How to Improvise a Manual Bench Grinder

A bench grinder on a white background.
  • 2-4 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 20-200
What You'll Need
Grinding wheel
Old fashioned meat grinder
Long 1/4" double sided bolt with no head (approximately 3")
Rubber spacers

There are a variety of reasons one would want a bench grinder to use in their shop, but not everyone has the room for a big electric machine, or the money or power supply for that matter. It is possible to improvise a manual grinding mechanism, though, that is effective in performing light grinding tasks, and doesn't require a big commitment.

There are manual grinding wheels out there, but can be difficult to find. You most likely will not find them in a home improvement or tool store but may run across one at a flea market or garage sale. If you do, pick it up when you find it. Or, with a little creativity, a grinding wheel, and some spare parts and hardware, you can put a manual grinder together in the course of a couple of hours, and sharpen all your chisels before lunch.

Step 1 - Prepare the Grinder

You can use pretty much any mechanism that will enable you to turn a crank to get a rotary motion. In this application, the meat grinder was selected due to its heavy-duty nature and the ability to be clamped to a surface for stability. The grinder requires that the grinding blade be affixed with a bolt. The grinder was taken apart and reassembled back to this point.

Step 2 - Attach the Wheel

Put one of the rubber spacers on the bolt, and tighten down one of the nuts to the middle point of the bolt. Insert the bolt into the grinder, and tighten that down as far as it will go. Place the grinding wheel on the bolt, with both one nut and rubber spacer on one side, then slide another rubber spacer on to the other. Put another nut on the other side, and tighten that down as far as it will go. If you have a lot of excess bolts, you can cut off some of the excess with a hacksaw, but be careful not to damage the bolt as you will need to be able to change out the wheel when it becomes overly worn.

Step 3 - Secure the Grinder

The grinder will need to be anchored in some way to the work surface so that it doesn't move around when you are trying to grind something. If there is a clamp on it, as with the manual meat grinder, slide the C-clamp on the side of the work surface and tighten the bolt down to secure it. If your mechanism doesn't have a clamp, you can bolt it to the surface. This may require drilling holes into the base of the grinder, and surface, and securing with additional bolts and nuts.