Introduction: DIY Bench Grinder to Belt Sander Conversion With Templates

About: We're Laura and Louis. Laura is an educator and Louis is an engineer. With our powers combined, we make things and try to show everyone how we tackle projects in hopes to inspire others to get up and create!

This Instructable will show you how we turned a bench grinder into a belt sander!

You can check out the entire build video on Youtube linked above. (We would also appreciate a like and sharing if you think it's worth it :))

This bench grinder has served us well over the years, but we needed a sanding configuration that allows us to quickly remove more material when working with metal and the stone discs just don’t cut it.

We decided to retrofit this guy instead of buying a proper 2x72 belt sander because 1) 2x72 belt sanders are way out of our budget and 2) we don’t have the shop real estate to accommodate the footprint.


Here is the list of supplies we used: (These are affiliate links where we earn a small commission at no extra cost to you, Thank you!)

2 x 42 inch Sanding Belt Assortment:

2 x 72 inch pulley set:

5/8 – ½ Reducing bushing:

Extension spring:

3/16” steel plate:

Spray Adhesive:

Metric hardware set:

Step 1: Disassembling the Bench Grinder

In order fit the retrofitted components, we removed the guards and the wheel from one side of the grinder. This process is a little different from grinder to grinder, but just a few phillips bolts to take off the guard and a locking nut to remove the grinding wheel. The locking nut on the shaft is left handed threads so the saying is backwards " righty loosey, lefty tighty"

It doesn't matter which side you choose to retrofit, we wanted to keep the wire wheel and it worked well for our shop.

Step 2: Templates

We modeled everything on Fusion 360 and printed the sketches to scale, so we can use as templates.

There is a PDF of the templates if you want to try the retrofit your own! The only modification is the mounting hole locations vary from grinder to grinder, so use your old shield to transfer the hole locations.

Step 3: Cutting Out the Shapes

Using spray adhesive, we stuck the templates onto 3/16” steel plate and roughly cut them out with our angle grinder and cut off wheel as well as our bandsaw for the finer cuts.

Step 4: Drilling All the Holes

Moving over to the drill press, we drilled out all the mounting holes using a small bit as a pilot, then drilling them to size with a step bit. The remaining material for the slots were removed with the band saw.

We removed the sticky paper and did the final shaping for all the pieces with a flap disc.

Step 5: Tracking Roller Hinge

To make the mounting bracket for the top pulley, we cut out a small square and drilled a hole in the center. Using a bolt to align the hole from the bracket with the pivot arm and a nut as a spacer in between we welded a make-shift hinge. Just two small tacks on either side is enough.

Step 6: Dry Fitting All the Pieces

With everything prepped, we can dry fit all the pieces.

The first thing is securing the main body by the three bolts…. Unfortunately I didn’t measure the hole spacing correctly when modeling, so we were off a bit. Using the guard that we removed earlier as a template, we marked where we needed to elongate the holes and filed them out.

Step 7: Backing Plate and Rest.

After bolting everything up, we cut a few square pieces to use as the backing for the sander as well as the rest. We first aligned the backing and tacked it into place then positioned the rest making sure it's perpendicular to the backing plate and tacked that in place. Once we were happy with the position, we removed it from the assembly and welded them completely.

Step 8: Final Assembly

After everything cooled down, we sprayed a quick coat of paint and assembled everything onto the bench grinder.

Following the anticipation of turning the grinder on with all the components, we were thoroughly disappointed.

One major item we didn't account for in the beginning was the power of our bench grinder. It was news to us, but our Craftsman is rated at 1/6hp and with all the added rotational mass, it never got up to full speed let along grind anything.

Luckily after searching through Offerup we found someone down the street selling a 1hp grinder with a super heavy duty stand for a steal, so we scooped that up!

Step 9: Disassembly!

The only modification we had to do was re-drill the mounting holes since the 1hp grinder had a larger hole spacing.. Similar to before, we used the guard as a template to get the correct spacing.

Step 10: Final Assembly

This time around, we took paid extra attention to the spacing of the pulleys making sure to use extra washers where needed so that they're all on the same plane. We just used a straight edge against the faces of the pulley to check this.

Step 11: A Functional Belt Sander!

After tightening everything down, we had a functional belt sander!

What a difference a 1hp unit makes, it eats through steel like it's butter.

Thank you for reading our Instructable!

If you liked the project, don't forget to share it. Comments and feedback are always welcome.

You can check out our other projects here on Instructables as well as our Youtube channel IMEE MADE.

Build a Tool Contest

Runner Up in the
Build a Tool Contest