There’s a reason why I’m adding this article on how to sharpen a knife with a belt sander to the site, alongside the other article about using a whetstone. And that is because of the importance of keeping a sharp blade on you.
A decent knife is one of the best tools during any emergency, the only one I insist on carrying with me whenever I’m out and about.
There are so many uses for a sharp blade and not having one when you need it most is frustrating. As is having a dull blade. Keeping your blade sharp doesn’t have to be a significant chore.
The process doesn’t take hours and the equipment needed doesn’t have to cost the earth. All it takes is a few bits and pieces, a small bit of patience and you’re halfway there.
Before choosing an appropriate belt sander, there are a few things you’ll need to consider before purchasing one. Check out the below suggestions and be sure to buy something suitable for your own needs.
Things to Consider with a Belt Sander
This is something of an ‘in-between’ choice for people. Not powerful enough and the belt rotates too slow which may damage your blade.
Too fast and it may cause you to lose control. Check out the overall horsepower, as well as the RPM the sander generates. Something around a third horsepower, spinning at 1700 RPM should suit nicely.
Factor #2: Size
There are 2 things to consider when looking at buying a belt sander. First is the overall size of the sander compared to where you intend to use it. Make sure there’s enough room, otherwise, you might find the unit unable to attach to your workspace.
The second thing is the size of the belt. You want the belt wide enough to be manageable when sharpening your blade. This can be a ‘too small/too large moment.
Factor #3: Tilt Degree
Sharpening a knife properly involves getting the angle right. It helps to have a place to lean your knife on while sharpening it. Without a plate, things may be difficult. The plate should be adjustable, a 45-degree angle minimum.
Factor #4: Versatility
When purchasing your sander, consider getting one that may also double as a wood/timber sander. Doubling with a single tool is always practical.
How to Sharpen a Knife with a Belt Sander
Once you’ve chosen your perfect belt sander, it’s time to get sharpening. There are a few steps involved and to get the best result, be sure to have a few items on hand.
Step #1: Have All Items on Hand
Start by ensuring you have all the necessary things you’ll need to work with. Start with a dull blade, add your belt sander, a honing compound, as well as a medium-grit belt.
Step #2: Get Your Sander Ready
Make sure the belt isn’t too tight or too loose, as either will cause problems. Also decide whether your belt will be spinning vertically or horizontally. For vertical sanding, have the belt spin towards you. For horizontal spinning, the belt should spin away from you.
Step #3: Time to Get Sharpening
The critical step in the process. This is the moment you begin sharpening your blade. The best suggestion I can give you is to hang on to your knife tight with both hands. You’ll want to have the utmost control over your blade. The last thing you want is for your knife to shoot across the room.
Gently slide the blade across the belt, tilting it a little so the sander is hitting the bevel of your blade. Take note of how much pressure you use because spinning belts are hungry belts and what they eat is metal. Fast.
For the best control, hold the hilt with one hand, while the other hand controls the blade. I find that this gives the best control of the knife during the sharpening process.
Step #4: Cool Off
Sanding any blade with a belt sander generates heat. If left unchecked, this heat is intense enough to damage the blade. The best way to control the heat is to submerge the blade in some water until the blade is cool enough to touch.
Repeat this as often as you need. Leaving the blade to overheat will damage it and reduce the strength and stability of the blade.
Step #5: Time to Hone
A decent bur should sit on the blade if you’ve followed the previous steps. Exchange the grit belt on your sander with the leather strop. Apply the honing compound and start honing your blade.
The best method is to hone the blade the same way you sharpened the blade. This will ensure a nice even result. After a decent spell of honing, you’ll have a blade that will slice through whatever you throw at it.