March 31, 2022 5 min read

Creating A DIY Belt Grinder

Quick Summary

You can create your own 2” x 72” belt grinder using many common parts you likely already have in your shop. You can create a belt grinder using various lengths and sizes of square tubing, angle iron, steel plates, bolts, lock nuts, two adjustable position handles, a flat platen tool, guide wheels, tracking wheels, drive wheels, a gas spring, a handle, and a motor. 

Important: Creating your own belt grinder is something you do at your own risk. Red Label Abrasives is not responsible for any failed attempts or injuries acquired during the process, or while using your DIY grinder.

If you’re in the market for a belt grinder and have good workshop skills, you may be able to put one together yourself with tools and parts found in most shops. In this blog, the team at Red Label Abrasives shares tips for making a 2” x 72” belt grinder that can perform as well as a factory-made machine. If you build the grinder, we can supply the sanding belts! Red Label produces the most affordable industrial grade sanding belts you’ll find online. 

Making a Bolt Together 2” X 72” Belt Sander

This belt grinder is similar to a welded type, but it’s bolted together instead of welded. One of the biggest advantages to this design is that if you make a mistake while putting it together or one of the pieces breaks later on, you can unbolt the affected piece and replace it.

To get started, collect the following materials:

  • 2 x 2” square tubing in the following lengths:
    • 1 x 5” long tube
    • 2 x 10” long tubes
    • 1 x 11” long tube
  • 1.5” x 1.5” square tubing in the following lengths:
    • 1 x 7” long tube
    • 1 x 17” long tube
    • 1 x 12” long tube
  • 2 pieces of  2” x 6.5” x .25” square tubing 
  • 2 pieces of 4” x 4” x .125” square tubing 
  • 4 pieces of  2” long pieces of 2” angle iron
  • One piece of  2.5”  x 8” x .25” for the tool rest
  • One piece of  2” x 2’ x .25” square tubing
  • One piece of 1.5” x 1.1” x .375” steel plate for one section of the hinge
  • One piece of 2” x 2” x .375” steel plate for the other section of the hinge

You will need the following parts:

  • Bolts
  • Lock nuts
  • Two adjustable position handles

Step 2: Making and Installing the Front Plate

Cut all four of the 2” square tubing to the required lengths and file away the weld seam on the two 10” tubes, so that the 1.5” tubes can be inserted more easily. Then, using a drill press, drill the holes on the two side plates. Drill two ⅜” holes on one plate and two ¼”  and one ⅜” threaded holes in the other plate. The ⅜” hole will be used to hold the front leg in place.

After assembling, drill the hole in the front leg and bolt everything together. You will then use the holes on the plates as guides for drilling the holes on the tubes below them. Then you tap the holes and add the bolts and handles.

Step 3: Making and Installing the Rear Plate

Cut the top of the 11” tube so that the top arm can fit into it. Then create the two 4” x 4” plates that hold the back end together. Drill the top hole in the vertical 11” tube, put the bolt through, and mark the second hole location using the plate. Repeat for the next two holes through the other tubes and then bolt everything together.

Step 3:  Making the Tracking Wheel Hinge

In order to adjust the belt tracking, a hinge is required to mount the wheel. You can buy one or make your own. Make sure you choose or make one that’s large enough to attach to the upper arm on one end and hold the tracing wheel bolt on the other.

Step 4: Making the Upper Arm

Take the 7” long piece of 1.5” tube and fit it into the back of the 11” tube, where the slot was cut out. Fully assembled, this arm is pushed up by the gas spring and provides the tension on the belt. 

Drill the holes for the hinge and handle next. You can either buy a handle or make one from a small (around 4”) piece of wood. If you opt for the latter, drill a hole through it so you can run a ¼” bolt through it and attach it to the tube.

Step 5: Creating the Feet

The assembly will need feet if you want to mount it to a surface. You can make some using 2” angle iron with holes to enable mounting to the belt grinder and bolting the machine onto the table.

Step 6: Putting Together the Tool Rest

Take a good-sized piece of flat stock, drill and tap two holes, and use them as guides to drill holes in the 17” tube (which you will be inserting into the lower of the two 10” tubes.) Then feed two bolts through the bottom and grind them so they don’t poke out from the plate.

Step 7: Assemble the Flat Platen Tool Arm

Use the hole locations on the flat platen to determine where you should drill the holes for the arm. Arm size may vary depending on the size of the contact wheel.

Step 8: Attach the Belt Tension Gas Spring

Determine where you need to position the gas spring before drilling and tapping the holes for the screws that will fix it in place.

Step 9: Troubleshooting

Once the machine is assembled, you’ll want to ensure that the wheels and motor are aligned correctly. You may have to push out the tracking wheel slightly to ensure that it tracks properly. If you notice any clearance between the tool arms and the holes of the 10” tubes they feed into, cut some thin nylon sheets into strips to prevent the arms from wiggling about.

Quality Sanding Belts For Your New Grinder

Making your own belt grinder can be a satisfying experience. To get the most out of your new machine, you’ll want sanding belts that cut, smooth, and/or polish your workpieces to perfection. As a leader in the abrasive manufacturing industry, Red Label Abrasives sells some of the longest lasting and best performing sanding belts on the market. 

Red Label Abrasives manufactures sanding belts of different sizes, with coatings that range from standard aluminum oxide to our premium EdgeCore Ceramic. No matter what your application may be, we have a sanding belt that’s a perfect match. For more information about our products, please call 844-824-1956 or fill out our contact form.