An Extremely Useful Shop-Built Belt Grinder

What’s green and black and used all over the shop? It’s [Make It Extreme]’s newest build, a scratch-built belt grinder. And as usual, the build video gets us in the mood to cut metal.

We’ll go out on a limb here and state that the lathe, and not the belt grinder, is the essential metalworking tool. That’s pretty clear from this build – the running gear is machined entirely on a lathe. But as central as the lathe is to machinery making, belt grinders like this one have to rate right up there in terms of shop utility.

You can sharpen with them, quickly remove stock, clean up welds, form chamfers, and remove rust and corrosion. They’re great all-around tools, and with the quick-release idler feature that this one has, fast belt changes for different jobs make it even more flexible. We’d like to see more adjustability in the work table – the ability to angle the table relative to the belt is very handy – but in all this is a great build and a nice tool to have.

On top of it all, watching the [Make It Extreme] builds – like this sandblaster, spot welder, or belt sander – is like high-speed shop class. There’s a lot to learn, although we have to admit that welding in shorts and a T-shirt gives us the willies.

19 thoughts on “An Extremely Useful Shop-Built Belt Grinder

      1. When used at varying speeds,it does in fact grind or sand, depending on your need.You can also adjust the tension on the belt a little and accomplish, say a hollow grind against the wheel portion of the path of the belt, on a knife blade if you need one. And tighten the belt a bit and bevel the cutting edge to almost an exact angle, then, use a stone to refine the edge. A belt grinder uses a sandpaper belt or varying grit fineness rating too, so you have a lot of options. A very versatile tool.

  1. My grandfather would have loved the tools we have today. Sitting in my shed is a band saw he built himself. The drums for the blade are two front wheels off of a 59 ford. drum brakes intact and hooked up as a emergency brake pedal you can stomp on and stop the blade in less than a 1/4 rotation. to have access to a CNC mill he would have been able to build anything. I just wish I was able to grab the 30 ton 1920 turret lathe he had… Built better and more accurate than anything you can buy today.

    1. 30 tons? Not likely, even the largest American Pacemakes topped out at 12000 lbs. And more accurate than anything today? Maybe compared to something from harbor freight.

  2. Needs crowned rollers to prevent the belt moving as it is used. They included an adjuster but you’d be constantly fiddling it.

    Love the idea of just grabbing some plate, marking it out, hacking it up and welding together your own stationary power tools. Lots of stuff like sanders and saws doesn’t need to be made from cast parts.

    1. Probably true for new materials, but those metal parts aren’t that large. Looks to be something that could be made from scrap or other recycled bits

      If you hunt around you might even be able to find bits that had rollers or studs or something to mount the rollers to. Another excuse to hoard junk :)

    1. The difference is in the belt aggressiveness and powered speed. This is for grinding, not sanding. The belt is moving as fast as the face of a traditional grinding wheel, and will not bog down under heavy load. It can remove INCHES of material quickly.

  3. 40 years ago I had tracking trouble on a Sears 6×48 belt sander. As a temporary fix I added a couple of layers of masking tape to the center of the top roller. It’s still there and tracking is working as it should.

  4. I like the way these guy can just eyeball it, am much more strategic in how I do things and need all the details documented first, but I really admire people that can just wing-it and get the job done. They are like the metal-shop version of Jimmy Diresta.

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