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Surface Grinders: To buy or not to buy?

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  • Surface Grinders: To buy or not to buy?

    I have an opportunity to buy a B&S #2 surface grinder. I don't know much about it yet and - frankly - I don't know much about surface grinders period. I've been reading up on the #2 on ( but I have some general questions I thought I would pose to the brain trust here:

    1) If you own a surface grinder, how often does it get used? If you don't own a surface grinder, do you ever miss it? I would have to rearrange my shop plans to get this guy to fit so I'm on the fence about whether or not I really need one.

    2) Is there anything special to look out for when buying a used surface grinder? Looks like the #2 came with either sealed roller or plain bearings. Any preference? I lean towards roller bearings because they are more familiar to me and I would expect them to be easier to replace but probably much more expensive to replace (seeing as how they probably need to be ABEC-7 or ABEC-9?)

    3) What do you expect a used #2 to go for in your area?

  • #2
    I'll be the computer in the Douglas Adams book that generates the rational that supports what you want to do

    1) How many machine shops have you been in that don't have one? Use is less than the lathe or mill of course and for non commercial work you could go forever without one....but it does open up new possibilities as well as new level of accuracy and finish. Yes, you really need one . If you discover you never use it, you can sell it, so if its not a basket case there really is no reason not to. How's that?

    2) I'd share your sentiments, but that might be partially ignorance....lots of great machines made with plain bearings. You want to check deflection (and run out because you are there with an indicator) and listen to it to get some comfort. Do some test grinding and see if you can get a good finish. Not testable? regardless of the paint, you have to for safety discount condition

    3) condition condition condition. beater, barely able to stand up: $250, showroom like condition $2500+. Real life, somewhere in between.
    Last edited by Mcgyver; 12-28-2016, 08:32 AM.
    in Toronto Ontario - where are you?


    • #3
      Once you have one you'll say how did I ever get along with out one.
      If and when you get one you'll find all kinds things to use it for. The quality and accuracy of your projects will improve greatly.
      You'll also be able to sharpen all your end mills on it using a simple fixture.



      • #4
        I dont use mine very often (a burdette hydraulic one), but when I do I really needed it for that specific task, and as time goes by I find myself using it more often, and for more diverse things than making stuff flat and a certain thickness which is why I first bought it.

        If moving the shop round to fit it in is the level of pain that extra capacity will cost, I say go for it.


        • #5
          lets see I want to grind a tool bit. I et it up in my toolmakers vice on angle blocks and have it ground up better then even can be done by hand. want to grind something hard and round get out the 5c spin fixture and get it done. put a cup wheel on and use it like a tool grinder. now that is some of the other uses other than just flat work.

          yes I would get it if you don't have one.


          • #6
            Originally posted by Mcgyver View Post
            3) condition condition condition. beater, barely able to stand up: $250, showroom like condition $2500+. Real life, somewhere in between.
            Does it have a magnetic chuck? If sale. Put a cheap import mag chuck on thanks.
            Is it under power, can you test grind a few samples and check the finish for problems? If no, risk of bad spindle bearings and possibly, no sale.
            Coolant and dust collection are a big plus. Even with both, you don't want to be grinding right next to the unprotected ways of your lathe and mill.


            • #7
              A surface grinder is the Bridgeport of the grinding world. There is so much more you can do than just make straight lines. You can do angled straight lines, angled curved lines, round stuff, grind all kinds of shapes into lathe and mill cutting bits, sharpen end mills , reamers, taps, wheel cutters, carbide tools, make step drills, step pins, gage pins, etc., etc. I would be lost without mine.
              Kansas City area


              • #8
                Originally posted by reggie_obe View Post
                Does it have a magnetic chuck? If sale. Put a cheap import mag chuck on thanks.

                I have flood coolant on mine, it makes a difference for sure...both in finish and it stops the parts from growing....I'd probably keep looking if not set up for coolant.
                Last edited by Mcgyver; 12-28-2016, 09:48 AM.
                in Toronto Ontario - where are you?


                • #9
                  Thanks guys... you've convinced me to at least take the next step and look at this thing.

                  Any suggestions on what I should be looking for if I can test something in it? Is an eye loupe and a finger enough to test the surface for defects? I used a #2 direct drive model back in college for grinding a few simple parts but really don't have any experience with surface grinders.

                  (And thanks Mcgyver for helping rationalize my desire for more machines! )


                  • #10
                    If it has bearing/belt/motor issues, that often/usually manifests itself in the final surface finish on the object, usually visible by the naked eye. Sometimes bad technique produces the same however.
                    Life is easier with flood cooling, I find its easier not to burn thinner things, keep better dimensional accuracy, cleaner for the rest of the shop too as it tends to damp down the dust when you run a wheel over a diamond or while grinding, but it does make for a disgusting black slime in the sump tanks of the machine to be scooped out. Rather there than on your lathe's ways...


                    • #11
                      Like Fluffy said, the smallest problems readily manifest in a visible finish - scallops or other patterns often can't be measured with a tenths indicator but are their for the naked eye to see. With a freshly dressed wheel (standard 40 grit) and a light slow cut you should be able to get a good finish with a machine in good shape. Even the motor not being perfectly balanced (they well balanced motors on quality grinders) will show up in the finish

                      Perhaps it was here, but I recall a discussion about grinding a test plate to test way condition. I can't recall if the consensus was a its possible or not or what the debate was....but one is unlikely to get that kind of time to check out a machine. A small test should show if there is hope, condition of the ways may have to be by extrapolation of the condition of the rest of the machine.....perhaps someone closer to it can remember the test grind to check ways thing.

                      Mine came out of a high school as they all shut town their shops. The machines were almost never used and when they were, they were used lightly. (kids think .020 thou DOC is pushing the lathe lol). Especially the grinders that sit there for weeks without being touched - those were the sad days for mankind but the glory days for home shop machine acquisitions .
                      Last edited by Mcgyver; 12-28-2016, 10:59 AM.
                      in Toronto Ontario - where are you?


                      • #12
                        I liked my 6x12" so much that I have since acquired a 8x 20"
                        surface grinder. Nice to have.
                        I have 2 cylindrical grinders and now I am buying a 3rd,
                        so more is better when it comes to machine
                        capacity and capability.
                        I guess I am tooling up to make parts for money
                        when it comes a time that I can't stand the coorperate
                        world any longer.



                        • #13
                          I have 2 (#2's) completely apart in my garage. I pulled them apart to hopefully clean and reassemble. After a several months break due to other projects im really not sure how ill get them back together. I assumed I could find a a detailed schematic to use when reassembling but have been unsuccessful searching. If you run across one please let me know.

                          Otherwise I might be sol.


                          • #14
                            If you do get it,lift off the table before moving it.The ways can be damaged by moveing it with it on!
                            I like the roller bearings,dont have to maintain oil in the oil cup,with the chance of damaging them if someone runs it dry.
                            The ratchet paws that move the table in and out sometimes get worn out and have to be replaced.
                            Belts are hard to find if it is a belt drive,but there is a work around,if needed.


                            • #15
                              I have 3 & have been trying to give away a sng phase 120v 6"x12" with a mag chuck. I think I have a taker but if not (he didn't seem real exited) I'll post it here. It's a Delta Milwaukee & works fine as I used it before I had 3 phase.