Every knifemaker knows that a belt sander is a great multi-purpose power tool to have in your workshop, mainly because it can be used for trimming, shaping, as well as smoothing rough surfaces. For knife making, it certainly beats sanding by hand, and it’s also much safer too.
What are the best belt sanders for knife making? While belt sanders are popular in woodworking, for knife making, you will need a medium-sized stationary belt sander with variable speed, suitable for various tasks.
In addition, other factors such as design, material, and more can also make the process of working with a belt sander much smoother.
In this article, let’s take a look at what you will need to consider when buying a belt sander for knife making, as well as some good options on the market.
What Are Belt Sanders?
Belt sanders are basically multi-purpose power tools that make sanding more efficient, especially for difficult materials like metal and wood. A belt sander can handle rough wood and metal surfaces, and you can use it with coarse-grit sandpaper to remove a lot of materials very quickly.
Also, unlike vibrating and orbital sanders, belt sanders have a linear action that allows them to sand along the grain, even with hardwood. If you have a knife-making workshop, belt sanders can be powerful tools that make your life a lot easier.
Basic belt sanders have two drum-mounted components, which are driven by an electric motor to move a loop of sandpaper. The other one is spring-loaded to maintain the loop’s tension. When sanding, you simply have to turn on the sander, and the sandpaper will move to generate the sanding action.
Belt sanders commonly come in two types: portable or benchtop models. The former is held by the user and presented to the work, while the benchtop machine is fixed on the surface, and you’ll have to hold your piece of wood or metal against the sandpaper for sanding.
Portable belt sanders are more useful in woodworking since they can be quite useful for large surfaces. For knife making, a benchtop belt sander will prove more useful since you are working with smaller tools.
There are versions of the belt sander that offers both stationary and handheld features, such as a belt and disc sander. If you already have a portable belt sander, you can also convert it into a stationary belt sander using a stand, which will set it in place for sanding small materials.
Now that you know what belt sanders are, let’s take a look at what you need to consider when buying a belt sander for your workshop.
How To Choose The Best Belt Sander
As we’ve mentioned, belt sanders are useful tools that can be used both in woodworking and knife making. For knife making in particular, here are some of the things you should consider.
Benchtop Vs. Portable
As we’ve mentioned above, belt sanders usually come as a benchtop stationary unit or a portable handheld power tool. Knifemakers usually prefer benchtop sanders because they are sturdier and allow more flexibility when working with small workpieces.
However, portable belt sanders are more versatile because they work for both woodworkers and knife makers. In addition, portable units can also turn into benchtop units as well, using a benchtop stand.
However, one disadvantage of handheld units is that they’re not as big or as sturdy as benchtop sanders, so many people still prefer benchtop sanders over portable sanders.
The belt sander’s size is indicated by the size of the belt (where the sandpaper loop is placed). The width of the belt ranges from 1-5″, while the length of the belt can be anywhere between 18″ (very small handheld sanders) to heavy-duty 36″.
A larger belt will allow you to sand a big area in a shorter time, but it’s usually more power-consuming. Depending on the size of your work area, as well as the size of the knife you’ll be making, you can determine the size of the belt sander you’ll need.
Most of the time, a 3″ by 21″ belt sander will get the job done. If you want to use it as a portable sander as well as a stationary sander, keep in mind that a larger machine will also mean it’s more difficult to handle.
Belt sanders are useful because they can sand very efficiently with very little effort. For the machine to create an even surface, the platen – the area that will directly touch your knife to sand it down – will need to be very flat and sturdy to work well.
Belt sanders usually come with a metal or graphite platen, but graphite is usually the stronger choice that won’t warp or buckle after some use. If you already have a sander with a metal platen, you can always upgrade to graphite as well.
Since the sandpaper belt is removable (so that you can switch between different sandpaper grits), tracking is required to ensure that the belt stays centered on the platen and won’t spin off the machine when you sand.
If the rear and front wheels are out of alignment, it can cause the belt to rub against the housing and the machine and damage it, not to mention spinning away from the machine.
Although some belt sanders feature an automatic tracking feature, it’s still important to manually adjust the belt after you change it to make sure that the belt is centered.
A thumbscrew adjustment tool is also helpful when it comes to adjusting the belt’s tracking position. This component will allow you to move them forward and backward, roller side to side to achieve the ideal alignment for the belt.
When you’re shopping for a belt sander, make sure that the model has a tracking feature that’s adjustable so that you can always keep the belt centered.
The speed at which the belt moves can determine how efficient the belt sander is. Of course, you don’t want the belt sander to move at an extremely high speed all the time since a slower speed can also allow for controlled sanding.
Belt sanders often have a single speed setting or a variable speed setting. If you need it, you should look for a sander with a variable speed setting to dial the speed up and down, which will make the machine more useful in more applications.
One of the most important features that a belt sander should have is its dust collection capability. This feature will allow you to collect and dispose of the fine dust particles from sanding in seconds.
Most belt sanders come with small bags that can only collect some of the dust. When it comes to buying a belt sander, make sure that it has a dust port so that the sanding dust doesn’t get everywhere.
Many portable belt sanders can be converted into a benchtop sander using a stand.
If you want to take advantage of both the portable and stationary features, make sure to see if your belt sander is compatible with a benchtop stand so that you can easily convert it into a benchtop sander if you want.
Best Belt Sanders For Knife Making
After looking at the buying guide above, you probably have a good idea of what type of belt sander will work in your knife-making workshop. Below are some of our recommendations for highly reliable belt sanders for knife making.
|1.||JET Bench Belt and Disc Sander||2"x42"||Single Speed|
|2.||RIKON Power Tools Belt with 5" Disc Sander||6" disc sander, 4" x 36" belt||Single Speed|
|3.||WEN Belt And 6" Disc Sander||4"x 36" belt and 6" disc sander||Single Speed|
|4.||Makita 9903 3" x 21" Belt Sander||3" x 21"||Variable Speed|
|5.||Skil 18" Belt Sander||3" x 18"||Single Speed|
|6.||WEN Variable Speed Handheld Portable Belt Sander||3" x 18"||Variable Speed|
|7.||CRAFTSMAN Belt Sander||3” x 21”||Single Speed|
1. JET Bench Belt and Disc Sander
Whether you’re making your own knives or repairing the old ones, JET Bench Belt and Disc Sander is a must-have for your workshop.
This benchtop sander comes with a 2″x42″ belt sander, plus a disc sander capable of rotating to different angles, which makes various sanding tasks quite easy.
Although this is a single-speed sander, its design also makes it quite useful for various tasks. The quality construction is made with a steel base and cast iron frame, plus rubber feet to keep the stationary tool sturdy and strong.
In addition, the ease of use provided by this sander makes it perfect for all your sanding needs, from shaping to sharpening.
Its removable platen allows sanding or finishing of outside curves or odd-shaped workpieces on the belt. In addition, the machine also comes with an adjustable dust deflector and dust chute to keep your working area clean while sanding.
2. RIKON Power Tools Belt with Disc Sander
RIKON’s Belt and Disc Sander puts finishing power in your hands. The steel construction is powerful enough to handle all your sanding needs.
In addition, the cast iron base provides a stable platform, so you can work on any shape or size workpiece. It also provides vibration-free operation and smooth results.
The belt speed is 1900 SFPM, and the disc speed is 3450 RPM. The powerful 1/2 horsepower motor runs smoothly, with no vibration to slow down performance.
If you want to make your own knives or other accessories, this power tool will help you finish the workpiece fast with smooth results.
RIKON also has other models of belt and disc sanders with various sizes and speed options, so you can always find a reliable machine for your knife-making workshop.
3. WEN Belt And 6″ Disc Sander
WEN’s Belt and Disc Sander is the most versatile and effective way to sand knife blades, chisels, and other sharp edges.
This two-in-one belt and disc sander feature a sturdy cast iron base that prevents any heavy vibrations while sanding. The belt is capable of tilting between 0-90 degrees.
A tension release lever provides for simple changes between sandpaper grits, and you can change between coarse-grit sandpaper for efficient sanding and fine-grit sandpaper for smoothening.
The 4.3 Amp motor provides up to 3600 RPM on the belt and 2700 RPM on the disc, allowing you to smoothly sand away material while providing a reliable pivot point to facilitate sharpening and carving utensils.
4. Makita 9903 3″ x 21″ Belt Sander
The Makita Belt Sander is designed for optimum performance when shaping, finishing, and sharpening knives.
The 8.8 AMP motor generates the power you need to quickly shape your blade, while the dust bag keeps airborne debris from reaching your work area.
The variable speed control dial (690–1440 ft/min) allows you to match the speed to the application, which gives you greater control over the workpiece. In addition, the auto-tracking belt system keeps the sanding belt aligned for the best result.
This is a portable belt sander that is compact enough for convenient handling. You can also use it with a stand to instantly transform it into a benchtop sander, which is more useful for smaller workpieces.
5. Skil 18″ Belt Sander
The Skil 18-Inch Belt Sander provides more power, greater control, and finer finishes for a wide range of sanding applications.
The pressure control technology monitors sanding pad pressure applied for optimal finish. It has 6.0 Amp of power, which sands any type of wood and metal surface.
It comes equipped with a micro-filtration system that captures and contains fine dust particles. The auto track belt alignment keeps the belt centered and wastes no time in getting the job done.
At 3″ by 18″, this is considered a small to medium-sized portable belt sander, which is suitable for smaller jobs. You can use it with a stand for benchtop sanding or as a portable belt sander.
6. WEN Variable Speed Handheld Portable Belt Sander
The WEN Portable Belt Sander takes your sanding to a whole new level.
This lightweight and compact 3″ by 18″ belt grinder clocks in at 6 pounds, yet it features a powerful 6.3-amp motor with variable speeds that can be adjusted anywhere from 558 to 820 feet per minute, which makes it easier to control and suitable for various tasks.
The lock-on power switch allows for continuous sanding without requiring a constant grip on the trigger, while the quick-release belt tension lever allows for fast sandpaper installation and grit changes.
In addition, this handheld belt sander also comes with a 1-1/4-inch dust port and a detachable dust bag to collect the sanding dust to keep cleaning up to the minimum, which is quite convenient for keeping your working area clean.
7. CRAFTSMAN Belt Sander
The Craftsman Belt Sander is an all-around belt sander that quickly, easily, and accurately sands all types of smooth surfaces.
It removes material faster with a higher level of precision than a disc sander, thanks to an angled belt head design and 800 FPM speed.
The large orbital adjustment knob makes it easier than ever to maintain constant orbit during operation.
Thanks to the three-position over-molded handle, which improves ergonomics, you can comfortably operate this handheld design with ease.
This is a 3″ by 21″ compact handheld belt sander that’s suitable for a variety of tasks. In addition, you can also use it with a stand to create a benchtop sander, suitable for shaping edges and smoothing out small workpieces with ease.