Small early Christmas present...

Small early Christmas present...

Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

October 13th, 2017, 6:32 am #1

Picked myself up a small early Christmas present, and they just came in:



Regular Guild readers will know I've been working on a new to me vertical mill I acquired last year, and which I finally got running and usable a couple-three months ago.

I've used it for a few jobs so far, and plan to do more with it here shortly as soon as I can get a couple more minor issues taken care of (the big one at the moment is the lack of a spindle brake, which makes tightening or loosening the drawbar kind of a pain.)

One of the other, more easily solved issues is the fact I only have one set of collets. I've only ever needed one set of collets, since in all these years, I've only ever had just the one machine running.

But in the last month or so of using it, it's been kind of an annoyance having to walk back and forth between the two machines, because it always seems the tool I need is on the other machine.

While I'm not going to duplicate the expensive stuff, like the inserted-carbide fly cutters, I decided it was time to buy another set of R8 collets, so each machine would have it's own dedicated set.

AND... I decided I'd splurge, and not only buy a new set, but buy some of the best I can get.

Virtually everything you can get out of most of the tool resellers, or Shars, or especially eBay, are Chinese-made imports, of often dubious quality. That said, the collets I've been using for nearly 20 years now were Asian-made and of dubious quality, and they've all proven to be pretty decent.

Digging around on eBay, I could have gotten a 13-piece set for as little as $20. These American-made Hardinges cost $45 each.

But Hardinge basically invented the spring collet- Hardinge was originally known as Cataract, and the Cataract #5 collet they invented is still known today as the 5C collet.

And, I don't need a 13-piece set. That includes sizes like 9/16", 7/16" and 11/16", which are all, today, kind of oddball shank sizes. I don't own, have never owned, and in fact have never even seen an endmill or other tool with a fractional-sixteenth shank. (Except for 3/16", a common size for miniature endmills.)

Really, you can easily make do with just six sizes- 3/16", 1/4", 3/8", 1/2", 5/8" and 3/4". I got those five above (they were out of 5/8") for... well, with shipping it was $275 or so. But I figured it was worth it- they're guaranteed concentric, properly heat-treated, solid one-piece (as opposed to the imports which are 2-piece) and considering the imports lasted me 20+ years so far (I originally bought the Jet mill-drill in '94 or '95) I expect these Hardinges will last longer than I will.

Funny thing to get excited about, but hey, I make my living with these things.

Doc.
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Joined: January 11th, 2016, 8:57 pm

October 13th, 2017, 10:03 am #2

My dad used to tell me to buy the best tools I could afford, and leave the price tag on them to remind me to treat them nice. He bought me my first decent full socket set (Sidchrome - the best that was available in Australia in 1967) and HE left the price tag on it. Except for a single broken socket (water pipe on the bar handle - never again!) I still have it and use it regularly.
Breakfast.com halted. Cereal port not ready.
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

October 13th, 2017, 4:32 pm #3

Actually I've never really had any major problems over the years with cheap tools, but i have had any number of small annoyances- anything from a Philiips screwdriver 'rounding off' after only a relative few uses, to cheap motor capacitors going bad.

That original mill-drill I got simply because it was A) the only machine I could find locally, and B) the only machine I could afford. It was, especially in retrospect, at best only barely adequate- I'm sure the vari-drive pulleys and the belt were badly worn when I got it, and so it was never going to give me good surface finishes.

Switching over to the big Grizzly was a night-and-day difference.

And speaking of the Griz, I'd originally tried to order a machine a step down from the one I eventually got, as it was $1,000 cheaper. Fortunately they were sold out of that model, and I decided to splurge on the bigger one- I'm very glad I did, as the bigger one I got, was a Taiwanese-made, bolt-for-bolt clone of a Bridgeport, while the cheaper ones were mainland China, and turned out to not have as good a reputation.

My first rotary table was a Japanese-made Yuasa, a reasonably decent brand, but it still had terrible backlash, poor locks and no easy adjustability. I replaced that with an American-made Gorton, that might well date to the thirties, which is solid, easy to adjust for backlash, and locks like a bank vault.

I used to buy cheap Chinese endmills, because they were all I could afford- but after later trying some name-brand stuff, I realized just how much longer a quality cutter could last.

The first R8-shank drill chuck I bought, both the chuck and the shank were cheap imports, and wouldn't mate- the tapers were off. The chuck actually fell off more than once! When I got the Griz, I splurged again and got a Jacobs Super Chuck and a real Jacobs-made arbor. They fit together perfectly, and I still use it regularly today. (Jacobs, unfortunately, sold out to a bigger conglomerate a few years ago, who immediately offshored production- the overwhelming consensus online is that current-production Jacobs is anything from barely adequate to crap.)

To be fair, however, those aforementioned un-branded Asian-made R8 collets were still providing me good service right up 'til a couple days ago. I had one in the spindle of the Exacto when I indicated it with a precision-ground rod, and it showed 0.000" deviation.

I have a couple of no-name Chinese endmills that I bought back in the late 90s and are still sharp today. (Granted I use them mostly on aluminum, but in most cases, it's been a lot of aluminum. )

I picked up a 60-some-odd piece drill index back in the day, which was again a no-name, made-in-China set, and I'm still using some of those today. (Although I've had lots of other cheap, no-name drills over the years that couldn't drill two holes in mild steel without going dull.)

And, I'd been using an Asian-made Kurt-clone mill vise since I got the Grizzly. It was a damn sight better than the vises I had for the Jet, and is still in good working order today (after many, many thousands of hours of use.) (Although it's also worth noting that a similar 5" vise, bought from the same ad in the same ENCO flyer six years later, was considerably more poorly made. I then replaced them both with a Glacern.)

All in all, yeah, the early stuff got the job done for me, but the lesson was, if you can afford it, buy the better quality tool.

Doc.
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Joined: January 4th, 2015, 12:41 pm

October 13th, 2017, 4:33 pm #4

My dad used to tell me to buy the best tools I could afford, and leave the price tag on them to remind me to treat them nice. He bought me my first decent full socket set (Sidchrome - the best that was available in Australia in 1967) and HE left the price tag on it. Except for a single broken socket (water pipe on the bar handle - never again!) I still have it and use it regularly.
I keep a bag of cheapass tools from Harbor Freight in my truck. If they're gonna be used in the rain, left by the side of the road, lost in an accident, or just plain stolen, I'd rather lose fifty bucks' worth of just-good-enough crap than something I paid good money for, or, even more importantly, inherited from my one of grandfathers (a mechanic and a carpenter).
"Vox populi, vox humbug!"
- William Tecumseh Sherman
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Joined: November 30th, 2014, 1:36 am

October 13th, 2017, 4:37 pm #5

Picked myself up a small early Christmas present, and they just came in:



Regular Guild readers will know I've been working on a new to me vertical mill I acquired last year, and which I finally got running and usable a couple-three months ago.

I've used it for a few jobs so far, and plan to do more with it here shortly as soon as I can get a couple more minor issues taken care of (the big one at the moment is the lack of a spindle brake, which makes tightening or loosening the drawbar kind of a pain.)

One of the other, more easily solved issues is the fact I only have one set of collets. I've only ever needed one set of collets, since in all these years, I've only ever had just the one machine running.

But in the last month or so of using it, it's been kind of an annoyance having to walk back and forth between the two machines, because it always seems the tool I need is on the other machine.

While I'm not going to duplicate the expensive stuff, like the inserted-carbide fly cutters, I decided it was time to buy another set of R8 collets, so each machine would have it's own dedicated set.

AND... I decided I'd splurge, and not only buy a new set, but buy some of the best I can get.

Virtually everything you can get out of most of the tool resellers, or Shars, or especially eBay, are Chinese-made imports, of often dubious quality. That said, the collets I've been using for nearly 20 years now were Asian-made and of dubious quality, and they've all proven to be pretty decent.

Digging around on eBay, I could have gotten a 13-piece set for as little as $20. These American-made Hardinges cost $45 each.

But Hardinge basically invented the spring collet- Hardinge was originally known as Cataract, and the Cataract #5 collet they invented is still known today as the 5C collet.

And, I don't need a 13-piece set. That includes sizes like 9/16", 7/16" and 11/16", which are all, today, kind of oddball shank sizes. I don't own, have never owned, and in fact have never even seen an endmill or other tool with a fractional-sixteenth shank. (Except for 3/16", a common size for miniature endmills.)

Really, you can easily make do with just six sizes- 3/16", 1/4", 3/8", 1/2", 5/8" and 3/4". I got those five above (they were out of 5/8") for... well, with shipping it was $275 or so. But I figured it was worth it- they're guaranteed concentric, properly heat-treated, solid one-piece (as opposed to the imports which are 2-piece) and considering the imports lasted me 20+ years so far (I originally bought the Jet mill-drill in '94 or '95) I expect these Hardinges will last longer than I will.

Funny thing to get excited about, but hey, I make my living with these things.

Doc.
When I need an oddball 5C collet (pretty much never anymore since I have a full set to 64ths) I almost always spring for a Hardinge. You don't really have to check them to see if they're on size and they always have enough spring in them to let an on-size tool or workpiece in them without a lot of work.

Good thing you didn't need something like the 2VB my Hardinge mill's Bridgeport head takes - Hardinge wants $200 a pop for those. That would add up to more than I paid for the whole mill for a smallish set.
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Joined: September 29th, 2016, 1:55 am

October 13th, 2017, 5:56 pm #6

Actually I've never really had any major problems over the years with cheap tools, but i have had any number of small annoyances- anything from a Philiips screwdriver 'rounding off' after only a relative few uses, to cheap motor capacitors going bad.

That original mill-drill I got simply because it was A) the only machine I could find locally, and B) the only machine I could afford. It was, especially in retrospect, at best only barely adequate- I'm sure the vari-drive pulleys and the belt were badly worn when I got it, and so it was never going to give me good surface finishes.

Switching over to the big Grizzly was a night-and-day difference.

And speaking of the Griz, I'd originally tried to order a machine a step down from the one I eventually got, as it was $1,000 cheaper. Fortunately they were sold out of that model, and I decided to splurge on the bigger one- I'm very glad I did, as the bigger one I got, was a Taiwanese-made, bolt-for-bolt clone of a Bridgeport, while the cheaper ones were mainland China, and turned out to not have as good a reputation.

My first rotary table was a Japanese-made Yuasa, a reasonably decent brand, but it still had terrible backlash, poor locks and no easy adjustability. I replaced that with an American-made Gorton, that might well date to the thirties, which is solid, easy to adjust for backlash, and locks like a bank vault.

I used to buy cheap Chinese endmills, because they were all I could afford- but after later trying some name-brand stuff, I realized just how much longer a quality cutter could last.

The first R8-shank drill chuck I bought, both the chuck and the shank were cheap imports, and wouldn't mate- the tapers were off. The chuck actually fell off more than once! When I got the Griz, I splurged again and got a Jacobs Super Chuck and a real Jacobs-made arbor. They fit together perfectly, and I still use it regularly today. (Jacobs, unfortunately, sold out to a bigger conglomerate a few years ago, who immediately offshored production- the overwhelming consensus online is that current-production Jacobs is anything from barely adequate to crap.)

To be fair, however, those aforementioned un-branded Asian-made R8 collets were still providing me good service right up 'til a couple days ago. I had one in the spindle of the Exacto when I indicated it with a precision-ground rod, and it showed 0.000" deviation.

I have a couple of no-name Chinese endmills that I bought back in the late 90s and are still sharp today. (Granted I use them mostly on aluminum, but in most cases, it's been a lot of aluminum. )

I picked up a 60-some-odd piece drill index back in the day, which was again a no-name, made-in-China set, and I'm still using some of those today. (Although I've had lots of other cheap, no-name drills over the years that couldn't drill two holes in mild steel without going dull.)

And, I'd been using an Asian-made Kurt-clone mill vise since I got the Grizzly. It was a damn sight better than the vises I had for the Jet, and is still in good working order today (after many, many thousands of hours of use.) (Although it's also worth noting that a similar 5" vise, bought from the same ad in the same ENCO flyer six years later, was considerably more poorly made. I then replaced them both with a Glacern.)

All in all, yeah, the early stuff got the job done for me, but the lesson was, if you can afford it, buy the better quality tool.

Doc.
I had what must have been one of those cheap knockoff bits; it was part of a tool box that came with our house which we bought as an estate sale, contents and all. I tried to use it to drill holes in the concrete slab to anchor a sliding door runner. First hole it didn't cut so hot, the second hole it actually unspooled itself along the helix as I drilled - Yike! Got a better quality bit from HD, and eventually borrowed a friend's Hilti for my other framing needs.
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Joined: July 31st, 2016, 12:48 pm

October 13th, 2017, 7:30 pm #7

I keep a bag of cheapass tools from Harbor Freight in my truck. If they're gonna be used in the rain, left by the side of the road, lost in an accident, or just plain stolen, I'd rather lose fifty bucks' worth of just-good-enough crap than something I paid good money for, or, even more importantly, inherited from my one of grandfathers (a mechanic and a carpenter).
...I've got a collection of cheap tools exclusively for lending them to neighbors and the like. Those who carefully select a caliper - and then use it to pull nails out of drywall, or forget to return it, you know.

Does that mean I'm a bad person?
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

October 13th, 2017, 8:33 pm #8

I had what must have been one of those cheap knockoff bits; it was part of a tool box that came with our house which we bought as an estate sale, contents and all. I tried to use it to drill holes in the concrete slab to anchor a sliding door runner. First hole it didn't cut so hot, the second hole it actually unspooled itself along the helix as I drilled - Yike! Got a better quality bit from HD, and eventually borrowed a friend's Hilti for my other framing needs.
Years ago, I was given an index of "titanium nitrided" drills- they were gold-colored, anyway.

I was given it after the buyer had tried to drill into a wall- drywall and into a stud- to put up a hanger. The drill actually unwound itself. The helix was reversed halfway down the flutes.

I tried several of the rest with a file- they were dead soft mild steel, and whatever that gold coating was, it wasn't even remotely TiNitride. (Or if it was, it was only a couple molecules thick.)

I still have the index around here somewhere, I've been keeping them in case I want to do an art project or something. You know, weld them together into a marker stand or whatever.

Doc.
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

October 13th, 2017, 8:42 pm #9

...I've got a collection of cheap tools exclusively for lending them to neighbors and the like. Those who carefully select a caliper - and then use it to pull nails out of drywall, or forget to return it, you know.

Does that mean I'm a bad person?
Don't loan tools.

Actually, I do loan tools- and even borrow some on occasion- but it's always to (or from) a close friend or family member.

But that said, I do also have a "junkyard box", a typical pitched-roof toolbox specifically for taking out to rescues or junkyard runs, etc. Full of decent but not top-of-the-line tools, plus some "recovered" stuff like these:



Those had been left in a buddy's bed-mounted plastic toolbox for many years, and he was going to throw them away. I rescued them, soaked off the rust with a night in vinegar, and reoiled 'em.



The Phillips screwdriver wound up too pitted at the tip to save, but the socket wrench stuff, smaller screwdriver and wire cutters all work perfectly- they're just a little on the ugly side. The bigger screwdriver turned out to be a Snap-On, and in great shape. That one went in with the rest in my daily-use drawer.

Doc.
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

October 13th, 2017, 10:47 pm #10

When I need an oddball 5C collet (pretty much never anymore since I have a full set to 64ths) I almost always spring for a Hardinge. You don't really have to check them to see if they're on size and they always have enough spring in them to let an on-size tool or workpiece in them without a lot of work.

Good thing you didn't need something like the 2VB my Hardinge mill's Bridgeport head takes - Hardinge wants $200 a pop for those. That would add up to more than I paid for the whole mill for a smallish set.
Yeah, some of those older, more obscure types can get pretty expensive- and I suspect that it's in no small part because Hardinge probably doesn't actually keep many in stock, they make them as-ordered, when-ordered.

On the other hand, expensive or not, at least they're available. There's plenty of older machines out there that still work just fine, despite being 50, 70 or even 90 years old. (My big Springfield lathe is in fine shape, now, despite being what, 74 years old?)

Yeah, $200 a pop isn't cheap, but considering the small size of the collet, and the standardization of shank sizes today, you could easily get away with just two- 3/8" and 1/2"- which would likely take care of 90% of milling jobs. Then, as funds allow, maybe later pick one up for 1/4", then maybe 3/16".

Those would pretty much be all you need- $800 is a good chunk of change, but spread out over a year or two, it's not bad.

(All that, of course, assumes you can't find good used ones in eBay or from other sellers, or that you didn't get any with the machine, etc. )

Doc.
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