Bolt Together 2 X 72 Belt Grinder. Knife belt grinder

Bolt Together 2 X 72 Belt Grinder

I have been wanting a 2 x 72 belt grinder ever since I started making knives on my wimpy 4 x 36 belt sander. After looking around at some designs I figured I could probably make one myself. I had access to our scrap bin at work that often had square tubing and small chunks of flat stock but I didn’t have access to a welder. This led me to design a belt grinder that was similar to many of the welded designs I saw but would be bolted together rather than welded. This also had the advantage that if one of the pieces broke or I messed up on it while making it then all I had to do was unbolt it and make a new one.

Here are some sites that I referenced when designing this. They have additional information that I may not include that may help you out.

Step 1: Drawings and Models

Below I have included some drawings and models that should hopefully help you with the dimensions and hole layouts. I included the drawings as pdf’s and the.step file for the entire assembly so you can see how it all fits together. If you do not have a 3D modeling software I have also included a 3D pdf that will anyone with adobe acrobat (its free) to be able to view the assembly as well.

Note: While making this I made some changes and these drawings and models are not 100% the same as what I show being made. I will address the changes in each step as they differ from the drawings.

Material List:

bolt, together, belt, grinder, knife

2in x 2in square tubing in the following lengths:

1.5in x 1.5in square tubing in the following lengths:

Two pieces 2in x 6.5in x.25in (this can be thinner but it is nice if it is thicker because it will be threaded)

Two pieces 4in x 4in x.125 (this can be thicker if you want but not any thinner)

Four 2in long pieces of 2in angle iron

One piece at least 2.5in x 8in x.25in for the tool rest

One piece 2in x 2in x.25in (I made mine more around 2in x 4in x.25in which you will see later)

One piece 1.5in x 1.1in x.375in for one half of the hinge

One piece 2in x 2in x.375in for the other half of the hinge

Lots of bolts (each step will show the bolts you need, most are 3/8in bolts but they don’t have to be)

bolt, together, belt, grinder, knife

Lots of lock nuts (these are important as this vibrates a lot and you don’t want it coming apart)

Two adjustable position handles (I used these 3/8 x 1 1/4 ones)

Flat platen tool (I bought this one but the second link I provided has the plans for one if you can make it)

Guide, tracking, and drive wheels (I bought mine form here but the third link shows how you can make your own)

A gas spring (I used a 7in 100N/22lb spring from amazon but it is no longer available)

A handle (I turned a 2 x 2 piece of wood into a handle but you could buy whatever you want)

A motor (This completely depends on what you have or the power you want, I have a 1hp motor with a vfd to provide variable speed control)

Step 2: Making and Attaching the Front Plate

I forgot to take pictures before I drilled all of the holes but I tried to show them in a way that would explain the step by step approach that I took when making this.

First you need to cut all 4 of the 2in square tubing to the required lengths. For the two 10in tubes you will want to file away the weld seam because this is where the 1.5in tubes will be inserted and that seam will make it difficult. These tubes have a 3/16in wall thickness. It is important to have thicker walls on these because the 1.5in tubes fit into them and you want as small of a gap as possible.

The next part that I show was originally designed to be 2in x 2in but I ended up making it 4in long because as you will see later on I needed to room so that I could have a surface to mount the gas spring to. When making this part you need a drill press because you are drilling all the way through a 2in part and unless you are way better at free hand drilling than I am it is near impossible to drill through this evenly. I drilled these to allow a 1/4in bolt to fit all the way through this and the two side plates. Many of these holes can be drilled slightly larger than the bolt so that even if you are a little off then it can still be assembled. when you tighten everything down it will be tight enough that nothing will move.

Then you will want to drill the holes on the two side plates. One plate will be drilled to have two 3/8 in threaded holes in it and the other I decided to put two 1/4in threaded holes in it even though I didn’t have them on the drawing. These 1/4in bolts were used to keep these plates fixed to the two 10in tubes. Then you will put a 3/8in hole in the bottom that will hold the front leg in place.

Assemble as shown and then drill the hole in the front leg, this tube also had a 3/16in wall thickness, and bolt it together. once this is bolted together then you will want to use the holes on the plates as guides on where to drill the holes on the tubes below them. Then you tap the holes and add the bolts and handles. If you need to learn how to tap a hole it is included in the classes they offer on here. Just go slow as I broke a tap while making this.

Step 3: Making and Attaching the Rear Plate

Now to work on the back side. For the 11in tube you will need to cut out the top to allow the top arm to be able to fit into it. This tube only had a 1/8in wall thickness due to the material I had available but it is not as important as on the two 10in tubes.

Then you will need to create the two 4in x 4in plates. These hold the back and together. It worked best be me to drill the top hole in the vertical 11in tube and then put the bolt through and then use the plate to mark the second holes location. I did the same thing for the next two holes through the other tubes. Then you just bolt it all together.

Step 4: Making the Hinge for the Tracking Wheel

To be able to adjust the tracking of the belt, the tracking wheel needed to be mounted onto a hinge. I decided to make my own hinge because I had a small desktop mill available and the steel to make it. This hinge just needs to be able to attach to the upper arm and the other half of the hinge has to be able to hold the bolt that the tracking wheel spins on.

Step 5: Making the Upper Arm

To make the upper arm you will need the 7in long piece of 1.5in tube. The 1.5in tubes I had all had a 3/16in wall thickness. This will fit into the back 11in tube where the slot was cut out. The holes in the back are where a bolt will go through to allow it to rotate up and down. When fully assembled this arm is pushed up by the gas spring and provides the tension on the belt. You will then need to drill the holes for the hinge and handle.

Because there is a gap when this is inserted into the 11in tube I bought some nylon spacers ans sanded them down so that they would take up the gap between these two parts.

For my handle I just turned a 4in piece of 2×2 wood that I had laying around and drilled a hole through it so I could run a 1/4in bolt through to attach it to the tube. You can buy a handle or make one however you want. it is just needed to pull down on the arm when changing belts.

Note: I talk about it in the trouble shooting section but I would recommend making the arm a couple inched longer and moving the handle up further allowing for the addition of a tracking adjustment knob.

Step 6: Making the Feet

To be able to mount this to a surface it needed some feet. I had access to some 2in angle iron so that is what I made these out of. They are all 2in wide and have a 3/8in hole on each face. one hole to mount to the belt grinder and one to bolt into the table I mount it on.

Step 7: Making the Tool Rest

To make a tool rest for this I needed a long piece of 1.5in tubing to insert into the lower of the two 10in tubes. I determined this needed to be about 17in in length to sit in the right location. I then found a good sized piece of flat stock and drilled and tapped two holes and then used those holes as guides to drill the holes in the 1.5in tube. I then fed two bolts in through the bottom and ground them so that they would not stick up out of the plate.

Note: When figuring out where to drill the holes on the flat stock it is important to note where the belt will be and center your plate about that point so that you have that same amount of tool rest to either side of the belt. Unless you want it uneven, in that case do it however you want.

Step 8: Making the Flat Platen Tool Arm

To make the other tool arm you will need to know what you plan on mounting to it. I was going to mount a flat platen to it so I used the hole locations from that to determine where I needed to drill my holes. If you use a different mount than the one I used you will need to determine where your holes will need to be accordingly. You can make multiple arms to accommodate additional things like a large or small contact wheel. I found that 12in was the length needed for the flat plated attachment I used but you may need something longer or shorter depending on what you plan on attaching to it.

Step 9: Attaching the Gas Spring for Belt Tension

I determined I needed a 7in long gas spring to keep the upper arm at the angle I wanted. This is why I ended up making the top of the front plate 4in long instead of 2. I needed room to mount the gas spring. This was simply just figuring out where I wanted it to be positioned and then drilling and tapping the holes for the screws to hold it in place.

Note: be careful when drilling the holes in the plate so that you don’t drill into where the other bolts are in that plate already.

Step 10: Trouble Shooting

There were a couple things that I ran into that I would like to make note of to help you in setting up your grinder.

  • Make sure all the wheels are aligned correctly. I had to drill the holes in the top arm bigger for the hinge because it had enough wiggle that the weight of the tracking wheel and tension of the belt bulled it down too much. I just made the holes bigger and twisted the hinge some more before bolting it down. I also had to do some troubleshooting to make sure the motor was aligned correctly so that the drive wheel was in the correct alignment with the rest of the wheels.
  • The tracking wheel will need to be pushed out some to track correctly. I didn’t fully understand this part of the grinder when designing it but to adjust the tracking of the belt the tracking wheel will need to be pivoted on the hinge either in or out to adjust the belt. I did not add this kind of feature when I designed this but I would suggest making the upper arm longer and mounting the handle at the top making room for a handle with a threaded rod to be added that can be twisted to push the tracking wheel in or out. For now I just drilled a hole in the hinge and added a threaded stud that can be twisted to push it in or out but it is a pain to adjust.
  • There may be clearance between the tool arms and the 10in tubes they go into. I got some 1/16in thick nylon sheets that I cut into strips to fill the space between those parts to prevent the tool arms from being able to wiggle due to the clearance between them.

Step 11: Fully Armed and Operational Belt Grinder

Your grinder is now complete and all you need to do is add a motor, set it all up, and you are ready to grind away.

If you want you can get some 1.5in square tube plugs to cap the exposed ends of the 1.5 tubes just to clean it up. I plan on adding those and painting it next year when it warms up again.

Thank you for checking this out. If you have any questions, Комментарии и мнения владельцев, or improvement suggestions please let me know.

Step 12: Updated Design

It took me long enough but I finally got around to updating the upper arm on my grinder. As you can see from the pictures, I made a new tube that is about 5 inches longer so that I could move the handle to the end and make room for a bolt that would allow me to adjust the tracking wheel more easily. I just plan on 3D printing a knob to fit on to the end of the bolt to make it so I can turn it by hand instead of with a wrench.

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Комментарии и мнения владельцев

Thank you all who voted on this. I am now one small step closer to being able to make a welded version of this. By that I mean I now will have a welding helmet. Now to get the welder. Eventually.

I hope you took a course or two! Esp for any of the electricwelding processes. I learned a lot about oxy-acetylene welding by finishing a few books [years ago] from the library. Arc, mig, tig. I would like to study; they take more than a helmet gloves!

You mention a drawing for the Platen assembly but I am not seeing one. When I try to open the belt grinder 3D pdf for this it is blank? I am ready to begin and would like to use a dimensional drawing for the platen assembly. Let me know if you can help.

I did not make a drawing for the Platen assembly. I made a basic model for reference that is in that 3d pdf. I bought the platen assembly because I did not have the material or capability to make it well. To help with the 3d pdf, do not open it in the browser. You will need to download it onto your computer and then open in with Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you want a drawing for a platen assembly then maybe check out this one.

Was wondering what model of VFD you have, I am looking at getting the KB Electronics 9533

I have the KBAC-24D which is good for up to a 1hp motor. I really like it but don’t have experience with any others to really compare it.

Thank you so much. I have a 2.25HP motor with VFD (no name China) coming in February. This design looks perfect for my needs. Being a rookie knife maker I really do not want to spend the 700 and up from a grinder (WITHOUT a motor) you have to spend in Canada.May I ask how you made the tracking knob?Thanks againDanny

My tracking knob is just a 1/4-20 bolt that has a 3d printed knob on the end to make it easier to turn. I had to thread the hole on one side of the upper arm so that screwing in the bolt causes the tracking wheel is pivoted away from the arm. you should be able to buy bolts with a knob on them already or just use a bolt. hope that helps.

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Knifemaking: “Tricking Out” the Wilton Square Wheel Grinder

The variety and types of belt grinders available today is tremendous. Without a doubt each individual has his/her favorite machine. Although all are very good, we always wish that we could make them do more, or modify them to better fit how we each do things in our shop(s).

I have used every grinder out there at one time or another, and have chosen the Wilton Square Wheel as my favorite. The most attractive feature for me is the ease and speed of changing attachments.

As it comes from the factory or dealer, there are a few draw backs that can be irritating to a knifemaker. Below are a few modifications I have made to increase versatility and production in my shop.


The machine is set up to run either 110VAC or 220VAC. As delivered it is set up to run at 110VAC, I highly recommend setting it up to run on 220VAC. There is a world of difference in the power and smoothness of the machine from 110 to 220. (My machine had change over instructions located inside the switch housing.)

Slow Down

If you did not purchase a variable speed machine, get a “slow down” drive pulley. As it comes from the factory, the Wilton Square Wheel has a 10″ drive pulley that runs the machine at 4600 SFPM (surface feet per minute) Before they were offered commercially, I had one made at a local machine shop. Mine is 7″ dia, and slowed the belt speed down to 2950 SFPM.

By slowing the machine down, it may seem at first that your progress is very slow, but your grinds will come out much nicer, and you’ll get a lot more mileage out of your belts.

Flat Platen Attachment

Next we turn to modification of the flat platen attachment. As it come from the factory, and with the way the platen attachment is cast, there is simply not enough room or tracking adjustment to allow one to create plunge cuts on the left side of the platen (as you are facing the machine).

It took me a while to work this one out, but the solution is a simple fix. I created a platen that bolts onto the existing platen. These “add on” platens are nothing more than a piece of 1/4″x 2″x whatever length you want (up to the original 8″) that the belt “rides” over. This will give you plenty of room for plunge cuts. In the photos below you can see how I drilled two holes in the casting, and use two socket head bolts (10-24 thread) to secure the “add on” platen.

bolt, together, belt, grinder, knife

The easy way to do this is to remove the contact wheels and use a set of vise grips to drill the holes for threading, and then enlarge the holes in the casting to accept the socket head bolts.

Modify Platen Lengths

For those who were paying close attention to the photos above, the platen may have seemed shorter than it should be. This brings us to one of the best improvements. Remove 2″ at the bottom of the factory platen casting. This gives an area that is ideal for convex grinding.

Platens can be made in different lengths, for various applications. The above photo on the left shows two different platen sizes, the large for flat grinding, and in the right photo, the shorter platen is in place for convex grinding. Below is a close up view of the setup I use for convex grinding. It’s easy to get carried away and use too much pressure, so nice and easy is the key. You can control the amount of convex with a combination of belt tension, and the amount of pressure you apply to your work piece.

Using the Short Platen

I seldom use the 8″ wheel, with the exception of profiling blades. The long flat platen, I use for flattening, and tapering, the shorter platen is used for convex grinding.

If you have made modifications, and are willing to share your ideas, let me know in the Комментарии и мнения владельцев.

NOTE: Since first writing this article, I have trashed the idea of using Graphite canvas for a platen backing. This material wears too quickly, causing uneven grinds and just general mayhem. I now use “pyro-ceram” or tempered glass on all my platens. The platen MUST be flat, and the glue used to attach the glass able to withstand heat (I use AccraGlass) but it will improve you grinding 10 fold.

bolt, together, belt, grinder, knife

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What Is A Belt Grinder Used For?

Belt grinders are fantastic multipurpose tools, with the necessary power and versatility to carry out a number of functions. Perhaps one of the most common uses for a belt grinder is in knife making, but it does not end there. Belt grinders can remove material, so they can be used for anything that requires polishing, grinding or utilizing an abrasive surface.

Belt grinders come in a variety of different sizes and length, so it is a really diverse tool that can be applied to a number of different tasks.

Using a belt grinder for knife making

Every knife is different and techniques vary dependent on the use for the knife, but this is a very rough guide to making a knife using a belt grinder.

The process usually starts with a piece of stock sheet metal, or a forged coarse blade shape.

A lot of knives are made in a forge as it’s a cleaner process, producing less dust and not harsh on your lungs or eyes. However, other knife makers use a process called stock removal which is essentially removing material from a block of steel until the knife shape is formed. To do this, you’ll need to trace the shape of your knife on sheet metal using a sharpie or similar or use a CAD program to create something a little more technical.

Once the design is complete and you are happy with it, you can start grinding. Many metalworking experts like to use an angle grinder before using the belt grinder, but the belt grinder can be used for the entire process.

If using a belt grinder instead of an angle grinder from the start, you will need to have a solid bench to work on. Most belt grinders have a built in work rest that you can use to rest the blade on. The process of sculpting the knife blade is to keep the metal pressed firmly down with pressure to the rest, while sanding along the belt to remove the desired material.

Once you have the shape of the blade, you’ll need to grind the blade edge, with which you can also use the belt grinder. You’ll need a coarse grit sand on your belt (somewhere between P36 and P150).

Using a belt grinder for deburring

Metal burrs commonly occur on workpiece surfaces. A belt grinder is the perfect machine for sanding these away easily. You can also use belt grinding for rounding metal materials and edge breaking.

Using a belt grinder for surface finishing

As mentioned previously, belt grinders are most commonly used to sand surfaces smooth. Belt grinding can be used to remove tiny burrs, cleaning, shaping and polishing material, and remove edges and mill marks.

Using a belt grinder for polishing

The fast moving belt and the power of the belt grinder machines are perfect for polishing metalwork to give it a fine, smooth final finish. Different grits can achieve different finishes, so this is a really great tool for getting an accurate polished finish.

Using a belt grinder for sanding

Of course, not all items need to be polished but can be sanded to ensure that they have a smooth finish. A belt grinder, used carefully, is a great tool for sanding to a smooth finish. Care needs to be taken in order to not remove too much material, as belt grinders can be powerful. But with careful use, they make the ideal tool for sanding.

What other things can a belt grinder be used for?

A belt grinder is not just suitable for knife making and various heavy duty objects. It can also be used for many purposes in a variety of industrial and domestic settings. If your belt grinder has several different attachments, there’s even more possibilities. Here are a few examples of what else can be achieved using a belt grinder:

  • Watchmakers often use belt grinders for high brand watches. The belt grinder is a common tool to be found in a watchmakers workshop.
  • Renovation and restoration. Many antique metal objects require serious renovation to restore former glories. The belt grinder can achieve this and so can also be found in restoration workshops.
  • A farrier or hoof trimmer can use a belt grinder to help with the processes involved in that industry.
  • A goldsmith or jewellery manufacturer can use a belt grinder for forming or polishing
  • A belt grinder is a great instrument for sharpening garden tools, scissors or other practical household tools.
  • A belt grinder can be used extensively to grind or polish musical instruments.
  • Medical instruments or scale makers often have a belt grinder in their workshop or manufacturing center.
  • Cabinet makers find a belt grinder useful when combining metal with wood in order to shape the items to fit.
  • Door fittings can also be sculpted and shaped using a belt grinder.


The belt grinder is used for a multitude of purposes and there are many different types on the market. At Soul Ceramics, we have a range of belt and disk grinders, perfect for almost any metalworking or wood craft. We can advise you on the best machine for your needs, including things like speed, finish required and the belts, motor size and power you will need.

As you can see, the belt grinder is used in so many different industries and for so many different practices, that it’s the perfect multitool to have in any workshop.

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