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Tips for saving money on tooling for small jobshop?

Pistonring12

Plastic
Joined
Sep 5, 2022
Hello Gentlemen, I am looking for some advice on tooling for our small job shop, more specifically I was wondering what would be some good ways to save money on tooling? All I have in mind right now is sending tools to get reground, but wanted to get as many inputs on the topic as possible. Thanks!
 
I agree. Penny pinching on tooling will probably result in a net loss if you’re not careful.

My recommendation though is building standardized tool assemblies wherever possible. Any complex job will require a handful of oddball tools, but try to standardize as much as you can, that way you aren’t buying similar endmills for every job that walks in the door that end up just sit around with half their life left on them after the job is done. For example, pick a few useful lengths of ½ endmills for aluminum (lets say 2LOC and 1LOC as an example) and keep them set up and ready to go and run them until they die. That way you don’t collect a ton of unnecessary sizes for each job, if you’re not careful you might end up having 10 different lengths of ½ endmill all between 0.5LOC and 2LOC and that is a lot of money just sitting there in a drawer, for a low to mid volumes just pick a few sizes that that will work well for everything, so you maximize their usage. Apply this same principle to all the other size tools as well and you will be saving both time and money.
 
I look for inserts on ebay. A few minutes work can save $$$.

I have been burnt once with counterfeits but the guy took them back. They were sandvik parting inserts with dodgy coating. Look at sellers feedback for new boxes and I don't get anything that's not from the US. And just name brand stuff. Inspect the inserts when you receive them.

Partial old boxes are pretty safe I figure. Check the radius when you get them. I have gotten some with a different tnr than what i ordered.

For very little time input I've saved tons.
 
I used to sharpen drills a lot until I started to realize how much time I was losing. Its nice to save money when your broke with no workload, but when you have tons of work and just want to have a fresh drill ready to go it makes more sense to buy extras and keep them close.

Drills over 7/16" I would sharpen before I throw it away, but would probably just use a new one before I got around to sharpening it.
 
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Regrinding tools is only worth considering on carbide cutters 3/8" and up, but be careful to account for the additional costs of handling, sorting, paperwork, comping in for a smaller tool, and the fact that a reground tool almost never performs as well or as long as a new one. In many cases you'll likely find it costs more overall to use a reground tool than to just buy a new one.

For low quantity stuff I'll use a lot of Redline cutters; they perform pretty well at a budget price, and there's good availability and selection. For higher quantity stuff I'll invest in higher dollar cutters for the few tools that don't last well otherwise; losing an overnight run costs way more than a more expensive tool. For one example, I was getting a few dozen holes from a $3.90 carbide drill in Ti. For a long run I tried a Guhring $66 drill, and at > 10,000 holes so far I'm still on the first one. That's a lot of time saved replacing tools.
 
Pay attention to the style of carbide inserted lathe tools. Here are two that I changed years ago.

We made a lot of parts with 1 1/2" - 6 internal threads. When we got our first CNC lathe years ago, we used Kennametal NTP3 inserts in a 1" bar. Two problems occurred, severe stringing and the insert rubbed the bore. To keep the insert from rubbing, we had to hand grind the bottom of the insert right where it locates in the toolholder pocket. This rendered a two point insert into a single point insert for CNC purposes. We did keep the inserts to use in the manual lathes. I later noticed that the two point top notch insert and a Seco three point laydown insert were about the same price. Had the boss order new Seco bars and inserts. So we got two more uses per insert, didn't have to grind every insert and no more stringing. The chips from threading were nice, tight curls.

The second change was the facing tool. Most facing tools use a square SNMG insert. My most used turning tool used CNMG 432 inserts, which gave me 4 uses per insert. I noticed Kennametal made a facing toolholder that used the same CNMG 432 insert as my OD tool. Got that toolholder and then could use all 8 points of the CNMG 432 insert, never using a SNMG insert ever again.
 
I used to sharpen drills a lot until I started to realize how much time I was losing. Its nice to save money when your broke with no workload, but when you have tons of work and just want to have a fresh drill ready to go it makes more sense to buy extras and keep them close.

Drills over 7/16" I would sharpen before I throw it away, but would probably just use a new one before I got around to sharpening it.
Always true for the baby drills where packs of 10 are (relatively) cheap.

But when it comes to the size at which you start sharpening it depends on whether you do it by hand or how quick and easy your drill sharpening device is to use. My sharpener is Clarkson T&C grinder attachment which takes a minute or so from pulling a blunt drill with a standard point to wandering back to the machine with a sharp drill on hand. So sharpening all sizes above 3/16" up to its maximum is very viable.

As other posters have said the key to saving is to minimise variations so as to make best use of what you have and be able to keep adequate ready to go stocks. The way to waste money is to be a magpie. Attracted to the shiny new thing that might be a bit better for some folks. In which case it's wise to remember the British National Lottery advert slogan "It could be You".

Yeah, right and I've got this wonderful deal on a bridge.

Another wonderful way to drain ash is to buy "might be useful" on the cheap. And an invertebrate bargain hunter I figure I've spent more money on snapping up the cheap options that might be useful than simply sucking up and paying full price for the right thing when I really needed it. Fart too easy to concentrate on when bargains came good, I've had a few stinkers, and forget the pile that didn't.

Never overlook the importance of management. Knowing what you have, what you do, how you do it and what it all really costs makes the difference between profit and loss. Computers make it far easier to be anally effective at such things but the only thing more boring than old style paperwork crap is modern style computer screen crap. Face it. If we wanted to do that we'd have gone into accountancy.

Clive
 
You can find good quality indicators used if you keep an eye out and are patient. I've had better luck with used high quality then new junk.

For things like parallels and 1-2-3 blocks buying import will get you going, these are harder to get wrong and easy to check.

Use side lock tool holder where you can, most tools don't need shrink fit or hydraulic.
 
I'd say the best thing you can do is buy multi-material tools. A good stock of universal grades and geometries mainly for drilling, indexable milling, and turning. You can run them in just about anything and get through the job with reasonable tool life. GOdrills and Universal KU drills from kennametal are an example. For turning the KCU grades will cut just about anything. If you get a long run job, you would want to get more material and workpeice specific, but for everyday use, universal PVD grades are great.
 
Like someone else already said, standardize as much tooling as possible. MA Ford and Fullerton Tool both offer some decently priced general purpose grades. MA Ford also offers some good pricing on their re-sharpening.

And, honestly, I do recommend hydraulic holders if you can. For 1, they have almost no runout compared to collet chucks and weldon shank holders. The less runout you have the more tool life you get and your part sizes will be more consistent.
 
As said, with just a little effort, eBay can be a tool to save significant dollars on tooling.

I like to be somewhat specific with my searches, for example "Sandvik DNMG-431 Grade 4025", or "Iscar Chamdrill 17mm", or "Lyndex Cat 40 3/4" toolholder". Broaden searches from there as needed...

You can save searches so that when an item does pop up for auction, you won't miss it. I have purchased thousands of tooling items using eBay, and machinery. The transactions have always been easy to transact, anytime there's been an issue eBay really stands behind the buyer.

I've only encountered fake turning inserts one time, the seller refunded my money. (If it's too good to be true, it probably is,...and pay attention to seller feedback.)

No affiliation with eBay, just pointing out that yes, you can save money on quality name-brand tooling with very little time invested.

ToolCat
 
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For twist drills, I resharpen using a Black Diamond Drill grinder. Anything under 1" and I can get quite a few resharpenings out of it. Over 1." I try to use indexable or inserted carbide drills. I also don't push my tools to the max.
 
For twist drills, I resharpen using a Black Diamond Drill grinder. Anything under 1" and I can get quite a few resharpenings out of it.

Yeah, I don't get the hate for resharpening drills either. It's fast and easy (and you don't get a spiropoint from any factory I know of :)) Little teeny ones ditch 'em but bigger than about three sixteenths, I'm a regrinder. Even by hand, which is quick and easy until you go blind from old age.
 
Along with size I'd consider what the drill bit is going to be used for. If it's going into a death match against 304 in a bar fed lathe it's going to be new or very close. If it's on the fab shop side knocking holes in angle iron I'll hand sharpen most any thing.
 
more specifically I was wondering what would be some good ways to save money on tooling?
Look for stuff at auctions. A lot of times you can find batches of used holders and such for cheap.

Whenever you can, once a month or so buy something of quality, like a new hydraulic holder, or a brand new vise, or a TSC carbide drill, etc... Over time your inventory will grow and things will start looking up.

For decent end mills that won't hurt your wallet you can look at places like:

https://www.latheinserts.com/MILLING_c126.htm

https://fullertontool.com/products/end-mills

https://www.lakeshorecarbide.com/index.aspx

One thing that helps with tool life is to only use sharp corner end mills for finishing keyways or walls that need a sharp corner to the floor. Otherwise always use a bullnose end mill and always try to use the variable helix end mills, they're so much better than the old school style of end mill.
Hanita and Kennametal make the best ones out there, with Sandvik Duramill a close second, in my opinion.
 
Hello Gentlemen, I am looking for some advice on tooling for our small job shop, more specifically I was wondering what would be some good ways to save money on tooling? All I have in mind right now is sending tools to get reground, but wanted to get as many inputs on the topic as possible. Thanks!
If you are using the tooling for manual machining it can save money, well it used to but forget about it for and CNC work. The cost of things like endmills have come way down in the last 10 years it is simply not worth it, if you do not find a shop that can put perfect finishes on the cutting edges it will cause you more trouble than it is worth. I used to send my endmills out for sharpening but I no longer bother, if it gets a bit dull it is relegated to manual work I always buy new for CNC work. Cheaping out on tooling is a bad idea as well, buy the good stuff ,trust me it pays off in the long run. The only real suggestion I have is price shop for not only your materials but coolant oils and shop supplies you can see wide variations in those items but consider the time you need to put in to do that. It simply costs what it costs to run a shop there is not a whole lot you can do to reduce cost you are better off spending time on reducing cycle times to increase your profit margin.
 








 
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