sander has made it a professionals’ favorite. It can be tilted both left and right at 45 degrees angle.
The heavy-duty construction of the sanding machine makes it look very professional. The cast iron construction, steel base, and rubber feet make it very durable and stable.
Though Jet advertises that the sanding belts can be easily replaced here, the process is, in reality, a pain in the neck! You have to understand and follow the manual completely to be able to load and replace new belts.
The hinged idler wheel is covered in this belt sander. There are many unscrewing and small bolts to deal with here for changing the belts.
According to Jet, the belt works as a hand file, a coping saw, or a jigsaw. So, you can do a whole lot of work operations using this sanding machine.
The 2×42 size is ideal for small detailed works and flattening the blade surface too. It is a premium sanding machine with a long life construction and impressive features enough to impress you. So, shep your knives at all the old shapes with this sanding machine.
8. Rockwell Belt/Disc Combo Sander
I told you earlier that the 4×36 belt sanders are not the best choice for knife making. The wide belt makes it tough for the user to do detailed works or make bevels. And the 4×36 mostly has weak motors.
But Rockwell has changed the game here with its 4×36 inch combo sander. The combo has a 0.5 hp induction motor that generates 3450 RPM of disc speed. It’s not bad for a 4×36 belt sander and 6-inch disc sander combo.
The belt can move from 0 to 90 degrees. So, you can do vertical or horizontal sanding according to your need and workplace requirements.
The disc sander has a cast-aluminum work table and 0-45° miter gauge. So, you can do the finest finishing and beveling work with this machine.
Another big plus for this belt sander is that the sanding belts can be easily adjusted, loaded, and removed with a simple quick-release tension lever. The sanding machine also has a safety switch for extra precaution. It comes with a 2-years warranty.
9. Shop Fox W1855 Horizontal/Vertical Belt Sander With 6″ Disc
The Shop Fox 1843 is a premium model and is famous among professionals. But the W1855 is best for beginners or hobbyists. It is very compact and the best belt sander in the market for smaller workpieces.
The belt sander is adjustable anywhere between 0 to 90 degrees. It provides all the control you need for making or sharpening knives.
The 0.5 hp motor is also very powerful compared to its size. It generates a disc speed of 3600 rpm and a belt speed of 1900 fpm.
The sanding machine does not have a variable speed. The fixed single on/ off switch is all it has. Changing the belt is also a breeze here with its quick-release belt lever.
The tracking control knob and angle-adjustable knob are also very easy to use. This combo also has a 2 and 1/2 inch dust port.
The cast-iron table base is very firm and well-built. The disc sander has an adjusted cast aluminum table with a miter gauge. It comes with a 2 years warranty.
Buying guide for best belt sander & belt grinder for knife making
The belt grinder is the crux of all gears when you are making knives. There are very few knifemaking hobbyists. Most of the users are professionals making knives.
Types of knife making belt grinders:
The knife grinders are typically referred to by the size of the belt that they use. This size also determines the range and performance of the belt grinders. The most common knifemaking belt grinders use 2×72 inches belts. It is the industry standard. However, there are many other different sizes of belt grinders, and each of them has some sort of advantages over others. Knowing about all these types and their advantages and disadvantages will help you decide which one is the best for you.
2×72 Belt Grinder:
As I have already mentioned, the 2×72 inches belt grinder is the industry standard, and most professionals prefer using this size. As the belt is 72 inches long, it serves the purpose during all stages of a blade creation.
You can build the knife from scratch using raw steel and also use it for the final touches like polishing or sharpening. The long length of the belt reduces wear and heat build-up, so it’s very durable.
As it’s the most common belt grinders size in North America, most of the belt materials and accessories are compatible with 2×72 belt grinders. The wheel attachments in this grinder range from 1/4 to 16 inches in size. The firmer a belt grinder is, the better it will perform. The sturdy structure also eliminates the vibration of the belt grinder. It’s the most common problem in any high-speed rotating device used to reduce metals. The vibration of the machine is called chatter.
The best 2×72 belt grinder for knife making features rotary platens for convex grinds. The only drawback of these belt grinders is the cost.
However, if you are a professional, you will certainly earn more from it than you spend. But, if you are a beginner or hobbyist, it’s better if you look for something smaller.
This review focuses on the best budget belt grinders for newbies. So, unfortunately, it doesn’t include a 2×72 inches belt grinder.
1×30 Belt Grinder:
I love this size of belt grinder for its efficiency and compatibility. It is the ideal size for hobbyists and novices.
However, the length of the belt is not enough for professionals. The less abrasive surface fails to mitigate heat and promotes the wearing of belts. So, it results in the need for frequent changing of belts. You would want good-quality abrasives and sanding belts to improve the performance of your belt grinder.
As the width is only an inch, it is tough to flatten the surface of large knives fast with this belt grinder. However, most 1×30 inches belt grinder has a side 6-inch disc sander. The 6-inch is wide enough for such works and also for sharpening the blades.
As these belt grinders are smaller in size, they use low-power motors to operate. So, you have to give a bit more effort and time to run thicker materials. Overall, the 1×30 belt is the best knife grinder for beginners or hobbyists.
1×42 Belt Grinder:
It is not much different from the 1×30 inch in terms of performance. It just offers a more abrasive surface area. Most professionals own both 2×72 inch and 1×42 inch belt grinders.
The narrow belt does the best detail work and knife sharpening. It is also excellent for the initial tasks of knife making, profiling, and bevel grinding. The 42 inches belt length is the best to go with 1 inches width. It’s not too long, not too short. You won’t have to change the belts often, and it also mitigates heat better.
However, the one-inch width significantly deteriorates the overall function of the grinder. Though it’s good for bevelling and detailed works, a wider belt does all that and more.
2×42 Belt Grinder:
Professional knife makers suggest nothing less than 2×72 inch belt grinders. Many metal workers use larger ones in their factories, but the 2×72 is the standard.
However, if you are just starting and running on a budget, you are suggested to buy the smaller ones. They will not work as fluently as the bigger ones, but they will do the job just fine. Also, they are easy to store and set up too.
The 2×42 is more popular for woodworking than knife making. It offers more stability and abrasive surface than the 1×30, 1×42. So, it works great for knife making too.
Most 2×42 comes with a 6-inch disc sander which is pretty handy too. It is useful for beveling the front of knife handle scales.
Though the 2×42 size is large, it uses a pretty weak motor, mostly 1/3 hp. Lower horsepower means slower performance. The grinder tends to slow down as it runs. I will discuss the importance of motor power in detail later.
2×48 belt grinder:
It is the best alternative to the industry standard 2×72 belt grinder. The width of the belt is perfect for all types of grinding and sanding.
And the length is large enough for both professionals and hobbyists. Another plus point of the 2×48 is the high-performance motor. They mostly use 1 hp and more.
The size is perfect for small workshops. It fits well and also costs less than the 2×72 belt grinders. So, it is the best affordable option for professionals.
4×36 belt grinder:
These belt grinders are the most commonly available ones in hardware stores. The 4 inches wide belts provide a lot of horizontal space for sharpening the knives.
But, it is not the best for making knives. The grinder is built in such a way that it is tough to use it for knife making. The edge of the belt is not utilized in the 4×36 belt grinders.
Belt Sander vs Belt Grinder
You can use a belt sander and belt grinder both for making knives. If you happen to have one with you, you can try to use it for knife making. But the low speed and motor power will create enough hindrance. So, be prepared for it.
As I prioritize the hobbyists and newbies in this review, I have included a good number of 4×36 inch belt grinders to help you choose the best. These are the most common belt grinder sizes that you would see in the market.
There are some larger and smaller ones too, but they are not that famous among knife makers. Aside from the belt size, there are some other features that you need to look for when buying the best belt sander and grinder for knife making. But before I start with that, there is another common type of grinder called bench grinder.
The bench grinders have spinning grindstones for gently shaping or sharpening metals. Though bench grinders are not the best for making knives, they are excellent for sharpening and polishing them.
You can use a sharpening steel to get back the sharpness of your knife, but in a bench grinder, the motor does most of the hard work. You can put a precisely angled bevel into a piece of metal using bench grinders more effortlessly than you could do with your hands only.
Other features to look for in a belt grinder:
As I have already said, earlier the motor power and size have a proportional relationship with the overall performance of the belt grinder. A larger machine will generally require more power or energy to work than the smaller one.
As a rule of thumb, a 72-inch length belt requires 2 hp. So, the motor power is determined according to the length of the belt. The 2×72 belt grinder would require a motor of 2 hp, and the 2×48 belt grinder would work fine with a 1.5 hp motor.
The width of the belt has no role here. The average entry-level belt grinders have motors of only 0.33 hp, and that’s enough for hobbyists. So, make sure your belt grinder generates enough power to run the belt fast and smooth.
Many factors affect the speed of the belt grinders. The more power the belt grinder has, the faster it runs. Wood-oriented grinders like the 4×36 or the 2×42 have lower speeds and stock removal rates. High-speed belt grinders make the job of knife making easy and fast.
The preferred speed for belt grinders is 4,100 to 7,000 surface feet per minute. Most manufacturers advertise the motor speed in the RPM unit (rotation per minute). The formula to find the surface feet per minute is:
sfpm=(π x drive wheel diameter) x motor rpm
The belt speed and the size of the contact wheel are also linked. You can read this article for more information.
It is not a game-changer feature for any belt grinder but having variable speed is helpful for beginners. The high speed makes heavy steel hogging easy and fast.
And on the other hand, low speed is perfect for detailed works like bevelling and also sanding. Variable speed is especially very helpful for beginners, as they have the freedom of working at the speed they are comfortable.
Professionals find the single switch belt grinders just as good as the variable speed ones.
I have already discussed the chatter problem that knife makers face while using weak and small grinding machines.
Vibration and movement of the belt grinder is the last problem you would like to deal with while making knives. So, look for a larger and heavier belt grinder with strong support and base.
Professionals always suggest buying as many machines as possible. The bigger belt sanders and grinders cost more. But if you are a pro, you can earn more from it in no time. A good industry-level belt grinder can cost you 400 bucks or more, but it’s worth the investment.
But, if making knives is just your hobby and you need one mainly for sanding, there are many cheaper options in the market, costing below 100 bucks.
You can also buy second-hand machines. Some of the second-hand sanding machines in the market work just as great as the new ones. You can look for the best sander for knife making for sale.
Quick and Easy Adjustable Belts:
It’s only natural that you would need multiple sanding belts when you are using them for making a knife. So, the belt grinder must have a feature of effortlessly removing, fixing, and adjusting the sanding belts.
If it is a time-consuming and hectic process, it is definitely not the best grinder for you. You can easily take off the belt and adjust it using the tracking knob in some belt grinders.
And in some, you have to unscrew some parts to get the belt out and continue the process every time. It’s a big pain in the neck.
How to make and sharpen knives with belt sander and belt grinder:
Once you get your belt sander or grinder, you can sharpen all your knives at once in the least amount of time. To get the best sharpening result, follow the following steps:
- Load the belt into the sander. The belt should neither be right, nor loose. You should be able to pull the belt a little but feel a bit of stress.
- Next fix the direction of rotation of the spinning belt. If you are using it horizontally, the belt should be rotating far from you. And if you are using it vertically, the belt should be spinning towards you.
- Turn On the sander/ grinder at max speed after confirming the direction of rotation.
- Sharpen the knife according to your requirement
- Use water to cool the knife. Many professionals keep water sprays beside the grinder to keep cooling the knives during sharpening.
- At last, hone the blade to remove all burrs from the knife.
Precautions and tips while using belt sander and belt grinder:
You should be extra cautious when using any tools. If you are not careful while using a belt sander/grinder, you will end up harming your knife or worse, yourself.
- Always make sure your working surface is free of dust. Check if the switch is turned on before plugging the power in.
- Make short strokes. Don’t keep your knife on the sharpener for too long. It will decrease the lifespan of knives by removing too much steel.
- Avoid raising the knife’s angle
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
- How to Make and Sharpen Knives with a Belt Sander and Grinder?
Belt sanders and grinders are best-suited for woodworking. But they can be used for metal works too, especially in knife making and sharpening. The best belt grinder for metal work has a belt size of 2×72 inches.
- Why Use a Belt Sander and Grinder in Knifemaking and sharpening?
Belt sanders are robust tools mainly used in woodworking. But their high motor power and speed make them perfect for metal work too. You will realize how fast these belt grinders work once you use them. You won’t ever want to use your hand again.
- Why make your own knives?
Making your knife might seem like a hectic job at first. But you get to design your exceptional knife fast and smooth with belt grinders in no time.
- What size belt sander is best for making knives?
The industry-standard belt sander size for making and sharpening knives is 2×72 inches. However, small belt sanders work great too.
- Can I make a knife and sharpen it with a belt sander and belt grinder?
Yes, you can easily make and sharpen knives with a belt grinder and sander in no time.
- How can I make my sandpaper last longer?
You can use an abrasive cleaning stick to clean your sandpaper and double its lifespan. Aluminum oxide sandpapers work the longest.
- Can a grinder be used as a sander for knife making and sharpening?
Yes, you can use a grinder for knife making and sharpening. A bench grinder is the most flexible and simple grinder to sharpen and make knives.
Belt grinders and sanders are super fast and efficient devices. Though they are most commonly used for grinding materials like plastic, wood, and such, there are many belt grinders that work equally fine for metals too.
You can make knives from plain steel using a heavy belt sander and grinder. The 2×72 inch belt sanders are perfect for making knives from scratch, and the smaller ones are great for sharpening them or doing detailed works.
I have reviewed here the best belt sander & grinder for knife making. This review has nine belt sanders and grinders for beginners at an affordable price. The buying guide with the reviews will help you choose the right belt grinder and sander.