Grinding a knife into existence is a satisfying task, not to mention quite a profitable trade if you know what you’re doing. Whether you want to make pocket knives, fixed blade knives, a railroad spike knife, or something else, you’re going to want some kind of grinder.
Buying a knife grinder is a sizable investment, so it’s important to make sure that you know what you’re looking for. There are pros and cons to different models, and different categories of grinders serve different purposes. This article goes over what you should look for when buying a grinder, and then reviews a number of different knives.
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What to Look For in a Grinder For Knife Making
There are many factors to look for when choosing a grinder. Are you doing detail work? Are you looking for the highest end professional machine, or something more basic? These factors will influence what the best machine is for your use case.
Fixed or Variable Speed
When buying a knife-making grinder, you’ll want to note what the RPM is for your grinder. However, it’s also important to note whether the grinder always updates at that speed, or whether it can be adjusted. A variable speed can be a nice plus, although is not necessarily required. It comes down to whether this is important to you and whether you’re willing to pay a bit extra, since this may come with extra costs.
Belt Sander, Disc Sander, or Combo Grinder
When purchasing a grinder, you’re generally going to be looking at either a belt sander or a disc sander (although there are other less common grinder styles). There are pros and cons to each, so think about what you want.
Belt Sanders. One advantage of belt grinders is that they are good for flat grinding and inside curves. They do give you a smaller total grinding space, but I generally don’t find this to be a major issue. Belt grinders work with various different belt sizes. Wider belt sizes tend to be nice for broader grinding, and thinner belts can be great for detail work.
Disc Sanders. One advantage of a disc grinder is that it provides you with a larger sanding surface, in general. Additionally, disc sanders can be nice for detail work where you need to control the knife more precisely. Note that the further you go out on a disc sander, the faster that portion of the disc is spinning. This affects how you use the grinder and which part of the disc is best for what you are working on.
Combo grinders. There are also a fair number of grinders that include both a disc sander and a belt sander, which can be a great combo. This allows for plenty of flexibility.
Overall, belt grinders tend to feel a little more powerful and aggressive, whereas disc sanders tend to feel a bit more precise.
Some grinders have extremely noisy motors, which can be both uncomfortable and dangerous to your ears, if not protected properly. Other models are able to operate at much quieter noise levels. In addition to your own safety and comfort, using a loud sander in a residential garage may not be ideal. You may want to consider the context in which you will be operating your grinder so that you can consider whether noise level is an important consideration for you.
Best Grinder for Knife Making
Happybuy 2Hp Belt Grinder
This product arrived quickly and was easy to assemble. When I used this device, I found that 2×72 belts also worked with the device, but just barely. This is a nice plus, though, since if you already have these belts, then they can be used with this product. The device has plenty of power and precision for knife sanding and grinding. Additionally, this grinder works well for both detail work and general grinding, which is great.
Overall, this was my favorite grinder that I’ve used in a while. It works cleanly and precisely, and is one of the best products out there. I’d recommend this to anyone who wants the best of the best; this is an excellent addition to any workshop and is a great professional-tier tool.
Grizzly G1015 Knife Belt Sander/Buffer
This tool is definitely worth the price. The product arrived quickly, packaged well in a few separate boxes. The assembly was easy and the directions were straightforward. For a product at this price point, the motor is substantially larger and more powerful than I expected. Note that this is a single-speed belt grinder. The arm can easily be adjusted and repositioned as needed. Changing out the belts was pretty easy to do, and the build quality is solid.
For a high-end grinder, this tool comes at a great price. Most sanders in this quality range cost quite a bit more. For that reason, even though there are other grinders that are a little higher end, this is an excellent option, either as a first grinder, or as an extra grinder in a shop that already has a higher end tool.
Palmgren Finishing Machine
Compared to the two grinders reviewed above, this grinder is at a substantially lower price point. This has benefits, but it’s important to keep in mind that this is a completely different price category of product. With that in mind, this is an excellent product, and will make a great starter grinder, or a nice extra grinder to keep on hand for basic tasks. I was able to make knives with this easily enough, although you do get higher precision with a higher end machine.
This is the kind of grinder that I would recommend for one of two use cases:
- If you’re a professional, this is a great finishing machine to have as an extra tool on hand. It’s quick and easy to use, and is also fairly quiet as far as grinders go. For me, having this on hand has been great for small adjustments and improvements.
- For a hobbyist, or if you’re new to knife making, this is a great starting point. You can make a full, usable, decent-quality knife with this grinder. There are fancier machines out there, but this will do the job, and you’ll get a feel for knife making and grinding. You can always upgrade to a higher-end grinder later on if you want something more precise and powerful.
Overall, this is an excellent budget grinder for knife making. If you want something that does a solid job at an affordable price, then look no further.
JET J-4103 Belt Grinder
In terms of raw performance, this is a very high end machine. I do like the HappyBuy 2HP belt grinder about as much as this one, though, and that machine comes at a lower rate. I can see the advantages that the JET provides, but I lean toward the HappyBuy 2HP. Regardless, this is an excellent high-end option that you might consider.
Grizzly Industrial H6070
For its size, this machine is fairly powerful. Assembly was straightforward. I would expect that you should have this up and running within 15-30 minutes. I tested this machine out and it worked pretty well for detail sanding, which is what I was looking at this machine for, due to its smaller size. Doing more general grinding is a little slower with this machine, than with other bigger tools, which is to be expected, but it is doable.
I found this machine to be a little too low-end. There’s nothing wrong with getting in a grinder on the lower end of the price spectrum, but I’d lean toward the Palmgren. The Palmgren is a little more expensive, but I find that the extra money is worth it. Not a bad machine if you want something that is extremely inexpensive as far as grinders go.
The great people at the grider factories have made so many great sanders and grinders that it can be hard to pick the best one. Personally, I’m lucky enough to have tried them all, but if you want to narrow it down to one, these are the three big ones that I’d be looking at for the purchase:
- The highest quality product overall is the Happybuy 2Hp Belt Grinder. This belt sander grinds precisely and quickly. The quick release works great and it’s easy to change out belts when you need to do so. All-in-all, this is one of the best belt grinders that I’ve used in my life, and HappyBuy really did a great job pulling all the stops on this grinder.
- In terms of the best bang for your buck, you can’t beat the Grizzly G1015 Knife Belt Sander/Buffer. For a product that comes at such a good price, I was surprised by how much power this machine had. The device works as it should with minimal setup and adjustments needed. I would recommend this product highly.
- If you’re looking for a solid, reliable tool that comes at a great price, check out the Palmgren 2×42″ Grinder. This grinder is at a substantially different price point from the other two grinders above. But, for what you pay, you can get pretty far in terms of knife making. This is a great extra tool to have on hand for a professional, or an excellent grinder to choose as a starting point for someone new to making knives, such as a hobbyist.
So, which grinder is the best for your use case? What are you using your knife-making grinder for? Drop a comment below. If you have any questions about knife making, or choosing a grinder, feel free to leave a question and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible. I’d love to hear what you have to say.
2 thoughts on “Best Grinder for Knife Making”
I second your opinion about the Happybuy. Yes it’s Chinese but these are simple machines and nothing really can go wrong on a grinder. I’ve had mine for over a year and it’s been faultless.
I’ve build out a couple of extra attachments for grinding bevels, it’s the centre of my workshop. It does everything I can throw at it and I’ve been making 3 knives a week on it since I got it so it gets some heavy use.
I agree entirely, the only thing that could go wrong is the motor and most motors in even “American made” grinders are Chinese anyway, they know how to build those.