Belt tool sharpener and honer DIY #2: Making the honing wheel and other modifications

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Blog entry by mafe posted 04-06-2019 07:01 PM 1280 reads 2 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: From belt and disc sander to tool shapener Part 2 of Belt tool sharpener and honer DIY series Part 3: How it's used, belts and more... »

Belt tool sharpener and honer DIY II
Making the honing wheel and other modifications

This is part two of the modification of a inexpensive belt sander (grinder) / disc sander, making it into a sharpening station, mainly for knives, axes, draw knives, hook knives and spoon knives.
(Look at part one, for more understanding and how it started).

Just to clear things up, I did not invent this idea, I saw the idea app. ten years ago, on my first blacksmith class, the teacher ‘Jørgen’ had clamped a sander like this (but without the disc), to the table so it functioned as a sharpener and that was how I sharpened, the first hooked knife I ever forged my self. Also before making one my self I searched the web and found several types and versions, even a guy who had made a cardboard honing / stropping wheel for his belt sharpener. So this is just my version of a belt sharpener and the only thing I did, that I have not seen before, is to make a strap with a leather belt on the disc (what you will see in this blog) and a few other little ideas, like a tool holder, a band holder and a wedge for easy and gentle removing of the bands. ;-)
Well, let’s get started!

I’ll put some links at the end, for some of the videos I watched before building mine.

So this was where we ended first part, the machine stripped for what we don’t need, mounted on the new flip over stand, so it can be used laying down for sharpening and the new stropping wheel made and trued up, replacing the disc sander on the side.
(Actually one can use the side of the stropping wheel to mount a sanding disc, I just happen to have a large disc sander, so I hav no need for it. If you don’t, then you can mount velcro on the new disc and then put sanding pads on it if you want).

First I cut a strap of leather, that matched the with of the disc / wheel I made and a wee longer app 5 cm / 2 inches.
(You can buy a leather belt if you don’t have a cow in your workshop – I happen to use a lot of leather, so I usually buy a cow hide front part, hard pressed raw hide, I think it’s called).

The blank side goes in and rough out.
Marking the direction, since I want the over lap to merge together and the overlapping ‘flap’ to be in the direction of the arrow, other wise it might end up opening and the belt will be destroyed.
Marking the ends, where I want to thin the leather and also where the overlap will be.

Honing a chisel on a strap. ;-)
We want razor sharp tools, especially when thinning leather.

Now carefully and in many passes, thinning the leather.
(Be patient, mistakes happens really fast here, I know this from my knife sheath making).

I used a C clamp to hold the leather to the table, in this way it was more easy, to use both hands, to control the chisel.
I hope it’s the camera, I don’t recall a beer break, but I can see it’s unsharp…

Here the other side.
Now sharp again…

Then I sanded the blank side of the leather a wee bit, just to make a good gluing surface.
(Dont go deep, just make sand the blankness of).

To make the wedge overlap even thinner, I used a scrap piece of plywood, as a backing plate, while sanding it, guess this could also have been done from the beginning.

It works surprisingly well and gives a lot of control.

Finally time for some glue, contact cement I think you call it over there, the type where you need to apply glue on both surfaces and wait ten minutes before putting them together.
Here on the belt.

Then on the wheel.

Time to wait, lunch time perhaps…

The belt is then attached to the disc and carefully aligned up, since this type of glue can’t be undone or the belt moved, once they are put together.
(I put a finger on each side as I turned the wheel and carefully pushed it down as I went on, to make sure it was tight to the wheel and centered – I could have used an extra hand, to hold the belt as I went on, but was alone and it went just fine.).

This is how you want the overlap to be, like this the belt will be pushed down, when you go over the ‘bump’ and will not be pushed up, if it becomes a wee loose.

A piece of plywood was attached to the machine and used as a steady rest, to true up the belt and yes that was needed, with 2950rpm it needs to be dead flat or the tool will just hit the bumps and not be honed.
(You can even put a C clamp on the chisel, if you don’t have a steady hand, to get it dead flat, I managed by hand).

Finally I roughed it up a little with some 40 grit sandpaper.
Ohhh yes and use a shop vac, when you work on the leather, it took me more than an hour to clean the shop after, the leather dust is kind of alive and sticks to every thing, even my clothes needed to be washed after.

Finally honing a knife after applying some honing paste, here I used the Veritas green.
And yes, it works really well, just a few seconds on the strop, with a sharpened, but no longer really sharp knife and it became razor sharp. Just this feature will be worth the build, it will be wonderful for my carving tools, pocket knifes, spoon knifes and so on.
(You can also see here, why you want the machine to lay down, since in this position, you have less control and the wheel are running towards you, we want it away from us, when we are honing, it gives much better control).

You ALWAYS hold the sharp edge of the blade, in the same direction, as the belt turning direction (sharp edge pointing in same direction as the arrow on the machine), other wise you will cut into the strap and it will be useless, also you might get seriously hurt, when the knife fly through the room, shot off at 3950rpm!
This is why I have painted the direction on the wheel and on the machine, to never make that fatal mistake.

Wheel finally done.
Let’s move on.

Machine flipped over into sharpening position.
We don’t need the little table for sharpening, so I gave it a hex bolt for quick removal.

As you might have noticed, the dust extraction hole on the cover, was in a ‘stupid’ place, so I decided to extend it, instead of making a hole in the stand, as I first intended.
This because I don’t intend, to use it a lot with the side on, since it is faster to change bands and I mainly intend to use it for sharpening and then only will put the cover on when I do grinding.
Time will tell, perhaps I’ll make a new side panel, that can take a bigger dimension of hose and can be taken of with a click…

Cut the extraction port to 45°, then cut of the end of a old vacuum cleaner handle and made this extender, that was glued in place with black silicone.
Still not sure, if I should just have made a hole in side of the stand instead, but it’s fine and it works.

Also used the silicone on the inside.
(Removed the grid that was there before).

To make the side panel come off relatively easy, I made these ‘quick’ finger screws, so no tools will be needed and made a cut into the holes, so one don’t need to screw the screws all the way out, but just loosen them.

Finally some of the sanding bands arrived with the post!
But right now the kids are calling here, they want movie and candy and me there, so I will stop for now and wish you all a wonderful evening.

Links as promised:

How to sharpen with a 1×30 belt grinder:

With a jig also (I might make one of those, and adjustable version, they can also be bought):

Here a link to I guy, who even replaced motors and made them into low speed versions, so the possibilities are endless.

Another one who have a line up of types, that I just found now, think he was the same guy, who made the honing cardboard wheel:

Hope it can be to some inspiration, perhaps even a belt sharpener and honer.

Best thoughts,


-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

10 comments so far

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10587 posts in 4416 days

#1 posted 04-06-2019 07:28 PM

Very GOOD!

Thank you!

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

22535 posts in 3469 days

#2 posted 04-06-2019 07:30 PM

Nice work, Mads!! That power strop should be the nut and the berries for sharping to real keen edge!

Cheers, My friend…...........Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View kaerlighedsbamsen's profile


1275 posts in 2077 days

#3 posted 04-06-2019 09:07 PM

Clewer, cheap and elegant solution to get a functional sharpening machine. And good to see you making stuff in the workshop again. Coffee soon?

-- "Do or Do not. There is no try." - Yoda

View lew's profile


12738 posts in 4119 days

#4 posted 04-06-2019 10:51 PM

More great information, Thanks, Mads!

Really like the dust port modification.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View flintbone's profile


207 posts in 3520 days

#5 posted 04-07-2019 02:01 AM

Good job Mads. I have an idea to make a bigger wheel with leather and put it on an old motor from a pump.
Keep up the good work.

-- If I had only known, I would have been a locksmith. - Albert Einstein

View Brit's profile


7682 posts in 3206 days

#6 posted 04-07-2019 08:10 AM

That is a really useful tool Mads. It has loads of uses in the shop. One day I am going to buy a Sorby Pro Edge. I could really do with it now, but my car also needs new tyres. LOL.

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View stefang's profile


16705 posts in 3698 days

#7 posted 04-07-2019 09:53 AM

Great blog Mads. This looks better than professionally done to me! I will surely keep this one in case I ever have to replace the leather on my Tormek honing wheel (although it will probably outlast me).

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Chris's profile


445 posts in 4449 days

#8 posted 04-07-2019 05:56 PM

I definitely need a stropping wheel like that to use on it’s edge. I have one, which I made upon a wooden faceplate to use on the lathe, just to hone up carving chisels and it works fantastic. I will eventually make me a honing wheel like that to use on a wooden build version of that very machine, something I have been wanting for a while. Neat job there Mafe.

-- Chris Harrell - custom callmaker "Quacky Calls" Eastern NC.

View mafe's profile


11979 posts in 3453 days

#9 posted 04-09-2019 03:09 PM

Hi hi hi,
Chris, I was afrid of the speed, while stropping, but it seems to make no difference, just faster. I have a low speed leather stropping wheel on my wet grinder, so will compare over time.
stefang, thank you.

Worked my self through four water stones on this one – it has been running for many years now.
Brit, I also have a feeling this one will become a useful little thing. :-) I did look at the Sorby, it looks super cool, just thought the price was a wee up there, especially once you look at the jig prices… So I think I’ll wait until I have room for a ‘real’ belt grinder, especially since I also do blacksmithing. But have to say it look sexy that Sorby. Some Idiot, trashed my winter tyres, so I will also need an investment like that at some point… Grrrrrr.
flintbone, yes that’s all you need, you can even make it hand or foot powered, that will work fine also, it’s just a matter of meters of stropping at the end, for the workbench I just use a strop glued to a piece of wood and good old hand power.
lew, thank you, I also like that one, since it’s a wee off the usual. ;-D
kaerlighedsbamsen, I love that name! Thank you Ty, me playing again, not sure I will ever stop making tools and jigs, who knows one day I might make a toothpick machine and there we be an actual output. :-D It keeps me young. Yes coffee soon, right now I’m down with the flue.
Jim J, that strop is seriously effective! I am quite impressed, so have a feeling this machine will be a daily friend. Even just for a quick touch up of camp and pocket knives.
Joe L, big smile thank you.
Best thoughts,
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View mafe's profile


11979 posts in 3453 days

#10 posted 04-22-2019 09:20 PM

View on YouTube
This is the final stropping, with a leather belt and compound.
It works like a dream!
Just sharpened a bunch of knifes, two spoon knifes, four draw knifes and three axes in app 45 minutes, all of them are razor sharp and polished to mirror shine. (In my book that’s really fast).
I went 600 – 1000 – 2000 – honing strop or wheel.
So I can highly recommend building a machine like this. ;-)

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

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