As a woodwoorker, this is interesting, as I occasionally grind hss pattern knives for my shaper. 5/16" or 3/8" thick, 1" to 3" wide. Can be a lot of steel to remove, been cutting as close as I can with an abrasive cut-off saw, then to the grinder.
Questions: would one of these belt sanders be a lot faster than an 8", 3/4 hp, 3500 rpm bench grinder? Is it just a horsepower thing? What kind of belt would be best to hog material off?
There is no comparison to any bench grinder I have used. It may be that the necessity of using a binder that is strong enough to prevent a wheel exploding limits wheel makers significantly. I am using 3M cubitron 60 grit as my general purpose weld prep and shaping belt though I have a good selection of specialized belts for other purposes. Anyway, if you look at my vid above of grinding 1X1x1/8" steel angle i was not even working the grinder hard and the angle just disappears. If I were using a 36 grit, the rate would be significantly greater. But, the 60 seems like a nice compromise.
I think if you were contouring your cutters, you would benefit from a belt grinder that has the small contact wheel attachment similar to the one shown above. Some of those attachments do not have the idler wheel which wraps the belt tightly around the contact wheel, thus limiting access to recesses if that is a factor in your work.
I do a modest amount of wood work with mine as it is quite handy for pattern making. Using it horizontally with the tilt table allows easy cutting of draft into outside flat surfaces in a very controlled way not to mention fitting parts etc.
The extra horsepower is very nice, but I have been told that high SFM is easier on belts when grinding steel. So, suspect the high SFM is a factor as well. I have followed that advice and belts last a long long time.
Here is what a close-up of the swarf looks like---more strands than dust.
And this is what a "mat" of the swarf looks like suspended from my fingers: