Desmond Redmon

Belt grinder or alternative finishing tools...

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  I am struggling to finish out woodworking tools using only bench grinders and angle grinders and a handheld belt sander. I have the swage block to form out some of the radii I want but end up finishing the concave surfaces with a dremel then polishing the convex surfaces with strips of sandpaper.  I'm not bad with the angle grinder either with grinding or sanding disks but they just are not efficient ways to produce a consistent and quality surface.

  So I am looking to add a finishing machine to the shop.  I can very much see the utility of a belt grinder in knife making nut I am not sure how well they work on complex shapes.  Leaving me unsure if it would be better to build one or if there is a better tool out there for finish shaping woodworking tools (and finishing other smithing products).  I have a mostly finished out plan for a 3 horse variable speed belt grinder I can afford to build but I wanted to ask if anyone has any better machines to finish out things like gouges, chisels, froes, or draw knives?  I am also not sure if a belt grinder can produce small radii for smaller gouges for carving.

I'm not as worried about finishing the surfaces on most of the things I forge out but since woodworking tools are where my primary interest lies I am trying to develop the forge in that direction. (Yes by the way my next up project in the works is a multistage heat treating oven...)

So I guess my question is if I should focus on a heavy belt grinder, a smaller belt grinder and a second machine, or if anyone has a better alternative for complex shape finishing...

Thanks in advance for the advice.

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I'm not sure 1 tool will do it. A decent bench top belt grinder would do a lot. If you are building your own, make sure you have good access so you can in and do slack belt grinding, great for smoothing out and feathering on the convex sides. A die grinder with a bunch of dies will help with some of the concave shapes.

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Oscillating drum sanders are an option for the concave interior of the gouges.  I have a little porter-cable variable speed profile sander that came with a bunch of rubber blocks to shape the abrasive to a specific  profile/ radius.  It wouldn't be too difficult to make a specific profile out of wood that fit the device and your needs.  It's mostly a replacement for hand sanding.

Neither one of these suggestions will hog off a lot of material.  Grinding out heavy dents and such would take a really long time even with coarse abrasives because there's no torque.

Thinking in a completely different direction, you could look into an old machinist shaper.  It's the precision power-tool version of a chisel, or a plane.  

 

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I'm with Irondragon on this and would go with the drum sanding bits for a die grinder. One set I have has as small as 1/4" or 3/16"sanding tubes that go on an arbor.  

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