Belt Sander Grinding Table

I have been wanting to move my hand tool grinding to a belt sander.  My hand grinder works, but is really tough to get an accurate angle.  Also despite the slow speed I have still managed to burn blades on it.  Belt sanders remove material more slowly, but don’t get nearly as hot.  The build is hard to explain, so I will start with the finished product.


It is essentially a small flat surface that sits on the same plane as the moving sanding belt.  Because the table isn’t moving you can use your favorite honing guide jig to keep a really accurate angle.

The table is held in place with an “L” shaped piece of wood.  I cut the groove on the table saw wide enough to catch the top of the sander surface, but not so wide it interferes with the moving belt.


I attached a piece of plywood to the inside of that L so that the top of the plywood would be co-planar with the top of the sander.



I took the table surface to the belt sander to cut that angled shape.  It needs to conform as closely as possible to the flat top of the sander so you don’t end up grinding on the rounded section of the belt sander.  I had issues with the pine sliding on the painted sander sides so I threw a few pieces of PSA backed sand paper on it to prevent the jig from sliding around.  Finally a clamp keeps it all in place and very stable.


I reground a plane blade and a few chisels that needed resetting or bevel changes.  The little table worked like a charm.  I can go from the belt grinder to my honing stones without even taking the tool out of the honing guide!

Sander Dust Collection Fittings

This falls into yet another “project I started over a year ago” category.  Not sure how it fell off the radar, but it did.  Dust collection is a wonderful thing to have, but there appear to be no standards.  Every piece of equipment has a different hose size.  I wanted to plumb my two main bench-top sanders together in a clean and easy way.

I started by adapting the back of my spindle sander to a PVC elbow, and then to a ribbed segment that would accept some flexible hosing.  5 minute epoxy is all you need to join the plastic pieces.

I cut a small length of hose and attached another hose coupler.  One side is ribbed to keep the hose from coming off, the other is smooth.  The hose slides on and off easily, but seals well enough to be a good vacuum.  I printed some mounting blocks that have a path through them to pass zip ties through.  This holds the coupling down without any complex clamp mechanisms.


Similarly I went to the stand that has my disk/belt sander and attached hosing so I could get to it on the side of the machine.


Now the vacuum built into the disk/belt sander can service both it and the spindle sander with just a quick re-plumb.  Cheers to less dust in my lungs!


Work Sharp Freehand Sharpening

I printed a freehand sharpening guide for my Ken Onion Work Sharp, and found it works a lot better than the guides that come with it for odd knife and handle shapes.  Honestly at this point, it is the only way I sharpen with this tool.

Don’t own a 3D printer, no problem.  Just cut a block of wood with the desired angles and sight down the edge of the wood.

Folding Tablesaw Extension

I like my table saw.  It has a much larger top than a contractor saw, but was more affordable than a full cabinet saw.  I will likely upgrade some day, but am fulfilled for now.  That doesn’t mean I can’t make it better.  A folding extension would really help with large and long pieces that want to fall off the back side of the cut.

I started without a few ideas of how best to build an extension, but not a fully fleshed out plan.  That can lead to trouble, but it worked out pretty well in my case.  I bolted on a wide board to the back to act as a good starting point.  I used some of the laminate covered plywood from my table saw fence to build two fins facing outward.  The idea is to use these as a hinge surfacesd.  I made sure the slick plastic was facing out on all sides.

Ideally the extension meets seamlessly with the end of your table.  In my case the the fence has bits that hang down below the surface and would interfere with an extension.  I dropped the extension surface slightly and had to live with a gap.  Small parts could fall through, but big and long cuts will droop enough to engage the new surface.


From there I used more of the plywood to straddle the fins I had made earlier and drilled through everything with a 1/4″ bolt to act as a hinge.  Initially the outside corner of the fixed fins wouldn’t let the extension down all the way, but a small bit of rounding freed them.

The extension rotates freely with the interfaces being plastic on plastic.  I added a cleat underneath and another to the table saw.  No fancy mechanism, just a simple bit of cut 2×4.  Magnets in the brace keep it held against the tablesaw when not in use.  Everything feels pretty sturdy when in place.

Other than the compromises with respect to meeting the table saw surface it turned out well.  It doesn’t add too much size to the saw when folded up, and provides a decent extension.  I might want it bigger in the future, but I should be able to unscrew the top surface while leaving the hinge pieces in place.  I could install one much wider and longer not have it take up any more space.  I will have to try this out for a few weeks and decide.  There is enough plywood left over to make the extension either a lot wider, or longer.

Waterstone Saddle

I have a norton 4000/8000 grit waterstone that I use for most of my finer sharpening.  It is a good stone, but requires soaking before using, needs frequent flattening, and you have to squirt water on it often when sharpening.  I have made many messes on my bench while using the stone to sharpen and decided to try something else.  Operating it at the sink makes the most sense.  I had a long piece of UHMW plastic that would make a good starting point for a waterstone saddle.


The plastic is rigid, impervious to water, and left over from my table saw conversion (aka free).  The tricky part was how to hold it down.  I want it to be removable so screwing it down wasn’t an option.  I went around and around thinking about it until I just printed something.

Two of these funny hook shapes sit really snugly on the top rim of my garage sink.  A dab of hot glue on top held the plastic plank in place temporarily.  I flipped it over and screwed the hooks on from the under side.  You can screw into UHMW plastic, but you want to pre-drill and not over tighten.

With a really solid platform established I printed some cleats to keep the stone in place.  I used the same hot glue trick to tack the cleats so I could drill and screw them without any sliding around.




I have used this a few times since making the saddle and it works well.  I might add some kind of lip to keep sprayed water and swarf from dripping outside of the sink.  Otherwise this keeps the waterstone in its natural aquatic environment.

While I was working on all of that I printed a rag hook that clips on under the lip of the sink to keep an old shirt nearby but out of the way for drying hands.  Printing fixes everything.


I went out to the back yard around dusk to see why a pile of birds decided to have a shouting match all of the sudden.  I looked over at our owl box and had someone looking back at me.  A gorgeous screech owl!


I will have to go back when there is more light out to see if I can get any better pictures.  Too bad I don’t have my zoom lenses any more.  I guess my home made owl box must have been pretty enticing!

Bed Project Phase 2

I started my storage bed project a short while ago.  Ok, it was nearly 2 years ago.  Still, I got another bit done.  The mattress sits on a plywood platform.  Wood strips form a lip around the edges and keep the box springs in place.  Those had been a set of short pine parts, but would now be full maple pieces.  The bottom face of the bed frame was plywood and an open hole.  That got covered with an easily removable maple cover.

I started this phase right after I finished the frame, but got side tracked.  I lost a lot of the photos.  The earliest thing I have is of the bottom cover getting ripped down to rough width.  I did that by hand.  No small amount of work!  Table saws are real time savers these days.

After that I went about flattening the massive board with a scrub plane which, according to my heart rate monitor, easily qualifies as cardio.  Scrubbed on the left half, untouched on the right in the picture below.


After a bit of time with my jack plane it was becoming flatter.  The maple always gives me tear out grain issues though.  A smoothing plane and card scraper fix most of up.

The bottom cover was the largest board I had ever worked by hand.  It was daunting, but starting to look good.


With the dimensions and finish all about right I could move on to adding a hand cutout feature.  I roughed with my chisel, then used a rasp and spoke shave to smooth it all out.



Glued washers to the back of the board held it firmly against magnets in the bed frame.  The issue is that this kind of board doesn’t like to be flat.  That gap is a little unsightly.


No need to panic, I can fix this and make it even better.  A piece of molding attached with pocket holes will stabilize the board a bit, cover up that gap, add a feature to keep the covered centered on the frame, and add some nice flair.  Below is that molding cut to size and fit checked on the bottom cover.  It would ultimately get some rounding on the router, but I forgot to capture that process.


Similarly, I didn’t get anything of my work on the side rails.  They got a groove to help alignment with the bed platform and some rounding on the router to ease contact with shins and knees.  I used the same waterlox varnish finish technique as on the rest of the bed.  I am really liking how that finish works!


I assembled the bottom cover once all the finish work was done.  It takes and ugly hole and makes it look like a great maple masterpiece.



The old pine temporary rails were removed and new maple ones installed.  I clipped the bottom two corners of the bed platform before installing the rails.  No real load is held there at the very edge, and my shins catch that.  Now the railing and platform are all more leg friendly.


Phase 3 is going to be making all the drawers that go underneath the bed.  I want them to be largely hand worked as well.  For this project I used a miter saw to cut things to length and a router to perform round overs.  Otherwise everything was done with hand tools.  Not necessary, but something I want to spend more time on.