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  • Belt Grinders

    I've accumulated a pile of misc junk with making a belt grinder in mind. I already have a little 1x30 and its been quite useful. I use it more than my bench grinder anymore. I want something with a little more umph and speed control for different applications. Of course I could buy something, but what's the fun in that.

    Is there some inherent benefit or best compromise for the 2x72? It seems to be the fad among the "must have" crowd, but I could just as easily build a belt grinder for any available size belt. I'm not building it with a single purpose in mind. More of a general purpose tool. I've been debating a disc sander on it, but I rarely use the disc sanders I have on my small belt grinders.

    As an aside, I've also started planning a simple one day build (I hope) of a 1x30 pipe grinder attachment for an angle grinder. There have been times I wanted a better finish, but didn't have enough material left to take that heavy cut it required to get it.
    *** I always wanted a welding stinger that looked like the north end of a south bound chicken. Often my welds look like somebody pointed the wrong end of a chicken at the joint and squeezed until something came out. Might as well look the part.

  • #2
    Popularity and availability. 2x72 belts are easy to find and inexpensive, other sizes do exist but 2x72 is about as close to a standard as you could hope for. Id ditch the idea of a built in disc sander, the rpm needed for a decent belt speed is higher than what youd want for a moderately useful sized disc

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    • #3
      I'd build it for the belt size that is the most generally available in the width range you want. You want to be able to get the belts far into the future, and if that means a wider belt, there are worse things.

      I also have a 1 x 30, and I am beginning to find that the belts are becoming scarce, or at least the available sources are. The 1 x 42 size seems to be going strong, though.
      1601

      Keep eye on ball.
      Hashim Khan

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Bob La Londe View Post
        Is there some inherent benefit or best compromise for the 2x72? It seems to be the fad among the "must have" crowd, but I could just as easily build a belt grinder for any available size belt.
        -In this case, the biggest drivers of the "fad" are the knife makers, and the 2x72 offers one of the best compromises between length of belt (lasts longer, runs cooler) and physical space (the machine fits on a typical workbench.) The 2x72 is also a very common belt size, available nearly everywhere. Other sizes can be had, of course, but often only by mail order. I can find 2x72 belts at three different local hardware store, on the shelf.

        And the "must have"crowd is well-justified- the typical "KMG" style grinder, thanks to the development and ideas of a thousand knifemakers and other clever sorts, has become incredibly versatile. Unlike the old Wilton Square Wheel or Burr King machines (still popular these days) the tooling arms of the KMG can be swapped out for a hundred different working ends. From contact wheels as small as 1/2" in diameter, to as big as 16"- they even have curved platens that emulate a wheel with a radius of up to 48" or even 72".

        You can get flat platens, "slack belt" wheels, belt-supported platens to allow some give but still provide more pressure than a slack belt- there's even water cooled platens for those doing a large amount of grinding.

        Because of this versatility, and unlike a bench grinder you can also grind aluminum and brass on one, they're very popular with basically anyone that does any kind of real fabrication. people have used specially sized contact wheels to "fishmouth" pipe to make roll cages, I've seen TIG welders use fine belts to sharpen tungstens, woodworkers love 'em because they can smooth wood one minute, swap a belt and grind a dull chisel, then swap belts again to sharpen it. (You can even get "stropping" belts for honing cutting edges.)

        They're incredibly useful, even to a pure machinist, who can deburr edges, round corners, or use Scotchbrite belts to apply a brushed finish.

        I've been debating a disc sander on it, but I rarely use the disc sanders I have on my small belt grinders.
        -Don't attach them. Get a separate disc sander. Although to be honest with a "square wheel" platen, you don't really need a disc. Better still, some 2x72s can flip sideways, giving you a horizontal grinder.

        Doc.
        Doc's Machine. (Probably not what you expect.)

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by J Tiers View Post
          I also have a 1 x 30, and I am beginning to find that the belts are becoming scarce, or at least the available sources are. The 1 x 42 size seems to be going strong, though.
          -I have a little 1x30, and I still see Delta, Grizzly, Jet and a bunch of others selling similar models. I'd be surprised if the makers were dropping or even cutting back on making those belts for lack of demand...

          And I swear, one of these days I'm going to make a "miniature" 2x72 style grinder using the 1x30 or 1x42" belts. No reason to, other than if done right I think it'd be handier than the little Delta style I have... and it'd be really cool.

          Doc.
          Doc's Machine. (Probably not what you expect.)

          Comment


          • #6
            What I see is that while I used to be able to locally get any grit I wanted, and still can in other sizes, I can only get an "assortment pack" of 3 grits for the 1 x 30. They have lots of other sizes in 2" and 3", and 1 x 42, with your choice of grits, but just the assortment for the 1 x 30.

            That sort of thing has been the "sign of death" for other products in the past, showing that the market is not large enough to warrant shelf space for anything more than that.

            I already found out that stockpiling belts does not work. The splices fail on belts that are "past their expiration date" as soon as the machine is turned on.
            1601

            Keep eye on ball.
            Hashim Khan

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by J Tiers View Post
              That sort of thing has been the "sign of death" for other products in the past, showing that the market is not large enough to warrant shelf space for anything more than that.
              -If you're talking about a local retailer, that sounds more like a lack-of-demand from them, rather than the manufacturer.

              There's over 200 listings on eBay for 1x30 belts right now, in a couple dozen different grits and styles. No shortage there.

              I already found out that stockpiling belts does not work. The splices fail on belts that are "past their expiration date" as soon as the machine is turned on.
              -THAT is a quality issue, likely from buying cheap bargain-basement priced belts. The belt I have on my 2x72 right now (that I just acquired ) I bought nearly eight years ago, in anticipation of finishing the KMG I was building. No problems, no separation, and I've beat on it pretty good, dressing cut steel for the machines' own stand.

              Doc.
              Doc's Machine. (Probably not what you expect.)

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Doc Nickel View Post
                .....
                -THAT is a quality issue, likely from buying cheap bargain-basement priced belts. The belt I have on my 2x72 right now (that I just acquired ) I bought nearly eight years ago, in anticipation of finishing the KMG I was building. No problems, no separation, and I've beat on it pretty good, dressing cut steel for the machines' own stand.

                Doc.
                I bought Norton and other good belts (which I can no longer get), and THEY are the ones that failed. Maybe Norton etc is bargain basement, and I just did not realize it, but frankly I doubt it. Posted about it at the time, and the general consensus, which you may have had a post or two in, was that the belts WILL fail like that, and stockpiling does not work, regardless of brand.

                If there is a cheapo purchase, it was by the folks making the belts, when buying the pieces of tape used to join the belts. I may have one of the cardboard holders still, which I can check, but I am pretty sure these were made in USA belts.

                Should have bought chinese ones, maybe.... these days, you want crap, buy american.... some of the chinese stuff is much better. And some is not.... the original belts with the machine had a huge glue lump at the join, the MIA ones did not. The originals were not good ones, but they never fell apart like the new ones MIA did after a few months on the shelf (in a fairly temp controlled area with low humidity).

                Lack of demand?

                Maybe, but Home Depot and Lowes stock what corporate says they should..... If there is a lack of demand behind the loss of choice in 1 x 30 belts, it is more than just local, and may represent a general trend away from the 1 x 30 size. That sort of trend is how things get discontinued.... national sales drop until other products are stocked instead.

                Do not use the availability of the machines as a guide.... They have to sell even orphan machines that are left in stock. The key is not if they are for sale, the key is whether they are still actively being MADE.
                Last edited by J Tiers; 06-07-2018, 12:58 AM.
                1601

                Keep eye on ball.
                Hashim Khan

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by J Tiers View Post
                  I bought Norton and other good belts (which I can no longer get), and THEY are the ones that failed.
                  -Odd. I have some 20+ year old Norton belts for a hand belt sander. Wound up with a stash years ago, use 'em only occasionally, and they're holding up fine.

                  I just find it odd you're implying the demise of a whole class of belts and machines from your one outlier data point.

                  [...] and stockpiling does not work, regardless of brand.
                  -Not according to every knife maker I know, all of whom buy in bulk, and all of whom have a collection of belts ranging from "bought yesterday" to "bought during the Bush administration. The first one."

                  I don't disagree that your belts failed, or that people have problems with belts separating. What I am saying is that such a thing is an abnormality, like getting a cracked grinding wheel.

                  Lack of demand?

                  Maybe, but Home Depot and Lowes stock what corporate says they should..... If there is a lack of demand behind the loss of choice in 1 x 30 belts, it is more than just local, and may represent a general trend away from the 1 x 30 size.
                  -Again, that's a corporate decision. My local Home Depot only carries 3" sanding belts for hand sanders, and only in three grits. (They have other papers and discs, of course, but those are the only belts.) They never carried 1x30, nor did they ever carry 1x30 sanders themselves.

                  However, the three other local hardware stores (a Trustworthy, and two local chains, Alaska Industrial Hardware and Spenard Builder's Supply) all have fair to extensive collections- and AIH carries three different models of the machines themselves.

                  If there's any "trend away" from the 1x30, it's toward the bigger and more powerful 2x72 machines.

                  In any case, getting back to the point, while looking at 1x30 belts on eBay in my first post, I spotted this ad that shows a fancy sander in the corner of the picture. I'm assuming from the scale and the context that's a 1x30 machine, and it's very close to what I had in mind to build for myself.

                  However, there's no name shown, no obvious identifying color (Grizzly green, Harbor Freight orange, etc.) and looking up images of "1x30 sander" doesn't bring up anything even close.

                  Anybody know what it is, who makes it, and where I might be able to get one?

                  Doc.
                  Doc's Machine. (Probably not what you expect.)

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Many years ago I built a 2x48 and have been more than happy. I suppose a longer belt would last longer and run cooler, but then it would cost more too. I buy 40 or 50 grit belts in lots of 10 for a price break usually and when they are worn they do as a finer belt if I want a better finish. I used a Baldor contact wheel which I bought as a replacement for a Baldor 2x48 belt sander and made all lthe other parts. I think the motor is a 1/3 or maybe 1/2 hp 3450 rpm and I belted it at 1 to 1. Works great.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Probably there are some that hold up. Not available locally in the tiny town of St Louis, MO.

                      In any case, the 1 x 30 are not as available as they were. You don't believe it, and I don't care if you do or not.

                      The "big box" where I BOUGHT the sander does not carry anything but the assortment, in "Diablo" brand. IIRC that WAS Home Depot, but could have been Lowes, who did not have ANY belts of the size last time I looked.

                      That is a cautionary example of why to build the thing to use the most universally available belts of the width you want. You do not want to need something that has become an orphan size, available in only a few sources with limited choice.
                      Last edited by J Tiers; 06-07-2018, 09:52 AM.
                      1601

                      Keep eye on ball.
                      Hashim Khan

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I was set on building the popular 2x72 size, but before I got there I bought the Multitool grinder attachment that takes 2x36", which has been pretty good, but not always super convenient. Having seen Tom Lipton's homemade belt sander/grinder I think I'm now convinced if I build one it would be 6" wide vice 2", and obviously a common belt length. I just think it'd be more useful for general metal working that I do without the limitations or work arounds needed on a 2" belt.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by JCByrd24 View Post
                          I was set on building the popular 2x72 size, but before I got there I bought the Multitool grinder attachment that takes 2x36", which has been pretty good, but not always super convenient. Having seen Tom Lipton's homemade belt sander/grinder I think I'm now convinced if I build one it would be 6" wide vice 2", and obviously a common belt length. I just think it'd be more useful for general metal working that I do without the limitations or work arounds needed on a 2" belt.
                          6 inch wide... that would be nice for finishing and burnishing, but it would take a lot of horsepower I think if you wanted to seriously grind or put some pressure on it.

                          I'm actually kind of surprised you find 1/3 HP adequate for even a 2" belt. My 1x30 has what I seem to recall is a 1/3HP motor and I can bog it out without to much effort. I have a 4 x 36 (I think) with a 1/3 HP and I find it nearly worthless for any heavy work. Even in wood. For smaller pieces its ok, but then what's the point of having a wide belt. It does have a nice platen though.

                          I've not found 1x30 belts to be any issue to find. Lowes and Home Depot only stock a few, but the blue zirconia belts from Harbor freight are better in my opinion. I buy the cheaper aluminum oxide belts from Harbor Freight for aluminum and the zirconia belts for steel if I need some "right now." Works ok. I think 80 or maybe 120 grit are the finest they stock. I order from MSC regularly so whenever I am a few dollars short of making a discount price break sanding belts are on my list of things to check if I need any. Some grits I look to McMaster for. The really fine polishing and burnishing grits are available from them.

                          Thanks everybody.
                          *** I always wanted a welding stinger that looked like the north end of a south bound chicken. Often my welds look like somebody pointed the wrong end of a chicken at the joint and squeezed until something came out. Might as well look the part.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Doc Nickel View Post
                            -Odd. I have some 20+ year old Norton belts for a hand belt sander. Wound up with a stash years ago, use 'em only occasionally, and they're holding up fine.

                            ... every knife maker I know, all of whom buy in bulk, and all of whom have a collection of belts ranging from "bought yesterday" to "bought during the Bush administration. The first one."
                            I have also seen more than few people complaining on knife forums and Practicalmachinist about belt joints drying up.
                            Cheap imports are actually more reliable, the glued overlap joint wont dry but it is "banging" more compared to tape splice joint. Most of the "better" quality belts come with tape splice.
                            Truly endless belts would be nice but I'm aware of only one japanese mfg for those. (Koyo-Sha, distributed by Misumi)

                            I'm hoping my 3M Cubitrons hold up, 150x2000mm belt is like 40-50 usd per piece
                            Last edited by MattiJ; 06-07-2018, 01:48 PM.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Bob La Londe View Post
                              6 inch wide... that would be nice for finishing and burnishing, but it would take a lot of horsepower I think if you wanted to seriously grind or put some pressure on it.

                              I'm actually kind of surprised you find 1/3 HP adequate for even a 2" belt.
                              Bob, you are correct, it wasn't me who was referencing 1/3HP. My multitool is on an old 8" Craftsman block grinder. I don't know the HP but it's a beast of a grinder. If I build one it'd be 2HP at least. I think Tom's is actually like 5 hp but IIRC he had the motor already.

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