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Help with surface grinder wheel selection

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Technical Ted

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#1
I still have some work to do on my new to me B&S #2A surface grinder, but am trying to identify some wheels and tools to pick up for it. The wheel size is 7" x 1/2" 1-1/4" hole. I've been doing research on line and found a tremendous amount! Too much actually... I have pretty basic needs so it seems like there should be a simple answer out there, so here goes:

I will basically have two types of grinding to do. Soft carbon steel and hardened tool steel. The carbon will most likely be a matter of making parts parallel and down to a certain size. The tool steel will be things like truing up parallels, 1-2-3 blocks, angle plates, HSS tool bits, etc.. I know a coarser wheel is better if you have a lot of material to remove, but I will most likely machine close to size and want to minimize the quantity of wheels I buy.

I'm trying to limit the different wheels I have to the basics. So, I'm looking for recommendations of hopefully no more than 2-3 different wheels unless there is good reason for more. Some might say you only need one wheel period but I have no problem with a couple/three different ones if that makes sense.

Right now I have a worn and a brand new Norton 38A46-I8VBE and one adapter (hub).

I also need to pick up adapters and a puller. Where do you guys get yours? I see them on MSC and McMaster Carr for close to $60 for adapters and $18 for a puller. I've also seen used ones on eBay, but think I would be better off buying new so I know what I'm getting.

I've done some grinding in the past when I worked in the tool room years ago, but I always just used whatever wheel was already on the machine and have no experience in wheel selection so I appreciate the help.

Ted
 

Grandpop

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#2
I am certain you will get lots of different answers, some different than you asked for. I was a die maker for 25 years, and now have had an old 6x12 in my home shop garage for past year. Like you I dust/finish mostly soft steels and the occasional tool steel part.

I have/use Norton 32A46-H as my standard wheels for flat work. If I need to hold a sharp corner or dress a smaller radius I switch to a 32A60-I. If I want even sharper detail I have a few 38A80-K wheels. Those 3 were 90 percent of the wheels used for full time grinding we did, so I see no need to switch. Have used the red/pink 25A46H and 25A60-I for very hard tool steels, but not certain the extra cost is worth the marginal improvement in home shop.

I bought my wheels on ebay and at some local machine shop auctions, probably average ~$15 a wheel.

Like you I was going to buy the hubs @ MSC or Travers on sale. After watching for a year, turns out Travers never puts them on sale, but MSC does. I bought a set of 4 nice used Sopko ones on eBay about a month ago for $100 with free shipping. Watch the photos closely - a lot of off brands, rusty ones or ones that look like they were in a crack ups for even more money.

My grinder came with the hub puller and wrenches, so have not bought extras. Can get those anywhere.

Good luck with your grinder, I use mine more than I thought I would.
 

Technical Ted

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#3
Grandpop, thanks for the reply. I just ordered a Norton 32A46-HVBE because it seems this would be better for dusting the magnet than the 38A I have. Looks like the 38A is more suited for hardened stock and light cuts.

I also made a puller this afternoon. I figured why spend $20 and buy one when I can make one in about an hour. Hey, $20 saved is $20 earned! :) In case anyone else is so inclined, here's the info I found on Sopko's website for the thread sizes:

00116 (116) STANDARD PULLER ASSEMBLY.
1" OD knurled bushing 00681, .984"-16RH OD thread. Pressure screw 00117 1-1/8" long,
1/2-13RH thread, 11/16" hex. Black oxide finish.

Fits like a charm! I also added a brass plug on the end of the 1/2" -13 jack screw so it wouldn't mar the end of the spindle and its' center.

Ted
 

Grandpop

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#4
Good idea to make a puller.

I do not have one here, but the best I found for grinding the chuck / table is a 32A46-G (maybe even a 32A36-G). I just use the 46-H for the chuck here, spray or spread a light coat of oil after the first touch, take no more than a .0002/.0005 cut depending on where I am in the cleanup effort. I also use a fast traverse with at least a 1/8 - 1/4 crossfeed. I let it set for a while between cuts, check the chuck temp with a HF infrared thermometer, and dress the wheel between each cut. Even so, sometimes it takes several tries to get it flat. Fortunately it does not get much wear so it lasts a long time.

PS. My name is Ted as well, so really had to reply!
 

Technical Ted

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Great name Ted! Thanks for the info. It helps. I have a spray mist. I was thinking about using that while dusting the chuck. What do you think?

Ted
 

Bob Korves

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Amazingly, you can get just as good of a surface finish with coarse wheels as with fine wheels, and with a lot less chance for burning the metal. Same with soft versus hard. And that is perhaps backwards from what you might expect, use soft wheels for hard metals and hard wheels for soft metals. Open structure wheels are much more forgiving, they do not load up as easily, and make it more difficult to burn the work. Look at the wheel face often, and dress when it is getting quite dirty on the side you are first contacting. I find it really helps to only approach the work from one side when possible. Grandpop was right on. I am also pretty much a newbie, so take my recommendations with a large grain of salt...
 

Grandpop

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I used a mist unit a couple of times when grinding chucks years ago. Think is was just generic clear water soluble grinding fluid. Made a big cloud in the room and everything got sticky as the cloud settled down and dried. Not sure that it cooled the chuck any better than oil.

If you have a mist unit I would try it - don't see that it could hurt. Flood coolant works best, but most small hand grinders don't have that set up (mine does not).

I prefer light oil ~ 20-30 weight, spread out by hand over the chuck. I place a rag over the stop on left side of grinder. Doesn't make much of mess except against the rag, just have to wipe out inside the wheel guard when done after wheel stops.
 

Chuck_L

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Hello All, name is Chuck. New to the forum. I just inherited an old Browne and Sharpe No 2. I've never used a surface grinder before. Thanks for the info in this thread already. My question to an experienced operator might be "If you were limited to only 3 wheels to use on your surface grinder, what would they be?" Assuming the materials would be tool steels, Stainless steels, and aluminum alloys which is pretty much all I work with. Thanks in advance :) -chuck
 

Grandpop

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welcome Chuck.

Since you have no/limited experience, I assume you are just talking about trying to do some flat grinding (no sharp corners, no radii/forms) to make blocks parallel and to size? If so you could probably use 32A46-G or 32A46-H wheels for the tool steel and stainless.

I don't recommend grinding aluminum as a newbie AT ALL. It is VERY gummy, loads the wheel almost instantly, which does not give a nice finish and does make heat that goes into the work-piece, which tends to make it raise up in the middle. After it cools back down you typically end up with higher edges and a slightly depressed center. Have done it wet, dry, with wax, and with oil, but never found a clear winner; just depends on the size and type of aluminum. Probably best to start with coolant if your grinder has it. Really needs constant wheel dressing and light cuts. If you really need to grind it, I would try a 32A36-G as starting point (pretty open, coarse wheel).

It should go without saying, but always make sure the material is magnetic first if you placing it on the chuck. Put it on the chuck, turn the chuck on, and make sure you can't move it on the chuck. Even a non-magnetic piece blocked in with steel blocks around it (and/or using magnetic hold downs), it will move a bit and not be easiest to get it parallel. Best to hold non-magnetic items in a vise till you get a fair amount of experience.

Since you are new to grinding, I will offer this caution: Surface Grinders are like a table saw in that when something goes wrong it happens too fast to even realize it is happening until afterwards, much less try to prevent or stop it from happening. If you even have the slightest doubt that a setup isn't secure, find another way of holding or doing it.
 

Chuck_L

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Yes, your assumption is correct Grandpop: I'm pretty much just looking to true up surfaces and make things look nice. I had also thought of using it to help me sharpen tool bits for turning and milling plastics. (My mentor taught me that when dealing with plastics, the sharper the better. It's worked for me so far.) Avoiding aluminum makes sense; it loads up the bench grinder, so no reason it wouldn't do the same on a surface grinder. Table saw analogy also makes sense, especially with that magnetic chuck. It holds tight, but not super tight. I'm guessing I probably won't be taking off more than 5 tenths at a pass max, eh? (Thank you very much for advice on the specific wheels.)
 

Bob Korves

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It is well known to be difficult to grind soft metals like copper and aluminmum. When doing it commercially they use automatic dressers that dress the wheel constantly. Not something to try at home as a newbie. Soft steels will grind OK, just use a coarser soft wheel with an open structure for less problems with the grinding. Grandpop's wheel suggestions are good for ordinary steels.
 

Chuck_L

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#12
I've heard that you use a softer wheels for harder metals and harder wheels for softer metals. Is that generally true? EDIT: Nevermind. I see that you posted that up above Bob. :)
 
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Grandpop

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While .0002-.0005 passes are good for finish work, it depends how big a piece you are grinding and how much material you need to remove. It is not unheard of to take .002-.005 passes when you may have .010-.015 to remove. Just allow time between passes for the material to cool down.

Part of having limited wheel selection means you need to use them differently depending on size of piece and depth of cut. For example, if you want to take a heavy cut, then slow down the l-r table travel speed. That would make the wheel last more like a harder one would. Light finish cuts keep the l-r table travel a little faster to mimic a softer wheel. For reference the hardness is the letter after the grit size (G,H ,I ,J , K, L).
 

Bob Korves

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While .0002-.0005 passes are good for finish work, it depends how big a piece you are grinding and how much material you need to remove. It is not unheard of to take .002-.005 passes when you may have .010-.015 to remove. Just allow time between passes for the material to cool down.

Part of having limited wheel selection means you need to use them differently depending on size of piece and depth of cut. For example, if you want to take a heavy cut, then slow down the l-r table travel speed. That would make the wheel last more like a harder one would. Light finish cuts keep the l-r table travel a little faster to mimic a softer wheel. For reference the hardness is the letter after the grit size (G,H ,I ,J , K, L).
It makes a lot of sense to use deeper cuts with smaller step overs for removing material. It makes the wheel work like it is supposed to, with rough grinding happening at first contact, gradually decreasing to minimum spark out at the other side of the wheel, which stays nearly pristine. That makes for better surface finishes, less chance of burning the metal, and better control of producing a flat and even surface. Since reading about this concept I have been trying it, with quite good results, at least for a mainly self taught rookie...

However, you still need to be careful to not put heat into the metal faster than it can escape. If you have problems with burn marks and warping, try to do a better job of getting the heat out of the metal. Use wheels that will not hold on to lots of swarf, dress them often, and use flood or mist coolant where it makes sense.
 
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Technical Ted

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It makes the wheel work like it is supposed to, with rough grinding happening at first contact, gradually decreasing to minimum spark out at the other side of the wheel, which stays nearly pristine.
For this reason is it good practice, when shooting for the best finish and size, to only do the grinding in one direction only (feed wise not travel wise) so the trailing edge of the wheel is always "finishing" the grinding passes? This is how I finished up dusting my magnet and it seemed to work well, but I'm not sure if the technique was necessary (but it made sense to me). When I was "roughing" I cut in both directions, then dressed the wheel to finish.

Ted
 

Bob Korves

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When I was "roughing" I cut in both directions, then dressed the wheel to finish.
You can use both sides of the wheel, but the roughing work damages and loads the wheel with swarf more deeply than you might guess. It will take quite a bit of dressing to get back down to a pristine surface capable of fine finishing on sides that have been used for roughing. I do not find it takes much time or effort to move back to the one side for doing all the work. At least that is what I have been doing lately, and I think it makes a noticeable difference in the results I get. Try it out and see for yourself...

Another issue might be the actual width of the wheel. My surface grinder holds a maximum wheel width of 1/2". If you are using a wider wheel, I think you will be able to have more latitude in technique because the extra wheel width gives more finishing area.
 

Technical Ted

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Bob, thanks for the info. So, it sounds like you typically use one side only, for both roughing and finishing. I do think this makes sense, especially for those like you and me who only have 1/2" wide wheels.

Thanks,
Ted
 

Grandpop

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When I grind the chuck I always start at the front edge (closest to operator) and work my way to the back. Most of my finish grinding is done the same way (f-b). Roughing I will use both sides of the wheel, as it seems like it gets less loaded with 2 wear spots rather than doing it all one way and getting heavily loaded on one side.

We used to grind to ± .00005 (50 millionths) for several production tool details. We did most of the rougher grinding on one direction, but when you got down to those last cuts we always went over the piece front - back, let it cool, cranked the table back to the front and cut same way again without touching the downfeed, let it cool, then crank table back to front again and go over again without touching the downfeed. Just trying to make sure there was absolutely nothing left to remove before going and measuring. Often if you put a pencil line on the part you could take it off with little/no sparks.

In my home shop I don't worry about multiple passes at same setting; one final pass with a sharp wheel is generally good to ± .0001/.0002.
 

Technical Ted

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When I grind the chuck I always start at the front edge (closest to operator) and work my way to the back. Most of my finish grinding is done the same way (f-b). Roughing I will use both sides of the wheel, as it seems like it gets less loaded with 2 wear spots rather than doing it all one way and getting heavily loaded on one side.

We used to grind to ± .00005 (50 millionths) for several production tool details. We did most of the rougher grinding on one direction, but when you got down to those last cuts we always went over the piece front - back, let it cool, cranked the table back to the front and cut same way again without touching the downfeed, let it cool, then crank table back to front again and go over again without touching the downfeed. Just trying to make sure there was absolutely nothing left to remove before going and measuring. Often if you put a pencil line on the part you could take it off with little/no sparks.

In my home shop I don't worry about multiple passes at same setting; one final pass with a sharp wheel is generally good to ± .0001/.0002.
Did you find there was any difference in finish/size feeding from front to back vs back to front? Physically, there are slightly different forces on the spindle, either pushing into it or pulling away. Or, did you do it for visual reasons so you can see the finish better? Or other reason?

I know the best way is for all us grinding newbies to try different approaches ourselves, on our own machine, but if we can learn something from someone else I'm all for it! :)

Thanks,
Ted
 

Grandpop

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I was not worried about the spindle effects, they were usually in good shape. I mostly did the front to back as there was some wear in the machine ways and tables did not move same in each direction; would lift a little bit one way. You could clearly see this with an indicator on the table as you cranked it in and out (especially near the ends of the travels). Most guys just threw up their hands and said couldn't work that tight on that machine. Where I worked during my apprenticeship all 8 of the machines had wear, so was taught that method as a way to get better tolerances out of a worn machine. I always seemed to be able to meet tighter tolerances than most of the others on the worn machines, and that carried over to each shop I worked in.

My home shop Boyar Shultz does definitely have some wear. From the wear patterns on the ways it also looks like it has the classic Boyar Shultz twist in the table (or saddle) issues. With hardened steel liners under the table I am not going to try to scrape it in, I just grind the best I can to try to minimize the issues.

For the 50 millionths work, we had Mitsui roller table machines - VERY sweet! Even though they were about a dozen years old and used full time evry day they had very minimal wear. Not sure it made any difference on them which way I went, just following my standard practice. I REALLY wanted one for my home shop, but just couldn't justify the cost (about 5x-8x the Boyar cost).
 

Technical Ted

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#21
Thanks Grandpop!

Ted
 
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