Knife making, be it as a hobby or a profession, absolutely necessitates the right tools, and none so much as the appropriate sander or grinder. Whether you prefer a belt sander or a disc one – both have their own sets of advantages – the right tool is needed to shape and sharpen your knife, and it’s important to know what you ought to be looking for before you invest in one. Typically, belt grinders are used for stock removal, and can be used to profile and shape any irregularities both before heat treatment and to treat any warping after quenching the blade. Though belt grinders are an industry standard, disc sanders can also be used in conjunction with a grinding wheel, too, with an assortment of discs generally available to attach to your sander depending on your needs. But which are the best options to let you perfect and hone your skills for the most flawless blades? Here are our top picks.
Though belt grinders are an industry standard, disc sanders can also be used in conjunction with a grinding wheel, too, with an assortment of discs generally available to attach to your sander depending on your needs. But which are the best options to let you perfect and hone your skills for the most flawless blades? Here are our top picks.
Kalamazoo 1SM 1″ Belt Sander
The 42 inch long aluminum oxide belt of this heavy-duty machine is perfect for tackling metal surfaces, an inch wide to let you get to anything from stock removal and shaping of a rough-hewn piece of steel in the beginning stages of transforming into a blade to sharpening a dull tool, be it a kitchen or camping knife or a chisel. With a grit of 100, the belt can be switched out quickly and easily for abrasive material belts of different grade grits as well, depending on what you’re looking to do with the sander – not only is it used and highly recommended by professional knife-makers and hobbyists alike, but is also versatile enough to be used for wood-working and other sanding projects. Powered by a 1/3 HP motor, the machine gets up to speeds of 1,725 revolutions per minute (RPM), and features a removable platen and tiltable work table, to get the right angle for sanding your knives and nailing precise edges.
The heavy-duty machine is engineered with an integrated fan cooling system to keep it from getting overworked or overheated, the housing dust-resistant to stop debris generated from removal of materials clogging up and damaging the unit.
KEN’S BUDGET PICK
Grizzly H6070 Belt and 5-Inch Disc Sander
There are belt grinders and disc sanders, and then there are units which are both – and all under a reasonable price cap, to boot, landing this unit under our Budget Pick category. Incredibly versatile, the machine can be used for anything from contour sanding to dry sharpening, the belt sander table measuring in at dimensions 5-1/8 inches by 5-1/8 inches while the disc sander table measures up at 4 inches by 7-5/16 inches. Both tables are tiltable up to 45°, to achieve the desired angle for sanding your knife or other workpiece.
The belt grinder features a 30 inch long, 1 inch wide abrasive belt for sanding, with a grit of 80 (at the coarser end of the spectrum, better suited for removing stock and unwanted material), with an adjustable platen. The disc sander, meanwhile, features a 5-inch diameter sanding disc, with the peel and stick (PSA) system for attaching sandpaper of different grits depending on the job – the abrasive material included with the unit has a grit of 220, leaning more toward the finer end of the abrasiveness spectrum and better suited for smoothing out a finished workpiece. Featuring a 1/3 HP motor, the unit has a speed of 3,450 RPM.
Work Sharp WSKTS-KO Knife and Tool Sharpener Ken Onion Edition
A precision sharpening tool with an available blade grinding attachment, this versatile machine can handle a multitude of tasks with its range of abrasive belts with different grades of grit. With 5 options included to accompany the unit for anything from extra-course to extra-fine grit, for anything from shaping and grinding a blade to sharpening it just so, the unit comes with a guide to let you sharpen perfectly accurate bevels at angles from 15° to 30°, delivering consistency and quality each time. Each belt is ¾ inch wide and 12 inches long, the unit running on a 1.5-amp motor, variable speed options and multiple grits of abrasive material allowing you to sharpen not just knives (which broadly lump together anything from pocket-knives to hunting knives) but also other tools like scissors and farm implements. In fact, the unit comes with a scissor-sharpening guide set at 65° precisely for the sharpening of this staple household tool, which we often forget about until we need it.
Generic Mini 1 x 30 Belt Sander 3400 RPM
Powered by a 1/3 HP motor with a speed of 3,400 RPM, this belt sander features a 30 inches long, 1 inch wide abrasive sanding belt, which can be switched out for sandpaper of different grit grades depending on the purpose you’re looking to use this for. Ideal not just for sharpening and sanding blades but also for other workpieces like wooden miniatures, this compact model is a budget-friendly option for the hobbyist, who can’t afford to have their belt sander eating up too much space around the home. With specs leaning more toward the occasional rather than the intensive use, we’d recommend this unit to individuals dabbling in the practice or occasionally participating in knife making, or desiring a convenient unit to help sharpen up their kitchen knives and other bladed implements when needed.
- Blade Mag: http://www.blademag.com/knifemaking/knifemaking-101-read-this-before-you-make-a-knife
- Kalamazoo Industries Inc.: https://www.kalamazooind.com/
- Instructables: http://www.instructables.com/id/Fixed-Blade-Knife/
- Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knife_making