Potential Surface Grinder Purchase

So the opportunity has come for us to purchase a good working surface grinder.

Why do I bring this up? Well it’s required for discussion. In addition the time frame is short, otherwise I would bring it up in a regular committee meeting.

This machine is an AMW GS-1224BH
This machine has multiple levels of control for the table.
Manual Hydraulic

The magnetic chuck is an electromagnetic & adjustable for the holding power. It is 18x24 vise

It has coolant with splash guards.

It Weighs about 4500 lbs, couple different sources counter the weight between 3200-4500lbs

Very large bed compared to the Harig.

It’s relatively new, it was used a Dallas Morning News briefly before being sold to the current owner. The current owner has stated he has only used it a couple of times.

It is fully operational.

The asking price is 3500. He did say he would throw in a Ingersoll Rand Pneumatic Zimmerman Balancer.

Here is the predicament, we would likely need to come up with a spot to put said machine. Is not small by any means.

Also it’s 3500 so not a small amount of change.

Now for some pictures.


The Pros:

  • It is all there
  • Ready to be used
  • Has cabinet
  • More controls for doing work.


  • Space
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Looks like a good addition to the shop, and a fantastic price.

From conversation last night with Charles, the air balancer would be very useful for other machines around the shop as well as this one. Be very handy for taking the decks off the new ( to us ) mills for example.

I think we should go for it.

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I’ll vote yes…

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Got my support, awesome addition to Machine Shop.

I think this would be very useful.

Here is a video link of it running but without coolant. Additionally it was a deeper pass.


Obviously this would be amazing, and it looks like it already has covers to catch dust. This could definitely replace the current surface grinder.

It has other covers to retain the coolant.

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This is a good find and would allow us to get rid of the current one to help offset the price.
While new toys are always fun let’s get into how useful it would truely be (Sorry, someone has to play devil’s advocate):

wasn’t sure what you meant. give us a little more.

Useful how? People think of surface grinders like they do of CNC machines. they somehow think it is a magic bullet, when in fact a SG is a one trick pony. It it great for creating flatness and a good surface finish. But then, so can both of knee mills. I can envision that everyone thinks they can run it as fast as the guy with the loose hair and no safety glasses was for everything. Tim’s picture indicates the depth of cut was 0.01" and a feed rate of about 120 IPM (1/.0085). That’s about as agressive as it should get. If it can be cranked to 1/2" depth someone is going to do it. While I personally feel we can get the same results with the knee mills or the HAAS with a fly cutter I will abstain but I will support what ever the committee decides.


Yep, abuse happens and you are right someone will try it out of a lack of experience or lack of training.

I expect the knife making crew would like it.

The committee can see if it is a good fit (pun intended).

For use on steel only, right?

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That’s been my concern as well. I really think we need to make stipulations in buying it.

I’d say that it needs to be on an RFID, in addition the subsequent safety training for it, I feel needs to be automated.

We should only use it for Ferrous materials.


As someone who never machines steel, any guess on how much steel we do machine in MS? As a proportion?

To be honest, I’m not really sure. If I had to guess 75% is probably non-ferrous. But that’s just a wild ass guess.

I do get asked often about when we will have the current surface grinder online.

You’ve got my vote!

yeah I’ve seen wheels break apart and fly apart and hit people. it can still break apart with light cuts but the odds go way down. A SG is great for getting a consistent flatness and thickness AFTER prep on regular mills. It isn’t a planer for bringing down thickness from say 1" to .25". That’s my only concern.

Based on the shavings we see, that percentage is probably a bit higher. Of course, the cold saw tells a different story. But those are mostly cuts of stuff that is then taken over to metal shop to be bent, welded, and ground. cheers!

Are there wheels for other metals ?

Yes there are other wheels made for other metals. I think if we as a committee discuss those other metals, that it would likely be on a case by case basis.

No doubt a lot of machine for the price and ready to run. Great controls. Great enclosures too.

Still there are issues to consider:

The machine is large and the current machine layout should be hauled out and we should look at what will have to be given up to include it. Most likely work table space will be pointed to as sacrificial, but work table space is our critical shortage now and we had hoped to fix this with the 50% space increase. Also, there were certain aspirational goals that should be able to claim space in the future, such as the table top 5 axis cnc mill. I don’t recall a giant cnc surface grinder being one of these aspirational goals. There is a need to resist becoming the Noah’s Ark of machine tools.

The machine is very specialized. It may belong in a full machine shop, but for a maker space how useful will it be? It is worth noting that two prior owners have decided to sell it after little use. That means it is likely in great condition but that history might fore tell of it also being little used in DMS. In the past year how many projects have had to go out to a real machine shop to be surface ground or were dropped from consideration due to a lack of SG capacity at DMS? That would be an overly sophisticated knife sharpener. Still too small to be of utility in planarizing engine heads?

Who is going to teach the tool; already there is inadequate teaching for what we have?

After Calvin gets a look at it and starts with detailed critiques of it, you’ll be ready to re-sell it for only $2500. OK, that might not be a compelling reason to back away from the deal, that a little sh*t might be stirred up.

I can live with the committee decision to get it, if that is how it goes, but I’m not exactly in the Ra-Ra zone over it. Who knows, I might even use it some day.