View Full Version : Recommend me an affordable endmill grinder

Doc Nickel
12-27-2005, 12:41 AM
I'm rapidly collecting a fair number of dull endmills- pretty standard 2 and 4-flute HSS stuff.

I work predominantly in aluminum, and the better surface finish I can get, the better. I can use the lightly-dull ones for roughing and a new one for the finish passes, but I hate having a drawerful of tools that are just a tad too dull to use.

Is there a decent endmill grinder/sharpener available that can give me good, reliable and fairly accurate results?

I've heard of some DIY and kit grinders, but I don't really have the time to generate something like that right now. I have a budget of somewhere around $500, give or take, and I'd like something pretty much ready to go (other than the usual mounting of wheels and whatnot.)

I need it capable of at least 1/4" up to 1" to 1-1/4" or so, two and four flute, and able to sharpen both flutes and ends. Being able to do the radius of a ball-end (or even custom radii) would be icing on the cake, but definitely not crucial.

Any recommendations?

12-27-2005, 02:25 AM
I'd look at one of these they are close to your price range.

UNIVERSAL CUTTER/GRINDER (http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/Displayitem.taf?itemnumber=45707)


Universal Cutter Grinder (http://www.wttool.com/p/2813-0005)

Doc Nickel
12-27-2005, 04:42 AM
Ah, I knew I'd seen something like that somewhere before. But looking in places like J&L and MSC kept bringing up drill-only sharpeners, or $3,000 endmill grinders.

I see the two look nearly identical other than a few details. One says "11/16" max collet, the other says 3/4". If it takes R8, why can't both go to 3/4 (or even slightly larger, if you have the collets for it?)

One also says 3600 rpm, the other says 6K (plus they have slightly different motor end bells.)

Has anyone used either of these? They're obviously imports, but neither one looks especially cheezy (and I'm happy with my import Griz mill.)


12-27-2005, 07:25 AM
They are both knock offs of the Deckel grinder that is used primarily for grinding engraving cutters, not end mills.

The Grizzly looks as if it has a fixture for doing the flutes on an end mill, the R-8 collets are a plus in that you can use your existing set for the sizes not included.

See if you can see the grinder, or get a copy of the operating instructions and get an idea of how they work before buying. I do not buy anything from HF.

If you have a surface grinder, cutter grinding fixtures are available on eBay for much less that will do as good or better job. Also John Stevensons spindex and brick is an option.

12-27-2005, 09:52 AM
I would not consider a set up that did not do a very good job of sharpening the periphery of the endmill – I want to grind ½ thou of the end and sides and get a sharp tool, not grind ½ inch of the bottom to get to a fresh part of the periphery. While I have never used these particular machines, the do look like a deckle knock off, more like a something to grind the end of the endmill, as opposed to a T&C grinder, but I may be wrong on that.

Like JC suggests, I’d be very cautious getting a less than quality grinding machine. Grinding is a precision op and might make you go mental of the machine is not a quality effort.

You are on the right track though wanting to address this. Any quality woodworker has mastered sharpening and has lots of equipment for it, yet in the metal working hobby a T&C grinder seems to be last luxury the hobbyist wants to acquire. The availability of sharp tools elevates the quality of work and the enjoyment of working

12-27-2005, 10:07 AM
If the one from wholesale tools takes R8 collets, how do you sharpen the drill bits with all of the different sizes ? Make an insert for one of the R8 collets for each drill size or is there a decent chuck you can use instead of the R8 collets ?

12-27-2005, 10:58 AM
I was wanting a unimat lathe to cnc.. mount a probe w.encoder on the cross slide, a dremel tool to grind the edges and "smart" software to read edges, turns per inch into the program.

Imagine, loading a endmill, letting it scan it, sharpen it, then remove it. It'd take about a week to pay-back the $1000 you spent.

The harbor fright toolsteel grinder is already paid for sharpening just drill bits and lathe tooling. You don't even need to remove the tooling from the armstrong holder, the flat indexes the tool steel parallel to the table. I paid $99 for mine? Heck I don't even remember. They were on sale, not now I am afraid. I had a special relationship with the local store after I had thier butts chewed out for not honoring catalog prices. They know me by first name, they probably have other names when I turn my back.. ha ha.

Other people "say" they can't figure out simple cnc machines, Yeah right.. I am awed by the things "doc Nickel and others" have built. I am no more intelligent than others here. Perhaps a little more stubborn in some ways. There are cheaper ways to skin a goose without paying "big money" out for items.

I still am not feeling that well. I only am happy when I am productive. I have shared what I could to "promote" learning of the small things I have accomplished.

I recommend you build what you need. Especially where you live.

Anybody got a link to a "unimat" style lathe plans? Them are pricy.

[This message has been edited by David E Cofer (edited 12-27-2005).]

Bruce Griffing
12-27-2005, 11:23 AM
I bought a used Darex E90 on ebay. I have a diamond wheel for carbide and a CBN wheel for HSS. Most of the time I just sharpen the ends, but sometimes I need to sharpen all of the edges. It takes time to become good at it. I have only used this tool, but having used it, I don't see how you could do a good job (on all edges) without an air spindle. There are several makes with an air spindle, but I think they are all expensive. I would try ebay.

12-27-2005, 12:48 PM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by JCHannum:
They are both knock offs of the Deckel grinder that is used primarily for grinding engraving cutters, not end mills.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Product Description
1/3 HP, 120V, 3600 RPM, 6.3 amp motor. Max collet capacity is 11/16. Max grinding capacity is 1". Taper angle is 0° - 180°. Relief angle: 0-45°. Negative angle: 0-25°. Grinding spindle: 6000 RPM. Standard accessories include turning seat attachment, twist drill grinding, end mill grinding, lathe tool, diamond dresser, 4" x 2" x 3/4" arbor, 60 grit aluminum oxide wheel, R8 collets (1/8, 1/4, 5/16, 3/8 & 1/2), work light, wrenches and pin, plus a manual.</font>

In a perfect world we'd have every thing we'd want... however in real life most times we only get what we need if we're lucky. From what I've read and seen of them they can do what Don needed to do.

12-27-2005, 01:34 PM
Doc, I just recently went down that same road.
The deckel and copies cannot sharpen the flutes on an endmill.
The Tinker( Guy Lautard)or Quorn can be made to do this. Used Quorns occasionally show up for $12-1500.00.
next up are dediicated tool and cutter grindes. Clarkson.Stent or Kennet. These are relatively small, with surface table and verticle adjustment for the head.
Last, would be a full size machine like a Cincinati #2.
I was very fotunate and found a used Clarkson with all the acessories for $1100.00. this machine does endmills(end and side), horizontal cutters, reamers,taps, drills and radius,s with the right attatchmants.
I believe Norman Atkinson has one like it.
When you find something you like, remember shipping cost are going thru the roof. Good luck Doug.

12-27-2005, 01:54 PM
Bruce I agree about the air spindle, mine has one and they are neat. There was an article somewhere on making one, if you lapped the bore and cylinder I can't see why you couldn't do a good job of it.

12-27-2005, 02:31 PM
I got a Darex E90 for about $75 at an auction. ..BUT the air spindle was missing - DRAT! And that's about half the cost of the new E90 complete. I keep hoping to stumble on the spindle assby on ebay, for a good price, but no luck yet.

As for making one, a HSM article by Glenn Wilson described the construction of "Quorn-like" T&CG, to include the making of an air spindle. That was reprinted in one of the MetalWorking, or Projects books.
(NOTE: I'm pretty sure there was later published an error correction to some feature of the air spindle. So anyone contemplating duplicating it might do well to check that out.)

The Philip Duclos wisdom book also includes a fixture for T&C grinding, which also uses an air spindle.

There was nothing magical about either design, but they both required working to a couple of 'tenths', and eliminating any taper turning tendency on your lathe.

Doc Nickel
12-27-2005, 03:29 PM
Thanks for the input so far.

As for other grinder options, I'm afraid they really aren't options. I'm in Alaska, and buying used means buying sight-unseen and then paying a considerable sum to have it shipped up.

Buying new for a "real" tool & cutter grinder is out of my price range for most of what I've seen in the catalogs. Yeah, I'd love to have them, but $2,500 to $4,000 plus shipping is out of the question.

I have probably two or three hundred dollars in dull tools right now, and can justify half a grand or so in a decent grinder. But for $4K, I'd be better off just buying a bucketful of new cheap import mills and tossing them when they dull.

$700 is the extreme fringe of my budget, but if it does what I need it to, I'll consider it worthwhile.

Doug931, I'm curious as to why you say it can't do flutes. One of the two above listed grinders shows a spin-dex type spindle and finger arrangement that looks to me to be a flute grinding guide.

Unless you mean it can't grind the inside of the flute as opposed to the outer edge, helping preserve the proper OD. If that's the case, while that function would be nice, a slightly undersized mill in most cases is not a problem for me- I long ago learned to mill to dimension, and not to try and make one pass with a 1" mill and hope for a 1.000" slot. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

Especially with cheap import tooling.

How detrimental is the lack of an air spindle? I'm assuming it just relieves the "stiction" between the collet spindle and the housing?


Bruce Griffing
12-27-2005, 03:56 PM
I think you are underestimating ebay. The Darex machine that I have was not expensive to ship (UPS). If you are patient, you can get one within your budget. I bought mine sight unseen (other than pictures) and the machine is in great shape.
On the air spindle question, I think it is critical to follow the spiral of the bit. Any stiction would cause a difficult task to become impossible.

[This message has been edited by Bruce Griffing (edited 12-27-2005).]

12-27-2005, 05:28 PM
I was referring to the Deckel when I said it was not designed for end mills, and that is a true statement.

The Grizzly does appear to be able to handle end mills as it includes a spin fixture that is not shown in the HF information. Based on that, the Grizzly might handle most end mills. Travel appears to be shorter than a Weldon style spindle, but it will handle most shorter mills. I would still want to see some information on the actual use of the Grizzly before plunking down major money on it.

The Glenn Wilson plans are in Metal Working Two, and will probably make a fixture as useful as the Quorn without all the fiddly bits. I would recommend that if building is an option.

It is not a big deal to convert a plain spindle to an air spindle if that is desired. Just install an air fitting in the center of the spindle and machine relief grooves and rings inside the spindle. The Duclos writeup will give you the general idea.

If you get over a certain dollar amount, a small surface grinder is a very good investment, and can be used for much more than T&C grinding. Addition of a Weldon type spindle will add end mill sharpening.

On the cheap, one of the rocker holders for the ends and a spin-dex for the flutes can be used on a milling machine with a grinding spindle mounted on the mill spindle.

12-27-2005, 05:50 PM
If your quick you might snipe this one here... Cutter Master - Tool and Cutter Grinder...FREE SHIPPING (http://cgi.ebay.com/Cutter-Master-Tool-and-Cutter-Grinder-FREE-SHIPPING_W0QQitemZ7574506994QQcategoryZ45022QQssPa geNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem).

Just trying to help not my sale. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//wink.gif

[This message has been edited by Tinkerer (edited 12-27-2005).]

12-27-2005, 09:35 PM
I have a cuttermaster. I traded it for a $250.00 jointer.

It has a fixture for radius grinding ball nose end mills.

I also have another fixture for square tools such as lathe or shaper bits.

It will grind drill bits too. It has an air bearing for the spindle.

I have diamond and stone grinding wheels.

It uses inexpensive 5C collets.

I love the machine and highly recommend it. JRouche

Bruce Griffing
12-28-2005, 11:26 AM
I have looked on the Grizzly site for a tool and cutter grinder and cannot find one. JC is referring to a Griz model - what is the model number?

12-28-2005, 12:34 PM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Bruce Griffing:
I have looked on the Grizzly site for a tool and cutter grinder and cannot find one. JC is referring to a Griz model - what is the model number?</font>

My mistake, I was referring to the universal grinders in Tinkerer's links. They were for Harbor Freight and Wholesale Tools. I was referring to the Wholesale Tools grinder as the one looking to be more adaptable to end mill sharpening.

12-28-2005, 01:24 PM
They are probably hard to find in Alaska, but used T&C grinders are out there. I picked up a 1980's Enco universal T&C grinder for $400 or so a few years back that is the spitting image of this one:


In your position, I'd probably search out the used tool dealers that have absolutely honest reputations, give them a call and see what they could turn up for you in your price range. There are many out there, but Dick Triemstra in Detroit would be a place to start as he always seems to have nice tools to sell and will keep an eye out for wish list items.

A friend here in the midwestern US took a vacation up to Alaska and spent most of it looking for old stationary engines and construction equipment to buy, which he collects. You might consider a vacation in the reverse direction, with an eye on tools.


12-28-2005, 01:39 PM
If you get real lucky you might pick up a cincinatti monoset tool grinder. I picked one up for a buddy of mine because I didn't have room for it at the time for $400. The flute grinding mechanism was broke but fixable. Everything else worked fine on it. I have never seen one go for much under $2000. I use a monoset at work and they are an extremely versatile grinder but I never hear anyone on hear speak of them much. They can grind the ends and flutes on endmills as well as make ball mills and bevel cutters to any size imagineable. They'll also grind drills, reamers, single point tools, just about anything you can think of.

Bruce Griffing
12-28-2005, 05:30 PM
I looked at the T&C grinder JC referred to from Wholesale Tool. From the picture, it appears to have an air spindle with a spiral follower. I don't know anything about this tool, other than I can gather from the picture. If it does, it might be a candidate within your range.

Doc Nickel
12-29-2005, 05:36 AM
So I guess I'll have to be the one that jumps in and actually tries one, eh? http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

$700 plus shipping is a bit more than I wanted to spend, but if it does what I need it to, it'll pay for itself in a year.

Especially since the college machine shop will give me dull and broken endmills by the basketful, if I just ask. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif


12-29-2005, 06:34 AM
Originally posted by Doc Nickel:
So I guess I'll have to be the one that jumps in and actually tries one, eh?

We sure would appreciate it. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif How about a full review of it after you learn the ins and outs of it.

I was thinking of getting one of those grinders to Doc. I was in Charlotte back in October so I stopped in at Wholesale tool to see if I could take a look at it. They didn't have one in stock and I had to bring my sales flyer in to show them what it looked like because they didn't know what they were looking for. They also tried to convince me that an R8 collet and a 5c collet are the same thing? Sure would be nice if the people selling this stuff knew what the heck they are talking about. Anyway, I like the idea of a grinder that is small enough to be put away when not in use and light enough to move outside if you plan on doing some heavy grinding. I work in an attached garage and try to keep the dust down. I may still pick one up this summer if I don't buy the monoset from my friend.

Bruce Griffing
12-29-2005, 09:16 AM
I would see if the Wholesale Tool people will send you either an electronic copy or physical copy of the manual before buying. It will tell you much more than we can devine from the picture.

12-29-2005, 09:24 AM
Originally posted by Bruce Griffing:
[B]I would see if the Wholesale Tool people will send you either an electronic copy or physical copy of the manual before buying. It will tell you much more than we can devine from the picture.

You can download the harbor freight manual from their website but it isn't too informative and I would say that the one from wholesale tool isn't much better, but you could contact them and see if they would email it to you.

12-29-2005, 09:49 AM
I don't see the big deal?

A cross slide, a cup grinder w/decent bearing, a rotary tool holder like a air spindle?

Personally, I still wanna build a automated job. I could here on my bench in the house.

Norman Atkinson
12-29-2005, 10:41 AM
Sorry folks been out of action.
Lost computer with malware.
Running on a Speedtouch modem until 7th Calvary arrives!
OK! I have all sorts of T&C's,Stent, Quorn, Kennet and Clarkson MK1. All will do ends of end mills but the Kennet least well.
It does lathe tools- beautifully and easier than the rest! My Worden is in an in-fill site- somewhere and good riddance!
So, it is possible to use nothing more complicated than a 3 way vice, a cheap DE grinder and a spindle holder. Seriously, John S- the current member for Morocco; has done it.

As an alternative to my lot, there is a simpler design which is a cross between a Clarkson and a Stent with a Quorn type tool holder. It was built to use round and square mild steel. I have lost much of my
E-mail correspondence and records but I have
a CD. Could try to get you this.
Please E-mail me.

PS. I'll leave my lousy spelling!

[This message has been edited by NORMAN ATKINSON (edited 12-29-2005).]

Al Messer
12-29-2005, 03:57 PM
Dumb amateur question: Why bother? As cheap as the "Clarkson throwaway style" of endmills have become in the past few years, why bother to invest heavily in a machine to re-grind them?

Norman Atkinson
12-29-2005, 04:48 PM
It isn't a dumb question!
If you are able to justify ready to use tooling, fine!
If you want the ability to custom build tooling, and maintain it, you go for a T&C!
Again, a decent grinder will do a lot more things than merely sharpen end mills.
I refered to a do it yourself T&C grinder earlier. It was used to make needle valves and all the ready use stuff doesn't include this ability.
Chaddock designed his Quorn to make 1/10th inch end mills to make a model Vee IC engine.
It couldn't resharpen them- but it could make them.

My Clarkson is almost ready to re-grind the worn Vee ways in my lathe.

Keep up the "dumb" questions!


12-29-2005, 05:07 PM
Buying new sharp tooling has bit my wallet.

I got a drawer full of dull ones. Kinda like a old bachelor biker hunting clean underwear and going through the old ones for the "best" ones.

Al Messer
12-29-2005, 05:41 PM
Well, being strictly an amateur, I do not use many end mills in a years' time and at $4.27 each for the sizes I use, well, I don't think that I could justify buying or building one for my own use.

Doc Nickel
12-29-2005, 10:40 PM
Well, I kind of agree- at anywhere from $1.50 to $5 an endmill, that $700 plus shipping could certainly buy a metric basketload of cheap import mills.

However, assuming the grinder, with care and maintnence, will last ten or even twenty years, I can easily see it paying for itself. While you can't, of course, resharpen a mill indefinitely, even just two regrinds triples the lifespan of a cutter.

I already have a couple hundred dollars' worth of slightly to badly dull mills, and I can get piles more from the college. I could recoup nearly half the cost of the grinder just refreshing tools I already have.


Bruce Griffing
12-30-2005, 09:45 AM
You can certainly get at least three resharpenings. If you are willing to learn how to re-gash the ends you can get many more. But my Darex unit will not do the re-gash operation. They provide instructions, but it has to be done on another grinder. I don't bother myself.
On another point, I will reiterate my suggestion of ebay. If you are going to spend this kind of $, you can get a Darex or other type used in excellent condition. I would start by looking for these machines in the completed auctions to get a sense of what they go for presently.

An edit: I just check e-bay. There are two Darex e-90's for sale. I would also look at the cuttermaster as an alternative.

[This message has been edited by Bruce Griffing (edited 12-30-2005).]

12-30-2005, 09:58 AM

What'd I like to see? simple "add on" to the HF cup grinder I have. Perhaps a air spindle design to clamp directly to the bed mount. It has a cross slide milled in the existing bed. Side Angle of the cup is not adjustable thou, only inclination.

I threatened to build another tool for the lathe. http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v85/ibewgypsie/Lerblond_lathe_001.jpg
Imagine the 4" indexer on a stand off the lathe bed, Mounted to the compound- Angle adjustable to the cup, inclination adjustable to the cup. No it would not work for a ball end mill tip.. but.. Crank the lathe cross bed and in/out. It'd make a excellent drill sharpener. huh?

This tool works great for lathe tooling and drill bits by hand. You don't even have to remove it from the tool holder, the flat bottom indexes it.

12-30-2005, 01:25 PM

Courtesy of JTiers.. he put me onto this site and Ka-boom, neato.. and easy to implement.

12-30-2005, 04:05 PM
That is the rocker type tool I mentioned. Add a spindex with a cobbled up finger rest, and you have all you need.

John Stevenson has been trying to get people interested in his spindex and brick fixture, but had no takers as yet.

They will work with little trouble. Not what you would want to see in a grinding shop, but plenty good enough for a HSM.

I seem to recall George Ewen had one he made from a miter saw.

Check this link, http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//Forum1/HTML/003805.html

There is also a link there to hand sharpening them.

Here is a very nice one using a spindex mounted to a bench grinder;

[This message has been edited by JCHannum (edited 12-30-2005).]

12-30-2005, 04:11 PM
Doc, I looked thru the link to Gromax given above.
It appears that they do offer an attachment for sharpening the flutes. a really good illustration included. However, that little goodie will set you back more than the grinder itself.
The problem seem to be a lack of tool extension towards the operator.
would be tempted to try DAvids link and use your mill with those $28.00 fixtures.

12-31-2005, 12:01 PM
I just recalled, John S's wife "mary poppins bag"? ebay sold a cdrom with plans of a tool grinder.. lots of detailed plans, each piece has it's own page. It is about 8meg or so. I looked at it last night on linux, for some reason my pdf viewer in MS has taken a crap.

Is he still lurking here? John S. Seems someone who got into mass producing the grinders would fill a niche. Or perhaps a class project?

05-14-2007, 11:32 AM