Craftsman Belt Grinder for hobbyist knifemaking?

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10mm Mike

May 14, 2008
Central Arkansas
Now that I have some space available, I'm looking to get into knifemaking as a hobby but I don't want to spend a small fortune on tools. I ran across this belt grinder and wanted to get some opinions on it before I buy it and potentially make a $140 mistake.

So, what do you guys think? I'm open to suggestions as well if there is something in the ~$300 and less range that might be better.
Im a beginner at all of this as well, but this is basically what I've read when i researched the same question:

That's what most would consider the best introductory, low budget, knifemaker's sander of current production; however, Craftsman's quality is not the same as it used to be, and the older sanders (if you can find a used one for sale) might be an even better purchase. I've heard that they even once made that sander with a 1 hp motor. That would be a good find, because you'd have an option of converting the motor over to a 2x72, which would be an even better setup.

Fwiw, I'm working on a Harbor Freight 4x36. I'd recommend a skinnier belt than what I'm working with. You're in the right direction.

There are knifemakers using them and turning out better knives than you will 2 years from now so, yeah, it will do
That will work , stay within the limitations of the machine and you will be fine. Don't expect it to hog off metal rapidly since it is only 1/3 horse.

I started with a 1 x 42 and a 4 x 36 and made many that way.

However if you are crafty and can expand a bit , check out some of the build it yourself grinder kits out there. You can find them in various price ranges. I believe USA Knifemaker Supply and a few other places offer them.
That's all personal preference. I never use anything coarser that 60 grit and that's mainly for profiling and roughing in the bevels.

I come from working in Auto Paint & Body and was taught for a good finish, never jump more than a 100 grit , but I know many who go 80 , 220 , 400.

All a matter of preference.

Get decent belts, off brands can have crap seams that "thump" and that will annoy you and be visible in the finish.

I bought a bunch of belts at a knife show here years ago from a place in AZ , price was reasonable compared to buying Norton or other higher quality belts.

Every single one of those belts thumped ( and I bought 2 dozen each of 80 , 120 and 220 in 2 x 72 .)

They were relinquished to only being used for rough shaping the handles.
As per grits, I usually go with 36 for rough shaping and setting the bevels (I've only done stock removal so far- if forging, then the bevels would be hammered in), then 60 or 80, then 120, 250, 400, and then hand sand from there with 600, 1000, 1500, 2000, and then buff. If leaving it at a sort of satin machine finish, I usually stop at 220. It starts to shine at 400. 2000 is pretty much a mirror finish.

Here's a great deal for your 2x42 belts. They are aluminum oxide, which is not as long-lived as zirconium or some other abrasives, but for the price, it's a hard deal to beat. I use their 4x36 belts. When they start to stretch and begin to track funny, I cut them into strips and use them like shop roll for hand sanding.

I never did use 36 grit when 60 grit scratches were so hard to get out. I went 60, 120, 220,400.

My sander is a Harbor Freight 4x36, and very underpowered. That's mostly why I start out so low. If I had a little more horsepower, I'd start with 60 or 80.

I don't wish to break your bubble BUT these small grinders REALLY dont have the AZZ for knife grinding.
I began with a 1HP ,6 x 48 inch darling at first.
THEN, because I wanted to "hollow grind", I graduated to a Home built grinder that takes a 152 x2 belt with a "cog wheel" on the business end.
BUT the motor IS a 1HP.
I don't wish to break your bubble BUT these small grinders REALLY dont have the AZZ for knife grinding.

Yes, they are underpowered, but it's still better than doing it by hand, especially if you are just doing flat grinds. And with some of these sanders only costing $100 or less, they are a far cry from what it would cost to go to a good 2x72 or similar.

No doubt there are much better setups, but when you're on a budget, you have less options. Don't know if that's the OP's situation, but it sounds that way. BTDT. Have the T-shirt. Even a home-brew 2x72 is probably going to run upwards of $400 with materials and a good deal on a motor. Most knifemaker supply shops don't even bother to list the prices on their name brand 2x72s. "Call for price" is never a good sign.

"Call for price" is never a good sign.

Yea you're talking 2 grand for a great grinder with accessories like small wheels, etc and variable speed. That's what I sold my Bader B3 for USED.
I don't wish to break your bubble BUT these small grinders REALLY dont have the AZZ for knife grinding.

Well its too late now! :D I guess we'll see how it does when it shows up and I try it out. I can afford a more expensive grinder, but I'm just a cheap hobbyist with very little experience. I just want to get in as cheap as I can with something that can do the job marginally, to see if I even like making knives in the first place.

This is just a nice cheapo way for me to occasionally spend some time in the garage and try to make a knife or 2 when I get bored instead of laying on the couch. If it turns out that I get good enough at it that people want to buy a knife or 2, then I may upgrade... but that is quite some time from now.
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