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Has anyone made a DIY surface grinder?

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by unky_gumbi, May 14, 2011.

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  1. unky_gumbi


    Aug 28, 2009
    It is one of the tools I would like to have, but I have neither the space or money to buy an actual surface grinder. What I was thinking is to possibly pick up a used cross slide table and magnetic chuck, I have seen both for sale for a reasonable price, and setting it up so I can use the 8" contact wheel on my belt grinder.

    I know it wouldn't be as precise as an actual surface grinder, but it would be better than how I clean up the surface of my steel now. I would also have to make it so the table could be moved out of the way when grinding out a blade, but the floor where I am setting up is nice and level and baby's butt smooth so as long as I take the time to set it up right I should be able to stay consistent.

    Can anyone see any real problems with this or how it could cause problems with my grinder? Because the last thing I want to do is screw up my grinder. I really wish I had my computer here so I could draw up what I am thinking of doing:eek:
  2. unky_gumbi


    Aug 28, 2009
    I saw that one, but didn't realize that it was Indian George's. that one is more of a stand alone set up, what I am thinking of is more of a modular design that will attach to my existing GIB with a modified tooling arm to drop the 8" wheel down so that I wouldn't have any slack belt touching it.
  3. drewfacehotm


    Apr 19, 2008
    you would have to make the table or wheel travel up and down to be able to control the thickness. you could mount your contact wheel on a floating bracket to have some adjustment and use a dial indicator to measure your depth of cut. think i just got an idea.
  4. unky_gumbi


    Aug 28, 2009
    I am thinking more along the lines of having the table move up and down as apposed to the contact wheel. I don't need a lot of up and down travel, the thickest steel I would work with is 1/4", and allowing for clearance I am thinking a total of 3/4"-1" of up and down travel would have me covered for what I would use it for. My thoughts on raising and lowering the table are with a piece of heavy threaded rod to a table with 4 guide legs to keep everything lined up with no twisting and a cross slide table mounted to that for the X and Y axis.

    I am fortunate enough to have some 3D modeling software on my computer so I could mock everything up on the computer to test that way before investing in anything. Unfortunately my computer is on a moving truck right now so I wont have access to it for a little bit longer.

    My other option is to break down and just buy a used surface grinder and recondition it, but that causes problems with my space issues. I am setting up shop in a small garage that will have a car parked in it when I am not working so there has to be room for the car.
  5. 12345678910


    Jul 13, 2009
  6. Atlas Knife Company

    Atlas Knife Company KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 16, 2010
    The magic of a surface grinder isn't in moving X or Y, but rather Z. Moving up or down 2 tenths (.0002") is how you get nice, even surfacing. Moving back and forth dozens of times, slowly raising the material in smaller increments than a threaded rod could likely provide.
  7. Tait


    Sep 26, 2009
    I am in the same boat! Even 3 feet of workbench space for a 6x12 grinder would be an issue.

    I have been thinking of trying to make SOMETHING for my KMG.

    Travis Weurtz is working on a surface grinder attachment for the TW90 - I'm holding out in hopes of seeing how he did it before trying to make my own. Supposedly it will be public at BLADE - which is less than a month away...
  8. unky_gumbi


    Aug 28, 2009
    I know what you mean, and I do have some experience using surface grinders, hence the reason I want one. I know saying threaded rod is the wrong term, but I have a mental block on the proper name for the heavy square threaded rods used in machinery. I would also be able to create, from miscellaneous bike parts, a gear reduction that would allow fine adjustments on the Z axis. What sort of reduction would depend on the pitch of the rod's thread.

    Keep in mind all this planning and design is to work out the kinks and decide if it is doable, and able to meet the specs I want. I also found a used Eclipse Surface Grinder for $200 that apparently "runs well" and if it does, I don't think I can buy the materials to make my own for less.
  9. Daniel Fairly Knives

    Daniel Fairly Knives Full Time Knifemaker Moderator

    Jan 9, 2011
    Interesting thread, I have been looking into surface grinders and mills as a way to improve my quality and increase production. I'm still learning, I have no machining experience or knowledge to speak of.

    Will the surface grinder be mostly used for making knives and scales flat?

    Can they grind a bevel? It would be nice to use one on my thicker knives to reduce the stock in the bevel area before I start hand grinding them.
  10. unky_gumbi


    Aug 28, 2009
    For me it would be used to surface the steel I buy to save so wear and tear on my elbows, and to occasionally thin out some flat bar. As much as I would like to start forging, my elbows are bad enough that I don't think I can without the help of a power hammer or press. I think you could in a round about way use it to grind bevels but a 72"X2" grinder would be better or a milling machine if you know how.
  11. Don Hanson III

    Don Hanson III KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 3, 2002
    Old used surface grinders are cheap and plentiful. I bought mine for $700, 13-14 years ago and it's worked like a charm. I'd rather build knives than machines.:)
  12. unky_gumbi


    Aug 28, 2009
    Yes that $200 one I found is really tempting as long as it works, but then I have to find a place for it. I am going to go take a look at it next week and get some measurements to see if I can squeeze it in to the area.

    I do like to tinker and create though and that is why I was thinking of a DIY surface grinder. Another thing I would like to add to my power tool collection is a mini mill. I think that would be very handy not only for knife making but a bunch of the other things I dream up as well.
  13. SBranson

    SBranson KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 29, 2006
    Great thread. I was just looking at trying to find one when I saw this.

    Don.. you haven't tried finding things in Canada.. nothing is cheap and plentiful.

    $200 for that one, I would snag it right away.. It wouldn't take much to modify that to a belt system if you wanted. Heck, for $200 buy it and I'll take it... hmm, I guess shipping from Ontario would cost a little..:p
  14. 12345678910


    Jul 13, 2009
    I'd buy that

    Just a used magnet and diamond & holder is well worth the $
    let alone a working machine-even if you need to change a bearing or something.
  15. jim moyer

    jim moyer

    Dec 8, 2005
    Last edited: May 24, 2011
  16. travis wuertz

    travis wuertz

    Jun 14, 2010
    I should have the first run of 20 surface grinding attachments back from CNC by June 1st. I may post some videos before the since they will be functionally identical to the prototype I made and have been using. Either way I will post videos before BLADE, my prototype is the same as I will be releasing just not as pretty since I machined it and didn't mess with some of the more cosmetic aspects.
  17. jim moyer

    jim moyer

    Dec 8, 2005
    Last edited: May 24, 2011
  18. gomipile


    Apr 17, 2010
    One important consideration is he accordion swarf/dust guards. You do *not* want fine metal dust and swarf getting in your ball screws.
  19. TJ Smith

    TJ Smith

    Sep 17, 1999
    still bad
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