Comparing Grinders. the 2x72 type

Which grinder

  • Beaumont KMG

    Votes: 6 25.0%
  • Bader

    Votes: 2 8.3%
  • Wilmont

    Votes: 2 8.3%
  • Build one (post which grinder plan)

    Votes: 7 29.2%
  • Other (post which grinder)

    Votes: 7 29.2%

  • Total voters
    24

JJB11B

Well-Known Member
#1
Well, it's time for a thread. I am ready to purchase my first real purpose built grinder.
I have been looking at the Beaumont KMG. I would like to go with the 3HP VFD motor option. It seems like a very popular model with a lot of accessories available. I thought I might want to buy the MOAG kit but at $5K I think I could go without a lot of the accessories in that package. I think the Flat Platen, a 14" contact wheel, and the small wheel setup would be a good start. I had a pretty good feeling that it was the right grinder for me.

Someone may have mentioned a TW-90. I have looked at them. I am not super computer savvy so I was unsure on what the $3,900 purchase of that grinder all comes with but I would hope it comes with a decent amount of accessories. I have thought about building one but I want to build a very high quality machine. I would need some help....also I have never seen what a build would cost all layed out. I could tell you how much it cost me to build my SPR rifle to the cent and what I could have done to shave cost and not sacrifice any noticeable performance. but this is its own beast
 
#2
If you arn’t In a rush I would have a look at the Northridge tool grinders; I can’t give first hand experience as I am yet to revceive mine and apparently he has quite a backlog. I did a lot of research as I needed a grinder for ‘90%’ other tasks and have just started out with knife making, but wanted something that would do both and be high quality. This was what I settled on, and I was prepared to wait, for what I believe will be a high quality build. I recommend that if you want to make contact with George, use the phone and I know he has a backlog so it might be a long wait. Plenty of stuff on the web about the grinder, and haven’t seen a negative comment about the product, just the odd bit of grumbling about lead times due to the popularity.
 

JJB11B

Well-Known Member
#3
If you arn’t In a rush I would have a look at the Northridge tool grinders; I can’t give first hand experience as I am yet to revceive mine and apparently he has quite a backlog. I did a lot of research as I needed a grinder for ‘90%’ other tasks and have just started out with knife making, but wanted something that would do both and be high quality. This was what I settled on, and I was prepared to wait, for what I believe will be a high quality build. I recommend that if you want to make contact with George, use the phone and I know he has a backlog so it might be a long wait. Plenty of stuff on the web about the grinder, and haven’t seen a negative comment about the product, just the odd bit of grumbling about lead times due to the popularity.
what is the price point on one of those? and what tooling does it come set up with?
 

John Wilson

Well-Known Member
#5
You can often save a couple hundred bucks by getting a smaller contact wheel. Don’t fall into the “I need a gigantic contact wheel” trap. Unless you are hollow grinding, an 8 or 10 inch wheel is fantastic.
 

Justin Presson

Well-Known Member
#6
I would reccomend the Wilmont line of grinders but I think Chris just shut his shop down to redesign both grinders. I have an LB1000 and like it. One thing to consider on the kmg is it does not have multiple tool arm slots.
 

EdCaffreyMS

Forum Owner - Moderator
#8
There are a lot of choices out there these days. My advice is to do your homework, looking at it from a using aspect, and ASK a LOT of questions to those who sell, and those who own the machine(s) you're interested in.

You can go anywhere from "plug-n-play" to building your own..... only you can determine which direction is best for you.

Some basic criteria that must be present in any grinder, before I would personally consider purchasing it would be....

1. The grinder is made from heavy gauge STEEL. I know it's all the rage, and "cool" to have a light weight grinder, but light weight material/machines vibrate, chatter, and are overall less stable/less durable than solid/heavy weight ones made of steel. In addition, make sure the parts that make up the machine are SOLID steel, and NOT tubing. (In my opinion, if you look at a grinder made with steel or aluminum tubing...run the other way) :)

2. Steer clear of machine that have flutes or grooves in the drive, idler, or attachment wheels. Those who produce them will rave that the wheels are fluted/grooved to aid in keeping belts cool, but they are flat out dangerous. Sooner or later you're gona forget that those wheels are not contact wheels, and try to grind on them...... this same design (fluting/grooved wheels) was attempted back in the late 1980s.... and several people were injured, and a couple even lost eyes because the grooved wheels will shred a belt in a snap if you try to grind on them.

3. Steer clear of "non-standard" design elements...buy that I mean tooling arm size (the standard is 1 1/2" square). Nearly all the after market attachments for grinders are based on 1 1/2" tooling arm. If you choose a machine with another size tooling arm, you basically lock yourself into buying any future attachments from the source of the grinder. (most who use tooling arms other than 1 1/2" do it on purpose, in order to make things "proprietary") It also pays to ask questions about bearing sizes used in the machine(s). Sooner or later bearings will need replaced in the various "wheels" on a grinder...... if the machine uses "non-standard" bearing sizes, you can expect to pay 3-4 times as much for the maintenance parts versus "standard" size bearings, and in most cases you will have to go back to the grinder's producer to get them.

4. Some will certainly disagree with me on this one, but I am not a fan of aluminum tooling arms. Generally the producer of a grinder touts an aluminum tooling arm as a "feature" of their machines, but in reality is is something that leads to increased vibration/chatter, and gets "chewed up" over time where the "clamping" mechanism contacts the aluminum. Aluminum tooling arms are more expensive, lend themselves to vibration/chatter, and require replacement far more often then steel tooling arms.

Motor size is always a compromise between "what do I need", and "what can I afford". My input is that if you are going to spend the money on a "top end" grinder....... get the largest HP motor you think you'll ever need. I started my career with 1hp, then went to 2hp, and am currently on 3hp motors. Had I known then, what I know now, I would have ponied up the money for 3hp motors to begin with, and saved myself a lot of money in the process. My opinion is that you can always "grow into" a machine with higher HP...... but, if you have too little HP, you will grow out of it quickly, and the only option is to buy a larger HP motor/VFD.

Single speed or VFD? No question here..... VFD all the way. There is simply nothing else that will give a grinder more versatility.

Look at customer service....and I don't mean looking for it on the internet.... there are a lot of knuckleheads out there who have very little common sense, and want a grinder producer to "hold their hand" when they have no business with a grinder in the first place. If you can't grasp the concept of simple electrical wiring, or understand a 3 position start/stop switch, you might want to educate yourself a bit before jumping in. These are the people who make a grinder producer's life miserable, and then go on various forums and bad mouth the grinder producer for "not helping" when all that was needed was a bit of easy research and personal responsibility. Seek out and talk to people who own the machine(s) your interested in, and get as many opinions on customer service as you can. Most grinder producers are very good about service after the sale, but there are some, who simply would rather not ever have to deal with you once the sale is made.

And finally...... buying a grinder from an established source (if you're buying versus building) means that down the road, if you ever decide to sell the machine, you will either get your purchase price, or very near it, back out of the machine. Not many shop machines hold their value as well as a 2x72" grinder from an established source. Where as if you buy from one of the "Johnny come lately" sources, you have no idea on resale value.

In the end, it's up to each individual to do the research and acquire what they believe is best for them, what I've written here is just things that I have learned over 30+ years of buying/using grinders intended for Knifemakers. I share because I'd prefer to prevent others from making many of the mistakes I already have. :)
 

Daniel Macina

Well-Known Member
#9
Check out the Moe's Grinder DVD and build your own for about $1,100.00 on the DVD page of www.WayneCoeArtistBlacksmith. You can look at the Grinders page for a video of the machine operating and further explanation.
You also might want to look at the GIB at www.PolarBearForge.com.

Just a quick word on the GIB. I just finished building one and quite honestly I wouldn't recommend it. Some of the problems are my fault but some of the design elements on the frame itself leaves something to be desired. You can build better grinders then the GIB for about the same price.

And I'm going to ruffle some feathers saying this and I certainly don't mean to bash anyone but Jamie's customer service at polar bear forge was terrible. I completely understand he's a busy guy but if you're going to have a Business you have to have at least a little customer service.
 

KenH

Well-Known Member
#11
Ed and I usually agree pretty close on most things, but we do have different views on a few things. Ed looks at tooling from a commercial aspect, his grinders run 6+ days/wk compared to myself who is a hobbyist.

#1: Steel - some things do need steel, but a well designed and built grinder works good with aluminum (my opinion). There is less weight in the tooling arm (and other parts) for an old feller like myself with a bad back. Aluminum MUST have steel inserts in threaded holes that are used (clamps, etc).

#2: Ed says it all there, he has the experience and I wouldn't think of not agreeing with him.

#3: Steer clear of "non-standard" design elements. Well said and I started a thread a while back about why would anybody use an odd size tooling arm.
#4: aluminum tooling arms - I LOVE them, but remember, I'm the hobbyist, not full time like Ed. Aluminum is less expensive for me since I make my own tooling arms.

#5: Home built vs factory? I've always been a fan of home built, I enjoy building almost as much as making knives. BUT - for the full time knifemaker, I expect the time used to build is going to more than offset the money saved building. You do need a decent drill press to build a grinder. There are plenty of plans on-line for building, and perhaps the easiest to build a good quality grinder from is a modified KMG clone with direct drive. There are a few other mods that help the KMG clone work better also.

#6: Motor hp? I'm sure Ed is right for a commercial shop, but I've been using 2 hp motors for a while and can't imagine needing more hp. BUT - as Ed says, you might grown into the need for a larger motor while starting with a small motor you're limited.

#7: VFD or single speed? The ONLY single speed grinder I can imagine is a dedicated high speed grinder for 5,000 SFPM (and faster) grinding. With only 1 grinder, VFD all the way! Ed and I don't totally agree on the Chinese VFD drives. I've got 3 of them in the shop with good results and a couple more with buddies using them. For grinder use, put VFD in box or good filters over the air inlet and they work just fine for a fraction of the cost. Can't imagine one being easier to setup then the last Chinese VFD I got. It has a very good English manual with only a few pages and only 33 (??) parameters that can be changed, and only 2 or 3 of those actually need changing. For $79.50 shipped and delivered 5 days later - can't beat it. With all that said, for a commercial shop - hands down go with a good NEMA 4X rated VFD. Remember, with a Chinese VFD if it's rated for 3 hp, don't try more than 2 hp for best service.

While the above may sound like I'm not agreeing with Ed, 90% (maybe 99%) I totally agree with Ed, have enjoyed talking with him at Blade, and I have learned LOTS over the years from Ed. I really appreciate the effort Ed spends in sharing his knowledge with the rest of us mere mortals. I'm just putting forth another perspective on grinders.

Ken H>
 
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J. Hoffman

Dealer - Purveyor
#12
I have criteria for a grinder, some are a must some are just nice. Requirements: Direct drive, ratcheting belt tension and rubber on the idler wheels so you can grind on them. Things that are nice: Aluminum tool bars ( I prefer 1.25") horizontal option. I know Ed doesn't like aluminum tool arms, but after years of use on the TW90 the arms are not marred in slightest. Both TW90 and Bader use the 1.25" arms with zero issues. I've also never heard another TW90 owner complain about the tool bars getting marred. It just isn't an issue. Only two grinders fit all my requirements, TW90 and the NRT. I would also include the Burr King in there even though it's belt drive. They are super smooth. The tracking of the TW90 is like no other grinder, and I think it works better.

KMG was the goto machine for years, but they haven't innovated or upgraded anything. I've also heard their quality control and customer service have gone down hill. I've ground on several machines, including Bader, Square Wheel, TW90, Burr King, Uber grinder and KMG.
 

John Wilson

Well-Known Member
#13
I love my KMG but having used it for several years now it is probably not the machine I’d buy today unless the price was just too good to pass up. Just as J Hoffman said, there’s nothing wrong with the KMG machine at all- it just hasn’t evolved to keep up with what other machines come with as standard now such as the ability to flip it horizontally. I realize Rob makes money selling horizontal units, but I’m not paying 2 grand for one.

The challenge with getting your first grinder is the cost, especially when you aren’t even sure you’re going to like making knives.
 

JJB11B

Well-Known Member
#14
I think I could make a pretty nice mount to move the whole damn thing horizontal though, just need a hinge and a herkin' huge plate of steel cut in two
 

Rick Otts

Well-Known Member
#15
I finally got my KMG and love the heck out of it.Things seem so much easier on it than on my old Grizzly.I will keep the Griz going because it's platen is longer for flating blades.
 

John Wilson

Well-Known Member
#16
That is a good point about the platen length. The KMG platen serves me very well, but there are times when I wish it was a tad longer. Even so, I still think the KMG is one of the best choices out there.

Rick, I don't know if you've done it yet but adding a glass plate to the platen really makes a difference. That steel platen wears out pretty quick, but once you put that pyroceramic glass on it, it stays perfectly flat for a long, long time. I've had my last piece on there for about three years, and it's just now getting to where I'm thinking about replacing it. I started off with the bare platen and it got grooved and uneven in about six months. That's hardly an issue if you have a second platen because you can just rotate them and flatten the one that just came off. But for about 20 bucks you can solve the problem altogether, and it does improve your grinds noticeably.
 

J. Hoffman

Dealer - Purveyor
#17
Well, it's time for a thread. I am ready to purchase my first real purpose built grinder.
I have been looking at the Beaumont KMG. I would like to go with the 3HP VFD motor option. It seems like a very popular model with a lot of accessories available. I thought I might want to buy the MOAG kit but at $5K I think I could go without a lot of the accessories in that package. I think the Flat Platen, a 14" contact wheel, and the small wheel setup would be a good start. I had a pretty good feeling that it was the right grinder for me.

Someone may have mentioned a TW-90. I have looked at them. I am not super computer savvy so I was unsure on what the $3,900 purchase of that grinder all comes with but I would hope it comes with a decent amount of accessories. I have thought about building one but I want to build a very high quality machine. I would need some help....also I have never seen what a build would cost all layed out. I could tell you how much it cost me to build my SPR rifle to the cent and what I could have done to shave cost and not sacrifice any noticeable performance. but this is its own beast
The TW90 comes with a flat platen with 2" contact wheels on top and bottom, 8" contact wheel, and small wheel holder. You need to supply the small wheels you need. It also includes the adjustable rest for horizontal and vertical, 2hp Leeson motor and KBAC Freq drive. It's the only grinder that tracks from the drive wheel and the tracking is awesome. Travis personally runs each machine before shipping. You unbox it and plug it in. Even when going from platen to wheel or vise versa, I rarely have to adjust the tracking. It's a lot of money, but in my opinion it's the best value in a grinder.
 

Drew Riley

Well-Known Member
#18
KMG used to be a (if not THE) main contender for function, as well as value, but I’m not sure that’s the case anymore. There’s so many options in the market now, combined with several reports of declining quality control, a kmg would be a tough sell for me, personally. Not to say they don’t still make a good grinder, but you may have to make some tweaks and adjustments out of the box.

When I decided to upgrade, I ended up designing and building my own from scratch, trying to implement all of the features I liked in existing machines, along with a couple things that weren’t exactly offered. Total cost ended up around a standard KMG package, (not including my time, of course), but I got a heck of a lot more features for the money.

I understand not everyone wants to build from scratch though, so if I had to buy one, my first choice would be Northridge, followed by the TW-90 as a second choice.

That said, there is no perfect end all, be all grinder IMO, and all of them have some room for improvement somewhere, but once you get past the $1000 range, I think any of the machines out there today should be plenty serviceable once you’re setup and going.
 
#19
Unless you just have a bunch of money to spend, I say if you're a newer maker and you have the ability, definitely make your own. It's not that hard to do and when you're new you don't know what you don't know. Getting some hours in on your first grinder will tell you what you like and don't like. If you were around Bruce's shop a lot maybe you already know a lot about grinders. Once your first cheap homebuilt grinder gets you to making some money, then start looking at the higher end machines if you still feel you need one. And, I'll disagree on the hp size you need as I have in the past. I have a 1hp 3-phase motor with a VFD and it is fine. I've never felt like I needed more power for knife making. You will need to get/make a set of small wheels too, so which ever way you go keep that in mind. I made my own grinder with a 10" wheel, small wheels, and a glass lined platen for a fraction of the prices you mentioned.
 

C Craft

Well-Known Member
#20
I did the build and I have never regretted it! The one thing about building your own you have to have the knowledge to understand what you are looking at on the plans. Square is critical for the machine to run and function as it should!! Close is not close enough. You are not playing horse shoes or hand grenade's! If you realize at some point the last element you added is off. Stop and fix it, If it costs you a whole day in the build. Because the machine will not function and you won't ever be happy with it! Square and True!!!

Actually over the weekend while the forum was down I found this in a book mark I had. It is on another forum but you should be able to see the plans. If you can't and you want to use this build I will find someway for you to see it!!!

You should be able to see these, I am not signed in and I can see them!

http://www.customknifedirectory.com/forum/showthread.php?s=9646b315214cfcd4a7b06aaff50e1d8b&t=62944
Those plans are very detailed and pictures of the actual build which helps to figure out the drawings. I built mine of steel although the one thing about aluminum is, it is lighter, no rusting, etc. However aluminum is going up everyday with the new tariffs!!
 
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