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Slack belt grinding with Sears 2x42?

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by dan97526, Aug 31, 2010.

  1. dan97526


    Oct 17, 2005

    I just got my first belt grinder to try my hand at knifemaking, the popular Craftsman 2x42. I have some questions.

    I've been convexing blades by hand with sandpaper/mousepad, but I wanted to mechanize the process. I removed the platen from the sander and proceeded. However, I am getting flats. I suspect my technique is wrong, and that I may need to modify the machine.

    Does "slack belt" simply mean to use the belt without the platen, or does it mean to adjust the tension in the belt? It seems like lessening the tension would cause tracking problems, but I'm not sure.

    How hard should I press the blade into the belt? Enough to cause a noticeable bend in the belt? I have been using fairly light pressure.

    Lastly, the sheet metal guards that fit over the pulley assembly (and that the platen bolts to) prevent me from getting much force against the belt, as they prevent me from being able to push the knife towards the belt. I was using the sander last night thinking that I could cut some reliefs into the guards. Has anyone done this?

    Thanks. I apologize if such questions have been addressed before. I searched (I am a paying member), but I got nothing specific. I would imagine there's some good youtube videos, but I'm temporarily on dial-up.


  2. james terrio

    james terrio Sharpest Knife in the Light Socket Moderator

    Apr 15, 2010
    Sure you can cut spaces into the guards. I threw away the right-side one about ten minutes after setting it up, what a pain for changing belts. Just keep your fingers out of there.

    I also cut away a good portion of the guard over the top roller, so I can use it like a contact wheel for hogging profiles.

    Yes, you need to push into the belt enough to see it curve a little. I convex whole bevels this way. I leave the platen on and use the area between it and the top roller for a fairly subtle convex shape. Removing the platen will allow the belt to flex more and give a "rounder" shape to your bevel or edge.

    If you decide to grind flat bevels or do profiling on the platen, do yourself a favor and mount a new face on it. It's not real flat to begin with and is soft as heck. Meaning it gets worn into a weird shape quickly and will drive you batty. The new face can be hardened steel or ceramic tile cut to shape and JB-welded on. I use a piece of fireplace glass from USAknifemaker.

    Forget the Sears belts, they SUCK. Order online from the Pop's or SuperGrit or Tru-Grit. I got some AO belts from barbcat on the bay that are pretty decent. Either way you'll save money and lots of aggravation over the "Craftsman" brand belts.

    Enjoy! It's a good little machine to start on. Not a pro grinder, but it does work with a little tweaking.
  3. dan97526


    Oct 17, 2005
    Thank you very much, James.
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2010
  4. Remyrw


    Jun 17, 2010
    Any problems with the belt bumping anything in front when pushed out by the new platen face? I'm looking at one of these as a stop gap since my current 4x36 is a hassle for most work and doesn't have room for a platen addition (and oooh boy does it need it). Tru-Grit also had a pretty good belt selection for the craftsman which made it an attractive option. I'd love to go to a coote, but it's just not in the budget right now.
  5. Fletch Helical

    Fletch Helical

    Sep 29, 2009
    Nah the ceramic glass from Tracy at USAknifemaker work great on the Craftsman. The platen can be slid in and out a bit so you can adjust easily enough. Read the way Tracy suggests on his site and you should be fine. I did mine the same way he suggested and haven't had a problem with it.
  6. Remyrw


    Jun 17, 2010
    Grinder ordered, and glass added to the order with Tracy that I'll probably put through tomorrow, just debating a few items still.
  7. james terrio

    james terrio Sharpest Knife in the Light Socket Moderator

    Apr 15, 2010
    Fletch is right, the platen is adjustable toward/away from you. There is plenty of room to ease it back, so there's no bumping. When you look at it you'll see, it takes less time to do it than it does to explain it :)

    The glass comes with fairly sharp edges/corners, but it can easily be ground so it has a slight chamfer or radius. That way your belts won't wear or catch on it.

    To clarify my convex bevels comment... I use the flat platen to get pretty close to the convex I want, and even it out on the slack area. It's faster that way.

    EDIT: I honestly think the lowly 2x42 is the best bang-for-the-buck out there. With it and a basic drill press, you can have everything you NEED (not necessarily want ;) ) for stock-removal, for under $200. Maybe less if you shop around and watch for sales.
    Save up another $100 for good bits, belts and accesories and you have a working shop.
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2010
  8. Remyrw


    Jun 17, 2010
    Yup, spent about $40 or so on belts at tru-grit for it to get started, since they treated me so well in the past. I've got a decent drill press and bits, though I still need to pick up a chuck or other adapter to run smaller drills. I have a folder I need to finish that is waiting on the ability to drill holes for size 2 screws.

    If this grinder works out I'll be fairly well set for that side of things. I'm working on the HT side now, but that's a different thread. :) Thanks for the info.

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