Homemade Belt Sander and Grinder

Discussion in 'Your DIY and Workshop Projects' started by Retired, Aug 2, 2018.

  1. Retired

    Retired

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    Years ago I made both a belt grinder and a belt sander; the belt grinder 2" wide the belt sander 4" wide both with 36" belts. I use the belt sander for general work and the belt grinder for sharpening tools.

    Initially I set the belt grinder so that the belt ran uphill because I feared tools could dig in; be dangerous and ruin the belt but now I have this belt grinder running downhill as normal and so far absolutely no problems. I recently upgraded this belt grinder to run nearer the correct belt speed which really is fast; belt speeds can be found browsing the web; I've bought a good selection of grinding belts in Zirconium; Ceramic; Trizact and the usual oxide; I use 60G zirconium for metal removal and for final grind on my woodturning tools use a ceramic 120G; it does a superb job and I've also now made a gouge finger nail grinding jig.

    The 4" belt sander I use for general work and its running much too slow but it still does an amazing amount of work; at this slow speed if I sand metal the sharp edges tend to strip the grit from the belt so for metal I revert to the 2" belt grinder.

    Belt tension adjustment on both is my own design which I dreamt up whilst making them using material from my scrap bin; the belt grinder is posh it having aluminium rollers but the bigger grinder has wooden rollers; I usually have spare motors kicking around so both machines really only cost the new belts.

    I have excellent workshop facilities including arc welding (Oxford) and lathes; I've also now got a nice metal cutting bandsaw to save aching arms.

    A lot depends on what you want to use your new sander for and what workshop facilities you have access to? These machines can be bought second hand without bankrupting you but this is too easy when designing and making your own is interesting and challenging. There are lots of YouTube videos on the subject if you care to browse; I've had a quick look and found a few pictures which I'm happy to add below. I don't mind taking more pictures next time I'm in the workshop to show/explain how belt tension is adjusted and how belt tracking is achieved.

    I for one will encourage anyone to make their own machines if at all possible; many times home made are much more robust than the tinny items sold cheaply.

    My home made machines tend to evolve over time as I modify or add to them; I enjoy designing and making such machines as I enjoy using them.

    Ian plans to add a new workshop section for this kind of project which I'm looking forward to.

    Play safe.

    Kind regards, Colin.

    Belt sanders (1).jpg Belt sanders (2).jpg Belt sanders (3).jpg Belt sanders (4).jpg Belt sanders (5).jpg Belt sanders (6).jpg Belt sanders (7).jpg Belt sanders (8).jpg
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 5, 2018
    Retired, Aug 2, 2018
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  2. Retired

    Retired

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    Hi,

    A few more details; firstly the 2" belt grinder I made to sharpen my tools. A great deal of thought went into designing belt tracking; belt changing and tool rests.

    The tool rests were easiest; I cheated in respect of grinding finger nail profiles onto my woodturning tools by copying the Robert Sorby design costing me nothing other than some interesting happy time. The general tool rest again cost nothing and does the job; I still need to modify this from using a spanner for adjustment to adding either lever or knob. Belt tracking was the hardest to sort out given all I was using were lumps of metal from my offcuts; the design looks very simple now it's thought out and tested in anger. A simple hinge at the top welded from bits of steel and a through threaded rod with a point and knob; I'm delighted it all works as planned.

    Belt tension was a difficult one too to sort out but how easy it turned out to be after a lot of head scratching; its spring loaded; just a square tube inside a square tube; the spring sits in the base tube which I packed out by experiment to give decent spring compression; the spring being heavy duty and one I had to hand; the upper tube had a filling piece roughly welded but this having a central peg for spring top location; to rapidly change a belt I just press hard on the top roller assembly to compress the spring; slip the belt on and let go; it couldn't be easier but as I say it took a lot of thought; if it works in my head then it usually works in practice; I never jump in with half ideas.

    One point worth mentioning is if 2" wide belts are needed but the supplier only lists 4" wide belts; buy the 4" wide belts and use a straightedge and utility knife to make two 2" belts from a single 4" belt; take great care not to slice a finger or hand. Below are a few more pictures and I'll add details to each; I've not cleaned the grinder it's just as its been used. I turned insert bushings to suit the gouge diameters I use. This grinder does its intended job and has served me well only costing the belts.

    Kind regards, Colin.

    Belt grinder_001.JPG
    Home made copy of Sorby fingernail jig but mine cost nothing other than time to make.

    Belt grinder_003.JPG
    Very robust tool rest; fully adjustable at the moment by using a spanner but to be modified when the mood takes me.

    Belt grinder_004.JPG
    Belt tracking achieved by simply adjusting the knob; the top roller pivots on the heavy duty hinge; works a treat and adjustment is rapid. More bits of metal from the offcuts bin costing nothing.

    Belt grinder_005.JPG
    Simple but effective motor drive all mounted on wooden base.

    Belt grinder_006.JPG
    Front view with belt removed; please note small strip of metal to bottom left of picture; this is for setting the fingernail jig.

    Belt grinder_007.JPG
    Top roller assembly showing how the roller hinges for belt tracking.

    Belt grinder_008.JPG
    Spring locating peg roughly welded in; the assembly drops into the base tube; spring pressure adjusts belt tension; again it works a treat and allows rapid belt installation.

    Belt grinder_009.JPG
    Base tube with heavy duty spring in position; a bit of wood packing at the spring bottom sets the working tension; once set the tension is then automatic for all belts.Simple but works.

    Belt grinder_011.JPG
    Bottom detail of top roller hinge showing spindle nut clearance by drilling a big hole; threaded rod adjusts tracking.

    Belt grinder_012.JPG

    Lateral adjustment of top roller by a spacer each side; a lathe is very handy but washers would do equally well.
     
    Retired, Aug 3, 2018
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  3. Retired

    Retired

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    Hi,

    The 4" belt sander was the first I made and again it's a very simple design being built around offcuts I had to hand so cost nothing other than time in the workshop; I have both metal and woodturning lathes; this sander has turned wooden rollers the rollers on both machines being slightly crowned to aid belt tracking. This sander runs too slow but it's done me lots of work over the years since I made it; one day I'll change the pulleys to speed it up but it works as it is so no panic to play around with it.

    Included below is a picture of what a superb job the belt grinder makes of sharpening the woodturning tools on a ceramic 120G belt. For removing more metal a 60G Zirconia belt is used which is a lot more aggressive..

    Kind regards, Colin.

    Belt sander (1).JPG
    Belt tracking; main bar slides up and down with a cross arm welded to it; the cross arm is drilled and tapped at each end to accept adjusting screws or bent handles; rapid adjustment is achieved.

    Belt sander (2).JPG
    Another of my ideas of how to adjust belt tension again being spring loaded; a short length of round bar stock attached off center with a washer and set screw with a lever; the lever having holes for spring adjustment; crude but highly effective; the lever when moved either moves the top pulley up or down giving quick belt changing. Simple really just like me.

    Sharpened.JPG

    Pay £400 for a tool grinder or make your own for the price of the belts; I now have tool grinder and belt sander; are the results any different between my machines and bought machines?
     
    Retired, Aug 3, 2018
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    professore_au

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    Thank you for the information. Your question what will I be using it for. I intend to use it in both metalwork and woodwork and I find your comment about the slower speed of your 4" informative. If I understand it correctly woodwork speeds are considerably slower than for metal work and I presume metalwork meaning steel combinations. Would aluminium, being soft be better sanded at woodwork speed or slower?
    I like what you have done but have been looking at some (Jeremy Schmidt site), which provides an option to turn it on its side. I will also look at that. It will take me a while to do it as I have back problems that make it hard to stand for long or to lift. However, I have Irish and Scottish genes and that make me pigheaded and stubborn, so I will press on regardless:)
     
    professore_au, Aug 6, 2018
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  5. Retired

    Retired

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    Hi,

    You're welcome professore_au.

    https://www.practicalmachinist.com/vb/general/sfm-belt-disk-sander-metal-272217/

    I've been a member of the above forum for a few years but seldom post on it. Here's one of mine;

    https://www.practicalmachinist.com/vb/general/hydrovane-6pu-compressor-problems-290649/index2.html

    What put me off posting was a post by a member saying I shouldn't be on Practical Machinist because I merely had a home workshop; I spent ages trying to find details of the Hydrovane compressor I had but in the end I sorted the job out myself so Practical Machinist now has details of how to repair one of these which I think must be unique; small workshop owner indeed?

    Back to the plot; regarding belt speeds these can vary quite a bit depending on the type of abrasive and what is being sanded/ground; wood needs a lower sanding speed and this can easily be tested whilst hand sanding on a woodturning lathe; high speed tends to polish the work but slow speed removes more material and is much more efficient so yes I would definitely say slower speed for sanding wood.

    I was surprised when I researched belt grinding speeds for metal; my 2" belt grinder was running way too slow so I changed the pulley diameters and what a tremendous difference this has made; there are abrasive belts suitable for any metal including aluminium so it would be beneficial for you to browse the web looking at abrasive belt supplier details the same way I did for the information you seek.

    Here's an example; yes it gets rather complicated because there are so many types of abrasives and not only that these abrasives come in lots of grit sizes; a lot of money can be spent buying abrasive belts; I bought a selection that cover my needs.

    https://www.abrasive-systems.co.uk/...WSfr7768ScRMs7qe9GtMvFhP0qt2H2IkaAvAVEALw_wcB

    I posted details of both my machines just to give an idea of what's involved in making your own belt sander/grinder; mine were designed and made by me not from a drawing but just using lumps of metal I had to hand; lots of Americans like to make three wheel belt grinders for use on metal especially in knife making. Belt grinders/sanders can be made to suit individual needs and of materials either to hand or bought in specially; cost ranges from cheap (me) to expensive (not me). Both mine are powered by old motors I had; I think the 2" belt grinder only has an 1/2 HP motor fitted but it's certainly powerful enough; if you want to spend money then variable speed could be incorporated via a VFD and a 3 phase motor but the VFD would need protection from grinding dust otherwise it would soon die.

    For sanding wood there are big drum sanders and pad sanders; here's a pad sander for members who have never seen one;

    https://www.abrasive-systems.co.uk/...chines/abrasive-belts-pad-stroke-sanders.html

    There are many videos on YouTube covering sanding grinding machines and its not difficult to pick ideas from a number of these videos allowing a purpose machine to be built?

    Stubborn is good; I'm a Yorkshireman and when things go wrong ending up in frustration and hassle then stubborn for me kicks in and I'll not quit until I'm happy? I too will see a job through once I start because quitting isn't an option. :)

    Kind regards, Colin.
     
    Retired, Aug 6, 2018
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    imjohnbrown86

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    I am going to follow this tutorial to build belt sander and grinder. I have been searching this for sometime and you have explained very elaborately.
     
    imjohnbrown86, Nov 8, 2018
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  7. Retired

    Retired

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    Hi,

    Good luck imjohnbrown86; these machines are very useful indeed; I use both a lot; today I'm metal spinning and the belt grinder with its 2" wide leather honing belt installed is just marvelous for keeping the tool tip highly polished.

    Making one's own tools or machines is highly rewarding and satisfying.

    Kind regards, Colin.
     
    Retired, Nov 8, 2018
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