Using a belt sander to make your knives gives you an advantage since you are creating a convex edge and not a concave edge, keeping the blade sharp for a longer time. Using traditional knife makers reduces the structural integrity of the knife as more and more metal is shaved out of it. Therefore, using belt sanders to make your knives is a win-win situation since it allows you to maintain the structural integrity of the knives and at the same time keep the blade sharp for a long time.
What kind of belt sanders do you choose?
Before you go rushing off to get a belt sander, it is important to know about a few things that will help you determine which knife sander caters best to your needs.
1. Size: For a sander, the size criteria applies to two things- the size of the knife sander itself and the size of the belt. The size of the sander needs to be big enough to comfortably work on, and small enough to be easily installed on your workbench.
The size of the belt also makes a difference- the best belt dimensions to make knives are 2 inches by 72 inches. This is because a larger belt gives you better grinding and sharpening when you are shaping the knife, and gives you more surface area, therefore lasting longer due to less wear and tear.
2. Motor: The motor is one of the main components of the knife sander. It is how you decide the power of your sander when it is in use. Usually smaller sanders have a motor that runs on ⅓ horsepower. Larger sanders run on a motor of 1 horsepower. Bigger motors allow your sander to be more versatile, making it easier for you to grind and shape your knives. But smaller motors also work very well for compact spaces, giving reasonable speeds.
3. Contact point: The contact point is a plate-like structure that is a part of the knife sander. When you use a contact point the knife no longer hangs off from the side when you are making it. A few knife sanders have a large contact point while a few others have a smaller one. Unfortunately you cannot change the plate, but you can attach a new one on top of the existing one.
The plate should also be able to tilt at forty five degrees or more, to help with sharpening of knives. If the plate is unable to tilt, the sander will not be able to sharpen knives.
4. Speed: The speed of the knife sander is also essential for making the best knives. When the speed is too slow, the time required to complete a knife will be more, and when the speed is too high, the belt wears out too soon. Therefore the speed of the belt (and by extension, the motor) should be atleast 1725 rpm.
Here are a few useful tips when you start using belt sanders:
- Put on a pair of heat resistant gloves
- Always keep some water near you for the blade to cool down
- When maneuvering, keep your elbows locked and use your body instead of your hands or fingers
- Keep switching the knife around the plate
- Use both hands to achieve an even sharpness on both sides
Now, let’s go through some of the top products in the market:
Best Belt Sanders for Knife Making
1) WEN 6502 4 x 36-Inch Belt and 6-Inch Disc Sander
The WEN belt and disc sander promises to smoothen and sand your knives. The belt in this sander is unique- with dimensions of 4 inch by 36 inch, it is much wider than most standard belts. It also many other features such as extendable blade guard that make it stand out from all the knife making belt sanders.
- The cast iron base prevents vibrations while you are working
- This belt sander can tilt between 0 and 90 degrees, making it very flexible
- The dust port given to this sander is 2.25 inches deep, so you can keep working without worrying about dust dispersion.
- The motor in this knife sander is capable of providing a speed of upto 3600 RPM
- Sandpaper grits can be changed effortlessly thanks to a tension release lever
2) Grizzly H6070 Belt and 5-Inch Disc Sander
This knife making belt sander has enough features to perform many different jobs. The belt and disc sander both tilt to 45 degrees and have a removable contact point.
- The motor has a speed of 3450 RPM
- Two ports of size 1 ¾ inch for dust collection
- It is a very compact tool, measuring 12.5 x 16.7 x 11.5 inches and weighing 20 pounds
- It is also very quiet to use
- The sanding belt and disc are included with the sander
3) Kalamazoo Industries 2-inch Belt Sander
This knife sander also works very well with wood, plastic, and other materials, and is known for providing the best results every time. With impressive features like a reversible motor and spring tensioned rollers, it is one of the best 2-inch belt sanders for knife making.
- No assembling required as the sander comes ready to use
- Belt changes are done without any hassles in a matter of seconds
- Minimal vibration while working, leading to a stable work environment
- It only weighs 69 pounds
- The speed of the motor is 3450 RPM
- It comes with a tilt table and a contact wheel that is 5 inch wide
- It does not come with the sanding belt
4) JET J-4002 1-Inch by 42-Inch Bench Belt and Disc Sander
The JET sander claims to be the best belt sander for knife making. After looking at its features, we can say it lives up to its claims as one of the most reliable and versatile knife sanders in the market.
- With dimensions of 22 x 21 x 14 inches and weight of 60 pounds, this is not exactly a light machine, but for the work it does, its size is favorable.
- The belt speed provided by the motor is 3000 RPM
- It comes with an optional flex shaft that can be used in deburing, carving, drum sanding, and more
- The belt can be changed easily within a matter of seconds
- The miter gauge has the feature of locking when it is turned to 45 degrees on the left and right
- It has a removable plate (contact point) that gives the sander more flexibility
After going through the criteria to choose a belt sander and the specifications for every sander above, you will have an idea of the kind of product you want to buy. After going through our article, we are sure you will invest in a sander that meets all your present requirements and expected future requirements.