Belt sander/grinder for knife handles - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 17 Old 03-23-2016, 10:43 AM Thread Starter
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Belt sander/grinder for knife handles

Referring to this other post, I believe I have most of the details of this project dialed in. Based on all of what I am doing, the handle will be shaped by these various jigs, and so only a final finish sanding will be needed. Also for this project, the handles need to all be very similar, so shaping them all by hand is out.

http://www.woodworkingtalk.com/f2/ho...volume-128081/

I have made and am still making a few jigs to make this work. One question I have for anyone that makes knife handles or similar shaped things, how important or necessary is a dedicated belt sander/grinder for the final sanding of the handle (not so much the blade)? I have found one locally that is a pretty good one, but just wondering how necessary it is. As mentioned, I do NOT need to shape the blade, just final sanding of the handle as noted in the previous thread I noted. Most of what I have found recommended are something along the lines of a 2" x 48" or 2" x 72". I just wonder if this is mostly relegated to the blade shaping and forming and not so much the handles, but not being a true knife maker, just not sure. Many thanks.

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post #2 of 17 Old 03-23-2016, 11:01 AM
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I have 2 belt sanders

One is a 6" X 48" which I use just as much for metal grinding as I do sanding. The other is a 4" X 36" which I use all the time for sanding wood, sometimes aluminum.
It's not very powerful at 1/3 HP, but I sure use it a lot. I think it would be fine for knife handles ans I have used it for the few I have made. This one is claiming 3/4 HP, and if that's true it would be ideal:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/NEW-BELT-6-D...rK8wRWLfVFt6Yw

Most available now use a 6" disc which in my opinion is useless. I removed it from mine so I would be tempted to use it.

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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post #3 of 17 Old 03-23-2016, 11:45 AM Thread Starter
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I have seen both love and hate for the Grizzly model too. For me, this seems like a decent model for my needs, even overkill. But since I am not a knife maker, just making some handles, I wonder how useful or necessary one like this is since my only need at this point is minor final shaping (corner rounding) and final sanding. The one I found locally has a Baldor motor.

http://www.grizzly.com/products/Knif...gle%2Bproducts

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post #4 of 17 Old 03-23-2016, 01:06 PM
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I researched "contour sanding" awhile back and landed on these to sand ogee edges on hardwood. they work pretty good. we use them on a drill press with a jig/sled setup. different sizes and grit available.


http://www.woodworkingshop.com/produ.../#.VV4TTdHbIdU
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post #5 of 17 Old 03-23-2016, 01:10 PM
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no comparison

The Grizzly is $510.00 plus freight. the one I posted is $76.00. The small one seems like it would be perfect for what you intend to do. The Grizzly is for grinding blades, less so for sanding.

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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post #6 of 17 Old 03-23-2016, 03:20 PM
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Finally, a subject tailor-made for me!

So, the 2x72 belt grinder may be the second most used too in my shop, just after the table saw. I use it constantly, for a little bit of everything. That is to say, not only do i use it for all the shaping and most of the polishing i do on the blades of the knives i make, but i also use it for shaping the handles, as well as whatever else in the shop i ever need to do any shaping on, as well as other, more random tasks, like sharpening my lathe tools. Its one of my favorite tools to use, its ridiculously fun watching whatever i put to the belt disappear, and the wide variety of available belts makes it extremely versatile.

That said, using a belt grinder for finish sanding, especially in wood, would be an exercise in frustration. This is a tool thats meant to turn metal to powder faster than you can blink, even with a 220 grit belt on it youll still blow through wood faster than youd think possible. Now, rough shaping is excellent, i use a 120 grit belt on my grinder to rough in the handles on my knives before switching over to files and sandpaper, and it saves a load of time, but with the speed the belts running youll just be taking off wood way too fast, and the surface finish would end up less than adequate, e.g ridges, gouges and the like.

Admittedly, you could get around the issues by slowing the grinder down from the normal 4000sfpm range used for metalwork down to the 1500sfpm range used for woodwork, but honestly at that point it would make more sense to just get a woodworking belt sander instead, something like a bog-standard 4x36 stationary unit.

Dont get me wrong, i love my belt grinder, and if you can get your hands on one for a good price do it, but its not the kind of tool id recommend for final finish work. Roughing in is more in the doable range, but be warned that when the belts moving that fast theres a hell of a learning curve, youre going to make a lot more firewood than you would finished product at first. If youd like, im more than happy to post a video showing just how fast one will eat through wood

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post #7 of 17 Old 03-23-2016, 03:40 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks so much for the feedback. So what do you use for finishing up the handles? My particular application is a bit unique, but not so much in the sense of it needs to be finished. However, it can't be done on a lathe since it's not round and is kind of a PITA to hold. Those sanding mops look promising.

I picked up a 4x8 pneumatic drum sander from Industrial Abrasives that fits on my little lathe and it works okay as an intermediate step, but not sure it will do the job of final sanding. The problem I have found, though, is that anything less than about 150 grit is a special order item. I am hoping to get close to about 600 grit before buffing.

Speaking of buffing, what materials and/or processes do you use?

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post #8 of 17 Old 03-23-2016, 08:39 PM
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Originally Posted by ChiknNutz View Post
Thanks so much for the feedback. So what do you use for finishing up the handles? My particular application is a bit unique, but not so much in the sense of it needs to be finished. However, it can't be done on a lathe since it's not round and is kind of a PITA to hold. Those sanding mops look promising.

I picked up a 4x8 pneumatic drum sander from Industrial Abrasives that fits on my little lathe and it works okay as an intermediate step, but not sure it will do the job of final sanding. The problem I have found, though, is that anything less than about 150 grit is a special order item. I am hoping to get close to about 600 grit before buffing.

Speaking of buffing, what materials and/or processes do you use?
Finish work i do by hand. Now, that makes it sound a lot worse than it really is, my usual regimen for doing the handles is a 60 or 120 grit belt on the grinder to bring everything to rough shape, then maybe 10 minutes total with a half-round and some sandpaper. Really doesnt take long at all, for my application. My opinion is that 9 times out of 10 final finish work should be done by hand, at least on irregular shapes. It just seems to work better.

As far as buffing goes, are you asking how buff and polish the blades or how i do the handles? If its the second, i dont buff the handles on my blades. I hand sand up to 220 grit, maybe higher for harder woods, then use a green scotchbrite pad, again only on the harder exotics. Leaves a surface perfect for use as a knife handle, and looks pretty good too.

Finishing the blades depends on the finish im going for. Most of my blades ill go for a brushed sort of finish, and to get that ill start with a 60 grit ceramic belt for the shaping, move up to 120 grit ceramic, then switch over to a 65 micron Trizact Gator Grit belt, then move to 45 micron Trizact. The Trizact belts are pretty awesome, theyre whats called a structured abrasive, picture little pillows of abrasive particles. They dont load, never go dull, last forever and leave an excellent finish. If im going for a mirror polish, after the trizact belts i switch to hand sanding, starting at 220 grit silicon carbide and moving up from there to 2000 grit, then switching to a soft buffing wheel with green extra fine compound

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post #9 of 17 Old 03-24-2016, 08:35 PM
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Machine sanding vs grinding,wood as epic said above has belt speed as a primary criteria.

Platens range from full hard,CI(cast iron)...all the way through to,slack belt.Think of a cork backed sheet metal platen on a typical hand held belt sander as being the 50 yard line.

Now enter the science of "grit"...size,shape,frequency and to a slightly lessor degree,bonding.

It can be pretty simple,like taking a mitre sq on a 6x48 vert to refine an angle or bevel.Pretty low on the degree of difficulty.Your situation,as I'm understanding it with compounded elements,puts you much higher on the skill sets.In the first case,it's grit and speeds(belt AND feed pressure).Which is made "easier" because of the precision afforded by the gage.

"Freehand",you don't have that luxury,so the other parts of the equation listed above become more important.Skill and experience sort of go hand in hand.We build custom recurves and longbows,and it's bloomin amazing how close we get to perfection,comparing one handle with the next considering it's largely freehand power finishing/shaping.These are EXTREMELY compounded curves even cnc equipment,can't get quite right.

We can pick up a bow handle blindfolded and tell whether it's machine done or crafted by an individual.Ask Woodenthings about how your hands guide the brain in shaping.He was "the" clay guy at Chevrolet.
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post #10 of 17 Old 03-24-2016, 08:45 PM
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Also,we have a full range of durablocks(sp).They're primary mission is auto body work...which I try to stay away from,haha.But combined with "stickit gold" paper,have found them indispensable for shaping wood.We even use them in our cabinet shop.
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post #11 of 17 Old 03-25-2016, 01:11 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by epicfail48 View Post
...As far as buffing goes, are you asking how buff and polish the blades or how i do the handles? If its the second, i dont buff the handles on my blades. I hand sand up to 220 grit, maybe higher for harder woods, then use a green scotchbrite pad, again only on the harder exotics. Leaves a surface perfect for use as a knife handle, and looks pretty good too...
Ya I am referring to the handles in this case. For this project, I have nothing to do with the blades. The real unknown to me right now is that I have to use a material I am unfamiliar with...Dymondwood. The client is providing the material (which they don't yet have), I am simply providing the labor. This is a rare project for me, but has the potential to be a highly profitable job if I can get the time down to a reasonable level. I think I can do that based on my plan and the various jigs I've made. However, I am just not sure how much time and effort will go into the final finishing.

BTW, on the heels of one suggestion, I tried a mop sander. However, I went about making my own sanding mop and am so far impressed. All I did was use a long 1/2" bolt, cut up some sandpaper in a "mop configuration" and then put that in my lathe...works well and was cheap to make. This was a trial run, I will probably put a little more effort into the next one but so far so good.

As far as buffing goes, is 3600 rpm just asking for trouble? I have a little 6" grinder that I have some buffing pads on and I've used that for a couple years now for polishing up my chisels after sharpening. But, that's metal and I think most feel that less than half of that is better for wood. I could also get some Beall buffing pads or similar for the lathe if that is preferred, as I don't have a slow speed grinder. I also have a HF 8" 3600 rpm grinder I could use. But for this project, I could probably justify a slow speed grinder/buffer. The lathe is nice cuz it's variable speed, but I'd have to swap out parts for the various operations I have planned (pneumatic drum sander > mop sander > buffing).

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post #12 of 17 Old 03-25-2016, 01:54 PM
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OK. how about some more knife pictures..........
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post #13 of 17 Old 03-25-2016, 02:35 PM
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Ya I am referring to the handles in this case. For this project, I have nothing to do with the blades. The real unknown to me right now is that I have to use a material I am unfamiliar with...Dymondwood. The client is providing the material (which they don't yet have), I am simply providing the labor. This is a rare project for me, but has the potential to be a highly profitable job if I can get the time down to a reasonable level. I think I can do that based on my plan and the various jigs I've made. However, I am just not sure how much time and effort will go into the final finishing.

BTW, on the heels of one suggestion, I tried a mop sander. However, I went about making my own sanding mop and am so far impressed. All I did was use a long 1/2" bolt, cut up some sandpaper in a "mop configuration" and then put that in my lathe...works well and was cheap to make. This was a trial run, I will probably put a little more effort into the next one but so far so good.

As far as buffing goes, is 3600 rpm just asking for trouble? I have a little 6" grinder that I have some buffing pads on and I've used that for a couple years now for polishing up my chisels after sharpening. But, that's metal and I think most feel that less than half of that is better for wood. I could also get some Beall buffing pads or similar for the lathe if that is preferred, as I don't have a slow speed grinder. I also have a HF 8" 3600 rpm grinder I could use. But for this project, I could probably justify a slow speed grinder/buffer. The lathe is nice cuz it's variable speed, but I'd have to swap out parts for the various operations I have planned (pneumatic drum sander > mop sander > buffing).
3600rpm is really asking for trouble so long as you stay smart with how you use it. Not gonna lie, my buffer is the most dangerous tool in my shop, it has a nasty habit of grabbing workpieces and launching them. Make sure you have a very, very good grip though and you'll be fine

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OK. how about some more knife pictures..........
Is that a serious question, because I've got a lot :D

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post #14 of 17 Old 03-28-2016, 07:03 AM
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Is that a serious question, because I've got a lot :D
really, a knife thread and no pics - really? YES I am serious.


but if you don't want to......
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post #15 of 17 Old 03-28-2016, 03:26 PM
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really, a knife thread and no pics - really? YES I am serious.


but if you don't want to......
God no, of course i want to! Just making sure people were interested. heres the latest one:


1084 steel with desert ironwood handle scales. The metal i worked through the grits like i previously posted, stopping at a 45 micron trizact belt, then moving to a hard buffing wheel loaded with emery compound, followed by a soft wheel with green compound. Not a perfect, clockmakers grade mirror polish, but certainly enough for a knife.

The handle i did differently. I started with a 120 grit belt on the grinder to bring the scales to size, as when i glue on the scales theyre a little oversized and the grinder is the fastest way to bring everything in line. Once i have the scales ground down to the metal of the handle, i use a pneumatic die grinder with a carbide burr to do the rough shaping, then switch over to a half-round file to refine the shape a little. After that i move to 100 grit sandpaper to do the final contouring before switching over to Abranet (thanks for getting me started on that Burb) to do the final sanding. I go up to the 400 grit abranet, then hit it with a grey scotchbrite pad before giving it a coat of wax
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post #16 of 17 Old 03-31-2016, 07:27 PM
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God no, of course i want to! Just making sure people were interested. heres the latest one:


1084 steel with desert ironwood handle scales. The metal i worked through the grits like i previously posted, stopping at a 45 micron trizact belt, then moving to a hard buffing wheel loaded with emery compound, followed by a soft wheel with green compound. Not a perfect, clockmakers grade mirror polish, but certainly enough for a knife.

The handle i did differently. I started with a 120 grit belt on the grinder to bring the scales to size, as when i glue on the scales theyre a little oversized and the grinder is the fastest way to bring everything in line. Once i have the scales ground down to the metal of the handle, i use a pneumatic die grinder with a carbide burr to do the rough shaping, then switch over to a half-round file to refine the shape a little. After that i move to 100 grit sandpaper to do the final contouring before switching over to Abranet (thanks for getting me started on that Burb) to do the final sanding. I go up to the 400 grit abranet, then hit it with a grey scotchbrite pad before giving it a coat of wax
wow! very nice. blade appears to have a gold hue. does the tang show on the handle?
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post #17 of 17 Old 04-01-2016, 01:58 AM
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wow! very nice. blade appears to have a gold hue. does the tang show on the handle?
The gold hue is just a trick of the light, although I have actually done a few recently where I played with the temper colors to color the blade of a knife gold and blue. The tang shows through on the handle, I'm not a fan of partial or hidden tang knives

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