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I have decided on a Bader Grinder.  Questions:  I am an amateur smith and a beginning knife smith.  As I understand it, Bader builds a 1 hp, a 1.5 hp, and a 2 hp model.  And, there appears to be a wide variety of wheels, platforms, etc.  Looking or advice on what to get, plus some suggestions on what belts i should get, as a starter kit.  HELP!

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Well since we know exactly what you want to be using it/them for; it is easy to suggest buying one of each!

As some on starting out I would go with a lesser/cheaper belt grinder and save a bit from everything you make on it that sells and by the time you accumulate enough to want a top of the line grinder you will KNOW what type and what accessories.

For instance I worked under a swordmaker that used a 10" contact wheel for flat grinding (sold swords for thousands of dollars back in the 1980's!)  Most folk I know in the business use a flat platten.

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Bader grinders are top of the line industrial machinery!  They have a variety selection of belts that you can buy as a package.  I think it runs about $184. I recently bought one  that they had donated at the BAM conference auction.  Purchasing a kit like this allows you to try various belts and figure out what you like to use.  There are some polishing belts in it and different types and sizes of grits. 

 I have a Pheer grinder that I am pretty happy with!  The Pheer runs about 1/3 the price of the Bader machines.  In no way is it the same level of quality as the Bader units... but it does my work pretty well and I don’t really feel the need for anything more.  Bader has sales people that can answer most of your questions.  My Pheer is 2 horsepower, variable speed and that is what I’d recommend.

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Posted (edited)

I was looking to import a grinder from the US (choices are somewhat limited here in the UK) and looked at all manner of grinders from Bader, Grizzly, KMG, etc.  I ended up on the phone to one of the owners of Ameribrade grinders Keven Roark, who I was very impressed by. He really knew his product having developed various versions of it. It would have been a good fit for my needs, but in the end the cost of shipping the product proved prohibitive, so I got the welder out and built my own. So what am I saying? Don’t rush into anything, do your research, have *conversations* with people who use and know the products you’re looking at. 

And if all else fails, get the welder out. 

NB: this is in no way an endorsement of Amerbrade. It is an endorsement of having conversations with folks who know the products. 

Edited by Neal the smith
Addendum for clarity.

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I will probably use it to make knives.  And, I know that my uses will not warrant the best equipment.  It is a hobby.  But, that does not mean I should equip myself with inferior equipment just because I'm not the best smith in the world (or, even on my side of the street).  I've worked very hard for the money I have (and, there is not that much of it), and this is the way I like to spend it.  And, on another note, up until I retired, I had a side-line.  I wrote a weekly column for our local newspaper.  My pen name was The Occasional Curmudgeon, a role I've treasured for most of my 77 years.

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Bader makes a quality machine, but I'm not a fan of their belt tensioning mechanism.  At minimum you are going to want a flat platten, 1.5 HP (more is better) and variable speed (if you can afford it).  It is also nice to have a 8 or 10" round platten for hollow grinds or hogging material.  If you are planning on moving a lot of steel, the serrated wheels remove material faster, but the tradeoff is a less smooth finish at finer grits.  Then you can go further down the rabbit hole and look at small wheel attachments, surface grinding accessories, water cooled plattens, belt misting systems... There was a time when Bader was the top of the line for knifemakers, but there are a number of alternatives now that perform at least as well, often at lower cost (and some that arguably have options that are very attractive like the belt tensioner and 90 degree swing on the TW-90, the stability and tracking of the Hardcore machines, the easy-change platten on the AMK...).

My take on it is similar to your's.  Life is too short to use poor tools

Many of the abrasive belt suppliers (Phoenix, Pop's, USA Knifemaker, Combat Abrasives...) have "starter kits" which will give a you a selection to try out to find what you prefer.  As a beginner knifemaker I would advise only 60, 120 and 220 grit for the initial blade grinding, then hand sanding.  I like the ceramics, especially the Norton Blaze, but am currently looking at other alternatives.  As you progress you may want 36 grit for major hogging, 400 trizac for better finishing, and perhaps even a scotchbright belt for a machine finish.  You will go through belts very quickly.  In my limited experience the belts are the most costly part of knifemaking other than equipment.  Because of this everyone wants to use them too long, which leads to frustration with grind quality.

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"It is also nice to have a 8 or 10" round platten for hollow grinds or hogging material. "  I believe he means a 8" or 10" contact wheel.  A "round platten" would be a sanding disk support, 

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My grinder has a 1.5 hp motor, and the only times I've bogged it down were when the belt was dull and needed to be changed.

I use my grinder for lots of things besides blades, and I've found 24 grit ceramic belts to be extremely useful for rough shaping. Then again, I am somewhat insane.

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I actually have a "round" platen, it is a 44 inch radius liquid cooled. works nicely for some things.

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24 grit---you can count the individual boulders as they go by?

Steve, can we get a picture of your round platten?

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1 hour ago, ThomasPowers said:

"It is also nice to have a 8 or 10" round platten for hollow grinds or hogging material. "  I believe he means a 8" or 10" contact wheel.  A "round platten" would be a sanding disk support, 

My apologies.  I certainly meant a contact wheel.  The large radius plattens like the one Steve has are very nice as well.  You can mimic the Japanese style large stone wheel grinding techniques.

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