Power Drill to Belt Sander Conversion





Introduction: Power Drill to Belt Sander Conversion

Some people spend a lot of money on a 3D printer then don't have money for other tools. I did that. I wanted a 1" (25mm) wide belt sander but it wasn't in the budget. Instead of admitting defeat, I decided to make parts for my own belt sander.

Creating the project with only 3D printed parts would have been possible but the filament would have gotten expensive. Instead, I wanted to combine the benefits of inexpensive steel hardware store parts with a printable design. Everything was printed in regular ABS so it's not necessary to track down a rare filament.

Here's what you'll need.


- Two angle brackets at least 2" (50mm) long

- 6' of 5/16" threaded rod


- 2m of 8mm threaded rod

- Steel spacers to match threaded rod

- Washers to match threaded rod

- Nuts to match threaded rod

- All-metal lock nuts to match threaded rod

- Six 608ZZ bearings, these are the kind used in skate equipment

- Wing nuts to match threaded rod (optional but nice)

Of course, you'll need a hand tools, a power drill and a 3D printer, or access to one. Your power drill won't need any modifications so you'll still be able to use it as a drill tomorrow.

Step 1: 3D Printing Files

That first image is animated if you want to see what the parts look like all around.

All the STL files can be downloaded right here. If you have a large print bed, download the file "Belt Sander All Parts.stl" otherwise download the other two STL files. In fact, you could download just "Belt Sander Parts Half1.stl" print it, then print the mirror image and you'd have all the parts you need. Neat huh?

Please print the pieces with high infill. The third picture shows the hazard of printing with only 10% infill, the pieces are too weak to withstand a tripping accident.

Advanced users. You may also notice that there is a text file called "Belt Sander.scad" This is the OpenSCAD file I used to model the parts. If you want to make changes, you're welcome to my source code.

Step 2: Pulley Assembly

There are three pulleys in the project. Two of them have sockets for bearings and they should be paired with the pieces that attach perpendicular threaded rods. The first picture shows the pulleys with the perpendicular pieces but there should be steel spacers between the pieces and the bearings.

The third pulley accepts a threaded rod should be held firmly in place with all-metal lock nuts. It may be necessary to use a long socket to tighten these together. One side of the threaded rod should be long enough for a spacer, bearing and a lock nut. The other side should be that long plus another 6" (15cm) or more. This is where the drill will attach. This pulley should also be given rubber bands. It is not vital to find the exact bands shown in the picture, doubling up an ordinary rubber band should suffice.

Step 3: Drive Plate Assembly

Four threaded rod segments should be cut to 12" (30cm) each.

The angle braces should have their outermost holes drilled to 5/16" or 8mm.

Follow the example in the second and third pictures to see how the threaded rods and angle braces should be arranged in the printed drive plate. The nuts touching the angle braces should be tightened down as much as possible.

Now is also a good time to insert the bearings into the drive plate.

Step 4: Final Assembly

It is time to put it all together.

The drive shaft should be assembled first. Spacers go on the threaded rod, one touching each of the nuts. From there the drive plates can be affixed by pushing the threaded rods through the bearings. The idea is that when the drive shaft is spun everything touching it should be stationary to the shaft.

Loop the belt around each pulley before placing them on the threaded rod and have nuts in place to keep the pulleys stationary. This is where wing nuts come in handy.

Step 5: Operating

Attach a power drill to the drive shaft that sticks out.

It's possible to operate the sander without a bench, just hold something that's not moving and engage the drill with your other hand.

If you plan to use it as a desktop sander, it may be necessary to insert some of the threaded rods into a drilled piece of wood. This just props up one end so the belt doesn't wreck your work surface. It doesn't hurt to clamp this to your work surface.

Check out the video to see it running.

Use a clamp to hold the drill in place. Depending on the type of drill, it may be necessary to prop up the sander on a piece of scrap wood.

It's that simple.

Step 6: About Me

Thank you for reading. I write incessantly at my blog, 24HourEngineer.com

You can find this project there including the times I messed up. Remember those metal spacers? I didn't have them for the first run and accidentally friction welded a pulley to the drive plate. There are some projects with 3D printers and some without. There are some projects with programming and some without. There are some projects with only simple tools and some without. All of them have lots of pictures, even the parts I mess up.



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    Please be positive and constructive.




    This was designed around 30" x 1" belts. Amazon has them and many hardware stores stock them.

    I needed the 1" width for a project where I'm sanding between the teeth of large plastic gears. If you wanted to try it with a wider belt you can take a look at the OpenSCAD code.

    Cool. Thank you! I was thinking since it looks like the vertical rods and wing nuts adjust the tension. So if one were to lengthen those (and even the horizontal rods) the belt size could go up quite a bit... if that makes sense.

    I make knives and was thinking of making this for polishing. Was gonna use a treadmill motor instead of a drill

    Exactly, you get it!

    It was designed with modularity in mind. If you can find longer belts just lengthen the threaded rods. You could even run it with two pulleys instead of one.

    If you polish a knife with this design be sure to come back and post a picture here so I can see.

    Most knife guys use a 1x72. I imagine the rods to get wobbly once they get so far out

    I suspect you're right about the rods getting wobbly. Maybe with reinforcement but that's practically a project in itself. I noticed that even this small version was prone to wobbling. Now if you could affix the vertical rod to a door frame or something sturdy it should keep it all in place.

    I have a big version of a lansky sharpening system I built into a work table. It has a vertical 4x4 with angle iron on it. I might attach this to an open side of the 4x4. I have the pieces being printed now (finally)

    That shouldn't give you any problems and at the same time, it should consolidate space. Cool.

    ​Ideally you want to use "crowned" pulleys (or "belt" pulleys) when driving flat belts. A crowned pulley is convex, which counterintuitively keeps a flat belt centered and prevents it from wandering off the edge. You won't need those curbs at the edges to keep the belt on.

    1 reply

    Excellent! I wish I had known that earlier. Using the curbs seems to be causing fraying on the belt. Not significant fraying but a few strands of the cloth fly out.

    A next to useless instructible.

    "you'll need a 3D printer,"

    What !

    2 replies


    - I put this under the 3D printer category.

    - My first sentence was that I spent all my money on a 3D printer.

    - The main picture clearly has custom plastic parts.

    - Shapeways will print parts for you without having to own your own printer.

    - Be nice.

    When you enrolled into the "3D Printing Class" a few weeks ago, did you tell them it's a useless class because you'd need a 3D printer?

    I contacted a printer on Etsy, and have the parts being made. The guy making them even said he's doing one for himself...

    Nice! I like how you made it (fairly) simple with the threaded rods

    I've been wanting to make my own drill powered belt sander, but I just don't want to buy more sandpaper... ;)

    If I made one, I'd make it out of wood, because I don't have a 3D Printer. Since I don't sand a lot, I think it could a really cool project, but I don't want to waste a ton of money on sandpaper...

    Do you have an idea for dust collection, somehow?

    1 reply

    I recommend clamping a vacuum hose where the belt goes over a roller. That's where I noticed most of the dust. Visit my blog to see more pictures of it being used to get a better idea of where the dust lands.


    I like it. I'm currently building a strip sander from wood and might use parts of this to make it better. Your belt tensioning method is significantly simpler than the one on the plans. Also think I'll use your rollers. 3D printing is easier than using the lathe.

    Something to keep in mind though. Hand drills usually have a low usage cycle, meaning on for a few seconds then off again. They're not meant to run long term with load like you'd do with a strip/belt sander. Keep that in mind and only use it in short bursts, maybe add a fan to help keep it cool. You don't want to burn out your drill.

    2 replies

    That's good advice. My drill was putting off a lot of heat.

    Naturally the purchased belt sander will be more rugged and easier to operate. But this takes less room. Honestly, this wouldn't be my first choice for regular sanding but I used it for a couple hours and now I probably won't touch it for another year. I'm glad I spent the time to design a new creation but, like you pointed out, there's only a small number of people who would find this useful.

    Great project! I have been wanting a wet belt sander for finishing some of my glass art projects. Your idea, together with a battery powered drill, will let me make a safe, affordable, usable tool for occasional use in my studio. Thanks!

    1 reply

    I never even thought of using it6as a wet sander. I love the idea!