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Is a tool & cutter grinder worth having?

T&C Grinder or Buy New Cutters

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Brian H10/11/2017 20:22:36
2312 forum posts
112 photos

I have been hanging my nose over a T&C grinder for some time and am at present watching one for £270 on eBay but it occurred to me the other day that one can buy an awful lot of cutters for £270.

Any thoughts anyone?

michael cole10/11/2017 20:35:01
165 forum posts

Yes it is worth it, Buy or build one that will last you a lifetime and you will get your moneys worth.

Dwayne Clark10/11/2017 20:39:46
9 forum posts

If you are running a milling machine and using larger cutters,ie greater than 3/8" or using broaches a tool and cutter grinder is a wise investment. IMO

Clive Brown 110/11/2017 20:41:42
832 forum posts
43 photos

If you do a lot of milling on steel components, probably worthwhile, especially for large end mills and S&F cutters. Stainless steelwork makes this even more so.

For mainly non-ferrous work, not so cost effective perhaps.

I have a Quorn and it's nice to be able to always have sharp cutters rather than eeking out the life of well used ones. Ability to grind lathe tools to accurate shapes is also useful.

Mick B110/11/2017 20:44:49
2192 forum posts
122 photos

I would really, really like one, but have never been able to justify the expense in competition with materials for models, or tooling for their direct production.

Max Tolerance10/11/2017 20:47:02
57 forum posts

Depends on whether you know how to use it. Does it have any tooling etc. and what state the bearing etc. are in.

If it is a tool room grinder like a J&S or similar it will be heavy and large. It may have air bearings (good clean air supply needed) or not(bearing wear problems)

With no tooling they are useless. The cost of buying and keeping a decent one will probably be more than you spend on new cutters of the standard type, end mills etc. in a decade.

However if you know how to use one it does give you the ability to make your own special tooling and sharpen pretty much anything. So it is horses for courses can you justify the cost for your workshop. Have you the knowledge, space and time to use one properly. Do you have a need to make or sharpen special tooling.

Only you can answer the above questions but if any are in the negative don't bother.

Andrew Johnston10/11/2017 21:04:59
6609 forum posts
701 photos

The answer is yes and no.

For general machining I just buy new cutters/drills etc. As the OP says you can by an awful lot of the smaller cutters for the money.

Having said that I've got a well equipped Clarkson T&C.Total investment is probably around £1200. So far I've used it for grinding the relief on home made taps. However, I have a large number of slab mills, S&F cutters, radius cutters and dedlock cutters for the horizontal mill. It will be useful for those when the time comes for a sharpen. If I need to make a HSS lathe tool with accurate angles then it will be useful for that too.

It boils down to what type of cutters one has and whether the cost, space used, and time justifies the investment.


Martin of Wick10/11/2017 21:05:13
249 forum posts
5 photos

Yes if you have the money and what is on offer has sufficient accessories to match your requirements.

However, if your requirements are relatively modest, you can go quite far with an adapted bench grinder and one or other of the tool rests described in the workshop practices book 'tool and cutter grinding'.

I used the simpler tool rest for years before acquiring a Stent T&C grinder. I still prefer the home-brew version if I want to quickly tidy up an edge rather than go to the faff of setting up the Stent. Stent is great if you want to spend a wet afternoon rounding up all the bits and pieces around that need reclaiming or making a special tool.

IanT10/11/2017 21:37:28
1993 forum posts
212 photos

I have a part-built Stent (in my opinion probably the best T&C design for a home machinist - it's fairly small and it can do most of what you might actually need to do - and with a limited number of handles to make!) but I've largely managed thus far with much simpler grinding aids. I do hope to finish it one day but other things seem to keep coming up ... I guess it hasn't got to the top of my "want" (TUIT) list just yet.

So for most folk here a better question might be not whether you need a T&C grinder (probably not) but whether you really (really) want one....

Only you know the answer to that Brian.



peak411/11/2017 11:20:11
1719 forum posts
183 photos

If you were looking at a Clarkson, then it does have a small floor footprint if it comes with the normal cast iron base.
Mine came out of a skip, but without a motor or any tooling, barring a pair of centres. Beware, official tooling is expensive if you want to buy rather than make it.

If you're happy with making stuff yourself, there's a good resource at The Bedroom Workshop

If you just want something to "do the job" rather than looking pretty, various ready made parts can be pressed into service.
e.g. my first universal head wasn't anything fancy; A piece of heavy duty angle iron formed the upstand bracket, the swivelling head itself was a rear brake slave cylinder off a Landrover, fitted with a set of top hat bushes, one for each size of cutter. Let someone else to the hard work, a slave cylinder has a good accurate bore, perpendicular to which is a round machined boss for mounting it on the brake backplate (or in this case a bit of angle iron).

Virtually zero cost, compared to £150 for a used real one. It didn't look professional, but it gave me a set of sharp end mills; obviously it only sharpens the ends, not the flutes.

See also Harold Hall's setup for a normal double ended grinder.



Edited By peak4 on 11/11/2017 11:20:23

Hopper11/11/2017 11:39:00
6445 forum posts
336 photos

Good quality milling cutters are so cheap and plentiful on fleaBay that I just buy new cutters for the bit of milling I do. So it depends on how much milling you do really as to whether you would save money by sharpening your old ones.

thaiguzzi11/11/2017 13:05:11
704 forum posts
131 photos

One of the (many) main reasons I switched from carbide tipped tools to HSS, is my Stent T&CG. It has transformed my lathe and shaper tooling, and a lot of it is 5/8" sq butt welded or 1/2" solid sticks, ie not small.

John Reese11/11/2017 15:53:58
1035 forum posts

It is definitely worth having.

I generally keep a drill grinding attachment set up.

Periodically I mount the air bearing fixture and sharpen all the end mills in my "dull" box.

I have a uni-vise fixture I use for grinding HSS tool bits when the angles are critical. Otherwise I grind them off hand at a pedestal grinder.

I use the work head to sharpen countersinks and counterbores. I also use it to correct the clearance angles on Banggood boring bars with brazed carbide. I last used it to grind the brazed carbides on a special cutter I made for boring plastic parts to 2.100" diameter while drilling a concentric .390" hole. (I am boring on the mill, not on the lathe.)


Alan Waddington 211/11/2017 16:24:21
523 forum posts
88 photos

Iv'e had two, and sold them both due to not earning their space........a great thing to have for sure, but only if you can spare the room and the time to set them up. A lot of my tooling is now indexable, and HSS cutters up to 1/2" are cheap enough to be classed as disposable, even solid carbide ones can be picked up cheaply these days.

Sounds like you have an itch to scratch though, so my advice would be to buy it and evaluate how much use it's had in a years time. If it's not getting used sell it on. I made money on both mine when i sold them.

Andrew Tinsley11/11/2017 16:24:49
1630 forum posts

Depends on how much milling you do! Simple as that! Work out how many times you chuck away blunt cutters. It is then easy enough to see if it is worth it.

I am building a Quorn, just for the hell of it, I have access to another completed Quorn and I don't think I could manage without. I don't quite know where all these cheap cutters are on Ebay. Every time I bid, I lose out to what I think are silly prices. Maybe I just strike unlucky.


Enough!11/11/2017 17:32:08
1719 forum posts
1 photos
Posted by Andrew Tinsley on 11/11/2017 16:24:49:

Depends on how much milling you do! Simple as that! Work out how many times you chuck away blunt cutters. It is then easy enough to see if it is worth it.


I think there's more to it than simply balancing the financial books. On that basis I can't justify any of the equipment in my shop.

I don't have a T&C grinder of the Stent or Quorn level but I imagine it would be nice to always be able to use a *sharp* (as opposed to "it'll do" - or worse, "it'll have to do" ) cutter. And nipping out to buy a new cutter "'cause they're cheap" is fine as long as you don't chip one on Saturday evening and have to stop the whole job until Monday because you forgot to stock up on that particular cutter.

Edit: phantom smiley removal again.

Edited By Bandersnatch on 11/11/2017 17:33:16

John MC11/11/2017 18:49:34
376 forum posts
44 photos

I wouldn't be without mine now. I've always got sharp cutters to hand, no making do. I also "tweak" the various angles on the cutters, a bit more angle on a cutter for Aluminium works wonders, a bit less for brass. Another tweak is grinding slightly tapered cutters for pattern making. I'm sure the OP will find plenty of uses if he gets one.

I found that learning to use a T&C grinder is a bit of a fiddle, stick with it and the benefits will soon come

I was looking at a T&C cutter recently, the one that looks like an Apollo.moon lander (sort of), it seems it will only sharpen the teeth at the end of the cutter, not the sides, a lot of money for something that will only do half the job.


Neil Lickfold11/11/2017 19:04:27
867 forum posts
195 photos

The real advantage of having a T&C grinder or a D Bit grinder, is being able to make cutters for a specific task. To buy these special cutters, is very expensive in deed. Certainly many years ago, we used to sharpen endmills with a taper on them, so that after the pass down the face, it was a vertical face.Those were the days. Now days most would not know how to make a correction ground cutter. A comprehensive T&C grinder will allow you to make the cutters from solid stock, no matter what the cutter is. You do spend a lot of time in setting up though that is for sure.


jimmy b11/11/2017 19:19:56
786 forum posts
42 photos

I'd love a "Boremaster Tiplap", used one daily at work.

Just fetch too much money


Brian H12/11/2017 10:16:20
2312 forum posts
112 photos

Many thanks to all who replied, certainly gave me much food for thought. I think if one comes along that is cheap enough and with some tooling then I might bite, otherwise I'll buy some new cutters but save the old ones just in case.

The reason this cropped up is that I needed to make a cutter to make some non-standard gears and then a friend , clearing out a workshop for someone, offered me an Edward Blake No 2 tap grinder and I thought I might be able to adapt that, but it would need a lot of work and I want to get on with modelling.


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