Bench grinders and belt grinders are two very similar tools that serve the same purpose, but their design sets them worlds apart. If you’re unsure of which tool you need, this guide should help in setting things straight. Take a look at our guide to fully understand what each of these tools is and how they are used.
If you’ve ever struggled with cutting/chopping through wood or digging into soil, odds are your tools don’t have the edge or point needed to cleanly break the surface. This is where a bench grinder comes in.
A bench grinder is a tool that you may not use every day, but this doesn’t make it less important that any other tools you have in your workshop. Bench grinders come with two abrasive discs that are used specifically for sharpening metal tools to create a fine edge after being word down to a dull.
Bench grinders come with a powerful motor that spins an abrasive wheel used to sharpen metal tools. The motor turns the wheel at a high speed which allows the rough surface to remove the tiniest shards of metal to produce a sharp edge. They often come with two wheels of different abrasiveness for rough and fine-tune sharpening. The sharpening wheels can be swapped out for polishing wheels with a soft surface to restore the beautiful metallic look of your tools.
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Imagine a bench grinder but in place of large wheels is a system consisting of pulleys, drums, and a sanding belt. This is exactly what a belt grinder is.
A belt grinder does the same exact job as a bench grinder—i.e. removing material from your workpiece—but serves a very different purpose. Belt grinders remove finer fragments of material, specifically for deburring or removing blemishes, rather than bigger chunks at a time. The goal is not specifically to create a sharp edge but rather fine-tune the objects appearance via a slow grinding process. You’ll typically find belt grinders used to add a mirror-like appearance to nearly finished workpieces.
Like bench grinders, belt grinders use an electric motor. The motor spins a set of drums to keep the grinding belt moving at a continuous rate known as the feed rate. Users can adjust the coarseness of the grind simply by switching to higher or lower sandpaper grit levels. It’s crucial that each belt fits on the pulley and drum system with very little slack to ensure even grinding throughout. In addition, some belt grinders also come with a disc grinder as a bonus add-on for extra versatility. The disc grinder is mainly used to shape rough wooden stock.
Bench Grinder vs. Belt Grinder: Which Do I Need?
Deciding on one tool or the other depends entirely on what you’re doing. For instance, if you need to sharpen metal tools like chisels, lawn mower blades, or shovels, a bench grinder with one or two abrasive wheels will do the trick. If your aim is to create a mirror-like finish on metallic workpieces, then a belt grinder is for you. However, we feel that it really isn’t an either-or situation; you could definitely make use out of having both tools in your workshop.