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Northridge Tool grinder review.

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by erik markman, Apr 20, 2017.

  1. erik markman

    erik markman KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 13, 2007
    Earlier this week I recieved my Northridge Tool grinder to replace my KMG.
    Initially I was going to do some replace some wheels and maybe make the KMG direct drive but after some shitty customer service like demanding a minimum order of $1000 for international orders and really long time between answering emails if I even got one.
    What is so difficult at throwing some wheels and a couple of bearings in a small box and send them off? I am going to say it: Beaumonts customer service is non existant.....

    Anyway...After researching grinders for months and using a TW90 and Wilmont from friends wich are certainly very good machines I decided on a Northridge based on the information I found on their website, from friends that own one or have used them and a few emails sent back and forth with George, the owner of Northridge. George is to the point and clear in his answers and comments, I like that.

    George suggested he made me some longer toolarms to work better with the 2"x 80" belts I use and after a little while the whole package was delivered.

    After a bit of assembling it was very clear that these machines are made to very tight tolerances wich showed in the effortless fitting of on part to the other.
    During unpacking and assmbling I got more and more pleased with the whole deal.
    Motor and VFD come prewired, even for my different dutch voltage and frequency.
    By the time I flipped the switch I was smiling from ear to ear.

    I even had handsfull of leftover parts like bearings, extra wheels and other stuff he sent with it because I am so far away and might need them sometime!!

    I gave it a testdrive and am still have a big grin on my face.
    Virtually no vibration, strong motor and no stuff rattling off my workbench like with the KMG.

    I was planning to keep them both but I am not going to ride a bucking horse when i have a smooth ride standing next to it so the KMG is already sold.

    I will update this thread as I go and have some more things to share.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2017
    R.C.Reichert and Brock Cutlery like this.
  2. erik markman

    erik markman KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 13, 2007
    Installation completed and toolarms tucked away.

    [​IMG][/quote]
     
  3. Teppojutsu

    Teppojutsu

    824
    Jan 18, 2015
    Very nice
     
  4. Bltien

    Bltien

    10
    Feb 1, 2017
    I just ordered mine from George Monday and I can't wait for it to arrive! He was a great guy to deal with and it was very simple giving him a call to get the order situated. He takes the time to explain what he does and why he does it in regards to his machines. He made sure any questions were answered and was quick responding to a couple of emails prior to ordering. This will be my first 2x72 grinder and I think the pro package will have all I'll need. Brady
     
    erik markman likes this.
  5. erik markman

    erik markman KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 13, 2007
    You will love it.
     
  6. Josh Rider

    Josh Rider KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Sep 2, 2014
    Man I envy you guys buying a northridge. They look well thought out and executed. I wish I hadn't bought my kmg. Although it's much better now that it's been modded so much. I really wish I didn't regret buying it. I heard so much good about it before I bought it. Rob has replied to me, but his solutions are usually dumb. I'd go into that in detail, but it would take too much time. If anyone wants the problems in detail, feel free to email or pm me. I'm hoping I can sell my kmg eventually and save up enough to get a northridge.
    It's good to hear about a company that actually cares about the people they sell to.
     
    Kentucky and erik markman like this.
  7. erik markman

    erik markman KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 13, 2007
    As far as I remember a NR and a KMG are not far apart pricewise if you consider the features of both.
     
  8. erik markman

    erik markman KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 13, 2007
    And the fact George actually listens when talking to him is actually worth a lot.
     
    Bltien and jll346 like this.
  9. jll346

    jll346 Knife maker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    May 29, 2006
    Congrats on your new machine. I can't wait to get a Northridge. Beaumont was one of the originals but hasn't seemed to evolve with times and customer requests and needs.
     
    erik markman likes this.
  10. crappiew

    crappiew

    15
    Apr 20, 2016
    Very nice. I like your tool arm holder. I'm going to copy that. George is one hell of a good guy. I ordered and received an oversize work table. It's very nice. I had the same experience with KMG. And I'm glad I went with the Northridge.
    [​IMG]
     
    erik markman and Knife freaky like this.
  11. Matthew Gregory

    Matthew Gregory Chief Executive in charge of Entertainment Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jan 12, 2005

    An interesting point. I'm not sure how much he was one of the 'originals', but there's no question he was, at one point, VERY responsive to the needs of the knifemaking community. The KMG chassis was innovative for a handful or reasons, not least of which because it allowed a buyer to pick from a myriad of motors - from cheap as hell to expensive - and anywhere in between. Rob also is responsible for the rotary platen, which is an ingenious contraption. The grinder was a robust platform, and relatively easy to modify or adapt. For years and years I NEVER heard anyone speak poorly of the product. When I acquired mine, I never in a million years would have believed I'd have the problems I did. I worked in customer service for a LONG time. It's easy to become beaten down. It's my suspicion that this is what happened to Rob. There's ways of handling things, though, and there's ways of handling things...

    This brings me to Northridge, and why I have to be cautious when I say something, here. I have yet to examine one of their grinders, however I do own their RAT Arm. If I'm allowed to base my opinion on my observations of this arm, here's where I think comparing this to a KMG is NOT a fair comparison.

    The Northridge arm is freakishly well built. TIGHT tolerances. Zero slop, zero play, rock solid when it's tightened, easy to adjust, high quality components. Holes are bored, not drilled, stainless where it should be. Blind holes so dust and grit can't get in.

    Beaumont uses off the shelf cold rolled steel without bothering to square it up, drills holes without spot drilling, chamfers holes with what appears to be used tractor parts (I had to disassemble my entire rotary platen after receiving it and clean every single hole - the burrs were so massive that I couldn't rotate the platen on the tool arm!). Three of the eight bolts that affix the tool arm slot components to the uprights were stripped - my only guess is that the first few bolts were overtightened before everything was lined up, and then the last few were driven in and called 'okay'. See any of my other posts about my KMG to understand the rest.

    I'd almost - almost - be willing to overlook some of this - if I wasn't treated so poorly when I needed help with their products. In fact, I've never recieved any assistance from Beaumont, and every issue I've found with their machine was a result of poor quality control.

    This is my point, overlooking all the BS I've personally experienced, and why I would say this isn't a fair comparison. If, in fact, everything on my KMG worked fine from the get-go, the disparity in build quality would be enough to price the Northridge at four times what the KMG is. It really is that simple. One is built crudely, akin to a turn of the century farm implement, and the other is built to aerospace tolerances, using that same level of engineering. Since they're almost on par with one another in relation to expense, I'm dumbfounded that anyone would ever consider buying a KMG and not a Northridge.
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2017
    jll346 likes this.
  12. john april

    john april

    Feb 27, 2006
    will my kmg platen, tool arms and wheels fit the northridge ?
     
  13. Matthew Gregory

    Matthew Gregory Chief Executive in charge of Entertainment Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jan 12, 2005
    John, I believe so, but @Pittknife would probably know for sure, as he's owned both. Hopefully he'll chime in here...
     
  14. Rhinoknives1

    Rhinoknives1 KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jul 1, 2013
    [/QUOTE]
    Erik, I had a KMG that I bought after I had a HardCore products machine for a second grinder. The cheap Chinese bearings froze up on the idler wheel within two months. The bumpy noisy machine was no where near my Hardcore. I used the KMG as a small wheel only machine for a few months before I sold it! I knew Rob when he started his grinder biz. I think his success has almost killed him! Nice review on your new machine! Thanks
     
  15. erik markman

    erik markman KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 13, 2007
    I think you can make it work. The spacer on the spindle for a big contactwheel is a bit shorter on the Northridge. You might as well get the NR platen so you have the precision wheels on it.
     
  16. jdm61

    jdm61 itinerant metal pounder Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 12, 2005
    Good call on the longer tool arm. I remember Claude having to work around the 2 meter belts with his KMG'ish machine. So what made you decide to go with a grinder that doesn't" lay over" so you can horizontal grind like the TW 90?
     
  17. Kevin Wilkins

    Kevin Wilkins KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 7, 1998
    I see you are in Holland, did you have any trouble importing the machine into the EU? It obviously lacks a CE safety certificate which is required for any grinding machine (and every other machine too) sold in the EU. I don't know what the current Customs position is regarding one machine for the importer's own use. I do know that importing and selling machines without a CE in the EU will get you a hefty 5 figure fine and I believe you loose the goods too. I did some research on it a while back and like a lot of EU stuff, it gets murky fast. One thing is sure, no grinder with open belts would ever get a CE. Not that it doesn't look like a well built machine! If it had an enclosure and dust extraction features, emergency off button, etc. so it could get a CE, it would be a good seller over here.
     
  18. erik markman

    erik markman KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 13, 2007
    I used 2 meter belts on my kmg. I think Claude uses 2,5 meter belts.
    I have no use for the tilt option.
     
  19. erik markman

    erik markman KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 13, 2007
    No problem importing it.
    I know of Italian, German, Spanish and British sold that are completely open.
     
  20. Kevin Wilkins

    Kevin Wilkins KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 7, 1998
    There are some people selling grinders in Germany more or less through "knife making venues" that are home brewed and lack CE certificates. You won't find them offered by any industrial machine dealers. For good reasons.

    I designed and built a grinder for my own use based on the old Square Wheel model with a lot of improvements and to run 2m belts and toyed with the idea of building more and offering them for sale. But I quickly found out that even though my machines would qualify for a CE certificate, doing all the paperwork etc etc would make it all economically unattractive unless I would be able to sell a whole lot of units. And the penalties for selling them without a CE made that idea crazy. Of course like selling drugs in the park, as long as you don't get busted, the money's good and you set your own hours.

    Still, if you only import the machine for your own personal use, no problem.

    The Northridge grinders look like a very solid machine and I've thought about getting one without a motor and setting it up to do flat grinds with 2m belts. I could also design and make a dust enclosure for the belt which I like on any grinder.

    It's a shame to hear so much bad news about Beaumont. I have a small wheel grinder I built using his components years ago before he stopped exporting. Rob Frink more or less invented the cottage built, knife maker's grinder industry. I hope whatever has happened with his service and quality will be set right, he's sure been in the business a long time to let things slip away.
     
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