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Seeking recommendations on non-Chinese 1/8" solid parallel set

Mazinger

Plastic
Joined
May 26, 2022
Howdy folks!

I'm a Tool & Die noob on the hunt for the tools and equipment required for my Tool & Die courses. Among the must-haves on the equipment list is a set of 1/8-inch thick solid parallels with pairs ranging from 1/2 to 1-5/8 inches in height in 1/8" increments (10 pairs total). It's a very common set being sold everywhere under a zillion brands, however, I'm looking for one that's not made in China. USA would be ideal, of course, but other regions in the first world like Canada, Europe, Japan, South Korea, etc. will do. Not too keen on Mexico. Taiwan would be about the bare minimum to make the cut, but I'm hoping I can land a notch or two above that.

Money is an object, but I do understand that I'll have to shell out more dough than what the China specials would cost me.

Even if money were no object, this might be a tough one. I've been shopping around online quite a bit, and haven't yet found a set that's for-sure made in USA or any other reputable country at any price. There are several vendors online falsely/erroneously representing Chinese sets as "made in USA", which makes the task more tricky. Fowler has a Chinese set that vendors seem to think (or want you to think) come from the U.S. Brown & Sharp have a couple sets that are ostensibly nice, but I'm waiting to hear back from their customer service regarding COO.

I'm looking for any leads on who makes a non-Chinese set, and who's got the best bargain. Thanks everyone!

Also, not to be a poopoo, but...
Although I'm new to this forum, I know how forums like these tend to work. I'd like to make it clear that the point of this post is to try and locate non-Chinese parallels and hopefully get something at a price I can stomach. Comments from so-and-so about how he or she has a $50 dollar set from China that works just fine for their needs is not really helpful to me. I'd really love to not have to read post after post of people trying to convince me of how stupid I am for not buying the dirt-cheapest thing I can find. This is not intended to be an invitation to change my mind about who I give my own money to. I don't want this to deteriorate into a political discussion about outsourcing/offshoring/labor/economics/etc. If you think you know of a brand or store that's got what I am looking for, Awesome! Let's hear it! If you think I'm a dummy for being conscientious about how I spend my money, I'd like to remind you that anyone can start their own thread. You're welcome to start a "Chinese parallels fanboy" thread, and I promise I won't bother you there. Sorry about the rant. Thanks for your understanding.
 

memphisjed

Stainless
Joined
Jan 21, 2019
Location
Memphis
 

neilho

Titanium
Joined
Mar 23, 2006
Location
Vershire, Vermont
Make your own.

Assuming you want 6" long parallels, saw whatever widths needed from a 6" wide piece of flat, ground tool steel (not hardened), mill and grind the edges in pairs.

Or cold rolled, or hot rolled. Pretty much any steel can work, though something millable makes it easier.

It's good exercise in basic toolmaking skills, too.
 

EPAIII

Diamond
Joined
Nov 23, 2003
Location
Beaumont, TX, USA
Good luck on this. That is meant seriously.

OK, I won't tell you about my Chinese parallels. Not a single word.

There's McMaster, they usually have top quality items and prices to match. But they don't even tell you the brand name, much less the country of origin.


Then there is MSC. They list parallels by a number of manufacturers and I can guarantee you that over half of them are made in China so they are out. They list both Kurt and Starrett, two well known brands but do not show the country of origin. One brand that they list that I am fairly certain is made in the US is Suburban Tools. But have a stiff drink,sit down, and fasten your seat belt before you look at the price.


OK, I mislead you up above. I DO have parallels that I am dead certain were made in the US. I MADE THEM. I purchased some lengths of flat ground stock and cut different lengths from the 12" or 36" bars. I can not measure any differences in size of the ones cut from the same piece of that stock: they are good to a tenth or better. The cost was in the medium range: my Chinese ones were, size for size, less expensive. But I will not talk about how good they are because you asked me/us not to.

After you read the price of the Suburban Tools set, you may want to place a couple of phone calls to McMaster and MSD to ask about the country of origin of their various brands.

And, as I said above, a serious good luck.
 

gustafson

Diamond
Joined
Sep 4, 2002
Location
People's Republic
IF you go into product details in McMaster it tells you country of origin
 

IninefingersI

Aluminum
Joined
Mar 9, 2022
Location
Doo Dah, Kansas
A parallel is a parallel. As long as they are within the advertised tolerance, they are as good as any other parallel. If they aren't, return them. Whether you consider it helpful or not, and whether you prefer to read it or not, it is truth.
 

dazz

Stainless
Joined
Aug 20, 2006
Location
New Zealand
Hi
I am not going to advise you to buy the dirt-cheapest Chinese crap based on any political or economic loyalties. I also need a set of parallels and price is a barrier.
I have three choices which I think are much the same as yours:
1. I can buy any good quality brand-name tools that are really good but with a price that could feed a third world country for a week.
2. Buy higher priced Chinese tools because I find close correlation between price and quality, unlike suppliers many English speaking countries (my choice but not yours).
3. Make your own like EPAII did. This is what I plan to do.

Making your own will tell you a lot about the milling machine and your skills. You will need the instruments to measure their precision and accuracy, but you will need those anyway. Making your own will give you the precision you are looking for at an unmatched price that even the cheapest crapiest Chinese supplier couldn't beat.

I need to confess that I like making tools to use to make more tools.
 

eKretz

Diamond; Mod Squad
Joined
Mar 27, 2005
Location
Northwest Indiana, USA
A parallel is a parallel. As long as they are within the advertised tolerance, they are as good as any other parallel. If they aren't, return them. Whether you consider it helpful or not, and whether you prefer to read it or not, it is truth.

Not necessarily true. The better parallels have two or three things going for them that the cheap ones often don't. First, they are right on nominal size - and if you buy a second set later, they will match pretty closely. Second, they are ground true and flat in all directions, so they can easily be used on their sides as well. Third, they are hardened to a pretty high hardness so they don't easily get nicked and scratched up, which hurts their ability to sit flat and true.
 

gustafson

Diamond
Joined
Sep 4, 2002
Location
People's Republic
The OP does raise a good point
How come I cannot buy a, I dunno $400 set of 1/8 by X USA made parallels.
I don't need $40 ones, but $2000 seems a bit much, I mean, I am going to drill a hole in one soon enough
The B&S are China, bought some 2 years ago.
 

IninefingersI

Aluminum
Joined
Mar 9, 2022
Location
Doo Dah, Kansas
Not necessarily true. The better parallels have two or three things going for them that the cheap ones often don't. First, they are right on nominal size - and if you buy a second set later, they will match pretty closely. Second, they are ground true and flat in all directions, so they can easily be used on their sides as well. Third, they are hardened to a pretty high hardness so they don't easily get nicked and scratched up, which hurts their ability to sit flat and true.
You really have no guarantees that one set of parallels is going to exactly match another set of parallels, regardless of what you buy and, personally, I'm doubling up parallels all the time. I don't think I've ever scrapped a part and blamed it on a bad parallel.

My point is really this: If you are building your tool box and price is an issue, the are a ton of other ways to dip deeper into your pile of money and get more bang for your buck than scouring the earth for a set of parallels that were made somewhere other than China. And note that the guy makes no mention about what brands are good and what ones aren't. Just that he definitely doesn't like China, and isn't a fan of Mexico.
 

eKretz

Diamond; Mod Squad
Joined
Mar 27, 2005
Location
Northwest Indiana, USA
You really have no guarantees that one set of parallels is going to exactly match another set of parallels, regardless of what you buy and, personally, I'm doubling up parallels all the time. I don't think I've ever scrapped a part and blamed it on a bad parallel.

My point is really this: If you are building your tool box and price is an issue, the are a ton of other ways to dip deeper into your pile of money and get more bang for your buck than scouring the earth for a set of parallels that were made somewhere other than China. And note that the guy makes no mention about what brands are good and what ones aren't. Just that he definitely doesn't like China, and isn't a fan of Mexico.

When do any of us really have a guarantee of anything? But I'd bet dollars to doughnuts that a good set of brand name parallels would be a heck of a lot closer compared to a set of cheap imports. I've got a few sets of Brown&Sharpe "Ultra Precision" parallels that are bang on size within less than a couple tenths. I have also had some Chinese ones that were as warped as heck and not even actually parallel! I don't think anyone mentioned scrapping parts due to parallels being a little off but you... But having good parallels sure does make for a lot less fiddle-farting around trying to get parts set.
 

IninefingersI

Aluminum
Joined
Mar 9, 2022
Location
Doo Dah, Kansas
When do any of us really have a guarantee of anything? But I'd bet dollars to doughnuts that a good set of brand name parallels would be a heck of a lot closer compared to a set of cheap imports. I've got a few sets of Brown&Sharpe "Ultra Precision" parallels that are bang on size within less than a couple tenths. I have also had some Chinese ones that were as warped as heck and not even actually parallel! I don't think anyone mentioned scrapping parts due to parallels being a little off but you... But having good parallels sure does make for a lot less fiddle-farting around trying to get parts set.
You completely avoided my point.
 

eKretz

Diamond; Mod Squad
Joined
Mar 27, 2005
Location
Northwest Indiana, USA
You completely avoided my point.

I didn't really think it needed a reply... Obviously it's silly to spend thousands of dollars on a set of parallels. There are (or at least there used to be; not sure nowadays as it's been a while since I purchased a set of parallels) perfectly fine options available for a lot less than that. Another option is to buy the cheap import parallels and grind them in one's self.
 

Mike1974

Diamond
Joined
Nov 5, 2014
Location
Tampa area
I didn't really think it needed a reply... Obviously it's silly to spend thousands of dollars on a set of parallels. There are (or at least there used to be; not sure nowadays as it's been a while since I purchased a set of parallels) perfectly fine options available for a lot less than that. Another option is to buy the cheap import parallels and grind them in one's self.
Good idea to buy cheap and grind them in IMO. Good practice on preciison grinding, you will learn how to flip/flop parts to get tehm flat, how to "dust" off a few tenths at a time to make sure they don't warp...
 

Mazinger

Plastic
Joined
May 26, 2022
Actually memphisjed seems to have linked to the answer...
I appreciate the suggestions, but unfortunately these AMPG parallels appear to be one of the common "fake USA" sets. Places like Travers and Penn state "made in USA" but if you go to the manufacturer's catalog, they say it's imported. Parallels are on the last page of the catalog linked below:


Not sure what the issue is. Perhaps they were once made in the States, and the sellers just never updated their info when they went overseas. The manufacturer's catalog doesn't specify the COO. I sent them an email about it and am awaiting their reply.

I will say, however that this company, Accurate Manufactured Products Group, appears to make almost everything besides their parallels in-house in the USA. It looks like they offer a lot of really nice stuff. I might end up buying some other items from them down the road.
 








 
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