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Challenge: 0.5 m^2 city workshop?

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ian

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Inspired by @stringer's thread, I present this challenge: help me set up a miniscule "workshop" in a corner of this crappy plastic shed. (If you've already helped me out on belt sanders, I apologize for being a broken record. Please ignore.)


Basically I want a belt sander and some sort of rudimentary dust collection that uses minimal space. You can also tell me "that's a ridiculous idea, just move to the suburbs!" if you prefer. I'm thinking of just buying a small $50 3x18 or 3x21 belt sander like this one, and maybe building like a little box or sort to partial enclose it, hooking it up to some sort of small dust collection thing? Idk anything about dust collection. I assume small versions exist. Another option would be to get a $200 2x42 like this one, but I'm not sure I have the space for this and associated dust collection. Not looking to spend much money, since the hope would be to move in a couple years to a place where I can have real equipment. Basically, I'm just looking to have an easier time making alterations to customer knives (broken tips, grinding fingerguards, etc...) while maybe doing a small amount of handle work.

I'm especially looking for ideas on dust collection. Thanks!
 
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ModRQC

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Hook an industrial Shop Vac with some kind of converter to 6 or 8 inch duct (just widening the venting area) and fix it so it gobs most of the dust. They actually use a similar protocol in some pro workshops I've seen. Their dust collector is probably more performant, but knife by knife on the grinder the shop vac is powerful enough to suck the little amount of dust. Another advantage is that the vac can be used for a number of other tasks - that if you don't already own one good enough.
 
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ModRQC

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It might be little, but I'll still envy you your workshop. Go for it!
 

PappaG

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I'd be more concerned about staying warm.
 

Bensbites

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Please don’t try dust collection for steel. For wood, I would go 1x30 and or 4x36. Shopvac work great for dust collection. Everything can be found on CL.
Is this for thinning blades, making wa vs western handles?
 

ian

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Please don’t try dust collection for steel. For wood, I would go 1x30 and or 4x36. Shopvac work great for dust collection. Everything can be found on CL.
Is this for thinning blades, making wa vs western handles?
Why no dust collection for steel? Just not enough of it to be worth it? Or not enough space? Or are you concerned about me making a colossal fireball?

Wa handles mostly, but maybe western, idk. Probably not a ton of thinning, but we’ll see.
 

Bensbites

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Grinding steel creates sparks, if you are running dust collection into a pile of sawdust with lots of forced air, you will be asking for a fireball.

for wa, I would advice something like the rigid or grizzly edge sander. 4x24 belts
For thinning / westerns I like my rikon 1x30. Next time I would shell out for VS.

I like red label abrasive for belts.
 

ian

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Grinding steel creates sparks, if you are running dust collection into a pile of sawdust with lots of forced air, you will be asking for a fireball.
Granted, but it seems like all the semipros on here seem to use dust collection for metal, being careful to change out bags, etc, between wood and metal.

The alternative is just to wear PPE and let it settle on the floor, I guess?
 

Bensbites

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Granted, but it seems like all the semipros on here seem to use dust collection for metal, being careful to change out bags, etc, between wood and metal.

The alternative is just to wear PPE and let it settle on the floor, I guess?
I always where PPE. When grinding steel for thinning or shaping blades I let the dust fly. I run two household hepa filters 24/7 in my shop.
 
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big D

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Build a table wide enough to get your shop vac out easily, and get a second an put it on top of the table. Cleat the table top. Simply switch out the hoses at the connection at the grinder for the proper unit...wood or steel.
If you have room to put one on the floor you should be able to stack two.
D.
Added _ i am positive that with dust collection you need a ground wire for static discharge,,,at least for wood.
 

RDalman

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Yea shopvac with steel is trouble, even if dilligent on no wood dust mixed you can get a nasty fire going in the steeldust only. I have 100 mm pipes and a quite powerful fan driving it right out through the wall in my shop. Still I have two places in my system I need to take apart and check many times every day for clogs when doing heavy grinding. And ppe yes, always no matter dust collection. For your setup I would just cover stuff you need to save from metal dust, and live with cleaning often.
 

RDalman

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Btw. I would get a movable table and just take it outside for steel grinding operations.
 

ian

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Btw. I would get a movable table and just take it outside for steel grinding operations.
That's a decent idea, I just worry about my neighbors all hating me. While falling asleep last night, I was even thinking about lining part of the shed with mass loaded vinyl to block the sound. But this morning I started thinking that my crappy half-broken plastic shed would just fall over from the weight of it all. 😂

Btw, I recently bought one of your western honyaki on BST and it is so different from anything else I've handled. At first, I was like "*** is this?!" but it's becoming my go-to everything knife for the time being. Fantastic work.
 

RDalman

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That's a decent idea, I just worry about my neighbors all hating me. While falling asleep last night, I was even thinking about lining part of the shed with mass loaded vinyl to block the sound. But this morning I started thinking that my crappy half-broken plastic shed would just fall over from the weight of it all. 😂

Btw, I recently bought one of your western honyaki on BST and it is so different from anything else I've handled. At first, I was like "*** is this?!" but it's becoming my go-to everything knife for the time being. Fantastic work.
Thanks. A small belt sander is not very noisy imo. A fart compared to regular lawn machinery imo, maybe get that and try it and see how it feels. I like to start the chainsaw at about 9am saturdays currently. And have good relations with the neighbours still 🥳
 
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big D

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Build a table wide enough to get your shop vac out easily, and get a second an put it on top of the table. Cleat the table top. Simply switch out the hoses at the connection at the grinder for the proper unit...wood or steel.
If you have room to put one on the floor you should be able to stack two.
D.
Added _ i am positive that with dust collection you need a ground wire for static discharge,,,at least for wood.
Yea shopvac with steel is trouble, even if dilligent on no wood dust mixed you can get a nasty fire going in the steeldust only. I have 100 mm pipes and a quite powerful fan driving it right out through the wall in my shop. Still I have two places in my system I need to take apart and check many times every day for clogs when doing heavy grinding. And ppe yes, always no matter dust collection. For your setup I would just cover stuff you need to save from metal dust, and live with cleaning often.
Whoulda thunk that steel powder would catch fire from grinding sparks? Good thing we have knowledgeable people on here. Scratch my suggestion. Knock me over with a feather!
D.
 

Bensbites

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Whoulda thunk that steel powder would catch fire from grinding sparks? Good thing we have knowledgeable people on here. Scratch my suggestion. Knock me over with a feather!
D.
Just today I watched hot sparks from my grinder hit piles of fluffy steel and the spark ran through them, just like a 9 volt battery and steel wool. While the steel is an issue, the biggest concern to me would be hot steel sparks in a shopvac full of wood dust and constant airflow.
 

ian

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This link is to a 3x18, I have this one and it's loud just fyi haha
Heh, yea wrong link. Good to know about that one, though! I was also considering that. Robin might have convinced me (without ever actually weighing in) to just buy the 2x42 though. 😜
 

Bensbites

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Heh, yea wrong link. Good to know about that one, though! I was also considering that. Robin might have convinced me (without ever actually weighing in) to just buy the 2x42 though. 😜
Someone’s going to start making knives. Just a guess.
 

ian

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Someone’s going to start making knives. Just a guess.
Isn't it inevitable? In my experience, anyone who sticks around here more than a couple years either:

1) starts making knives,
2) is a pro cook,
3) becomes a big game Shig and Kato hunter collector type,
4) talks about TFTFTF endlessly.

2) is not gonna happen, I don't have the money for 3), and I've tried a TF (and thought it was very good, but not necessarily better than some other high end stuff I have), so 1) is the only option.
 

M1k3

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Isn't it inevitable? In my experience, anyone who sticks around here more than a couple years either:

1) starts making knives,
2) is a pro cook,
3) becomes a big game Shig and Kato hunter collector type,
4) talks about TFTFTF endlessly.

2) is not gonna happen, I don't have the money for 3), and I've tried a TF (and thought it was very good, but not necessarily better than some other high end stuff I have), so 1) is the only option.
You don't want to work 60+ hours a week and make roughly 1/4-1/2 what you currently make washing dishes and stuff? 🤔
 

Luftmensch

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Basically, I'm just looking to have an easier time making alterations to customer knives (broken tips, grinding fingerguards, etc...) while maybe doing a small amount of handle work.
🤔

I am going to focus on your first requirement... Have you considered a water wheel? Like a tormek? You can get cheaper knock offs as well. I am not recommending one... but think about whether it would fit your use case. It is not the perfect machine for knives - it was designed for carpentry. However it may suit you for light thinning and quickly resetting an edge. Significantly, it would be quiet enough and clean enough to use indoors. It would NOT be useful for major grinding.

If you think it is worth exploring the idea, try summon @Brian Weekley (see), or @nutmeg (same thread) or @Dave Martell (see) and see if their recommendation/opinion might suit your use case?


Otherwise I recommend avoiding the shed. Too cramped! I second @RDalman's idea - store your equipment there and move it out into the courtyard when you want to get messy. That is effectively what I do - I have one of those crappy* (but cheap) 100 x 914mm (4" x 36") belt sanders. I use it outside without any dust collection. I point the exhaust against a brick wall and clean the mess when I am done. You'll want to vacuum up the dust and then consider hosing down the area. Any dust left behind can rust and stain concrete/tiles/bricks. And of course... PPE! One of the reasons I would avoid the shed is noise. It might sound like a fart compared to regular lawn machinery** in open space.... but put it in a shed that small it will sound much more substantial. It will be less stressful for your ears in open space even using ear protection.



* On crappy belt sanders. Those generic models (all probably from the same factory) are poorly made. All their mechanisms suck. They aren't that powerful (they overheat and lose torque). Their motors trip the breakers if they get contaminated with metal filings. They can set their plastic fairings on fire (I recommend pulling them off and throwing them in the bin). The speed sucks. But if you understand what you are buying, they can represent a criminally low entry price. Stick to fresh/sharp coarse belts, use only light pressure and heat will be a manageable issue. Others may disagree from a safety point of view - but I recommend not using gloves. You will naturally stay well below temperatures that are bad for the heat treat if you can accurately sense the temperature. You wont want to hold the knife for long above 40-50C. Keep the knife moving so you don't have any 'flash' heat build ups in one spot (which might be harder for your fingers to feel). Dunk the knife in a bucket of water every once in a while. Do all this and it is a really cheap but janky and workable solution. If you don't have the room to establish a decent set up.... or you think you'll move to suburbia in the next couple of years, I say try one out! But be careful! The speed (paired with low grit) will allow mistakes to happen quickly.

** The dulcet tones of a 4-stroke lawn mower wafting over the breeze reminds me of lazy summers - a nice low frequency putt-putt. The frantic higher frequency buzz of a 2-stroke with the carburettor fully open is both loud and stressful! Angle grinders are an even more annoying pitch. Belt sander? Depending on the model... maybe like a 'quiet' lawn mower (SPL) but with a more monotone and higher pitched sound? 🤓
 

Brian Weekley

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I agree with Luftmensch, I don’t find my Tormek the best for any kind of serious work with quality knives. As with any powered device it’s much easier to make a serious mistake ... a very light touch is in order. The relatively small wheel generates a concave edge ... maybe more of a problem in theory when renewing an edge, but definitely a problem to me for thinning. You can accomplish a lot in an afternoon starting with a suitably coarse whetstone. If you are looking to sharpen as a business a proper 72” belt setup is the preferred way to go, in my opinion.
 

Brian Weekley

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I agree with Luftmensch, I don’t find my Tormek the best for any kind of serious work with quality knives. As with any powered device it’s much easier to make a serious mistake ... a very light touch is in order. The relatively small wheel generates a concave edge ... maybe more of a problem in theory when renewing an edge, but definitely a problem to me for thinning. You can accomplish a lot in an afternoon starting with a suitably coarse whetstone. If you are looking to sharpen as a business a proper 72” belt setup is the preferred way to go, in my opinion
 

ian

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I’m basically happy with my current load of one sharpening client a day (usually between 4 and 8 knives per client), often less than an hour of work on the stones. I don’t need powertools except for stuff like grinding new tips and grinding down fingerguards, and potentially just for fun knife projects in the future. Don’t have the space or money for a 2x72, but I’ll probably buy that cheaper 2x42 and see how it works in the shed, wearing ear protection.
 
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