A belt grinder is a very useful machine tool in your shop. Using a long, thin, looped grinding belt, it can perform a variety of sanding and grinding operations. Unfortunately, most commercially made belt grinders are expensive, such as the Wilton belt grinder. Many do-it-yourselfers develop homemade belt grinders at a fraction of the cost. You can develop and make your own as well by using a little ingenuity.
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Fredy Forge Grinder
Blacksmith Fred Frontino made his own grinder out of square tubing, steel plate, and roller wheels. He states that he relied on the design of the KMG grinder for inspiration. He used a welder to fabricate the main structural components, and held the movable arms in place with bolts.
Darrell's Belt Grinder
A retired Telescope Operations Manager at Lick Observatory made his out of scrap. He used steel plate and square tubing. He welded the frame up, and used an 8-inch wheel as the main drive wheel. He used a one and a half horsepower motor and a motor controller he bought used.
Bob Engelhardt Grinder
Builder Bob Engelhardt designed a very simple grinder that uses only two roller wheels, and one tension wheel. Its principle of design is the same as a belt sander or a band saw, with two rollers supporting the belt. The tensioner is mounted on the backside of the belt, and spring tension is varied by an adjusting knob. Mr. Engelhardt used square tubing, and welded the frame together. The motor is mounted on a plate, and drives one roller directly.
You have to become a machine designer if you wish to be successful. Sit down at a drafting table, and develop a design utilising rollers and a framework. Use sealed ball bearings on the rollers. Look at commercially made grinders for design ideas. All grinders have square steel tubing in common and are welded instead of bolted together. The simplest approach is just two wheels with a tension roller, but you may want three or four wheels. No hard and fast rules are in place for the design. You have to follow two criteria. First, it must be sufficiently strong, therefore it must be made out of steel. Second, the rollers must be parallel to each other, so the belt does not slip off.
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