Right behind the welder and the chop saw, a belt grinder is one of the most versatile shop tools you could ask for. Belt grinders are used for tube notching, de-burring cut edges, removing mill scale from hot-rolled steel, sharpening tungsten for TIG welding, and general metal shaping. When it comes to tube notching, a belt grinder is much easier to use than a hand-held die grinder. You'll get better results and waste less material. It's a machine that's worth its weight in gold.
The bummer about many ready-made belt grinders is that they're also priced like gold. What's a hard-working home fabricator to do? Build one yourself!
After deciding that fabricating life just wouldn't be complete without a belt grinder, yours truly did some Internet searching under "DIY belt grinder." I found a website that showed an owner-built belt grinder which featured grinder wheels sourced from Beaumont Metalworks.
Beaumont Metalworks, of Columbus, Ohio, offers several different diameters and configurations of grinder wheels. To build the envisioned grinder, three wheels were needed. The first need is a contact wheel, which is a grinding wheel with a hard center core and a soft rubber over-wrap. Second, a tension and tracking wheel is necessary to make sure the belt behaves properly and doesn't wander off course. Finally, the grinder has to have a drive wheel to propel the whole thing.
Grinder wheels are the major ingredient in a DIY belt grinder, but they alone don't complete the machine. Pulleys, a drive shaft, an electric motor, and a frame are also necessary, to say nothing of the assorted odds and ends. Conveniently, Beaumont Metalworks also offers pulleys, electric motors, and driveshafts. If you don't have the patience or time to build your own grinder, Beaumont manufactures and sells its own line of belt grinders, called KMG grinders.
At press time, the grinder frame was built and the three pulleys were in place. The belt tracked straight and true. The motor still needs to be mounted, and some details attended to, but it won't be long until this grinder is out in the shop, taking its rightful place near the top of the tool pecking order.