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Belt grinder suggestions


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I currently have been using a 1x30 belt grinder and have learned that it limits what I can do regarding bladesmithing. I'm fairly new to this and was wondering if anyone had insight on a reliable belt grinder. I've heard that 2x72 works best. I'm trying to keep my budget under $3K. Thanks in advance. 

Edited by Peter Killham
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All the big names (KMG, Pheer, OBM, Bader, Wuertz, AMK, etc.) are great machines.  Those sold on ebay and made from tubing are not.  More than most tools, with a 2x72 you really get what you pay for.

 

If you're handy, you can get plans and build your own.  That's certainly the cheapest option.  

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I'm in a similar boat. I started blacksmithing/knifemaking as a hobby in the fall, and am actually taking 2 weeks off for an ABS Into to Knifemaking course starting in a week.

 

I too started w/ a budget grinder, a Norse 2x42 from Amazon which I've made a lot of modifications to, and I will likely upgrade to a big boy grinder after my course.

 

From my research I narrowed things down to:

  • 84 Engineering's Gibson 72 Deluxe sold by Alec Steele - leaning towards this one due to the carbide faced platen, cam-based tension system (supposedly even better than ratcheting), and drive wheel based tracking adjustments. This package is the most expensive, but comes with everything I think I need except for a larger contact wheel. 
  • Wuertz Machine Works TW-90 - I like the ratcheting tension (better than spring or piston), and this package has just about everything you could need. My reservations are the lack of return wheels w/ the small wheel attachment (return wheels cause the belt to hug the small wheel better instead of creating a wider angle, the fact that the flat platen may or may not come with rubberized wheels on either side of the platen, and a few other small things. I would get the doubler plate add-on if I got this. 
  • Brodbeck Ironworks - Relatively new to the market and I've heard great things about the grinders. I believe that they sponsor the Forged in Fire guys now. I like the way the accessories work with their setup, and you can get a lot more grinder/ accessories for your money since you are coating and assembling yourself. My reservations on this one are the lack of cam or ratchet tensioning system, and the fact that they are so new. If they updated to rubberized wheels, cam or ratchet based tension, and maybe a carbide faced platen (less important), this would be my choice. I also want to see more reviews on how well it tracks. 
  • Wilmont Quattro - Both Jason Knight and Burt Foster have said that this is the best grinder on the market. Great design and veteran-owned business (which is a plus in my book). The main issue that I see is the belt tension system.

 

I know you said you want to stay under 3K, and that is doable w/ Brodbeck (depending on what accessories you want), but when it comes to these things, I am a believer in "buy once, cry once." If you can, I would figure out exactly what grinder you want, and save for longer so that it fits your budget. At least that is the approach that I am taking.

 

Does anyone have any experience or feedback on these grinders? 

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To amend my earlier post, I just spoke to Vince from Brodbeck, and after hearing more about their machine, the tolerances, manufacturing process, the reason certain decisions were made, etc I am definitely leaning that way. If you are curious about their products, drop a note via "Contact us" on their site. Vince called me about an hour or two after I did. 

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I always go with Rob Frink at Beaumont Metalworks, home of the KMG, just because I've known him for 20 years or so.  I've been running a basic three-speed KMG since 2006 or so (when the chassis with platen was $800) and have yet to need to do anything besides replace one set of bearings on the tracking wheel.

 

I am planning to add the new KMG surface grinder attachment...  If I had a car to trade I'd get the new KMG-TX with all the bells and whistles, but working for state government means  I need to sell a lot of stuff to afford that route.

 

That said, I will repeat that all the big names are excellent machines.  Do not cheap out unless you go with the build-it-yourself option.

 

Finally, I still do quite a bit of my finish work with files and sandpaper.  I could live without a grinder, they just speed up the process.  Sometimes fatally.  It's amazing how fast you can screw up at 6500 SFPM!

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On 3/16/2021 at 10:37 AM, Alan Longmire said:

I always go with Rob Frink at Beaumont Metalworks, home of the KMG, just because I've known him for 20 years or so.  I've been running a basic three-speed KMG since 2006 or so (when the chassis with platen was $800) and have yet to need to do anything besides replace one set of bearings on the tracking wheel.

 

I am planning to add the new KMG surface grinder attachment...  If I had a car to trade I'd get the new KMG-TX with all the bells and whistles, but working for state government means  I need to sell a lot of stuff to afford that route.

 

That said, I will repeat that all the big names are excellent machines.  Do not cheap out unless you go with the build-it-yourself option.

 

Finally, I still do quite a bit of my finish work with files and sandpaper.  I could live without a grinder, they just speed up the process.  Sometimes fatally.  It's amazing how fast you can screw up at 6500 SFPM!

Thanks for the input. I did a little research after reading your first comment, and found that amk 2 x 72 with motor, 12 inch wheel and a couple of other items included is going for $1,999.00

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Kind of far away...

 

I have a friend local to me in ohio- who builds belt sanders. He has his own machine shop, and they run around $1200.

 

As pictured- d platen, 2hp wired for 110v, whole sander tilts 90° to the left. Can run belt vertical or horizontal. 

 he knurled all the knobs, milled work rest, milled plate between accessory tubes, tube knobs are set at 45 degrees to tubes to push em square & tight.

 

Platen tilts, back plate removable to slack belt between the wheels.

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Edited by Welsh joel
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2 hours ago, Peter Killham said:

Thanks for the input. I did a little research after reading your first comment, and found that amk 2 x 72 with motor, 12 inch wheel and a couple of other items included is going for $1,999.00

The one thing to watch with AMK is to make sure the supplied VFD is dustproof.  They do good stuff, though.

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On 3/16/2021 at 9:03 AM, Jesse Lange said:

To amend my earlier post, I just spoke to Vince from Brodbeck, and after hearing more about their machine, the tolerances, manufacturing process, the reason certain decisions were made, etc I am definitely leaning that way. If you are curious about their products, drop a note via "Contact us" on their site. Vince called me about an hour or two after I did. 

 

I'm quite happy with the machine, and one thing to note is that they proactively contacted me to replace a part after they had a bad batch that caused the grinder to not track as well as it should (flat platen attachment had a wheel whose thread was a off axis). They sent me a replacement as soon as I confirmed I had the issue, and didn't ask me to return anything. Very good customer service.

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  • 3 weeks later...

To follow-up on this topic, I took my 2 week ABS Intro course (highly recommend the NE School of Metalwork), and I got to play with quite a few different ginders. Even though they didn't have a Brodbeck, I made the decision to pull the trigger and ordered the Brodbeck Mega Package. They have been a pleasure to work with so far, have given me a ton of their time over the phone, and I can't wait to get the grinder. I'll update you guys once I have it up and running.

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