What's new
What's new

Thoughts on surface grinder for home hobbyist?

Saberstar

Plastic
Joined
Nov 5, 2022
Just curious as to how many home hobby folks have a surface grinder?
I am kind of looking at them, but i have never used 1 before.
I read about them and would seem useful to have 1 but not sure really how often i would use it.
Thoughts?
 

Big B

Diamond
Joined
Jun 26, 2009
Location
Michigan, USA
I have a Harig Super 612 and don't use it much but when I need it it's there and it was relatively reasonable to buy. It has 6X12 inch magnetic chuck and it all manually operated but if you don't do a lot of grinding you don't really need automatic feed.

A few years ago I was talking to a friend of mine who owned a fairly large shop and I asked him why he didn't have any OD grinder and he told me that he is able to hard turn most anything to tight tolerances so a grinder wasn't needed. It may well be the same for surface grinding flat stuff in a lot of cases.
 
  • Like
Reactions: RF

Cole2534

Diamond
Joined
Sep 10, 2010
Location
Oklahoma City, OK
I think they're a great addition to an SB lathe (any small shop, really) because with minimal fixturing you can quickly grind text book perfect turning tools. Sure, you can buy an insert for anything but that's expensive and unnecessary for these lathes.

A Harig 612 is what I have and it's great. I do advise anyone using an SG to rig up a coolant system. They needn't be complex, mine is an aquarium pump that sits in a 5 gal bucket. This is perfectly sufficient to keep your parts cool and greatly reduce the amount of sparks thrown.

I only use mine a few times per year, but given its small size I can justify keeping it.

SGs can be very dangerous. Feeding the work into the wheel with excessive depth of cut can cause the wheel to shatter and send flying debris everywhere. YOU MUST TOUCH OFF WITH CAUTION. But other than thay they're very straightforward.
 

texasgeartrain

Titanium
Joined
Feb 23, 2016
Location
Houston, TX
You'd might want either a vacuum or a dust collector with grinder, and/or some ventilation. You get metal and abrasive material in the air thats bad for you and other machines. Where possible, I'd try to keep abrasive machines in one room or building, and lathes and mills in another. At a minimum cover your other machines while grinding if you happen to be removing a lot of material with grinder. Better to wear a dust mask as well.

As Cole mentioned, they can be dangerous if you jam a wheel on a part, or if said part is not properly locked down, you could send the part through the back wall. If dressing wheels, have diamond holder pointed in the direction the sparks go, so if it were to jam, the diamond just tips over, and does not lift and jam into wheel.

Not an everyday use machine for me, but very very handy to have when needed, on so many things. You don't remove material at a high rate, maybe a couple of tenths( of a thou), or at most .001"-.002" per pass if grinding a small surface area. Larger areas maybe .0002", but there's a lot of variables, and a whole nother learning curve from a lathe.
 

michiganbuck

Diamond
Joined
Jun 28, 2012
Location
Mt Clemens, Michigan 48035
Likely you should tell what products you commonly make and then the guys here might focus on how a SG can help.
I think they are no more or less safe/dangerous than a mill or a lathe.
Making flat and true is the most common function.
 
Last edited:

Scottl

Diamond
Joined
Nov 3, 2013
Location
Eastern Massachusetts, USA
Likely you should tell what products you commonly make and then the guys here might focus on how a SG can help.
I think they are no more or less safe/dangerous than a mill or a lathe.
Making flat and true is the most common function.
And a secondary function is tool grinding, with simple fixtures for lathe bits, chisels etc. and more complex ones for things like end mills.

However, for a hobbyist a good vertical belt sander is probably more useful, used for everything from smoothing cut edges to sharpening of lathe bits, chisels etc. although they will require hand honing afterward.

For most flat pieces a hobbyist can make due with a fly cut surface followed by lapping, starting with abrasive paper on a piece of float glass.
 

CarbideBob

Diamond
Joined
Jan 14, 2007
Location
Flushing/Flint, Michigan
A Harig 6x12 is easy to transport or move and a very decent grinder capable of a lot. (done it with a mini-van)
Have owned many more than one so some bias is fully admitted.

Next step up in my book is a B&S 6x18 manual. More accurate for high volume work. Not so easy to take home or move.
Dust collector? Small shop vac but a good sized bathroom fan in a cardboard box with a hose and filter is much quieter.
Coolant? As said above but I need real coolant so cut off 55 gallon drum and sump pump running full on.
Coolant containment? Cardboard and duct tape, handful of plexiglass pieces, roof rubber and magnets. Serious wet and you will want a sheet metal tray and ends.

There are low cost surface grinders of this style. https://www.amazon.com/Grizzly-G596...ocphy=9017065&hvtargid=pla-978862644136&psc=1
Let's just say not so good and I'd stay far away from this design.

Dangerous? My bench grinders have bitten me, grabbed parts and blown up more.
Bob
 
Last edited:

RC Mech

Stainless
Joined
Jul 21, 2014
Location
Ontario, Canada
A Harig 6x12 is easy to transport or move and a very decent grinder capable of a lot. (done it with a mini-van)
Have owned many more than one so some bias is fully admitted.

Next step up in my book is a B&S 6x18 manual. More accurate for high volume work. Not so easy to take home or move.
Dust collector? Small shop vac but a good sized bathroom fan in a cardboard box with a hose and filter is much quieter.
Coolant? As said above but I need real coolant so cut off 55 gallon drum and sump pump running full on.
Coolant containment? Cardboard and duct tape, handful of plexiglass pieces, roof rubber and magnets. Serious wet and you will want a sheet metal tray and ends.

There are low cost surface grinders of this style. https://www.amazon.com/Grizzly-G596...ocphy=9017065&hvtargid=pla-978862644136&psc=1
Let's just say not so good and I'd stay far away from this design.

Dangerous? My bench grinders have bitten me, grabbed parts and blown up more.
Bob

That thing looks like they asked AI software to design a surface grinder.
 

michiganbuck

Diamond
Joined
Jun 28, 2012
Location
Mt Clemens, Michigan 48035
The "G" SG is way overpriced and table-to-wheel 8 7/8" makes it almost worthless.
Having no long travel stops another stupid fault with this machine.
Likely they will discontinue the machine as Tormach did with their SG attempt.

If a hobby guy has a lathe. mill, bench grinder the SG might be the next machine
A SG can often outpace a mill by using parting wheels to hack the bulk of the stock, and make .001(or a few tenths) size and squareness and great surface finishes with ease.
 
Last edited:

SteveM

Diamond
Joined
Sep 22, 2005
Location
Connecticut
My dad called his little Sanford "the most useful tool in the shop". He made a pneumatic feed system for it.
I would not recommend a Sanford, as they are small, hard to find and when you find one, expensive.
There are lots of 6x12 grinders out there, and honestly, they don't take up any more floor space when you consider the bench the Sanford goes on.
I have a set of blocks with slots in them and angled sides specifically for grinding high-speed tool blanks to specific angles. Bought them 20 years ago but never had the grinder until I inherited the Sanford about 2 years ago.

Steve
 

DrHook

Hot Rolled
Joined
Oct 8, 2013
Location
Pierre
I have a 3yr old Tormach here at work, and it is a POS after maybe 10 hrs run time. Buy a used REAL machine, and learn how to run it.
 

DJ2

Aluminum
Joined
Feb 12, 2007
Location
Ontario, Canada
I got a Sanford MG a few years ago, the next size up from the SG. It took a lot of time to get it back into shape, but it works great now. The one big issue I had with it was there are gibs on one direction only i.e. when it wears in the other direction, you loose all accuracy. A plus for the Sanfords is they can be broken down into pieces quickly, the mast on the MG can just be lifted by one person (it had to be re-ground). I asked a machinist buddy one time what he would get for a "home" shop and he said the Brown & Sharpe 5x10, it was a useful size and it has the "spotting bar" for close work. I suggest you get what is available nearby and look for the best condition possible.
 

M.B. Naegle

Titanium
Joined
Feb 7, 2011
Location
Conroe, TX USA
If looking for a decent home-shop surface grinder, look for an old Delta/Rockwell. They're simple to repair and have a belt driven spindle with a simple motor platform making them easy to set-up as 110v. Original motor and pulleys were dynamically balanced though, so keep that in mind when addressing surface finish issues. The head is on a round column that can pivot out of square with the table which helps you set them up to sharpen cutters and the like (not sure many other grinders have that feature).

A surface grinder is handy to have even if you don't work with a lot of hard materials. With one you can clean up wear and tear on flat surfaces a lot easier and cleaner than with a mill, and can make thin accurate parts like spacers and shims.

There's lots of ways to do different jobs making it where you don't have to have a surface grinder, but the same can be said about all the tools in the shop. In the end it's about what you want to do with your space, how good you want to do it, and what you'd rather pay for someone else to do it.
 

Conrad Hoffman

Titanium
Joined
May 10, 2009
Location
Canandaigua, NY, USA
I have a Boyer-Schultz Challenger 612 that I paid next to nothing for. Needed the spindle bearings cleaned and regreased and other cleanup, but it came out great. I didn't know how much I might use it, but there's always something that needs to be flattened or sharpened, either for me or for work. The fact is, I think I use it more than the lathe and mill combined. Never would have predicted that. Also, grinding tends to be expensive fi you outsource it, yet I find it the easiest job in the shop.
 

michiganbuck

Diamond
Joined
Jun 28, 2012
Location
Mt Clemens, Michigan 48035
I have a 3yr old Tormach here at work, and it is a POS after maybe 10 hrs run time. Buy a used REAL machine, and learn how to run it.
Nov 17, 2021 · After careful consideration, Tormach has decided to discontinue the manufacture and sale of our PSG 612 Surface Grinder (PN 32789). The standard warranty terms will be honored for all units shipped to date.

* I Never have used a Tormach SG..but their videos were an unsafe joke.
 
Last edited:

CarbideBob

Diamond
Joined
Jan 14, 2007
Location
Flushing/Flint, Michigan
The Boyer-Schultz 612 was locked in competition with Harig for the small surface grinder market.
At one IMTS show I went to they were across the isle from each other.
The ones I am familiar with used a box and flat in/out way system. Under many hours this would lead to cocking of the table where the Harig being vee and flat did not.
Get that this is 24/7 365 usage for years which most do not do on a surface grinder.

Have no idea why Tormach went with this style.
Not sure who actually makes it over there but it predates Tormach by a long time.
 

TheOldCar

Stainless
Joined
Jul 31, 2011
Location
Utah, USA
If it’s worth knowing, my absolutely worn out Boyer-Shultz 612 has been great. It has hydraulic X axis feed, and I think manual feed would stink.
There are very few times I actually use it, but it saves the day when I do.

(EDIT) It's Boyar. I spelled it wrong.
 
Last edited:

jwmelvin

Aluminum
Joined
Sep 5, 2018
Location
northern Virginia
Solely hobby work here. I stumbled upon a Delta/Rockwell grinder (aka Toolmaker) a few years ago, and it can do a variety of things. It made me realize, though, how tedious a manual surface grinder is. Last summer, I got a B&S Micromaster 618, which is a huge machine in comparison. It's got automated long and cross feed, and that makes a huge difference.

I've used both grinders a decent amount, and seem to regularly find things that benefit from the surface grinder. It's also nice to have the tool grinder with one setup and the surface grinder with the mag chuck to use for more general work. Perhaps not at all necessary for a hobby shop, but I've really enjoyed learning some of the process and having the ability to work on hardened material or remove very small amounts. I've used the Toolmaker to make some cutting tools, like a taper reamer, and the surface grinder would have worked just as well. Given the prices of some of these used machines, the tooling seems to end up costing more in the end; fixtures for sharpening and spin grinding, etc. For me at least, having a surface grinder has been great and I'd not want to have gone without it. I'm fortunate that I have space for it.
 








 
Top