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Recommendations for tabletop belt sander


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Uh, yeah, DEFINITELY not what I'm getting.  So either my technique is criminally bad, my files are criminally bad, or both. :-)

Well, I guess I'm in the market for better files now.  I'll try to find a good Simonds kit on Amazon.  I also picked up a sanding block so hopefully that will make the sanding part faster and less unpleasant.

Thanks for the tips!

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I get my files from MSCDirect.com (Simonds and Grobet) and eBay (NOS USA Nicholsons).  Get the biggest single-cut or hybrid cut mill bastard you can find, which in USA Nicholsons is a 16", in Simonds Multicut a 14", a 10" or 12" mill bastard, and one each of 6" mill bastard, 2nd cut, and smooth.  Get handles for each one, and don't let them touch each other, especially the big ones.  They'll get into a fight and chip each other up a bit.  I keep mine in a tool roll or standing upright against the wall at the back of the bench.

If you get into filing, which I recommend, you'll eventually end up with a 14" long-angle lathe file and have duplicates of your favorites with one edge ground flat, or safe, as that's called.  That lets you make a perfectly sharp square corner.  I have over 50 files at last count, from needle files to a big honkin' Vixen that will literally tear steel to shreds.  Those are for advanced users only, and gloves are required or they'll shred your fingers as well.  I'm kind of scard of that one, in fact.  But, I can't make tomahawks without all of them.  If I only did knives, the mill bastard set is all I'd really need.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Well, I'm back!

At Alan's suggestion I got a set of Simonds files from MSCDirect.  First thought: Woah momma, I can definitely feel the difference with the 14" Simonds mill bastard vs the Home Depot files I was using.  It's still taking longer than I'd like but I can definitely see and feel it working faster than before.

Here's what I'm getting in terms of filings now:

  IMG_20180511_204634.jpg

 

I don't know if that qualifies as "good" but it's removing metal faster than before, so that's a positive.  The 6" smooth cut also leaves a pretty nice surface on the smaller areas (the spine, etc.) but takes a while to do anything on the larger ones.

I also picked up a sanding block, and while it's definitely saving my hands a lot of pain (especially my thumbs), sanding is still taking unacceptably long.  (Like, multiple hours and I'm still on 60 grit.)  Either I'm way too much of a perfectionist or it's just way too slow.

I think I am going to go ahead and get a proper belt sander.  It's just a question of which one.  If anyone still has recommendations on what is good/bad in that department I'm all ears.

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Good to hear that It's working out. IMO if you have the right files and use them correctly there is little need to use 60 grit. A good hand with a good file can start at 180-220 grit right from the file. At 60 grit, by hand, all you are doing is just replacing a bunch of big scratches with a new bunch of big scratches..

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As far as 2x72 grinders, if that is what you mean, it really comes down to a few decisions to consider and there is no "right/wrong" or "best" answer. 

Cost and what you can afford is a big part. If you are willing to build and can supply your own motor could affect your choice. If you want to have the capability to expand or add accessories is another factor. Experience is a big help. I will explain my thinking behind my move from 2x48 to 2x72 last year just as an example. I DO NOT think that my decision was in anyway the "best" choice for anyone else. 

I did not want to spend more shop time than necessary building but I did have several motors handy so no sense paying for another motor. To me that left two choices in my financial ballpark; the Coote and the OBM . I wanted to stay to a budget so a VFD speed control would have to wait in favor of a three-step pulley system. With that in mind the Coote was easier to set up. The OBM would have required the motor, pulleys and a pillow block to all be lined up to get 3 speeds. I also like convex edges and all of that slack belt area on a two-wheel like the Coote seemed to offer some more flexibility in that area. Coote also has some nice accessories as well, such as the circular grinder which is a lot cheaper than a stand alone. I went with the small contact wheel to save a bunch and because hollow grinding isn't my thing. I also have bench grinders for profiling so a contact wheel doesn't get much use at least in my "method of work".

 

Each person has their own needs and situation. Someone with the budget and wanting plug in and go capability could start at the OBM full tilt boogie unit and go up from there. Someone with a tighter budget than mine, and could build, might go that way. It's really about what... your experience tells you you need for your method + what you want to do above that + your budget + ( or - ) your "build it" capabilities.

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That does look better!  Question: is the steel annealed or normalized, or is it as-forged?  I ask because as-forged tends to be harder.  

And I spent Sunday afternoon drawfiling a tomahawk head.  I discovered I'm a bit out of shape and the arthritis is getting into my thumb too.  Had to experiment with a few different grips before I found one that didn't hurt much.

Finally, Vern is giving you good advice on grinders.  That said, I was drawfiling on that hawk head because the grinder wouldn't leave the flats true flat.  You can fudge that with some creative blending, but it seems I always end up filing just a bit on everything I make.

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Alan: It was annealed before I started forging.  I didn't re-anneal it after I was done forging/grinding.  Am I supposed to?  (I suppose that makes sense, although the teacher at my forge never said to do so.)

Vern: My context is that I don't have a spare motor; I'm looking for an inexpensive "plug in and go" for sanding.  There's a fancier belt grinder at my forge I use for proper shaping/scale removal already, so I don't need anything high end.  I'm just looking for a small table-top sanding-speed device to use after grinding and filing.  If it also works for light grinding that's a bonus, IMO.  I was hoping to keep the cost under $150.  (This is still solidly hobby territory for me, so I'm trying to avoid splurging too much.)

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In that price range I think Mason is right. It would be hard to come up with a cheaper or as cheap build even if you had a motor.

To save time on your next question use Google search

"belts" site:bladesmthsforum

To find answers about the dizzying choices available. That way you can have them ready or on the way to get a running start. My advice is usually to by the better grade if you are on a "hobby" budget since, too often, a person doesn't want to toss a belt if the think they can "Just get one more out of it" and that can lead to frustration in the beginning. Just when you get the hang of using it the cheap belts are past efficient service. Later on you can decide between higher grade or a use and toss philosophy or a mix depending on the experience you've gained. I'd stay away from the ceramic belts with that sander however. They like speed and heavy pressure the 1/3hp motor won't take the pressure plus, as you say, "sanding" more than "grinding" is your main concern.

Pick up some sanding/grinding discs from the same supplier and some spray adhesive to affix them and learn to use the disc grinder function on shorter blades.

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On 4/28/2018 at 11:29 AM, Larry Garfield said:

Thanks, folks.  Seems like there's several "better than what I'm doing now" options, only some of which involve electricity. :-)  (I've not ruled out the electrical approach, but it seems there's lots of opinions here.)

Alan: If I understand you correctly, you're doing several rounds of draw filing before you do several rounds of sanding?  That's interesting... given that draw filing is the other part that kills my hands and takes forever.  (Likely at least partially due to "you're still doing it wrong" factors.)  Are there any good tutorials for how to make that part easier?  I'm assuming that one is harder to replace with power tools if you want it done well.

Kreg: If I can ask, why a random-rotation sander over a belt (either fixed or handheld)?  That seems to me like it would be harder to ensure is properly flat, and wouldn't give you clear directional lines so you know when you're "done" with a given grit.

The RO gets rid of grinding lines on blades I dont want them on. On my choppers I dont bother.

I just now ordered some belts from tru grit. 36 zirconia...and 80 grit trizac a gator 100 and a gator 45 and a medium scotch brite.

I am hoping to not have to use the RO on my blades any more....its costing 5 bucks plus a per blade.

Btw you probably wont be able to google gator belts anymore...the guy at tru grit said they were having copywright issues

As far as the RO I dont grind and buff my final edge until after all my sanding/polishing.

 

handle3.jpg

Edited by Kreg
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5 hours ago, Larry Garfield said:

Alan: It was annealed before I started forging.  I didn't re-anneal it after I was done forging/grinding.  Am I supposed to?  (I suppose that makes sense, although the teacher at my forge never said to do so.)

As Jerrod said, yes.  BUT: Normalizing is what you're really after here.  After forging the blade is gonna be full of stresses, uneven grain size, and hard spots.  What you need to do to remove stresses and refine the grain to a uniform small size is heat the blade up just past decalescence and let it cool slowly in still air to full black in the dark.  Do not put it down.  Do this three times and you will have the steel in good condition for subsequent stock removal and hardening.

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38 minutes ago, Alan Longmire said:

BUT: Normalizing is what you're really after here. 

This is important.  Sorry that I did not catch that and elaborate with my initial response.  

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Hm.  OK, that's interesting.  I've been doing:

> Anneal, Forge, Grind, File, Sand, Normalize, Quench, Temper, Sand.

You're saying that's backwards, and I should be doing:

> Anneal, Forge, Normalize, Grind, File, Sand, Quench, Temper, Sand

Am I following that correctly?  I'll try that on my next blade if so (which is in forging now).

(And side note: Do you tend to sharpen before or after the final sand/polish?  I've gotten both as advice.)

Thanks all!

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1 hour ago, Larry Garfield said:

Hm.  OK, that's interesting.  I've been doing:

> Anneal, Forge, Grind, File, Sand, Normalize, Quench, Temper, Sand.

You're saying that's backwards, and I should be doing:

> Anneal, Forge, Normalize, Grind, File, Sand, Quench, Temper, Sand

Am I following that correctly?  I'll try that on my next blade if so (which is in forging now).

(And side note: Do you tend to sharpen before or after the final sand/polish?  I've gotten both as advice.)

Thanks all!

I cant see how it would matter if you normalize before or after grinding...but I have been wrong before so I try not to assume anything.

Are you thermal cycling(normalizing more than once) I normalize then thermal cycle a couple of times for 10xx steel.

Most guys say the edge is the last thing you do....I use my jig for 95 percent of my edge.

If/when I sharpen to a razor...then try and sand out the grinding marks it ruins my edge....and is alot more dangerous IMO

Hoping to get rid of hand sanding entirely with my new belts....guess time will tell.

Edited by Kreg
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I Don't really see a point to an annealing step before forging. Your forging temp will take care of that. After all, annealing is putting it in a soft state and it doesn't get much softer than forgable, unless you are melting it of course. Annealing is useful for stock removal but forging itself wonks with any annealing anyway.

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I've been doing 2-3 cycles of decreasing heat, then letting it air-cool between (and tweaking for any bends while it's still warm).  That's what my forge instructor said to do.

It's sounding like the list of advise the teacher at the forge is giving me is pointless to wrong more often than it's right. :-(

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11 minutes ago, Larry Garfield said:

I've been doing 2-3 cycles of decreasing heat, then letting it air-cool between (and tweaking for any bends while it's still warm).  That's what my forge instructor said to do.

It's sounding like the list of advise the teacher at the forge is giving me is pointless to wrong more often than it's right. :-(

That sound good.....I try to shoot for just past critical...then at critical...and then slightly under.

On 1550 I dont decrease....just slightly past critical 3 times. If that not correct hopefully someone will correct me,

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As Vern said, no need to anneal before forging.  Picture Graham Chapman of Monty Python in his army uniform saying "Stop that! That's silly." :lol:

The steps are

1. forge

2. normalize

3. grind

4. file

5. sand

6. get some anti-scale compound

7. harden and temper (notice that is so important to do quickly in that order it is one step)

8. sand

9. assemble

10. sharpen.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 5/23/2018 at 2:11 PM, Alan Longmire said:

As Vern said, no need to anneal before forging.  Picture Graham Chapman of Monty Python in his army uniform saying "Stop that! That's silly." :lol:

The steps are

1. forge

2. normalize

3. grind

4. file

5. sand

6. get some anti-scale compound

7. harden and temper (notice that is so important to do quickly in that order it is one step)

8. sand

9. assemble

10. sharpen.

 

^  GOLD    [that alone is worth a sticky]

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 5/22/2018 at 9:25 AM, Mason Simonet said:

This is this is about the best you can get for $150 https://m.ebay.com/  the only thing you really need to do to it is upgrade the platen, and then it’s suitable for grinding bevels.

btw the knife is looking good.

 

Thanks all.  I'm back again (after some travel that kept me away from the fun sharp things).  I went ahead and bought the Dayton belt sander Mason recommended above.  It's arrived and assembled, although before I try using it I've a maintenance question that wasn't obvious from the product descriptions.  It looks like swapping the belt is a rather involved process requiring a screwdriver, and swapping the disk is a permanent task (as it's sticky-glued on).  True?  The screwdriver requirement screams "stripped screws in a day".  Mason, am I missing something or do you leave off the lower guard and side guard or...?

 

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Don't know about that particular model for belt changes. Most after you get the silly guards off (and leave them) you can just push on the tracking wheel and slip the belt off.

As for the disc, remove the factory one. Clear the disc and get the spray adhesive designed for them. It makes it a pull off put another one on operation.

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Vern is correct, just leave the guards off. 

Another thing for these that you might want to do is upgrade the platen. the stock platen does not give you the ability to make nice plunge cuts. all I did to mine was JB weld a piece of 2” wide hardened 1080 steel to the existing platen, it’s not the best steel for this but it’s what I had.

 

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I was wondering what you meant by upgrading it. :-)  I don't have a welder on hand, unfortunately.  What exactly does adding the extra steel do? 

Good to know that everyone else just takes the guards off.  I figured that was the case but I didn't want to start removing safety features without a sanity check. :-)  I'll give it a whirl this weekend and see how it goes.

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1 hour ago, Larry Garfield said:

I was wondering what you meant by upgrading it. :-)  I don't have a welder on hand, unfortunately.  What exactly does adding the extra steel do? 

Good to know that everyone else just takes the guards off.  I figured that was the case but I didn't want to start removing safety features without a sanity check. :-)  I'll give it a whirl this weekend and see how it goes.

My stock platen has round corners.....and mine  isnt even parallel with the belt. I refuse to even try to do another blade with plunge lines with out changing/fixing it. I am gonna cut a piece of tile and try and epoxy it on.

Edited by Kreg
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