Bench Grinder Vs. Belt Sander – Head To Head In-Depth Comparison

Looking to purchase a tool that efficiently smooths your items when they go dull?

Two of the most common options are a bench grinder and a belt sander. But wait a minute – which of the two is better?

Of course, the two are designed to work differently, so there got to be one that suits your needs better. 

Below is a head to head comparison between the bench grinder and the belt sander and we’re positive that by the time you’re finished reading the post, you will know with certainty which one to get.

Application

The bench grinder is used for sharpening metal. If your knives, chisels, saws, scissors, axes, lawnmower blades, and basically any other metal equipment with a blade have gone dull, a bench grinder will come in handy.

On the other hand, a belt sander is used for smoothing big, flat surfaces especially plastic, wood, and other rigid materials that are relatively soft. Most of the time, this piece of equipment is used for sanding furniture as part of the finishing process.

Design 

A bench grinder consists of a wheel mounted to a tough holder that is, in turn, mounted to a bench. The wheel normally has a rough abrasive surface that does the sharpening when the wheel rotates.

In contrast, a belt sander is composed of long sandpaper that is attached to a rotating belt, and works more like a bike chain, only with a different application. As the sandpaper rotates with the chain, it grinds any surface that you bring it into contact with.

Operation

We’ve already told you that a bench grinder is composed of an abrasive wheel. Now, more often than not, the setup is immovable and to grind an item, you have to move it over the wheel.

Although there are fixed belt sanders, there are also many models out there that are flexible such that you don’t have to move the item you want to sand over the abrasive surface. You can lift these versatile models with your hand and move them over the items you’d like to smooth, and this can be very helpful when the item is bulky, like a table or a door.

Power 

When it comes to horsepower and torque, bench grinders are often the victors. Apart from the fact that their abrasive surface is tougher, the aspect of power is another important reason as to why bench grinders are used for heavy-duty sharpening. And besides, bench grinders don’t build up heat as quickly as belt sanders do when used for sharpening metal.

Okay, of course, heat will build up when using a bench grinder, but it is not much compared to the heat that builds up when you attempt to sharpen metal on a regular belt sander.

Why?

The belt sander is designed for light-duty tasks – evening out wood. When used to sharpen a heavy-duty material like steel, you’re putting it through too much work, and as a result, lots of heat is produced.

Similar Applications 

Belt sanders and bench grinders have lots of differences, but they also have striking similarities. For instance, they both are composed of a rotating abrasive. For that reason, the two are often used for the same applications.

And as there are different types and models, you will find bench sanders that are designed for smoothing or sharpening wood, and belt grinders that are used for sharpening or leveling metal.

You could even modify your belt sander that is meant for smoothing wood to smooth your metal tools.

How so?

All you need to do is purchase sandpaper that is robust enough to grind metal, and these are found in plenty on Amazon, eBay, and other online outlets.

And tell you what?

A belt sander with tough sandpaper can be very helpful when you’re looking to remove rust from your metal tools. Just get 1000-grit sandpaper and attach it to your belt sander; you’ll likely be amazed at the results.

In the same way, a bench grinder can be modified to smooth wooden surfaces. All you need to do is buy a wheel meant for woodworking. This kind of wheel isn’t as tough as the wheels meant for metal but it’s really great when it comes to bringing out that nice, even finish that you want to see on your furniture.

So, which one is better?

The question of which one is better between a belt sander and bench grinder is really a question of what you’re trying to accomplish. Are you looking to sand a door and even out those rough parts bringing them to an even finish or are you looking to sharpen a dull chisel or any other metal tool?

If you intend to smooth furniture or other wooden surfaces, then go with a belt sander; it will serve you better. If, on the other hand, you’re trying to sharpen a metal tool, you’re better off with a bench grinder.

It’s that easy.

Now, before you go, mind going through these common questions?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What can I use a bench grinder for?

That depends on the kind of bench grinder you have, and here is a guide to the different types of bench grinders available and their applications. However, generally, you can use a bench grinder for a range of applications including shaping, sharpening, cleaning and polishing metals.

2. How do I use a grinder to sharpen a chisel?

When the wheel is rotating, press the blunt end of the chisel against it until the end becomes sharp again. The sharpening action can lead to overheating so dip the chisel in water every few seconds.

3. Is the belt sander good for removing paint?

Yes. Actually, the using the belt sander is one of the easiest, fastest ways of removing paint from a surface. Use heavy-grit sandpaper at first and move onto finer-grit sandpaper to remove the paint efficiently while avoiding to scratch the surface.

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