When I first got started making knives I was using a small underpowered 1×30 belt sander to shape my knives and was jealous of those big 2×72 belt grinders I saw all the big guys using! I couldn’t afford a 2500.00$ machine (I still can’t) so I decided to make one. I started by planning out what I would need and the design I would use. I settled on a KMG style grinder and then it began. I soon realized a big expense was the stinking drive, idler, and contact wheels. Another big expense was the motor. I highjacked a treadmill motor (for free!) and rewired it with a turning potentiometer. At that point I decided I could make the wheels myself so I built a small foundry in my back yard and started collecting my coworkers aluminum cans. After a while I was able to collect enough to melt them down and then pour them into soup cans to get me a perfect circle. I cut the can off, chucked them up in my mini lath, (bought used off Craigslist) and then turned a drive wheel and a slightly beveled idler wheel.
I bought machine grade ball bearings from Fastenal for like 20 bucks. I then ordered two sets of pillow block bearings and threaded shafts. I drilled holes and threaded set screws in the wheels just to make sure the were tight. I realized that I would need a custom pulley for the motor shaft so I made two from aluminum on my lathe for the drive system. I then went to the scrap yard and found extra square tubing (one that fits snug inside the other) and some steel plate. I cut it all up on my metal cutting band-saw (50 bucks on Craigslist!) and then welded it up.(I had to teach myself how to weld… it’s fun)
I used an old hydraulic press thing from the trunk of a car for my tensioner and ordered a 10″ contact wheel from Grizzly for 80 bucks. (That’s the cheapest you’ll find em anywhere) I slapped it all together and this was the result! Turned out great! All for between 400.00-500.00 bucks (including belts!) Sure beats 2500.00 and works like a charm. You find lots of pictures and a YouTube video below. To Learn how to make you own Belt Grinder Click Here.
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