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lwalker
07-16-2009, 12:13 PM
It seems that the perception here is that for similar items (identical other than paint color) products with the Grizzly name are higher quality than HF. John Stevenson wrote an excellent post last year explaining why this happens.

Has the quality differential closed? In the two years since I purchased my "X2" mini mill from HF I haven't had any problems that concern me. Sure, it hasn't been perfect (1" chunk missing from the X-axis way near the end), but then again I only paid $439 for it. It was easily worth the price and I've been using it as both a mill and a lathe for some time now.

Now I'm looking at purchasing a lathe soon: something in the HF 8x14 class, perhaps a bit larger (I know about the two threads on the 9x20 lathes). Given that HF and Grizzly have basically the same products, is there still a quality advantage to the Griz version?

tony ennis
07-16-2009, 01:14 PM
No one knows for sure if there is a quality difference today and even if we did know there could be a difference tomorrow with the stroke of a pen. This is where the reputation of the company starts mattering.

Parts can be made in the same factory and have quality differences. Parts that come out within a certain tolerance could be sold to company A, while those that don't could be sold to company B. Of course, if the manufactory has extra 'good' parts, they might sell those to B anyway.

So you have good parts at A, and inconsistent parts at B. That muddies things up quite a lot.

Ryobiguy
07-16-2009, 02:23 PM
Dunno about quality, but try to get HF on the phone to replace some part that was broken in shipping. I'm sure they'll care. ;)

Evan
07-16-2009, 04:27 PM
This entire idea of "being made in the same factory" is ludicrous. One of the larger machine tool manufacturers in China has 80 factories and they are not alone. China isn't producing billions of dollars worth of products from a small industrial park in the corner of Hong Kong somewhere. There are numerous makers of similar tools and equipment and there is a wide variation in the quality of the products they produce. Similarity in appearance in no clue to quality, good or bad.

They don't all "use the same design" either. They do copy each other's best selling products and some are better copies than others. As usual, there is always available a reasonably good guide to quality and that is price. Don't expect top quality for chicken feed prices.

Falcon67
07-16-2009, 04:57 PM
You would expect quality to be higher from Grizzly because of the effort they put into the catalog, web site and customer service. All those things cost big money and are excellent places to cut corners to maximize your income. Compare the web page for -say- a Griz 12x36 lathe and the HF version that is just about the same color. Almost the same, except the HF model shows to have crossfeed. From appearances, you'd expect to get a better unit from Grizzly. But I can't tell from the postings if Griz actually looks at these units or just ships the crates from the warehouse to you. Looks like they just pass the unit on as it came off the boat. Which for them is OK because testaments from their customers indicate that their CS people will fix up any problems for you. If you buy from HF, best to get it out, set it up - even if it's on the floor - and check operation right now. If you find a problem that you deem serious enough to require supplier intervention, best to box it up and take it back to the store and let them order another. The folks I deal with at the local store are nice and helpful, but they don't seem to have the support structure behind them for larger machinery like Grizzly does. Bring back an item with a receipt inside the warranty period, you get another no problem. Need a part? Um, er.

Which makes it hard sometimes LOL - Take for instance the lathes: There's a G4003 12x36 for $2495. Then there's the HF 33274 12x36 with cross feed and a bit better speed range for $1440 with a 20% coupon (have two 20% coupons at this moment). That's $1000 bucks. I can probably put up with some issues to save $1000.

Edit - looking at the G4003 manual shows it identical to the 33274. Posts on the 12x36 Yahoo forum indicate that the machines are the same and tend to perform the same. If I could buy one today, I'd buy the HF and save the money. $125 for a BXA toll post isn't a deal breaker. It'd be $1558 with local sales tax.

Doc Nickel
07-16-2009, 05:10 PM
While that's substantially true, Evan, it's also true that many of the smaller, popular machines, do, in fact, come from the same facilities. There's a difference between the industrial stuff, and the little "hobby" stuff meant for export.

The proof of that can be seen in LittleMachineShop's gallery of photos from a factory tour in China. One shot shows quite clearly what look like the ubiquitous 9x20 lathe beds stacked for "rework". The castings are shown painted at least three different colors, among them LMS's red, Smithy blue and a yellow.

And I have, myself, used a Jet 9x20 and owned a Grizzly 9x20- the two machines were virtually identical down to the plastic drive gear. There's no way two entirely separate factories could produce two machines that close, unless they were buying from the exact same suppliers and following the same set of blueprints.

Doc.

aboard_epsilon
07-16-2009, 05:26 PM
my mate has an sieg x2 ..ive just trammed it in for him .

seems that i cant tram the y axis ...

had to shim the vice ..

probably the column needs shimming to make it right ..
should this be so ..

is this bad quality ..or is it normal for you to have to do this to get things right .

also the head goes up and down not so smoothly near the top of its travel . (top 2 inches).when gibs adjusted right...to make it travel smoothly all the way up to the top without jamming ..means too much slack in the gibs is needed

all the best.markj

Doc Nickel
07-16-2009, 05:32 PM
probably the column needs shimming to make it right ..
should this be so ..

is this bad quality ..or is it normal for you to have to do this to get things right.

-It's what you could call "normal" for this kind of lower-end hobby machine, yes. I have an old Jet mill-drill, probably from the eighties, and it was always just a bit off-tram.

Most of the time I used it I just dealt with it, thinking there was no way to fix it (IE, no head "knuckle" adjustment like on a Bridgeport.) It wasn't 'til later that I realized it could be shimmed at least, and more recently, could be scraped if one had the knowledge.

Doc.

lazlo
07-16-2009, 05:34 PM
While that's substantially true, Evan, it's also true that many of the smaller, popular machines, do, in fact, come from the same facilities. There's a difference between the industrial stuff, and the little "hobby" stuff meant for export.

The proof of that can be seen in LittleMachineShop's gallery of photos from a factory tour in China. One shot shows quite clearly what look like the ubiquitous 9x20 lathe beds stacked for "rework". The castings are shown painted at least three different colors, among them LMS's red, Smithy blue and a yellow.

The Sieg Factory. "Mini mills to be. Different colors are for different customers."
http://www.littlemachineshop.com/gallery/images/2004-06%20SIEG%20Factory%20Tour%20China/PICT0328.JPG

aboard_epsilon
07-16-2009, 05:40 PM
colours look like
siegs own red
machine mart uks clarke blue

and axminster uks old English white.

or coulds be chester uks combination of white and blue

all the best.markj

lazlo
07-16-2009, 05:41 PM
my mate has an sieg x2 ..ive just trammed it in for him .

probably the column needs shimming to make it right ..
should this be so ..

is this bad quality ..or is it normal for you to have to do this to get things right .

That's pretty typical. If you get Model Engineering Workshop, they've run two series back-to-back: rebuilding the 7x10 mini-lathe, and now re-building the X2 mini-mill. Last month's article involved re-cutting the X2 column and filling it with epoxy-granite.

aboard_epsilon
07-16-2009, 05:53 PM
That's pretty typical. If you get Model Engineering Workshop, they've run two series back-to-back: rebuilding the 7x10 mini-lathe, and now re-building the X2 mini-mill. Last month's article involved re-cutting the X2 column and filling it with epoxy-granite.

yeah what amazed me ..that just leaning on the column could make the DTI sweep half a dial.

all the best.markj

mark61
07-17-2009, 09:24 AM
1 other big thing for me is that at Grizzly you can try the machines at their Munsy Pa. show room. HF might not even have it on the show room shelfe for you to actually touch.....Also in the Munsy shop they have real machinists assembling and or repairing the stuff they sell. I spent half hour talking to 1 of them once.

mark61

airsmith282
07-17-2009, 09:53 AM
i dont understand how it is people are willing to spend good money 400 bucks and up and then have to make a pile of changes or fixes just to get the equipment usable.. junk is junk and needs to got for a replacment or refund.

i paid 999.00 for my 10x18 lathe from busy bee 4 years ago and its been great other then it needed to have the tail stock sleeve replaced once, and i have dont some amazing hi precision stuff on it..

i got my mill about a year ago from busy bee as well ct129 7x20 and its also been great paid 1200.00 plus tax for it and i blew a few fuses which was my fault but i found its limits.

my grinder is a jobmate my angle grinder is a job mate my drill press is tradmaster floor model had it for over 5 years its a work horse of a drill press, the list goes on

what looks good on a web site is sometimes not so good when viewed and used in real life and sometimes it is..

if i buy a tool and spend my hard earned bucks and it turns out i have to do all kinds of crap just to get it to work right then its not worth the metal it was made from..

i do alot of research and read alot of reviews as well,, this fourm alone convinced me long ago to stay clear of HF and many others out there..

my welding helmet thats solor auto darken is a lincon, i was told by many to stay clear of off shore stuff so i did. and then after reading some reviews i was glade i did stay away from the junk.

i made my own chipping hammer for welding saved my self a bundle really and at the same time made a better quaility one and its been beating to death and still even with resharping its hadely seen any lose in metal so i guess i did my job right when i made it, sometimes it pays to make even the simplest tool and its better then the other stuff out there...

J Tiers
07-17-2009, 09:58 AM
Actually, at HF the machines on the "showroom" floor are probably incomplete. Their apparent only source of replacement parts is to rob them off stock units. I have never seen one run, but I never wanted to, either.

As far as Grizzly, I think they at least WANT to be higher quality. I have actually met Mr Baliola, and he seemed to be a decent type, for an owner of a largeish business.

He uses tools and machines himself, so he is unlike the "paper pusher" type owners whose only qualification is an MBA in marketing, etc. (The latter type are often not good at quality, they aim for low price, and assume that makes up for defects.)

How far that 'tool user" status translates to product quality, I am not sure. I have been forced to return almost every item I purchased from Grizzly for severe defects. But they were not machines, rather they were ancillary products, not carrying the Grizzly name.

To be fair, I had to return every item bought from Enco for defects also, and Enco made me pay the shipping both ways. I had to push them to get the RMA.

Grizzly credited me the shipping, and sent a prepaid label for the return. If they are willing to do that, they are presumably a) not getting that much in returns, and b) much more oriented towards serving the customer than Enco, who apparently didn't give a rat's ass what I did.

BTW, to Airsmith's point, isn't Busy Bee the other Baliola brother? If so, you'd expect a similar attitude to some extent.

Evan
07-17-2009, 10:07 AM
While that's substantially true, Evan, it's also true that many of the smaller, popular machines, do, in fact, come from the same facilities. There's a difference between the industrial stuff, and the little "hobby" stuff meant for export.


Certainly there are examples of a manufacturer making the same thing for different customers. That isn't exactly a surprise. Every manufacturer with few exceptions does that everywhere. They also produce different quality levels but that isn't what is happening when you see the very marked difference in quality with different models of what superficially seem to be the same product from China. I have a Busy Bee 4x6 band saw. Busy Bee is a chain of machine tool stores in Canada owned by the brother of Shiraz Balolia, the owner of Grizzly Industrial in the US.

Anil (president) and Hanif (marketing manager) Balolia operate Busy Bee in Canada and they sell the same line of tools as Grizzly does in the US under the Busy Bee trademark "Craftex". We have another chain of tool stores here by the name of Princess Auto that sell similar appearing tools. I had a chance to compare the Princess Auto 4x6 bandsaw to the Craftex saw from Busy Bee and the difference was night and day. The Princess Auto price was lower but the quality was abysmal. It was as if someone had made a caricature of the Craftex saw from modeling clay and used that for the casting molds. It was half the weight and crude in every detail. Without the opportunity to compare machines directly this would not be nearly as obvious as they look the same in photos.

I can also speak to the responsiveness of the Balolia brothers to customer concerns. On one occasion I ordered a number of items that included an 82 degree countersink. In the package was a 90 degree countersink so I called to let them know they had a mismarked product.

The next day I received a call from Hanif Balolia thanking me for letting them know as it turned out they had about 5000 of the same product, all mismarked, in stock.

There is a difference.

The BB store in Calgary (spy photo :D )

http://metalshopborealis.ca/pics/bbee1.jpg

http://metalshopborealis.ca/pics/bbee2.jpg

tony ennis
07-17-2009, 11:30 AM
HF might not even have it on the show room shelfe for you to actually touch

Our local Horror Fright no longer has large machinery on the floor.

gmatov
07-18-2009, 04:05 AM
Both my HF stores have most of the smaller machines on the shelf. Some midsized lathes, nothing large, no 12 X 36.

As to whether you can get service from them, well, yes, I think you can. My store had their multi machine on clearance, the mill-drill, 400 some pound machine. Missing chuck, tailstock center, collets, various other parts.

Made an offer, they sold it to me, took it home, duped the parts list, e-mailed to tell them I bought the machine and missing those pieces.

Within a week I had ALL the parts, including a case containing collet holder and a full set of collets. No charge, even for shipping.

I have lots of Grizzly stuff. Most of my woodworking cutters, rail and stile cutters, 1/2 inch router bits to use in my (Oh, geez, CRS kicking in, what the hell do you call a big router table, the profile cutter, AHHH, SHAPER!!!) made from a Stanley stair router.

Ancillary parts for my tracer wood lathe, but one part I did not like was the screw chuck, chunk of aluminum with a large wood screw center sticking out of it.

I like looking thru my Grizzly catalog. I like looking thru my HF store. I'd have to drive a 100 miles to browse Grizzly's store. I have to drive 10 to one and 18 to the other HF stores near me. So, I go there, spend a few bucks, go home.

I have not broken a thing I have bought AT HF. They may not be Milwaukee quality, but I no longer need that. I DID buy top quality tooling when I was doing work for pay, mostly in Industry. It was also deductible, then, as a cost of work.(I broke a plastic handle off a 4 1/2 inch grinder, but that hardly made it unusable.)

I can't tell you that HF and Grizzly are better than the other. I don't have one of each. If I bought the larger model of the other brand than my little one, that would not be a true test either. Might be JUST because it is larger.

It will not outdo my SB9, but I rarely use that, as I now do LITTLE stuff. I know I can do LITTLE stuff on a larger lathe, but I can sit down with the little machines in the basement instead of standing in the garage.

The SB9 DOES make it easier to cut 1 1/4 railway wheels, profiling. The minis don't like that kind of cutting. That might be my own technique holding me back. I know that some are cutting more than I am with mini lathes and mills.

Cheers,

George

Doc Nickel
07-18-2009, 05:34 AM
i dont understand how it is people are willing to spend good money 400 bucks and up and then have to make a pile of changes or fixes just to get the equipment usable.

-Because not everyone needs, say, a Monarch 10EE.

Many, if not most users in this class, don't need a $1,000 lathe, let alone a $5,000 lathe. They need something cheap, yet functional- but also understand that they're not going to get a $2,000 lathe for $400.

Yes, there's a lot you can "do" to a 9x20. But when I had mine, I uncrated it, cleaned off the cosmoline, plugged it in, and started using it. I once had to fix the motor drive pulley (the setscrew wasn't tight) and replace the V-belt (because the wandering pulley shredded it) but really, I didn't do anything more than that and lube it, and I made tens of thousands of dollars worth of parts on it.

Lots of the mods you see on the little imports are "upgrades" not necessarily "repairs". Upgrades fall into the the same game as improvements elsewhere- you're not going to get leather seats and a supercharger on a base model Dodge Neon, any more than you're going to get a spindle brake, electronic speed control and a dovetail tool post on a $400 minilathe.

Doc.

oldtiffie
07-18-2009, 06:17 AM
I think that Doc has pretty well made the point that all things being equal, you won't get more than you pay for and add to that that you don't need more "quality" than your jobs require.

Too many quote "Pro" - a lot of which is sheer crap - when all they need is every-day HSM shop stuff.

Whether it is "Tool Room", "old American Iron", real hogging stuff or pretty worn out or Asian or European, or new from anywhere, its only what you really need that matters.

What you want is not always what you need - and vice versa.

A lot of comment is either ill-informed or mis-informed. More "noise" about a topic or point of view etc. does not necessarily make it right - or wrong. Its all too easy (and often unfortunate) to get caught up in the bull-$hit and the hype.

Confusing the real level of need with a "feel-good" factor and perhaps either "being one of the boys" or not the "odd one out" is not a contributing factor to quality nor will it necessarily turn out a better job nor may it make you a better machinist.

Being a better anything - Machinist included - is about attitude, experience, creative and lateral thinking, knowing the limitations and capabilities of the man and the machine - and knowing whether to take the job on or not or whether to "contract it out".

Many jobs are better suited to being wholly or partly done by hand - and not on a machine at all.

My approach is to start from the "bottom up" and use the most basic machines and processes until I work my way up to where I find one that will do the job. That's where I stop looking any further.

Its fair to say that some of my stuff is passably "good", but much of it rarely gets used because I haven't needed it for that or those or any jobs recently. I often have "sharpen/maintain the skills" days where I try to keep and improve skills that I haven't used for a while just to be sure that I have them. That also includes using stuff that hasn't been used for a while. Most of the "test" stuff goes straight to scrap as its the skill I am after.

I don't subscribe to the attitude of "too much is never enough".

I have no attachment to my tools and machines as that is all they are - but they do get very well looked after as I am depending on them in large part to do their job and not put me at undue risk.

If my shop were emptied out or if I was told that I could no longer use it, it would not bother me one bit. I would just shrug my shoulders and adapt to the circumstances.

Machines and tools have no intrinsic value to me.

They are "just right" if the (so-called) "quality" is like Baby Bear's porridge - "Just Right".

If something I have is inadequate I either replace it with something that is adequate - or go without.

I've bought lots of stuff that I didn't need as well as stuff that didn't do the job - but it is in the minority.

While beauty (machines included!!) are in the eye of the beholder, quality (machines included) is in the hands of the user.

Evan
07-18-2009, 08:50 AM
Bunk. Quality isn't just about feeling good or bragging rights. It's about doing a job well and doing it easily. While a good machinist can turn out fine work on even low quality machines or worn out machines it isn't easy and it isn't fun. This is a hobby for most of us and the object of a hobby is to enjoy what you do, not fight with your tools to make the perform they way they should. If you are being paid to work with crap then fine, do what you are paid to do. In the home shop it's a very different scene and I for one am not the least bit interested in struggling with my tools.

The difference between mediocre tools and quality tools is often not apparent to the eye but when you put them to use it becomes clear. There are many small and individually seemingly unimportant differences that all add up to a very different experience.

You will never regret buying high quality tools. They cost more and for good reason, they cost more to make. High quality and low cost are mutually exclusive. You get one or the other. My spare time when I was working was worth a great deal to me and after a difficult day at work I sure as heck didn't feel like facing any more frustration when working in my shop.

The other issue is knowing what is causing problems when they inevitably appear. With low quality tools it is hard to know if it is the tool or the operator when something doesn't work as it should.

I am reminded of a prime example of this principle, astronomy. People are turned away from the hobby in large numbers because their initial foray into astronomy is via a cheap and nearly useless "department store" telescope. As they have no experience they usually think what they see through it is all there is to see and give it up as a waste of time. It's a damned shame too because it doesn't take that much more money to buy a scope that will knock your socks off with the views it provides.

Machine tools are no different except you can't always see the real differences by just looking. A well designed and well made machine is a pleasure to use and in large part that will be unnoticed because it doesn't attract attention to itself by causing a problem. Instead it quietly does the job it was intended to do and at the end you have what you planned with a minimum of fuss, rework and lost time.

lazlo
07-18-2009, 10:31 AM
The BB store in Calgary (spy photo :D )

Wow, that's amazing! Does the Grizzly store look like that?

I don't know if you've ever been in a Harbor Freight store, but they're small, dank, with half-assembled and mis-assembled machines, machines with missing parts strewn randomly about the store, and the front is piled with product returns they haven't processed.

Every HF store I've ever been to also has that funny "smell." I think it might be the cosmoline they use, but other folks here have mentioned it too.

By the way, I agree with the comment about Princess Auto (and Pep Boys) -- the quality seems similar to Harbor Freight.


i dont understand how it is people are willing to spend good money 400 bucks and up and then have to make a pile of changes or fixes just to get the equipment usable.

Because there are no other machines in that price point, short of buying Old Iron.

Where else can you buy a mill, or lathe, for $400? If you're on a tight budget, buying a machine for $400, and then spending some sweat equity to re-finish and re-fit the machine, and possibly some structural repairs (like the 4-bolt compound fix on the 9x20's, or re-milling the column on the mini-mills), and you've got a useful machine.

Evan
07-18-2009, 11:19 AM
Wow, that's amazing! Does the Grizzly store look like that?

I don't know if you've ever been in a Harbor Freight store, but they're small, dank, with half-assembled and mis-assembled machines, machines with missing parts strewn randomly about the store, and the front is piled with product returns they haven't processed.


Since I haven't been in either a Grizzly or a HF store I can't tell if you are pulling my leg.

J Tiers
07-18-2009, 11:34 AM
Bunk. Quality isn't just about feeling good or bragging rights. It's about doing a job well and doing it easily. While a good machinist can turn out fine work on even low quality machines or worn out machines it isn't easy and it isn't fun. This is a hobby for most of us and the object of a hobby is to enjoy what you do, not fight with your tools to make the perform they way they should. ..................................
The difference between mediocre tools and quality tools is often not apparent to the eye but when you put them to use it becomes clear. There are many small and individually seemingly unimportant differences that all add up to a very different experience. .................................

You will never regret buying high quality tools.
Machine tools are no different except you can't always see the real differences by just looking. A well designed and well made machine is a pleasure to use and in large part that will be unnoticed because it doesn't attract attention to itself by causing a problem. Instead it quietly does the job it was intended to do and at the end you have what you planned with a minimum of fuss, rework and lost time.


ABSOLUTELY........

I have repeatedly heard the term "starter lathe", or the like....... Maybe that makes sense for some folks, who decide they want a shop, but are not sure they want to do anything in the shop, let alone what.

There is a certain level of machine that is "general purpose". The ubiquitous 9 x 20 machine is just UNDER that level.

The general purpose lathe can handle work of any size that will fit in it, without complaint. You may need to make some compromises, but you will not find you cannot do the work.

Buy less than that level, and you will be sorry if you have any variety of work. if you do the same things of limited size and no particular strain on the machine, yes indeed, you can do "tens of thousands of dollars worth " of work on a limited, frankly not-very-good machine.

You can do that because your work is within the capabilities.

I end up doing general maintenance etc in my shop. I routinely do things which are probably too big for the machines. Luckily, I bought machines which take some overloading, because I bought older machines, US made because that is what is commonly available in the US.

If I had bought a 9 x 20, I would have found I could not do the things which the nominally similar 10 x 24" machine does reasonably easily. The 9 x 20 has limits which WOULD require modification, if indeed the basic machine can do them at all.

Most people don't know exactly what they will do. As with myself, they will often find that the initial goal (small model engines in my case) is NOT what they do. I have yet to make a single small model engine on the machines.

But I have trued large pulleys, made replacement parts, modified full sized engine parts, generally maintained a shed full of yard and garden equipment, done work for the neighbors, family, etc, etc.

JCHannum
07-18-2009, 11:36 AM
There is a HF store about 4 or 5 miles from me, I have been in it twice, and saw nothing I would buy there. The things I was interested in, I was able to get cheaper at a local farm supply store.

HF has a mix of what has been described as the pongy fish guts smell of chicom rust preventive preservative mixed with a tang of synthetic rubber.

I have not been in a Grizzly store, but have little doubt it would look like the BB store in Evan's photos.

J Tiers
07-18-2009, 11:38 AM
Since I haven't been in either a Grizzly or a HF store I can't tell if you are pulling my leg.

Yes, he probably is.

I have never seen the "piles of unprocessed returns". The smell is probably a combination of rubber products (think tire store) and chinese cosmoline.

The ones I see here are just of the general appearance of a "Big Lots" distressed merchandise store, aisles of stuff on low cost display racks in generally sensible order, but by no means truly categorized.

Very brightly lit, too much so, exposes the flaws in anything that has one.:D

Everything I have ever bought in an HF was made in USA, except for the chip brushes.

lazlo
07-18-2009, 12:02 PM
HF has a mix of what has been described as the pongy fish guts smell of chicom rust preventive preservative mixed with a tang of synthetic rubber.

That sounds right :)


I have not been in a Grizzly store, but have little doubt it would look like the BB store in Evan's photos.

No Evan, I wasn't kidding -- Harbor Freight stores are the complete antithesis of the Busy Bee showroom. If the Grizzly store is as nice as the Busy Bee store, then I understand why Grizzly garners so much loyalty.

Jerry: I'll take a couple of pictures of the inside of the North Austin Harbor Freight (which is a whole lot nicer than the South Austin HF), including all the junk collected at the front of the store. Every Harbor Freight store I've ever been to has big piles of returns stacked up haphazardly in shopping carts at the front of the store.

J Tiers
07-18-2009, 12:14 PM
Because there are no other machines in that price point, short of buying Old Iron.

Where else can you buy a mill, or lathe, for $400? If you're on a tight budget, buying a machine for $400, and then spending some sweat equity to re-finish and re-fit the machine, and possibly some structural repairs (like the 4-bolt compound fix on the 9x20's, or re-milling the column on the mini-mills), and you've got a useful machine.


That DOES somewhat blunt the "point" made by some that it is stupid to buy "old iron" when you can buy new and get right to work without fuss.

That latter procedure is only good with units above a certain level.

oldtiffie
07-18-2009, 12:31 PM
5 will get you 10 that this is now, and will end as and at, the usual anti-China rant.

I do wonder what the model-makers who make some fabulous work on very small machines - irrespective of country of origin - think when they discover that their machines are not only "under-sized" and crap and quite unable to make the stuff that they do on them. I guess that they are in for a rude awakening.

Or is it that they only make toys as that is all that "toy" machines - and by inference the so-called Machinists that use them - are capable of?

I'd like to think that their erstwhile detractors can show "small machines guys" how to make their stuff "properly".

Evan
07-18-2009, 02:13 PM
I do wonder what the model-makers who make some fabulous work on very small machines - irrespective of country of origin - think when they discover that their machines are not only "under-sized" and crap and quite unable to make the stuff that they do on them. I guess that they are in for a rude awakening.


Stiffness of a machine (and any solid material member) changes as the inverse square of size. The smaller the machine the less mass matters or even the material used to make it. It's the classic cube/square ratio of volume to cross section. It is much easier to make a well performing small machine that a large one. It's why a model bridge made of spaghetti can support a thousand times it's own weight.

rantbot
07-18-2009, 05:20 PM
I was just at the HF in Worcester MA. It doesn't happen often as the town is an absolute hole and I only go there when I'm on the way to somewhere else. The store itself looked like a supermarket in front, mainly due to the newsprint flyers taped up in the windows. But once inside I was surprised at how well laid-out, orderly, well lit, and amply stocked everything was. It didn't look like a warehouse or a dump. I can't say if it was odoriferous, as I have very dull olfactory senses. But it looked good. I found all sorts of interesting things that I didn't even realize HF carried. Prices seemed to be much like online prices, with some items trivially more expensive (trivial, as in a dollar or so). The tools I examined looked good. I didn't spot anything which was obvious junk. Some of the zeros looked a tad off on a couple of the combination squares, but that was about it. Unfortunately there wasn't much in the way of big power tools on display, very little above bench grinder size.

The other local place I buy is Wholesale Tool in Stoughton. Wholesale stocks much the same stuff as Enco, although it doesn't seem to be as popular with the home shop crowd. Unlike the Worcester HF, the Stoughton WT looks like the back end of the Bat-Cave, and it has a bit of a rust problem.

fasto
07-18-2009, 10:47 PM
Wow, that's amazing! Does the Grizzly store look like that?

The Grizzly store in Muncy, PA does look like that - except maybe even nicer. About every type of machine is on display. The Muncy location is their warehouse for the eastern part of the country, so if you want a machine they'll yank it out of the warehouse & forklift it right into your truck. They've even got an indoor loading dock!

lazlo
07-19-2009, 12:10 AM
The Grizzly store in Muncy, PA does look like that - except maybe even nicer.

Sounds nice :) Do the Grizzly show rooms have the new South Bend lathes yet?

oldtiffie
07-19-2009, 04:51 AM
Originally Posted by aboard_epsilon
my mate has an sieg x2 ..ive just trammed it in for him .

probably the column needs shimming to make it right ..
should this be so ..

is this bad quality ..or is it normal for you to have to do this to get things right .

That's pretty typical. If you get Model Engineering Workshop, they've run two series back-to-back: rebuilding the 7x10 mini-lathe, and now re-building the X2 mini-mill. Last month's article involved re-cutting the X2 column and filling it with epoxy-granite.

Read this - posted recently:
http://www.arceurotrade.co.uk/projects/X3-CNC/X3_Review.pdf

Jim Shaper
07-19-2009, 05:14 AM
Even horrible freight doesn't trust their vendors. You'll notice they have multiple different SKU's for all their staple products - they rotate vendors to minimize returns on bad factory output. Some of what they'll clearance out will be somewhat identical to what they're replacing it with, but the box might be a little different and the SKU will have changed.

I had a "lifetime" warranty dead blow hammer (that took a good year to stop smelling like bad release agent or vulcanizing compound) which no longer was in their system because it had obviously failed more than just me and they'd discontinued it. Fortunately, they honored that it was cast "pittsburgh" and thus lifetime warranty. But now they've got a policy where you can only return ONE bad unit of the same kind. They take your name and put it in the system so you can't break something every 20 days and get a new one under their 30/90 day warranty. That's fine, I'll just demand a refund and buy another then. :rolleyes:

I'd already soured on most of their merchandise, but I like their cheap digital calipers because gravity still tends to take out one of them every 6 months around my shop (not from dropping them, but from other things finding their way down upon them). Sears is back to being my cheap tool supplier. At least they just smile and tell you to go grab your replacement.

oldtiffie
07-19-2009, 06:16 AM
Are Harbour Freight and Grizzly the only tool and machine stores in the US?

It sure sounds like it from here.

If they are so bad - why keep going to them?

If they are the only ones - why is that?

If there are others, why don't you use them instead?

If its because they are "cheap" and if as is often said here that cheap is %$#@ and you get %$#@ (upon) - whose fault is that?

And if it is so and you know it and you keep going back, then that suggests some "problems" and questions that should not be on a family forum like this?

Or is it just a "USA thing?".

If HF changed its name to "Moaner" then all the grizzlies and moaners here would have stores just for them.

I see lots of machine and tool stores advertising in the VP magazines and I don't hear very much - or any - grizzling and moaning about them.

Why is that?

Am I missing something here?

If so - what is it?

Evan
07-19-2009, 07:32 AM
Am I missing something here?

If so - what is it?
It's the topic as presented in the first sentence by the original poster of this thread. Therefore we are discussing it.


It seems that the perception here is that for similar items (identical other than paint color) products with the Grizzly name are higher quality than HF.

oldtiffie
07-19-2009, 08:15 AM
It seems that the perception here is that for similar items (identical other than paint color) products with the Grizzly name are higher quality than HF. John Stevenson wrote an excellent post last year explaining why this happens.

Has the quality differential closed? In the two years since I purchased my "X2" mini mill from HF I haven't had any problems that concern me. Sure, it hasn't been perfect (1" chunk missing from the X-axis way near the end), but then again I only paid $439 for it. It was easily worth the price and I've been using it as both a mill and a lathe for some time now.

Now I'm looking at purchasing a lathe soon: something in the HF 8x14 class, perhaps a bit larger (I know about the two threads on the 9x20 lathes). Given that HF and Grizzly have basically the same products, is there still a quality advantage to the Griz version?

That is the OP.

I don't recall the OP limiting the discussion to the first sentence - nor should it be.

The first paragraph was as much a comment or observation "in passing" than much else.

Each of the other two paragraphs had specific questions and requirements - as they should - and it is to those two paragraphs that the discussion is directed - as it should be.

My questions, other than the last also remain unanswered.

Doc Nickel
07-19-2009, 08:26 AM
If there are others, why don't you use them instead?

-We would if we could, but there aren't, so we can't.

Hope that helps. :D

Doc.

oldtiffie
07-19-2009, 08:39 AM
Thanks Doc.

I take it then that instead of the "customer" "using" the store is "using" the customer.

Is that the reason they keep going back?

Real PITA (literally??) - ain't it?

It must play hell with the hemorrhoids though!!

.RC.
07-19-2009, 09:01 AM
-We would if we could, but there aren't, so we can't.

Hope that helps. :D

Doc.

I find that hard to believe....When I was hunting for a new lathe nearly every dealer I looked up sold a different model machine..The machines looked the same in some ways but differed in other ways...

There would have to be a lot of different dealers in the US selling different machines...

wierdscience
07-19-2009, 09:23 AM
Are Harbour Freight and Grizzly the only tool and machine stores in the US?

It sure sounds like it from here.

If they are so bad - why keep going to them?

If they are the only ones - why is that?

If there are others, why don't you use them instead?

If its because they are "cheap" and if as is often said here that cheap is %$#@ and you get %$#@ (upon) - whose fault is that?

And if it is so and you know it and you keep going back, then that suggests some "problems" and questions that should not be on a family forum like this?

Or is it just a "USA thing?".

If HF changed its name to "Moaner" then all the grizzlies and moaners here would have stores just for them.

I see lots of machine and tool stores advertising in the VP magazines and I don't hear very much - or any - grizzling and moaning about them.

Why is that?

Am I missing something here?

If so - what is it?

There are others,but Grizz and HF are the best known because of they're marketing strategy and the fact they mostly sell they're own "brand label" machines.

There is Jet,Birmingham,IH and others,but those are really brands sold by independent dealers.

All of them except HF sell different levels of quality from beginner/hobby to industrial.

I have several pieces of woodworking machinery from Grizz,some small machines for occasional use and some larger industrial machines for production.The smaller stuff looks better than the competition and parts are readily available.The industrial stuff from Grizz is nearly all made in Taiwan and vastly better quality than China.A friend recently bought a 16" jointer,it is on a par with anything the US or UK ever made.

HF sells a lot of junk,but they also come across some good buys like the Baldor clone tool grinders.Not perfect,but with a file being used during assembly they turn into functional tools.If a person has an eye for workability some good tools can be gleaned for the local HF store.

Evan
07-19-2009, 09:41 AM
I don't recall the OP limiting the discussion to the first sentence - nor should it be.


It's very clear what the topic is. The only surprise is that we seem to be staying on topic.

J Tiers
07-19-2009, 09:54 AM
Are Harbour Freight and Grizzly the only tool and machine stores in the US?


NO


It sure sounds like it from here.

If they are so bad - why keep going to them?


I don't



If they are the only ones - why is that?

They aren't. remainder of question irrelevant



If there are others, why don't you use them instead?

There are, I have, quality isn't always sufficiently better, so I buy used.


If its because they are "cheap" and if as is often said here that cheap is %$#@ and you get %$#@ (upon) - whose fault is that?

irrelevant, See above


And if it is so and you know it and you keep going back, then that suggests some "problems" and questions that should not be on a family forum like this?

It is, I do, I don't go back, question irrelevant


Or is it just a "USA thing?".

it's a "people" thing......... they believe its "just the same, only costs less.



If HF changed its name to "Moaner" then all the grizzlies and moaners here would have stores just for them.

I see lots of machine and tool stores advertising in the VP magazines and I don't hear very much - or any - grizzling and moaning about them.

"moaning" is a loaded word...... restate with a descriptive word instead of a prejudgement word if you actually want an answer and are not making editorial comment with the "question".



Why is that?


Most of them are pretty much bit players, other than Enco/HF/Grizzly (Jet is only a brand, carried by multiple vendors).


Am I missing something here?

If so - what is it?

Yes.

Vendors of equipment, or anything, actually, come in different flavors.

1) companies that make really good stuff. They are obviously not relevant to this discussion, only top industrial customers buy it.

2) Companies that make/sell workable stuff. Grizzly is one. There are others in tooling, but few in machines , especially ones with "stores" as you specified.

3) Bottom feeders whose quality and so forth are questionable. They survive by aping the #2 companies, and their products are touted as "just the same as the other brands only less expensive". Naturally, that is true only in the gross characteristics, the details are usually sacrificed for lower cost. The operators are often unaware of the difference, or possibly just don't care.

Just about everything has the #2 and #3 groups. #3 usually does well, because the number of people with less money is larger than the number with the money to spend at the #2 stores. People have a #1 or #2 appetite, but a #3 budget.

Therefore, the #3 stores tend to become "the new #2 stores", the #2 stores gradually are pushed into a quasi-#1 status, and #1 vendors shrink, or go broke, depending on their market segment.

There are worse than HF. Cummins Industrial (they changed their name a year or so back) and the 'traveling tool sales" sell stuff that HF might be embarassed by.

Why does #3 do well when they have objectively inferior merchandise?

because the bulk of users don't push the tools to the limit, and so don't know about or need the better quality steel, better finish, better fit, etc of the #1 and #2 tools.

Look at the big fashion labels..... louis Vuitton, Pierre Cardin, etc, they have all been adluterated by going mass market. They started as limited production very best stuff. The process of "dumbing down" the goods for a mass market also made the brands attain the status of "Levi Strauss bluejeans".

it is both different, but yet much the same in tools.

Rule 1:

The brand does not guarantee the quality, the quality guarantees the brand.

John Stevenson
07-19-2009, 09:58 AM
It's very clear what the topic is. The only surprise is that we seem to be staying on topic.

Just quote pedantic in one post and that will soon change :D :D

Just joking.

The long short is it's down to dealers and also down to manufacturers to work out just what is needed / supplied and at what cost base.

We are currently working on a series of projects with Sieg to customise 'some' of the the UK imported machines to make them special to us to hold onto a niche market. at the moment we are the only supplier of the Super X1L mill in the UK with the long bed.
It can be bought from other suppliers as an accessory but not as a complete machine.

It is deals like this with the factory that enable a dealer to offer a certain level of machine to his customer.

It is sometimes possible to get other dealers options if they do not have a 'do not share' agreement with the factory.

Some factories will sell anything to anyone. It's a hard game based on trust and hard won experience.

.

lazlo
07-19-2009, 10:21 AM
Because there are no other machines in that price point, short of buying Old Iron.

Where else can you buy a mill, or lathe, for $400? If you're on a tight budget, buying a machine for $400, and then spending some sweat equity to re-finish and re-fit the machine, and possibly some structural repairs (like the 4-bolt compound fix on the 9x20's, or re-milling the column on the mini-mills), and you've got a useful machine.

That DOES somewhat blunt the "point" made by some that it is stupid to buy "old iron" when you can buy new and get right to work without fuss.

That latter procedure is only good with units above a certain level.

I wasn't advocating rebuilding Harbor Freight class machines, just answering markj's question about why there's a market for these machines.

I'd rather spend the time restoring Old Iron (and it doesn't have to be Old American Iron :) ), but that's entirely a personal choice, and it requires that you actually find a worthy candidate for restoration.

J Tiers
07-19-2009, 12:58 PM
Oh, I was by no means complaining...

I like doing "old iron".

The point was that you have to be choosy about the "buy and go right to work" items also. It isn't a slam dunk no-brainer with just any new machine.

Mcruff
07-19-2009, 01:02 PM
Micro Mark and Speedway are also 2 other companies that sell similar products to Harbor Freight and Grizzly. As far as stores our local Harbor freight is quite decent, they honor there warranties quite well and you can kick dirt and deal on the price.

A huge chunk of there stuff is real junk, some things surprise you with there quality. I bought a set of 3/8" drive allen sockets for work. They have been in hard service for 5 years now and have outlasted the Proto's, Allen brand, Williams and several other high end brands costing 8-10x what they did. We bought a large ratchet (1") for breaking loose bolts at work (1"-1 1/2" grade 8 socket heads), it has outlasted everything we have compared it to that cost $350-$500. Never figured out how this happens but some of there tools are actually quite good and awesome when you think of the price.

Jim Shaper
07-19-2009, 02:17 PM
Here in Minneapolis, we have several tool distributors who also sell machinery. You can buy a real Bridgeport turret mill new - for $14,000. :)

What you see with the Grizzly's, Homier (no ones mentioned them yet - they distribute the Speedway brand via gypsy traveling sales in grocery store parking lots), and Horrible Freight's is the "handyman's" machine dealer. It's very few "real industrial folk" who would risk their business to a junk machine, or spend the man hours to refurbish a unit as it came out of the box. Down time is often more expensive than the equipment. Accuracy being paramount to price. A solid performer saves them money on labor over the long run, and pays for itself. Not a concern for the hobbyist.

The prices for the next tier of equipment (which still comes right out of china) jump substantially, because when you achieve a functional tool of moderate quality it commands an intrinsic value in itself.

Think of a used car for example. It can be 30 years old (which puts it into dubious quality range - even new), have 300K miles, be rusted to all get out, but still run and drive reliably. See where I'm going yet? It still performs a task, and as such has a given value for the ability to do so. The car isn't technically "worthless." The HF and other cheap tools still meet some form of minimum performance, and are priced accordingly. The guy who insists on the BMW level of fit and finish would never be seen driving that clunker, or maybe he wants the 4 year all inclusive warranty (which HF never offers on anything with a plug) - he's not their market segment. The guy willing to wrench on the old beater to keep it getting him to and from work is.

These stores thrive on the bottom, because there's a whole nation full of short sighted idiots out there who want everything for nothing, and can't see the error in buying stuff that doesn't hold up. Then there's the top tiers who are drying up because the money isn't out there in the pockets of the guys who wish they could buy the good stuff and have to suffer with less because they can actually purchase a reasonable substitute rather than going without.

I use HF for disposable equipment. When I buy from them, I expect short service life and I pay accordingly.

lwalker
07-19-2009, 08:12 PM
I'm the OP and while reading some of the responses it might seem like I was trolling, honest, I wasn't :-)

Jim, you make an interesting point about "disposable equipment."

At my first job as an electrical engineer in the late 80's, the company had shelves of old TRS-80 Model I computers that we used to test our product. The owner bought them cheap, and when one broke, we tossed it in the trash and pulled another from the shelf -- too cheap to repair! I wonder if anyone is doing similar with low cost HF mills & lathes. I can see businesses that don't rely on these, but use them occasionally (say an electronics business that sometimes needs to mill slots/switch openings in boxes) buying 3-4 of these $500 mills and if one breaks, toss it and use another. For light duty use you can get years of function out of them and still come out ahead instead of buying a professional grade machine.

That thought may be heresy to some of the professional machinists here, but from a certain perspective it does make economic sense.

Jim Shaper
07-19-2009, 08:22 PM
The only HF lathe I've ever seen in production (not that I've been looking) is used to cut the hex off store bought nuts to be used for welded bungs. Not only does he not care that it's not all that accurate, he doesn't try too hard to make the mandrel a good fit either.

If I had cast iron to do on a regular basis, I'd look into a used chinese lathe to beat up rather than expose my european unit to that grit. I'd even investigate the spindle bearings if I needed tool post grinding. Again - beat up the junk to save the good machines.

Paul Alciatore
07-20-2009, 03:29 AM
There is a HF store about 4 or 5 miles from me, I have been in it twice, and saw nothing I would buy there. The things I was interested in, I was able to get cheaper at a local farm supply store.

HF has a mix of what has been described as the pongy fish guts smell of chicom rust preventive preservative mixed with a tang of synthetic rubber.

I have not been in a Grizzly store, but have little doubt it would look like the BB store in Evan's photos.

I have been to both HF and Grizzly stores. The Grizzly, in Springfield, is actually a lot better than the BB photos Evan has posted. It is completely clean, modern, and the equipment is displayed in the best manner possible. The machines on display are complete and, no doubt, functional. Smaller items are displayed neatly in glass cases. Sales personnel are available in the various areas. They even have a rest area where SWMBO can sit while you shop.

OTOH, HF is more like a cramped hardware store. As others have stated, machines often lack some parts, have rust, and even in areas where the parts are all present, they don't function. Just cranking a table left and right is often not possible. Not only does no one seem to care, but no one is even available to talk to.

I have purchased several machines from Grizzly and have be happy with all of them. Not that they were perfect, but they did work straight out of the box and the few repairs I did need to make were all possible in an hour or so without need for any parts. From what I have seen at HF, I would never purchase anything more complicated than a hammer or screwdriver there.

gmatov
07-20-2009, 04:55 AM
Since I am not a machinist, though I did play one in the Westinghouse many years ago, and finished my career as a machinery repairman, I do not think that the HF machines are "junk".

They will NOT compare with 5,000 pound machines. (I mean the 7 X 10 lathe or the mini-mill. The G4003 Gunsmith's Lathe just might, and they come from the same factories.)

My mini-mill is HF, and it does what I want, but I will not take 1/4 inch cuts with it. My 7 X 10 will not take .200 DOC, but I don't put stock in it that would take such a cut.

I DID put an inch and a quarter nut in the chuck and turn down a die to press copper sheet to make a header for 1 1/2 tubing for a small boiler. Took multiple passes, but, what the hell, ain't that part of the fun?

YOU could put it in your 5,000 pound lathe and do it in a rough and finish pass. I ain't in any hurry. Were I, I would have gone out into the cold and done it on the SB. As is, I sat in the basement, wine vats next to me, took my time.

I wonder about the TAIG, the extruded aluminum thing, costs about as much as solid silver, and I do not see how in the hell some of you can call THAT a CHOICE alternative. Either that or "old iron".

I have "old iron". At my age, I would prefer to make a good part with repetitive cuts than to make a part with a rough and a finish cut. I don't do production or "for money" work.

lwalker,

If you want to simply do a little bit of metal cutting with a lathe, go to it. If you get to the point that it is inadequate, go buy something bigger.

People, here, insist that you HAVE to be able to turn 6 inch, minimum, stock to have a REAL lathe. So many have watchmaker lathes, and so many salivate over them, you wonder why they don't go buy one.

Look to Rivett608's posts to see what you can do with smaller machines.

Rule of thumb has been that you can do little work on a large machine. Some of the machines I maintained were up to 120 inch swing, 50 foot between centers. They NEVER put small work on those lathes, even if they had none to fit it.

You want to spend 400 to buy something to play with, go ahead.

Got way MORE money, buy one of them TAIG extruded aluminum toys. Anybody here tells you they take WAY bigger cuts on them, call him a liar to his face. You will not be wrong.

Tiffie,

If you keep speaking truth, you will get the reputation of being sacreligious. (Either I don't know how to spell that or "Spell Check" sucks. I have tried all variations.)

I can bend small stuff in the SB when it gets bitten into. I can stall the mini. I try not to. I usually make what I want to on the first try. I can't stand out in the garage to work that machine. I can sit before my mini machines and enjoy myself.

If you are 30 and want a big machine , buy one. I don't want any more.

Cheers,

George

John Stevenson
07-20-2009, 05:16 AM
The only HF lathe I've ever seen in production (not that I've been looking) is used to cut the hex off store bought nuts to be used for welded bungs. Not only does he not care that it's not all that accurate, he doesn't try too hard to make the mandrel a good fit either.

If I had cast iron to do on a regular basis, I'd look into a used chinese lathe to beat up rather than expose my european unit to that grit. I'd even investigate the spindle bearings if I needed tool post grinding. Again - beat up the junk to save the good machines.

In the early days when we built small inkmixers we used to buy cheap bench drills throw away the motor and fit a 3 phase one with VFD and start from there.
We couldn't build the frame for what the whole machine cost.

Recently we have been supplying slightly modified bases from X1L mills to a university to mount jigs on in a laser testing lab. The whole machine is less than the next alternative X Y table.

.