Sooner or later, any potential blacksmith is going to run into a problem. While he has his anvil, his hammer, and his forge, he needs something to sharpen his metal with.
Whether that be for making a knife or just polishing a piece of rusty metal, a tool or machine to sharpen and polish is absolutely essential for any budding blacksmith. Traditionally, people used grindstones and whetstones. Thanks to modern technology, however, we have much more efficient tools available for us.
One of the best investments that a budding blacksmith can make is in a good belt grinder. Here are a few of the top belt grinders for blacksmiths in 2020.
1. DIY Mini Belt Sander Electric Knife Edge Sharpener
If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll know that I strongly recommend smaller and more affordable equipment for beginner blacksmiths looking to pick up this hobby. Therefore, it should come to no surprise that my top recommendation is this particular mini belt grinder.
Made by a company called aikeec (maybe not the best name, I know), this belt grinder has a lot to offer for budding blacksmiths. For one, it’s small. It’s not going to take tons of space in your workshop. At the same time, it can go up to 9000 RPM, an impressive speed that rivals many other larger belt grinders while staying relatively quiet in comparison to its bigger competitors.
The main attraction behind it, however, is its price. Coming in at just under $60, this is as cheap as you are going to get for a belt grinder. Most high-end belt grinders cost upwards of $400 or more; this one will cost you just a fraction of the price. Especially for beginner blacksmiths, it’s these kinds of deals that make the most sense if you want to get started along with this hobby.
As you can imagine, the only downside to this belt grinder is that its, well, pretty small. The belt itself isn’t that large, so if you have a large knife or something with a large edge, it’s going to take a long time to sharpen everything. If you want a larger belt, then this particular belt grinder might be a pass for you. For many beginners out there, however, this one will be a perfect addition to the workshop.
2. KKmoon Multifunctional Grinder
KKmoon might sound like a very strange name, but they make some incredibly affordable and highly effective belt grinders.
This one in particular, really takes the cake for being one of the best out there on the market in terms of its price. There are two different versions, Type A and Type B, with the difference being that the second version has a thicker belt. As such, it’s nice to have the option of going with a thicker belt if you need it. Even the regular, smaller version’s belt will likely get the job done for whatever you need, although it might take a bit of time.
Prices are also incredibly affordable, ranging from $57 to around $70, depending on which type you want. The belt itself is made from stainless steel and is capable of doing whatever sharpening you require for your projects. It’s also not overly large and can fit wherever you need it to fit in your workspace.
Like most mini grinders, there are some downsides. The biggest being is that its still pretty small. If you have a larger project, like a sword with a long edge, it’s going to take a long time to get through it.
You get what you pay for. If you really need a massive belt for whatever you’re making, then you’re going to want to buy a more expensive, full-sized grinder. If you’re like most beginner blacksmiths and just need something to use once in a while, this particular belt grinder from KKmoon will do the trick perfectly.
3. JET J-41002 2-inch by 42-Inch Bench Belt and Disc Sander
Putting aside the mini grinders, this particular model from Jet is an absolute powerhouse. Whereas the other two grinders on this list had a belt size of around half an inch, this one has a massive 2-inch belt, giving you more than enough space to sharpen whatever you need to sharpen.
Of course, it’s a much larger belt-grinder in general, so it’s going to take much more space. The general size comes in at around 23 inches by 17 inches by 16 inches, so it’ll take up some room on your workbench. However, it’s not outrageously large either.
There are some mild issues that some people have had with this model, however. For one, if you want to eventually change the belt, you’re going to have to remove the grinder itself off your workstation or table and put it down. This ends up getting a bit irritating at times, but it’s not that big of a deal overall.
As for the price, you get what you pay for when it comes to this belt grinder. This particular model will set you back just under $500, making it one of the most expensive grinders on this list.
Do I necessarily think it’s worth it for a beginner blacksmith to spend this much money on a grinder? Not particularly. I’d only recommend this is you have the money to spare but also know what you’re getting into. If you already are an experienced blacksmith and know that you need a larger belt for your projects, then upgrading to something like this will be necessary.
Until then, however, I’d recommend a beginner blacksmith stick to a mini grinder for now until they know what they are doing. It costs around 80% less, which is a compelling enough reason for most people. Coupled with the fact that most people aren’t going to need the larger belt size that bigger grinders offer, it only makes sense to stick to something smaller for now.
4. BUCKTOOL BD4801 Bench Belt Sander
Despite everything you’ve written so far, what if there’s a way to have the best of both worlds. Is it possible there’s a belt grinder that’s both large and relatively cheap?
That’s where the BUCKTOOL BD4801 Belt Sander potentially comes in. While generally used for sanding down wood or even sharpening lawnmower blades, this particular machine will work just as well for sharpening your average piece of metal.
It comes with a four-inch belt, which makes it much larger than most other dedicated belt grinders out there on the market. However, it might not be entirely fair to compare this machine to most belt grinders, especially since it is marketed as a sander rather than a grinder. The distinction is that it will be a bit less powerful than a dedicated grinder, which is designed to be used for metal exclusively.
The price range for this piece of machinery comes in at around $200, a comfortable middle ground between the $70 that most mini grinders go for and the $500+ that the larger, professional grinders sell online.
In the end, I’d still recommend the mini grinder to a new blacksmith looking to expand their workshop. While this particular machine is definitely an option for dedicated blacksmiths, filling a void in the market for a mid-price range grinder/sander, I still think going for the cheaper and smaller mini grinders listed above are a better deal.
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