Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Bow Sander

A bow sander is a fantastic tool for sanding rounded contours, irregular surfaces, or radiused corners.

This design is very simple and easy to make, it uses a belt sander so you can quickly switch in and out the different belts when needed. Nice to hang on your tool wall and be ready for use  for a variety of sanding jobs

It is bow-shaped and has a long stroke which helps for fast sanding and comfortable to use. The narrow width strips lets you sand in tight areas.

To get started all you need is a piece of 2x4 and sanding belts. You don't need glue or screws or any other parts, you just have to make a few cuts on the table saw and band saw.

A slot was cut 1 inch deep in the 2x4. This will be for the belt to fit in. The 2x4 was long enough to make to bow sanders.

Here I roughly marked the bow and handle. The bow should be marked slightly larger than the length of the sanding belt. Later the ends will be sanded to fit the belt.

First I cut it on the bandsaw then hand sanded the piece smooth. I also sanded the handle and the ends round to get the right fit for the belt.

3"x21" belts are used. Of course larger belts can be used for a larger bow sanders. I would like to make larger ones and see how they work.

The sanding belt is cut  into roughly 1 inch wide  strips.  To do that the sandpaper is clamped down between a few blocks of scrap wood. Doing it this way will help so the belt won't kink or crease. 

 The belt is now ready to be put on the bow. There is a little flex on the bow but still needs to be worked on to get it in place. This is good because it will have good tension on the belt.

These sanders are so easy to make so  I made a second one. This is a good project for beginner woodworkers so I kept it simple. It would be nicer if hardwood was used. 

I tested my sanders out and they work great. One had more tension than the other so remember to cut the bow larger than the belt and slowly test the belt, sand a little and test again. Keep doing this until you get the perfect fit.

See Also:

             Moisture meter                                                   Make a Bevel Gauge                                                    



Sunday, December 23, 2018

Wire wheel angle grinder with adjustable height

Angle grinders come in handy in the workshop. They can be used for cutting, polishing or bushing and more.

Wire wheels are useful for removing rust and debri from a variety of items. This system allows you to set the height of the grinder to get the desired action of the wire wheel. The weight of the grinder keeps it quite solid on the base. The grinder on the base helps to control the polishing action.  Wire wheels leave a scratch pattern so you can always use a brass wire wheel.

See the video here: Angle Grinder Build

Here I will show you step by step how it is made.

The first thing to do is to make a base, since I don't have a piece of plywood thick enough I glued two pieces of plywood together to give me a piece 1" thick. 

After the glue is dried the piece is trimmed on the table saw. This will make everything look clean and will be a good solid base. It is 1'x 17.5".

Here I am cutting a piece of 1/2" plywood to 4"x8". It will be the back for the grinder. Blocks will be added to this back and this will be for the guides. 

The side handle slot for the bolt is angled so I used my mini bevel gauge to get the angle for drilling a hole for the bolt.

I used a block to set the height to get the approximate angle for drilling.

The back fits nicely on the grinder and the bolt angle is correct. Two maple blocks are cut out, they will be screwed onto the the back and will hold the metal pipes which are the guides.

Two blocks for the guides are clamped and drilled for the pipe. Clamping and drilling together is very important to make everything precise.

The block is clamped to the table to get ready for drilling the base. Everything has to be precise to make make the guides work.

 I used a forstner bit and tapped it with a hammer to make marks into the base. 

Pipes and bars where purchased at my local metal shop. The diameter of the bars are 16mm. After I cut the pieces the pipes are 10" and the bars are 14".

The base is drilled with a 15mm forstner bit for the bars.

Cutting the pipes to length, 10".  


Glueing and screwing the blocks onto the back.

Two slots are made in the back for a pipe clamp. They are about 1/4" long. I did this on the drill press. I marked the slot then drilled several holes and then used the drill bit as a router to finish up to  make the slot.    

A pipe clamp and the bolt hold the grinder secure to the back.

The pipes were very tight in the blocks so a Dremel tool was used to ream the hole to get the right fit. If I hammered them with force the maple block may have split. 

To keep the pipes secure set screws are made simply by using screws and cutting them to the right size and screwing them in until they touch the pipe, this is all they need to hold them in place. 

A stop for the grinder is made using a threaded rod. To adjust a nut and wingnut are used. 

To secure the threaded rod a nut was inserted in the plywood base. To do this it was first marked, chiseled out and then pounded in.

When the grinder back is placed on the bars it will rest on the top of the threaded rod, now it is easy to make the mark for the threaded rod.

This hole can be drilled free hand since it will be for a stop and not a guide.

To help preserve the base I found a piece of  metal in my scrap pile, cut it to size, then drilled and countersunk the corners. 

I tested the grinder and found it worked great. Setting the height was very effective for the pieces I was cleaning. 

I know this will come in handy in my shop. It is easy to make and I know there are many uses for it.

See Also:                                                                            

mini kerf maker                                

              Reciprocating sander                                                                                                                           


Sunday, October 14, 2018

File Blocks

Files can remove material quickly and depending on the grit they can cut smooth or aggressive. When you want to remove material quicker than sandpaper, files can do better.  They are also great shaping tools. 

These files blocks are simple to make and will sit nice in your tool case or fit in a small tool box. I know I will be using them a lot in my shop.

I bought a 10" file and cut 2  pieces from it. I used my Angle Grinder Miter to cut the file. This is hard steel but the grinder cut it quicker than I thought.

Of course you can use any file and  experiment with different files from fine to course. The one I am using is called smooth. 

                Grades of cuts- Files             
                      very smooth
                      second cut

The file cut alright but I will have to add a metal base plate for my Miter table to help prevent the table from burning. 

The tablesaw fence was set to the width of the file which is 28mm, this will be the same size as the bottom part of the handle. 

Now I will cut the lower part of the handle. I had some scrap Brazilian cherry hardwood flooring pieces. They will look good together with maple.


The maple will be the top of the handle, the blade was tilted to 7 degrees and both sides are cut. 

The cherry pieces are glued on to the maple block. Weights are put on and set aside overnight.

The ends were slightly tapered, this will make it look better. NOTE: This was all marked out earlier to match to exact size of the file.

A round over router bit was used for the top only, this will look best and feel comfortable when holding. I used a screw clamp to hold the block to keep my hands far from the router bit.

All to do now is some fine sanding, I first used some 150 grit then 220.

I brushed on  a couple coats of Polyurethane. Fine sandpaper and steel wool was used between coats. Two coats makes a difference, it will give you a smooth, even protective finish.

The file can now be glued onto the block. I used 60 minute  epoxy for this.

I tested a few pieces and I am very happy with the results. It took off sharp edges very quick and shaped the wood easily, and the wood still felt smooth.

This will be my go to tool when I want to remove small amounts of wood fast. The handle helps control the file and works on large flat surfaces which is difficult to do with a regular file.

I have 2 and one will be a dedicated tool for some of my piano work.

I came up with this idea because I felt a regular file could not do what a sanding block could and a file does not have the right handle. Now with a nice handle it works and looks  great. I certainly will get a lot of use from these file blocks. 

See Also

                                            Make a large bevel gauge                           Belt sander stand