editorials: import_tools

Cheap Import Tools vs DIY

This question often comes up - build a Gingery machine or buy an Asian import? There are two main camps, but many viewpoints. To me it comes down to a complex equation of time, money, needs, wants and ultimate goals. Each person can put their own value on the various factors in the equation and come up with their own answers. For example almost no-one builds a Gingery drill anymore because the time and money considerations are weighed so heavily towards the Asian imports.

When it comes to the lathe, it's a much harder call - plenty of time and not much money, the Gingery wins. Not much time and plenty of money, a good 7 x 10 or 9 x 20 wins. In between, maybe a cheap Asian lathe and the attitude that its a Gingery kit.

With the Shaper there is no Asian counterpart. However there are other alternatives depending on your needs. For some people a simple Shaper attachment for their lathe may suffice, or a small hand operated shaper for which their are several plans on the web. For me, I can afford a secondhand Shaper, but I don't need it so big and I can't justify the space required in my workshop. A slightly modified Gingery shaper will suit my needs and the savings can be spent on tooling that I both need and want.

A similar situation exists with the Gingery Miller. Horizontal Millers for the hobbyist simply aren't available. And while there are dozens of different styles of vertical milling machines, some jobs are best and most easily done with a horizontal miller.

Unless you are a total nut, are totally broke, or are living in antarctica, you will probably want to buy at least a few cheap imported tools to get you started. You might also be unaware of the existence of such cheap tools, and they may make you re-think building your own machine tools. There's not a whole lot to talk about here - you get low quality machine for a really low price. Politics aside, I'd rather have a low quality mill/drill than a high quality drillpress, but some people are fanatics about having high quality tools. Go figure.

Approximate price list as of 4/8/05 for your reference
If you are paying more than this you're probably getting ripped off.
Bench drillpress $30
Floor drillpress $70
Good floor drillpress $150
Drill index number, letter, 0-1/2 by 64ths $40
Small Mill/drill $200
7x10 Lathe $300
Metal Cutting Bandsaw $200

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Last-modified: Thu, 14 Dec 2006 19:07:52 GMT (1489d)
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