I’ve been wanting a belt grinder for years. The belt grinder is commonly considered a knife maker’s tool, but it is so versatile it can be used for all sorts of metalworking operations. The concept is the same as a woodworking belt sander, but the belt grinder is designed specifically to be suitable for grinding metal. This means it is heavier and more powerful so it can withstand the high loads of grinding metal, and it will typically run 50-100% faster than a belt sander for wood. It has to be made from materials that will not be harmed by sparks and high temperatures.
After about two years of playing around with designs in CAD, I’ve finally built the grinder of my dreams. Below is the full build video. It is quite a lengthy video, but I cover most of the important features within the first three minutes.
The tool arm + receiver system makes the machine incredibly versatile, since I can make any attachment I want, so long as the belt can wrap around it, and it has a bar that fits in the receiver in the frame. The same goes for the table, since it is mounted to the same sort of tool arm. The grinder can be tilted on the big central hinge, so this one machine serves as both a horizontal and a vertical grinder. The hinge axis is strategically placed so the table can remain in place while the rest of the grinder is tilted, for added convenience.
After the positive response the grinder received on YouTube, and after hundreds of requests, I have written a set of detailed, step-by-step plans to help you build this machine for yourself. You can purchase and instantly download them here. For more information on the grinder and plans, please watch my FAQ video:
*Update: The plans now include a 2-dimensional DXF drawing of all of the 3/8″ thick steel parts, useful if you plan to CNC cut them. If you purchased the plans before July 24, 2017, you can email me and request the DXF (make sure you include your order number so I can confirm you bought the plans).
Below is more information about the grinder, such as a list of parts, as well as some free files, including a 3D Sketchup model of the entire grinder.
Sketchup models: The .zip files below contain the Sketchup models, which can be opened in the latest versions of Sketchup. You will have to un-zip the .zip files and open the contained .skp file, since Sketchup will not recognize the .zip one. (Sorry for this confusion…it’s just the way my website works)
Grinder & platen attachment: 2×72 tilting belt grinder.zip
Radius jig: Belt grinder radius jig.zip
Table attachment: Belt grinder table.zip
PDF plans: These are plans for the attachments, tables, & jigs, which are available for free. They can be viewed on your browser or downloaded. The plans for the rest of the belt grinder and the platen attachment are available for purchase here.
(There are currently no other plans available, but I will be uploading some soon. They will appear here. I intend to make a 10″ contact wheel attachment & a small wheel attachment, as well as a variety of tables & jigs. Plans for the table and radius jig will be available soon)
Sources for parts: I recommend buying as many of the parts & materials as possible locally, but here are links to some parts that I used and/or recommend using on the build. Most of these parts are also available on eBay, but I chose not to link them here as eBay listings tend to change frequently. For a full parts list with sizes & quantities, refer to the plans.
KBAC 27D 2hp frequency drive. Get it here. I like the simplicity of this drive and the fact that it is fully inclosed to protect against dust. It can run on 120v or 220v single-phase input, and will run up to a 2hp motor (220v input is required for any motor over 1.5hp). If you choose a motor larger than 2hp, you’ll need a bigger drive such as this (three-phase input only).
Motor. I went the cheapskate route of buying too small of motor just because it was cheap. At some point I’ll have to upgrade it, as of now I don’t know exactly which one I’ll go with. It needs to be 2hp or more, 220v 3phase, two pole (high rpm, runs 3600rpm @ 60Hz), TEFC, frame 56. I’ll likely replace mine with a Leeson brand motor.
Wheels. You’ll need several aluminum wheels for the grinder, and while I had mine custom made, I would recommend you buy these. The same seller also sells small wheels, and I plan to make my small wheel attachment to use them.
Tensioner spring. I initially used a hay baler pickup finger as a spring, but I have since replaced it with a homemade spring. The homemade spring was extremely easy to make, and actually works better. I have a video on making the spring.