In the knife making industry, a number of tools are needed to make the job much easier. One of such tools is the belt sander. This one is become a bit more popular than the rest of the tools. It is a very powerful device that has been designed to make knife grinding and sharpening to be a walk in the park. However, one needs to understand what they are doing before venturing into the use of the belt sanders. Novices may find belt sanders to be a little too complex for them. However, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t go for it. As a novice, you can start learning with the cheaper models as you climb up the scale. First things first! Let’s first start by introducing some of the best belt sander for knife making on the market.
Last update on 2018-04-24 PST - Details
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This is inarguably the best belt sander for knife making on the market. The manufacturing company, Kalamazoo is also respected, with its products being real pacesetters in their different categories. However, it is mainly common for building sanders for wood. The 1725 RPM has technically been designed for knife creation or sharpening. Its features and power are decent enough to allow the user ability to set it for different needs. The belt size is perfect for both the experienced and the novice users. The sander features a quality construction and for quality work, giving users real value for their money.
Pros and Features
- Belt Efficiency: Its main selling feature is its 1-inch belt surface that is capable of shaping and sanding an array of materials.
- Portability: It is lightweight and compact thus making it convenient to carry and to use.
- Reversible Motor and Versatility: Under some situations, you may end up working faster because the reversibility of the motor ensures that. This makes it possible for the tool to be used for polishing, sharpening and sanding etc.
- Easy Use: The tool offers easy and fast belt changing capability with the exercise taking about 30 seconds. It also comes out of the box ready to use thus reduced waiting time and hassle.
- Spring Tension: The rollers feature spring tension performance for maintenance of consistency in tracking as well as in belt tension
- Value: The price to built quality ratio is excellent.
- It isn’t well equipped to handle bigger knife sizes.
- Tracking system in unusable when the machine is turned on.
For the newbie who is shopping for an inexpensive belt sander model where they can gain skills from, then this mini belt sander would be your best alternative. It may be strange that such a relatively cheaper model appears second on this list but its performance makes it ideal for use by not only the novice but also by professionals. It comes with a relatively compact size that’s ideal for use by a wide range of persons. Overall, the model is just slightly versatile as it’s recommended mainly for light shaping and sharpening. Just don’t expect that you will create a knife from scratch by the use of this machine.
Pros and Features
- Quick Change Setup: It has been designed to give you an easy time when it comes to belt replacement as well as the changing of other accessories.
- Powerful Motor: The 1/3 horsepower motor is very powerful for efficient sharpening and shaping of knives.
- Dust Collection System: This has been included in the design to make the working area cleaner as compared with when working with other sanders.
- Efficient Operation: a 45 degrees tilting contact plate and a 3400 rpm operation are responsible for the models efficiency.
- Is a bit too difficult to assemble.
- Some components aren’t as durable.
The H6070 is one of the best belt sanders for knife making for the buck. It is a multipurpose tool that features both sanding options implying that one can accomplish lots of tasks with it. In other words, with the unit, rest assured that you can handle not only knife making projects but also buffing and woodworking tasks. Its 3450 rpm operation speed makes it one of the fastest belts you can come across on the market. The H6070s contact plate is such that the unit can accommodate all kinds of knives. All in all, the model is an excellent investment for the novices as well as the intermediate knife makers.
Pros and Features
- Power: Comes with a very powerful motor that’s capable of taking care of a multitude of tasks.
- Portability: It is a compact tool, a plus that makes it easy to work with it in small spaces with fairly much ease.
- Stability: The tool is firmer and doesn’t shake much during operation. This improves the durability of the tool and reduces the risks of fatigue on the user. Additionally, it produces relatively low noise.
- Value for Money: Relatively, the tool offers users more things for the money they spent on it, thanks to the belt and sanding disks that have been included in the package.
- Features some unimpressive plastic parts.
- Not capable of handling too much demanding tasks.
Another 2-in-1 model on this list is the JET J-4002, a very impressive and much more industrious tool for its range. The unit has been designed as a powerhouse machine, implying that a user can do a lot with it. Featuring a disc and a belt sander alike, metalwork, plastics and woodworks can all be handled with the tool, with the end results showing perfection. The belt size design is very decent, even though it’s quite hardcore for knife making.
Pros and Features
- User-Friendly: Changing the belt is such an easy task to do. Additionally, its relatively quiet performance is indeed user-friendly.
- Value: The tool may not be the best but as far as price to performance ratio is concerned, it is very valuable.
- Multi-Purpose: In many sense, the sander is an all-rounder, thanks to the 2-in-1 bench belt and disk sander accessories.
- Easy Use: Perfect performance right out of the box without the many requirements of assembly and adjustments that come with most of the other sanders on the market.
- Operates at a speed of between 3,000 rpm and 3,400 rpm, which is relatively slow.
- It’s not a portable.
The Grizzly G1015 is our final product as far as knife making belt sanders are concerned. This unit is characterized with power and performance. The size together with the aforementioned power of the model speaks much about an industrial grade machine. If you are therefore considering venturing into a serious knife making enterprise, then this is a nice choice of a tool. The 2” x 74 or 76” belt size together with a 1 horsepower motor means that your work can be done within no time. An accompanying auxiliary arbor gives your knifes the final needed shiny looks.
Pros and Features
- Belt Power: The 2” x 74 or 76” belt size means that the user gets more power when compared with other tools having lesser belt sizes. The best speed is 3,600 FPM.
- Motor Power: A 1HP, single-phase fitting utilizing 14A and 110V provides a 1725 RPM speed, good enough to take care of your jobs.
- Design: It features a somewhat unconventional design and construction that’s liked by a good number of users.
- Performance: It offers adequate goodies necessary of satisfactorily performing any blacksmithing and general metalwork
- Quiet: Produces a humming sound when in operation. This sound can on average be termed as quiet.
- User-Friendly: Its quick belt-change mechanism ensures that you have an easy to operate and easy to maintain sander.
- Versatility: Though marked as knife making sander by the company, the model is such a very versatile tool.
- Designed with just a single speed hence one can’t adjust as per their needs.
Why Buy Belt Sanders for Knife Making?
Using a knife making sander, to make knives come with a distinctive advantage of creating a convex edge instead of a concave edge that is made by the traditional techniques. On a shallow look, the traditional knife making techniques seem to have an advantage as metal is shaved away thus creating a sharp edge. However, a closer look reveals that such a technique negatively impacts the integrity of your knives. Concave edges also become duller a little faster than the convex ones.
In a nutshell, a belt sander will help you go through a metal in a way that creates an edge, which retains sharpness for extended durations. Such is an ideal situation necessary for knife making hence the continued increase in the popularity of the belt sanders for such tasks.
Factors of Consideration in Choosing the Best Belt Sander for Knife Making
Two things come to mind when the size of a belt sander is being considered. The size of the sander comes first and is necessary as one has to ensure that they have enough space to accommodate it. The unit also needs to be as lightweight as possible for easy installation. Belt sanders can weigh as little as 20lbs, with some being as heavy as 70lbs. Ideally, the weight of the sander is always proportional to its size or volume. You therefore need to understand the space limitations under your disposal before going for any specific model.
Secondly, the belt size comes to mind when the size of a sander is being considered. A good number of these tools use 1-inch wide and 30-inch or 40-inch long belts. However, the best choice of a belt for knife making would be that which measures 2-inches by 74-inches. You may ask yourself the question why larger belts would be ideal. Larger belts helps you get better sharpening and grinding capabilities as you shape the knife. In addition, the belts are more long lasting because of the bigger surface area that reduces the amount of wear and tear per unit area.
Your budget will always determine what you can go for. But my recommendation is that you shouldn’t go too low. Try and spend as much as you can save. A cheaper unit makes the user to compromise so many services. For instance, you may end up losing the privileges of a superior build quality together with the tracking features if you have a low budget. Leave the cheap units for the newbie. In fact, such cheap units are primarily designed for them to gain experience from.
The belt speed is yet another very critical aspect that must be considered. When gauging efficiency, the primary factor is speed. A belt that moves too slowly takes you longer to do a single piece. Don’t waste your time on such. The bare minimum ought to be 1725 RPMs, with the recommended speed being at least 3000 RPMs. Such a speed makes shaping and grinding faster and much easier.
d. Ease of use
The difficulty of handing any machine is always a point to consider when shopping for one. As far as belt sanders are concerned, do your best to choose a machine that’s much easy to install, to use or even to handle. You shouldn’t spend hours changing a belt. Instead, I would rather you go for one that won’t take you fifteen minutes to change. On the worst, you should take just half an hour.
Similarly, when your choice of machine is that which comes with numerous accessories, these need to be altered as quickly as possible without compromising the efficiency.
The motor power usually gives you a jest of how much power is behind the belt in addition to the overall potential spin speed. The smaller machines features 1/3 horsepower motors, with the bigger models offering 1 horsepower. The bigger the motor horsepower, the more versatile it will be. Such bigger horsepower also offer easy knife shaping and grinding. Just don’t make an assumption that as long as the motor is big, the model automatically becomes better than the smaller motors. You need to know how to balance between motor size, the size of the unit, speed and contact point.
f. Dust collection
Though it hasn’t been a norm, a good number of belt sanders recently entering the market come with some dust collection mechanisms. I would recommend that you consider a machine designed with shop vacuum ports as this helps in the navigation through dust. In any case, as long as a dust collection mechanism is good for your needs and your job, consider going for it.
g. Contact Point
It is prudent that you use a machine with a sufficient plate on which to work. This makes it easy for the user to make all their adjustments without the knife having to hang off the side of the machine. Some belt sanders have been designed with small plates whereas others come with wider ones. This implies that one may need to manually adjust so as to ensure there is enough working room. If your unit of choice has a smaller plate, you may need to weld or affix some wider plates for efficiency purposes.
The best plates also have the ability of tilting up to 45 degrees or even more. Such a tilt is necessary when it comes to the knife sharpening stage. Otherwise, without the 45 degrees tilt, sharpening your knife using the sander won’t be possible. Knife sharpening is the most important part of knife making hence don’t waste your time and money on a unit that can’t sharpen the knife.
The best belt sanders for knife making are those that feature robust tracking assemblies. Anything less than robustness in this area makes you run the risk of compromising the quality of your project.
i. Frame Design
It is the sander frame that holds all the other components thus allowing the tool to carry out its different tasks. As a result, the best machines are those characterized with robust frames. Go for that machine that features a solid frame as you avoid those with not so good frame materials.
The Kalamazoo 1SM 1725 RPM sander leads the pack as the best belt sander for knife making. The unit has been designed for durability and performance. It comes with a reversible motor and features that ensure versatility. You can thus use the sander for polishing, sharpening as well as sanding among other functions. The Kalamazoo 1725 sander is also easy to use and to maintain and is powerful enough to handle most of your tasks without any issues. The main thing you need to understand is that it’s important you do your thorough homework before setting out to buy a piece. With proper use of this guide, you will hardly go wrong with the sander you end up choosing.