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KMG grinder

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by ncrowner, Mar 18, 2017.

  1. ncrowner


    Oct 1, 2015
    Anyone using a KMG grinder from Beaumont? Any opinions? Thanks
  2. JBC69


    Feb 22, 2015
    I've had one for a couple years now... It's been a machine that I've had to tinker with in order for it to work in an acceptable manner. My biggest complaints about it are the belt wobble--solved by squaring up the drive wheels and installing a better tension spring or gas piston--and the fact that it's about as smooth as a forklift driving down a washboard road. The pulley system produced quite a bit of vibration and only gets worse as you ramp the speed up. The cheap quality bearings they use don't help at all either; I've had to replace almost every single one on the machine and I'd consider that unacceptable considering that I only use it a couple times a week at best.

    Overall it's a decent machine and I've turned out a bunch of really nice knives on it, but there is MUCH better out there for comparable money. For a few bucks more, I'd seriously look at Esteem grinders. They run MUCH smoother and quieter--direct drive is the way to go in my opinion and I'm currently saving up my pennies to do a direct drive conversion on my KMG.
  3. john april

    john april

    Feb 27, 2006
    i have had mine for about 2 years, no issues or complaints.
  4. Matthew Gregory

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

    Jan 12, 2005
    Many moons ago, there were basically three choices available to knifemakers: the Wilton Square Wheel, which worked but lacked flexibility, the Bader BII/BIII, which was the right answer but spendy, and the Burr King, which was smooth as hell but kludgy to make tooling changes to. The KMG was designed by Rob Frink to compete with all of them, and do so really inexpensively, while also being a platform which could be added to. He was active in the community, and a string of really innovative products sprang up (the rotary platen, for example). You could use your own motor and have a cheap three speed grinder with his pulley sheaves, or you could run variable speed with a vfd. Replacement parts were cheap, and readily available at most hardware stores, should something fail.

    I can't speak for quality control at that point, but I can tell you that there are plenty of examples like JBC69's. Seems as though, if you manage to get a good machine, it's great, but if you don't...

    I've had to go to great lengths to get my KMG working the way it should have from the beginning. The driveshaft for the pulley/drive wheel was bent, causing tremendous vibration and belt wobble, the tracking wheel adjustment was skewed, and almost every idler wheel was threaded into its attachment cock-eyed, so tracking was horrific. I've since made my machine direct drive, eliminating the pulley garbage, and my friend Joe is making a kit to replicate what we did to mine to fix this for others. They sell briskly, which leads me to believe I'm not the only chap to have these issues.

    Long story short, since the advent of the KMG, the market has become rife with exceptional products designed to compete with it, and in many cases handily surpassing it - all for the same, or less money, and with genuine customer support behind them. It really is a buyer's market. Esteem, Pheer, Weurtz, Outlaw, Northridge, AMK, Oregon, Wilmont. Any one of these are great machines, and I don't remember hearing a single complaint about any of them - really just comes down to preference as a result of features, or grinding style. Product reliability or customer service don't ever seem to come up as concerns with them.

    Even the briefest of searches will turn up lots of info on this. I still contend the best way to choose a grinder is to go somewhere and use someone else's - see for yourself what works and what doesn't.
  5. shamu

    shamu Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 18, 2010
    JBC69, do you have any resources to point to for getting a KMG less wobbly. I'm a complete newbie when it comes modifications, but i'd like to give it a whirl.
  6. Kentucky


    Dec 13, 2008
    Like Mathew I remember when we had about two choice the square wheel and the bader. I didn't even know about the burr king back then..Even at that the bader cost more than my trucks did at the time.
    We have a Coote with the disc and small wheel attachment. Its the best of that two wheel style grinders I think. We bought an esteem with 2hp VFD about two years ago and its as smooth as silk. Got it with the platen, 8" wheel and small wheel attachment. Its as smooth as any grinder Ive ever used and smoother than most..
    I don't want to sound like Im dogging the KMG because im not. Its a tank and built to last, thousands of good knives have been made on them..Now to the "honest part"..All of the KMG's Ive used were not by any means smooth. Like riding a tater wagon compared to baders, esteems and other nice grinders.
    Using a LINK BELT helps smooth the motor out and truing a few other things helps belt wobble. They are a good grinder but keep in mind to get it really smooth you might have to tinker with it a bit.
  7. Ken H>

    Ken H>

    Dec 31, 2011
    JBC69 said it all right there - direct drive. "IF" I were considering a purchase of a new KMG I'd push very hard to get them to drop the pulley/shaft setup and drop the price some. The price drop should just about cover the cost of a Chinese VFD drive, and the 3 ph 2 hp motor required would be about same cost as a 1 ph 2 hp motor. Simple to just bolt motor base plate direct to mounting plate for grinder.

  8. shamu

    shamu Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 18, 2010
    I guess i was also interested in...

    "solved by squaring up the drive wheels and installing a better tension spring or gas piston"

    in addition to exactly how a direct drive conversion would work.

  9. Matthew Gregory

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

    Jan 12, 2005
  10. Robert Erickson

    Robert Erickson KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 2, 2014
    I have used a KMG for a couple of years now. I haven't had any issues with mine but having said that I have not tried or seen any other machines so maybe I'm just tolerating it's limitations because I don't know any different or better. This and other threads make me want to try some of the other grinders out there. I would love to try an Esteem and Wuertz first. I'll definitely be getting another grinder in the next year or two.
  11. shamu

    shamu Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 18, 2010
  12. PNWJimbo

    PNWJimbo Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 29, 2015
  13. erik markman

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

    Aug 13, 2007
    Customerservice is horrible. I need a couple of new small wheels for mine but I need to place a minimum $1000 order for international orders.....
    I was lucky to get an answer though. First time in years.

    I am getting a Northridge.
  14. Matthew Gregory

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

    Jan 12, 2005
    Pertinent posts from Brian Fellhoelter from this thread:


    The direct drive kit my buddy makes is my version of David Sharp's direct drive conversion. I saw what he did, and my buddy Joe and I figured out how to make something that didn't require it to be welded in place. I knew the pulleys, even after squaring everything up, would be a possible source of power loss and vibration, so rather than continue to troubleshoot them, they were yanked. Absolutely no regrets for ditching them.

    Erik, I hate hearing that, man. Not that it will make you feel any better, but I just heard from another maker yesterday that wants a direct drive kit. He's on the other side of the world, and flew his KMG home after breaking it down and putting it in his suitcases, only to put I back together and have all the same problems we have. It's never worked right, the idler wheels are all crooked, etc, etc. No customer service support. He's on his own, despite buying the machine NEW from Rob.
  15. Josh Rider

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

    Sep 2, 2014
    I've been having problems with mine recently where the belt drifts after about 5 or 6 minutes grinding. I don't know if any other grinders have this issue. For example, if I'm letting the belt roll over the side of the platen in order to round a plunge, it will drift back the opposite way. I don't remember ever having this problem until recently. Like a couple of others have said, there's just a lot of really nice features on other grinders in the same price range. You're limiting yourself in my opinion if you don't shop around.
    There's no doubt you can make great knives on the kmg, but you may have to tweak or alter some things in order to get more features that come standard on it's competitors.
  16. Kentucky


    Dec 13, 2008
    Josh, is the spring starting to get weak maybe?
  17. knife to a gunfight

    knife to a gunfight KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 17, 2007
    I'm a little surprised that Rob hasn't updated the design of the KMG at all in these years, or AT LEAST offered a direct drive adapter.

    It seems that the majority of complaints (vibration, misalignment/out of square or parallel) are very simple fixes, especially using 'state of the art cnc machines' as his website states.
    I imagine that despite the arguably better options that are available now days, Rob must still be keeping up with sales enough to not feel the need to update or improve anything.
    Perhaps the problems are as prolific as perceived?

    Who knows...
  18. Josh Rider

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

    Sep 2, 2014
    I swapped it out with an air shock a while back and it still seems heavy enough. Maybe it was the belts, I'll have to see if it keeps happening.
  19. john april

    john april

    Feb 27, 2006
    josh i think more tension on the belt might be the answer. if i do not put enough on mine, it tracks fine but when i apply pressure the belt shifts to one side. ( but it still runs with no wobble). i guess i got a "good" kmg just by chance. i had heard in the past some are good, some are not. i think an important feature is for the grinder to tip on its side or horizontal, which the kmg does not. if i get another one it would have to have this feature.
  20. Brock Cutlery

    Brock Cutlery KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jan 10, 2015
    I think about getting a second grinder sometimes, but space...
    I got Brett's Esteem grinder, and I am so glad I did. Two years and I haven't had any trouble with it. If my belt is jumpy, I know it's a bad splice or something else wrong with the belt.
    I worry about the base a little sometimes because I grind wet quite often. But the powder coating seems to be holding up well.
    I do a lot of thin tip work on both flat platen and rotary platen and the grinder just works. No vibration. His customer service is quite amazing too. He WANTS to make things right if there are any issues.
    I've called him once or twice for what I thought was a grinder problem, turns out it wasn't the grinder. But he helped me figure it out.

    I can't speak for the KMG, but I am not looking back either. No regrets at all.

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