It all started with my small 762*25 mm belt grinder from a big tool shop chain. It does a good job and the narrow belt has its advantages on blades with lots of curves. The disadvantages are a low power and the lack of precision of the plate and hard to manage belt guidance.
I had seen the machines that are used by American knifemakers on the internet. Typical is the open style without covers which would obstruct the changing of the belt and the easy access to slack parts of the belt. Unfortunately, the open style makes it difficult with European laws to get the needed safety certifications. Without the CE marking you are not allowed to sell a machine in the EU.
This is when I heard of the belt grinders of Batko Bandschuurmachines from our neighbor country Netherlands. He has solved the European requirements and has a portfolio of 4 different models. I looked through every machine they offer and found out the Batko 1400XL would be perfect. It is the second-largest model.
I contacted Jac Nijskens, the head of the company by eMail and asked him tons of questions and how the different options could be configured. He sent me a quote for my dream machine and I was totally amazed at the fair price.
As it was just an hour’s drive I totally wanted to pick up the machine personally. This way I could also have a look at further options like the small roller set and talk to Jac personally.
Unfortunately, he did not have a machine ready on Saturday that week. No wonder when you have a look at the high quality of the machines and as he might be the only dealer around to have this type of machines. So we agreed on Saturday the week after.
Wednesday the next week he mailed that he might not have a machine for me again and as the third weekend was already blocked on my side I would have to wait at least two more weeks. First of all, I was sad because I really wanted to get my hand on one of these professional grinders and second I had a project on my table for a friend in the US where the machine would have been handy for.
I mailed back that if he would still have a grinder ready on Saturday he could call me and I would jump right into my car. And what should I say? He told me on Friday he would have my baby ready and that I could come to NL at 12:00 o’clock.
I took my whole family with me for that short trip to NL. We arrived at Beesel at 11:20 and used the spare time to take a turn around the beautiful town before I called Jac.
Jac is a great guy who knows everything about belt grinders. He showed me how to use the grinder, handle the belts and we talked about his and my business. These machines are massively built for generations to come and exactly that is his claim.
I felt like a nine-year-old in a candy shop. We unpacked the machine and he taught me about every detail. I decided to take the set of small rolls and some grinding belts too. The room with every kind of grinding belts alone makes every knifemaker smile.
Back at home I put everything together, threw on a 60 grit belt on the wheels and tried some grinding on a piece of scrap metal and what should I say – this beast shreds through steel like a beast. That thing is a must-have for serious knife making. I am more than happy with the machine. When you talk to Jac, tell him I sent you.
What is next? I will have to attach the grinder to the table, after that I will put a bucket with water below the plate to catch sparks and dust and to cool down the blades while grinding. The small grinder will stay in my workshop for special purposes and grinding the knives handles.