If you want to know which product is my favorite, then I would point you to this belt grinder from Kalamazoo 1SM. It is very simple to use, makes use of a 0.33 hp motor and also 1″ x 42″ sand belts.
So you want to buy yourself a belt grinder for knife making, but you do not know which one to buy.
Here is the problem.
There is a large variety of belt sanders online, and not one of them is the same. You can easily get caught up on belt grinder that will either be too overpowered for what you want to do or will be too weak to get all of the work done in time.
Deep down you know it’s true.
So how do you go about finding your exact match?
It is very simple.
I am going to show you how to precisely that in this article.
Whether you are making knives as a hobby or are a professional knife maker, you need the right set of tools for the trade. I have written an in-depth guide that will give you the ropes on how to choose the right machine for your needs.
Here is what you will get:
I will show you how to choose the best machine based on your experience level and how you want to use it. You will become more familiar with the different price ranges. You will get to know why motor strength and belt size is so important.
And much more.
Are you ready?
Choosing The Best Belt Grinder For Knife Making
To be honest, I do not believe that there is such as a thing as a “best” belt grinder for knife making and let me tell you why. It depends on your current skill level and also what you want to use it for.
I am going to show you which one is best in regards to your experience level and what you want to use it for. You will also learn how much these machines will cost more or less. You will get the inside scoop on the harmony that needs to exist between the belt size and motor strength.
I will also reveal some of the extra features that might make your life a little bit easier.
Experience Level And Uses
Why should you pay a fortune on a belt sander if knife making is only your hobby? Also, is it better to be penny wise and pound foolish if knife making is your business?
Let me give you an example:
- The knife making hobbyist. Some people love to make knives in their spare time and do not want to spend a fortune on the belt grinder. It also means that productivity is not an issue which is why you can get away with a weaker motor and shorter belt. For the hobbyist, I would recommend the Kalamazoo, EX Electronix Express or the JET J-41002.
- The professional. Okay, so now we are talking business and time is of the essence. You have a specific number of knives to make per week which means the belt grinder should not slow you down. You need a belt grinder with at least a one horsepower motor and a belt that is at least 70” long and 2” wide. If you fall into this category, then I would either recommend this machine from Happybuy or the Grizzly G1015. Please keep in mind that these machines might have a much higher price tag.
What Can You Expect From The Price?
The differences in price are significant when it comes to belt grinders for knife making. You can easily get your hands on a machine that costs less than $100 but will be much weaker and be less efficient than the more powerful and expensive ones.
If you are strict on a budget or you want to do this as a hobby, then I would recommend the EX Electronix Express which is the least expensive.
On the other side of the spectrum, you get belt grinders that can easily surpass the $1000 level, but it is very rare to find one that is more than $2000. These machines have a more powerful motor and have more features that might make your life easier.
If you are serious about knife making and your monthly income is dependent on it, then I would recommend this machine from Happybuy which has a two horsepower motor.
The Belt Size And Motor Strength Walk Hand-In-Hand
When you bring the belt size and motors strength to the table, then only one word comes to mind which is efficiency.
There is also one rule that you need to follow when it comes to these machines.
The length and width of the belt are correlated to the strength of the motor. The stronger motor you choose, the longer should the belt be.
If you plan to use a shorter belt that is only 1 inch wide, then you will need a weaker motor.
Let me explain.
It comes down to the rounds per minute which are influenced by the driving wheel and motor. If you plan to use a shorter belt such as a 1″ x 30″ with a strong motor which has more than 1.5 horsepower, then the following will happen:
You will drastically reduce the lifetime of the belt because of too much heat built up generated by the friction. It also has an adverse effect on your knife if the temperature of the belt is too high. With a longer belt, you will give enough breathing room for it to cool down.
On the flip side.
Let’s say you use a longer belt such as a 2″ X 82″ and the motor weaker with only 0.33 hp then it will not turn as desired.
It will be too slow and will not be able to build up enough friction to make even the smallest dent on a knife. The belt will start to slow down when too much pressure is applied.
So it is because of these reasons why you need the right belt for the right motor.
The machines in this review are only different regarding the motors and belt lengths but also other features that might be important to some.
Using a flat platen
I know that some knife makers love to use a flat platen on their machine from time to time. It gives them a flat vertical position to work from, and the two smaller wheels are great for fine tuning the hilt of the knife. If you want your machine to use a flat platen, then I would recommend the Happybuy Belt Grinder.
Disc sander combo
Some belt grinders also come with a disc sander on the opposite side of the belt. The disc sander is mainly used to further refine the handle of the knife and not the blade.
It can be used to even out the butt of the handle if the handle is made from wood. If you are interested in such a machine, then I would recommend the JET J-41002.
Accompanying buffer and an adjustable arm
Some belt grinders have an accompanying buffer on the opposite side of the belt that can be used to polish the blade or the handle of the knife. Some machines also have an adjustable arm
that can be adjusted horizontally and vertically depending on your position.
If you like to have these features, then I would recommend the Grizzly G1015.
If you are ready, let’s get started with the first belt sander.
#1 Kalamazoo 1SM (Top Pick)
Best For: If you are after a powerful belt grinder that is not that expensive but will still be able to do the job, then this one is for you.
- Editors Rating: 10/10
- Price Range: $$
- Horsepower: 0.33 hp
- Belt Size: 1″ x 42″
The Kalamazoo 1SM is not one of those fancy feature rich belt grinders, and if you are a person like me the prefers simplicity over something complicated, then this one is for you. It has a powerful 0.33 hp motor that is also a 110 volts motor. With the help of some sturdy bolts, you can easily attach this belt grinder to a table of a flat platform. It also weighs 32 pounds which makes it easy to carry around.
The driving wheel is connected to the motor and will drive the belt. The idler wheel is located on top which can also be adjusted by a knob on the left to adjust the tracking and tightness of the belt. This grinder also used 1″ x 42″ sand belts that can be used to sharpen knives. The only drawdown that I saw was that it does not have a guide which will help maintain the angle of the edge of the blade. If I can give you a tip, create your own guide with a small wooden block where the one side is cut at the angle of your knife.
#2 EX Electronix Express (Least Expensive)
Best For: If you are on a tight budget, this belt grinder is for you as it is the least expensive option that I could find.
- Editors Rating: 8/10
- Price Range: $
- Horsepower: 0.33 hp
- Belt Size: 1″ x 30″
This belt grinder is more compact than the one that I mentioned previously. The strength of the motor is the same (also 0.33 hp), but the type of belt used is different. It uses a 1″ x 30″ size belt which is shorter than the one used by Kalamazoo. What I like about this machine is that you can tilt the table at a maximum angle of 45 degrees.
You also can adjust the tightness of the belt. The only slight drawdown this product might have is the size of the belt. The only drawdown is that the belt might be too short. Most knife makers prefer a belt that is at least 42 inches long because the shorter belts tend not to last long. This machine is ideal for the final touch-ups and refining of the knives and should not do the bulk of all the work.
#3 Happybuy 2Hp Belt Grinder (For The Professional)
Best For: This machine is for serious knife makers that are willing to invest money into their trade.
- Editors Rating: 9.5/10
- Price Range: $$$$
- Horsepower: 2 hp
- Belt Size: 2″ X 82″
This belt grinder is ideal for the bulk of knife making from sharpening the blade to sanding the wooden handle. It makes use of a potent 2 hp motor to drive a long and broad belt. This sander also makes use of a 2″ X 82″ belt which is ideal for knife making. Most knife makers prefer a sanding belt that is long enough which gives a larger surface area so that they do not need to replace the belt every couple of minutes.
The belt is also 2 inches wide which gives them extra room to work with when sharpening their blades. This machine is not only powerful but also versatile. You can choose to work with either a larger rubber wheel or a flat platen to work with a vertical angle. It is also constructed with 100% steel and is also adjustable where you can change the parts within seconds or adjust the tracking on the belts.
You will also find an adjustable platform on which to guide the angle of the knife.
#4 JET J-41002
Best For: If you would like to have a belt and a disc sander combo, then this one is for you.
- Editors Rating: 8/10
- Price Range: $$$
- Horsepower: 0.75 hp
- Belt Size: 2″ x 42″
This sander from Jet uses a 0.75 horsepower motor which is more powerful than some of the other belt sanders reviewed in this article. It also makes use of a 2″ x 42″ belt which is ideal for the final stages of knife making. This machine also has an 8-inch disk sander on the left-hand side which also comes with a miter gauge to get that perfect angle. The belt can also be aligned and tightened with the help of a lever.
Attached to the belt, you will also find an aluminum table that can also be used for knife making. The base is made out of heavy-duty steel along with rubber feet, so you do not have to attach it to another table for it to be stable. Overall, I think this is a great machine to have if you love knife making.
#5 Grizzly G1015
Best For: If a long and wide belt size is essential for your knife making, then this belt sander/buffer is for you.
- Editors Rating: 9/10
- Price Range: $$$
- Horsepower: 1 hp
- Belt Size: 2″ x 72″-76″
So far, this sander has one of the largest belts in this review and is 72 inches long and 2 inches wide. It has a good one horsepower motor which will do the job. What I also like about this belt sander is that the belt arm can be adjusted horizontally and even vertically. If you are a knifemaker, then you will know about the hassles of continually changing the belts. The process of changing belts can be done a couple of seconds with this sander. The belts are also aligned and tightened with the quick release mechanism which saves you valuable time.
One thing to note is that this sander does not have a table attached to the belt, so you need to be an experienced knife maker to use this machine. I am saying this because you need to be able to create the edge at a constant angle which will be very hard to achieve with this sander. On the left-hand side of the motor, you will find an auxiliary arbor to where you can attach buffing or polishing wheels. This is an excellent knife making tool to have but needs some experience to use.
Best Grinders Comparison Table
|Product Name||Horsepower||Belt Size||Price||Editors Rating|
|1. Kalamazoo 1SM (Top Pick)||0.33 hp||1″ x 42″||$$||10/10|
|2. EX Electronix Express (Least Expensive)||0.33 hp||1″ x 30″||$||8/10|
|3. Happybuy 2Hp (For The Professional)||2 hp||2″ X 82″||$$$$||9.5|
|4. JET J-41002||0.75 hp||2″ x 42″||$$$||8/10|
|5. Grizzly G1015||1 hp||2″ x 72″-76″||$$$||9/10|
Addition Methods For Knife Sharpening
If belt grinders are not your thing or are too expensive, I would recommend additional methods driven by hand and not that pricey. The methods include pocket knife sharpeners, best hunting knife sharpeners, and knife sharpener stones.
It is easy to get lost between all of the belt sanders that you can buy online. As you may have noticed there are much more than meets the eye when it comes to these machines, and you can make a terrible mistake when you do not know what you are looking for.
If you still could not make up your mind, then I would recommend the Kalamazoo 1SM which was my favorite.
What was your favorite?
Please leave a comment below and share with us the one that you liked the most. Do you love knives and want to learn how to sharpen them? Please read this article for a summary of what we have reviewed.