The best way to sharpen a knife is by using a good old-fashioned sharpening stone. That said, there are several alternatives that you can use for this. One tool you might have around is a belt sander, but how do you use this for sharpening?
Using a belt sander for sharpening makes things very easy. All you have to do is turn on your belt sander and run your blade lightly across it. The belt will do all the sharpening work for you.
At first, I was a little skeptical about this. As a knife collector, I didn’t want to ruin my precious knives. So I tested it out on some cheap knives first. I took out my Kalamazoo 1SM belt sander and tried it on these knives.
The results came out really good. I was pleasantly surprised at how good my belt sander did at sharpening my knives. It was super easy to get razor-sharp, but there were also some downsides.
So how did I do it? What are the downsides? Can belt sanders sharpen knives? Let’s dive in and answer all of these for you right now!
Can You Sharpen a Knife with a Belt Sander?
Yes. Simply put, belt sanders are one of the best tools to sharpen knives. Of course, nothing beats sharpening stones. But sanding belts are easily one of the best alternatives around.
If you’re into woodworks, or if you have a lot of tools, chances are you already have a belt sander. This is a common tool that has a lot of uses. You might not have guessed though that this tool is also excellent for sharpening knives.
When I tried using this, I was able to get a very dull blade to razor-sharp in almost no time at all. It is a very fast way to sharpen your knives. You can get a knife with a blunt edge and turn it into the sharpest edge in only a few minutes.
When it comes to sharpness, belt sanders also do very well. If you compare a belt-sanded and sharpening stoned knife in terms of sharpness, you won’t be able to tell the difference. You can be sure you’re getting the sharpest edge possible when you use this.
One of the best things about belt sanders is how easy it is to use. Yes, there are still some techniques you need to know (more on that later). But compared to using sharpening stones, using a belt sander is way easier. It takes a lot less effort to sharpen your knives this way.
It’s easy, fast, and gives you the sharpest edges. So why do I say that belt sanders aren’t the best sharpening option? What’s wrong with them? This brings us to our next point.
What Are the Disadvantages of Sharpening with Belt Sanders?
Using a belt sander for sharpening knives does come with some disadvantages. For one, it can be quite risky. If you aren’t skilled using the belt sander, it’s best to avoid using it for your knives. Belt sanders can grind off a lot of metal very quickly.
This is why if you haven’t used a belt sander before, it’s best not to experiment with your knives. If you do, there is a big chance that you will end up damaging your knives instead of sharpening them. And instead of a sharp smooth edge, you’ll have a chipped and jagged blade.
Even if you do know how to use a belt sander, it still eats metal fast. Yes, it can give you a perfect edge, but it might take more metal than is necessary. That’s why if you always use a belt sander, your knives may not last as long as you hope.
But these disadvantages are quite minor. You’ll find that in the knife community, there are dozens of experts who use belt sanders for sharpening. For them, the fast and easy sharpening trumps all these disadvantages. And if you are careful, you shouldn’t have any problem at all when you use a belt sander.
So if you decide to use a belt sander for sharpening, just keep these risks in mind. You can enjoy extremely fast and easy sharpening if you do it right.
5 Simple Steps to Sharpen a Knife Using a Belt Sander
As I’ve already said, belt sanders make it very easy for you to sharpen your knives. You can do this in 5 easy steps. So without further adieu, let’s learn how this is done!
Step 1: Prepare Items
For this method of sharpening, you’re going to need a few items. You’ll need your belt sander, a medium-grit belt (I use 220), a leather strop, a honing compound, and, of course, a dull blade. With these, you are ready to get sharpening.
Step 2: Prepare Sander
You want to start by using the medium-grit belt. After you’ve loaded that into your sander, choose the direction your sander spins. If you’re going to use your sander horizontally, it’s best if it spins away from you. While if your sander stands vertically, the sander should be spinning towards you.
When you load the sander, you don’t want the belt to be too tight. If you do, this makes it very easy to destroy your blade. On the flip side, you don’t want to make it too loose either. You want to be able to push the belt a little back but still have a little tension.
Step 3: Sharpen!
Take your knife, and gently glide it across the spinning sander. You want to put a little tilt on it so that the sander is hitting the bevel of your knife. Stroke it a few times, then do the other side.
Whenever I do this, I always make hold the blade tightly with both my hands. Remember, sanders eat metal fast, so you want to be extra careful. One of my hands is on the hilt, while the other holds the tip of the blade. This gives me the most control over my strokes across the sander.
When you run your blade across the sander, push it into the sander ever so slightly. You don’t want to push it in too hard because that will destroy your blade. Push it just enough to get a little bend on the belt.
Remember, belt sander sharpen fast! Make sure you test for a burr every few strokes. You may be surprised how fast the edge appears.
Step 4: Cool Your Knife
While this isn’t exactly a step, this is very important to do. When you are using a belt sander, there’s a big chance you’ll overheat your knife. If there is too much heat on your blade, this will damage it.
That’s why after every few strokes, what I like to do is to dunk my knife in water. This cools the blade for another round of sharpening. It’s a simple step, and it goes a long way in prolonging your blade.
Step 5: Hone
By the time you are done sharpening, there should be a nice burr on your blade. To remove this, you need to hone your knife.
Remove your medium-grit belt and replace it with the leather strop. Chalk it up with your honing compound and get honing!
You hone your knife the same way you sharpened it. This is an important step to ensure the sharpest knife possible. After a few strokes, you’ll find that the burr is gone. And you’ll find that you have a razor-sharp blade that can slice through anything!
Tips for Sharpening with Belt Sanders
As always, here’s my cheat sheet for using belt sanders:
- Make sure the belt isn’t too tight or too loose
- Don’t use a very gritty belt, nor a very soft one. Use a medium-grit one for the best results.
- Let the belt do the work. Don’t push your knife into the belt too hard because this can destroy it
- Always make sure to cool your knife after a few strokes
- Use both hands! This will not only sharpen your knife better, but it also prevents needless accidents
- Feel for a burr after every few strokes. Belt sanders sharpen fast so be careful
- Switch to a leather strop once your knife is sharp
- Add honing compound to your leather strop for best results
At the end of the day, belt sanders are very good for sharpening knives. I’ve tried it and I can say that they do work. Not only do they work, but they can also get the job done very fast as well.
This is the reason why there are a lot of knife enthusiasts out there who use belt sanders for sharpening. However, there seems to be an equal number of enthusiasts who are horrified by this. They feel that there is too much risk involved in using this type of sharpening.
At the end of the day, it all boils down to your choice. If you have the skill to use a belt sander for sharpening, this will make your life so much easier. But if you’re unskilled and inexperienced, it’s best to stay far away from it. There are risks, but there are also big rewards for using this sharpener.