I'm building belt grinder for an upcoming exhibition. The grinder will be a part of an exhibition called Machines that Make. I'm building this grinder as I feel that it best represents the mind-set that I grew up around. I have mentioned before the influences that I encountered by spending time in my Dad's shop when I was a kid. He was always creating something or into a new hobby that required him to build or fix something. When he had time away from his blue collar factory jobs, he was constantly building something. I realized, after also working in a factory, that those projects represented "his time" and that the insight he gained from his making belonged to him not "the man". Not to mention, when you're standing on a line doing a repetitive task for 8-12 hours you need to be able to think (aka. dream) about what you're going to do when your shift ends. Having control over what you make and being able to see the end product from start to finish starts to consume your whole being when you have a day off from the daily grind. Since we never had extra money to buy tools, my Dad would often build the tools we used to create something from discarded junk, scrap, and raw material that we could afford. He made a lot of knives from old files when I was a kid and for some reason these times stand out in my mind. I always remember him building belt grinders before starting a knife project. It was just natural to him that he would build a tool to allow him to accomplish a certain task. Over the years he had numerous grinders that he constructed from scratch and would improve them after using one and finding it's faults.
Building a grinder for this upcoming show just seemed natural as I have also built several grinders to accomplish making a lot of my work. The twist is, that this will be a grinder that is also a functional art object. It will attempt to pay homage to the craftsmen that not only made amazing work but made the tools that created that work. It will represent the current time that we live in where people are once again interested in creating and using those creations to improve the lives of people around us and in our extended online communities. I am just starting the layout portion of this grinder build, but I thought I might post details as I build this as the beginning part would be useful to anyone wanting to build a grinder. I also thought it befitting to document in the interest of sharing how to build a grinder. This grinder will be a "Beaumont" style grinder which I have made before.
I started with a scrap piece of 1/2" plate steel for the base of the grinder and the motor mount. This needed to be cut down to size first. I have a template that has all necessary holes marked on it, so this makes layout a cinch.
I cut the plate to size and then center punched all of the hole locations.
I have gotten in the habit of aways using a center drill when starting to drill a hole. I just never trust a drill bit to properly locate on a center punch mark unless I am starting with a very small drill bit. Since starting this habit, I just can't bring myself to drill a hole in something that needs to be accurate without using the center drill first.
The next plate is the actual grinder base that fits on top of the large bottom motor mount plate. The other large plate is not necessary, but it makes for a super stout grinder. One thing I've learned about grinders is that the mass really helps in the stability of the grinder. This smaller 3/8" thick plate was from some scrap that I had laying around. I marked the measurements and then cut it to size on the bandsaw. You could easily have your local metal provider cut these to proper dimensions.
I started the mock up of the pieces of steel that will make up the main frame of the grinder. I always like to do this so I can get a visual on how things are going to take shape.
I threw the motor in there as well. Ignore the wheel that is mounted on the motor. The motor will get a stepped pulley/sheave instead. The wheel is on the motor shaft so I don't drop it again and dink the surface.
Layout for the box section that will make up the tooling arm receiver is underway.
Once the top and bottom plates are drilled, then the side plate are put into position with the tooling arm in place.
I c-clamp the box section together and then mark the holes with a transfer punch. Another indispensable tool for sure; if you don't have a cheap set of cheap import transfer punches, then you don't know what you're missing. They make transferring holes centers from part to part a cinch. If you have a lathe; make a set for yourself.
These transferred holes were center punched, center drilled and then drilled with a 1/4" drill bit.
The box section is put together. The center set of holes are drilled and tapped 1/4-20 on the bottom plate so that the top plate draws the whole box together. All other holes (end holes and top plate holes) are drilled 1/4" through holes. Long bolts will go into these that get threaded into the front and back upright tooling arm box supports. I also like to countersink the holes with a good quality countersink bit so cap head screws can be used and sit flush. You will note that I drilled and tapped a 5/16-18 hole for the aluminum spring base that will be used for the spring tension on the tracking wheel mounting arm. There is also a hole in the side of the tooling arm box (not yet drilled here) that is 5/16-18 that a handle will be attached to that allows for clamping the tooling arm in place. It's used to quickly change out the tooling arms.
I have included the drawings for the parts I have shown being built above. Please keep in mind that I deviated from the measurements on the grinder base plate in terms of overall size. My grinder mounting plate is 18.5" x 9". All layout holes for the grinder mounting spacing is the same though. Also you will note that the larger mounting plate is not shown in these drawings. My large mounting plate is 18.5" x 18.5".
Stay tuned for further installments of the grinder build. I will be sure to provided drawings for the rest of the grinder parts provided via a pdf file that Michael Clerc created. Also, for those of you who prefer welding, this grinder could be made without all of the drilling and threading if you so desired. You would just have to make sure that things were jigged appropriately.