You may have wondered which fared better; the bench grinder or the belt sander. While these two devices are known to smooth and hone dull surfaces, the two were actually designed to tackle different tasks.
However, DIY enthusiasts often ask which works better. This article will further explain and provide answers for the bench grinder vs. belt sander debate.
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The Bench Grinder: Difference Between Bench Grinders and Belt Sanders
The bench grinder is designed to sharpen specific items. It needs to be fixed steadily to a workbench or any other kind of mount. It is capable of grinding away rough edges smoothly on items like drill bits, scissors, knives, and chisels.
It can also repair tools from screwdrivers down to punches and smooth out welded joints and other sorts of defects. By using a wire wheel or buffer, a bench grinder can clean up and polish lots of tools.
The unit has two grinding wheels located on either side of the motor’s housing. The majority of every wheel is enclosed by a guard, but each perimeter of the component has around a 90-degree arc that is bare in front of the device. It comes with an eye shield as well, which is located in the guard’s opening, and below the grinder is where the tool rest is located.
The majority of home workshops do not require any of those business-type grinders, and something that has a medium size with a 1/2-horsepower motor will be enough for home use. Bigger ones with powerful motors and larger wheels are more for commercial/business use.
The Belt Sander
The belt sander, once fitted with abrasive paper, is capable of sanding thick layers of paint and can smooth out coarse surfaces at a quick rate. It should be handled with proper care due to the speed of its performance. If the unit is left immobile in one area of the item, it can damage its shape.
It has two tube-shaped drums which come as a closed loop of coarse paper that travels uninterruptedly. One drum is operated by an electric motor while the other is spring-loaded to sustain the pressure on the belt.
It is recommended for smoothing out flat surfaces and the cutting edge of tools or items slashed throughout the grain. The majority of contemporary sanders feature integrated dust collectors for convenience. They are often sold as a benchtop or portable model.
Which Should You Use?
To continue our bench grinder vs. belt sander discussion, we now come to which tool should be used best on all your intended sharpening and smoothing projects. For some DIY enthusiasts. they are more into the belt sander because it can be used on not only some metal materials but softer materials like plastic.
This makes the unit more versatile compared to the bench grinder. The belt sander also allows for making more accurate angles and accomplishing flatter surfaces.
Meanwhile, some are into the bench grinder since it has a bigger selection of wheels from the buffing kind down to heavy-duty ones like the diamond abrasive wheel. It can be bought as a bench-type grinder or as a freestanding one. The motors of this unit are intended for metal; thus, it comes with higher horsepower and torque.
One of the most crucial factors you have to consider though is the kind of abrasive belt that both items make use of. The belt sander can be utilized as a lightweight belt grinder by buying belts that are meant to be used on metal; however, belt sanders are limited when it comes to sharpening efficiency on steel materials and can lead to heat buildup faster due to the sander’s higher speeds.
If you want to sharpen your tools and other items with power tools, you can do so with a bench grinder and invest on few belts that are meant for a variety of uses. You can make use of a heavy ceramic belt for repairing the edges or damaged chisels, axes and other tools with thicker blades.
You can also use a flexible, fine-grained ceramic belt for sharpening thicker-bladed tools. If you are after significant sharpening, you can opt for those diamond-plate sharpeners, a ceramic rod or a sharpening stone.
To finish our talk about the bench grinder vs. belt sander debate, just go for the equipment that you are going to use the most often. This means you have to base the unit you are going to invest in on projects that you often do the most.
If you tend to work on plastic materials the most, then you will do fine with a belt sander. If you work with metal more often, you can invest in a bench grinder and its various accessories.
How to Choose a Bench Grinder
The grinding wheel is going to be the most important aspect of the bench grinder that you will want to consider. The grinding wheel can come in a variety of different types, and not all bench grinders will work with each type. Therefore, you need to choose a grinding wheel based on its intended use.
The grinding motor is the next pivotal aspect to consider. This is what powers the tool. But again, the power you need will also largely depend on what you are planning to do. Lighter tasks will require lower power.
Typical bench grinders also have an rpm range of between 2000 and 4000 and up. All of this is dependent on the bench grinder model. If possible, choose a bench grinder that has adjustable speed settings so you can customize the settings for each of your tasks.
A high-quality machine will also have a reliable body and solid build so it can withstand whatever work you throw at it. A good quality bench grinder won't continually break down with regular use. Keep all this in mind as you find the best bench grinder.
How to Choose a Belt Sander
Stationary belt sanders are definitely big players in the sanding world. There are very few tools you can purchase that can do the same job and save you as much time as a belt sander can. They are versatile, multi-use tools. One of the most common uses of a belt sander is for sanding rough services, leveling a surface area, and trimming to a scribed line.
It offers linear sanding to offer you the absolute best results. If you are a carpenter or even just someone who loves DIYs at home, then stationary belt sanders are definitely something you want to own.
It is up to your own preferences, but many people choose to use an 80 or 120 grit belt. Anything over 50 may leave deep scratches that you will be unable to remove.
When choosing stationary belt sanders, dust collection is definitely an important consideration. Many models come with a built-in dust collection bin to trap all the coarse dust. However, there is still some fine dust that will get into the air, so if you sand regularly, you might want to consider getting a hose that allows you to connect the belt sander to a shop vacuum.
When looking for a belt sander, you should look for one with whole aluminum body construction to allow for more stability and sturdiness. Having a wide belt width is also ideal if you will be sanding larger pieces of wood.
Finally, if you purchase an adjustable table for your belt sander, you will be able to achieve different sanding angles.
When choosing between a bench grinder and a belt sander, you should consider the kinds of jobs you are going to be doing. For sharpening metal, a bench grinder is ideal. If you need to smooth a flat surface, then a belt sander is what you need.
Each one of these power tools has a rotating abrasive, so they are also often used in the same applications. If you can't decide on just one, you can always purchase both and have access to everything you need for a variety of different jobs.