I would agree with this fully. My grinder is the no weld grinder that Boss Dog has plans and parts for. My original setup was with the 3 pulley system. That would work OK, except changing the belt on the pulleys to change speeds really sucks. So much so that I used mine at the same speed for almost all operations. The VFD changed things so much it feels like I have a whole new grinder.I've built a couple of KMG clones, first with 3 pulley setup like the original KMG. Next was a direct drive with VFD - ONLY way to go. As Ed said, don't get suckered into a 3 pulley setup. I like the Reeder grinders - especially the SGA they've got. Depending on budget, they've got complete packages from $2K to $3500 or so. If money is any concern you can put together one of their packages for $1,000 to $1200 or so depending on type of VFD.
Ed is commenting from a full time commercial operation while I'm commenting from a part time hobby operation.
Bought mine 2-1/2 years ago love it! I bought a Multi platen from Polar Bear Forge. Looks like an elongated bent teardrop, I put a 2" rubber wheel on the top 4" Rubber wheel on the bottom with a steel platen and glass liner. I threaded the teardrops top and bottom holes with a 1/2x13 and cut the wheel mounting bolts flush on the back side (side near tool arm). This allows me to loosen the center bolt that screws into tooling arm and rotate platen so I can use the 2" or 4" wheel independently, use the platen or loosen center bolt and rotate 180 degrees and then use it as a slack belt all without changing the tooling arm.I just bought a Reeder at the Blade Show, and it has been awesome. I'm super happy with it. I did get it with the 2HP motor also.
Thanks. I will take that advice to heart. I plan on making 20-30 knives a year. It is going to be hard to justify spending $3-5K on a grinder but....it's just money and if I don't spend it it may spoil my kids when I die. Would't want that to happen.Just speaking my own opinion.... I've used an Ameribrade, and think there are far better choices. Why? That machine is just too light weight and what I would call "flimsy" when compared to those that are more robustly built. In a 2x72 grinder, weight equals stability, increases smoothness, and helps significantly reduce vibration. Anytime tubing is used in the construction of a grinder, it's just building in vibration and chatter. Maybe not at first, but after very little use, things will start going to pot.
Not just picking on the Ameribrade, but I would not own a machine that has a tension type belt adjustment system (a pull type spring or similar on the belt tension arm). Some will argue, but in my experience, a compression type system (spring or spring strut) is superior. The problem with tension type belt adjustments/tightening is that they are usually just too weak....because most cheap out and use far too light a tension spring.
Everyone has to go with what they feel is best for them.....but when I throw out advice on grinders, it's from experience, and the hope that a person will make a investment on a machine that will hold it's value over time....... generally buying a cheaper machine, means you have no resale value.
And to make a generality..... Usually when it comes to grinders.....the bigger/heavier/stouter......the better.