I've used them quite a few times, they have a nice selection on US made
stuff. I wanted a insert from ar warner they didn't carry so they got some
and added it to their product list.
They're good folks.
On the Chinese machine tools end, the Seig folks who make the mini mills
and mini lathes are good folks as well. Their products are quite good
for the money and size, and they respond to email questions promptly.
Important to remember that there are some good Chinese companies that
care about their products, and not lump them all in a "cheap junk"
I would modify that statement a bit. I bought a Sieg mini-lathe and minimill
a few years ago and both came with numerous assembly and Q.C issues that I
had to straighten out before using. The mill was a Grizzly brand and it did
have fewer issues than the Pro-Tech brand lathe I had bought earlier. That
said, they are an OK value for the money. I bought them mainly because I
could fit both on one bench in my small shop. I would have paid a little
more for better quality.
I think most Chinese factories can produce high quality, but whether they do
depends on the expectations and inspection processes of their customer's who
resell the product.
Little Machine Shop is a good place and I have bought some Chinese-made
tooling there that was fine.
The Chinese can and DO make quite good machines..when one is talking
about Industrial quality machines. Many many US branded machines are
now made in China, including Bridgeport.
However..that is the result of supervison by the home company, the
selling price and a host of other differences from "hobby" machines
When I got my X2 mini-mill from Harbor Freight (on sale and 20% coupon)
I had decided from looking at the display model that it would be good
enough for what I needed at the time, a quick CNC conversion for
engraving use. When I uncrated the unit I found it was quite a bit nicer
than the display model. A few evenings of quick motor bracket
fabrication and whatnot and the CNC conversion was up and running, and I
didn't have to "fix" anything other than the expected tramming and gib
To be fair, the main mechanical problems with the mill was the was that the
Z fine adjust slipped and the hand crank which you push in to engaged the
fine adjust was so tight it was nearly impossible to push in and pull out.
The rest of the overhaul involved removing the copious amounts of waxy red
goo that were on everything including the leadscrews. I had to disassemble
the stage to really clean the leadscrews.
The lathe was another issue. The main lead screw was not parallel to the
ways. I had to drill another hole and remount the far end. I then had to
re-adjust the half-nut. The saddle wobbled. I found the angle of the V on
the saddle did not match the angle of the V on ways. The saddle V was also
skewed relative to the flat on the saddle. I had to file, sand and scrape
until the saddle matched the ways. I had to modify how the gears mounted so
they would not scrape. The compound slide dial would turn when the crank was
turned. The tail stock was at the wrong height and had to be modified to
adjust it to the correct height. It is still not quite parallel to the ways.
I also installed some of the 100% necessary modifications: a cover on the
inside of the apron to keep chips out of the gears, and a lock on the
saddle. I found without the apron cover, the apron gears got gummed up very
If you go into a machine shop in Asia today you find that the older
machines are European made and the newer equipment is all Chinese. I
recently had the opportunity to use a bloke's shop in Singapore for a
week and my experience with his Chinese made vertical mill and lathe
was very positive.
The difference in perception appears to be that the U.S. market is now
oriented toward cheap shit for cheap people while the Asian market is
more interested in professional level machinery that does the job and
lasts a long time. Of course, the professional level Chinese stuff
doesn't sell for pennies either.
It is interesting that I don't believe I have ever seen a U.S. made
machine in any of the shops I've been in "over here".
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