Shopping for the best knee mill? There are certainly a lot of brands out there to choose from, never mind all the features and accessories to wade through. Chances are you’ve developed a checklist or maybe even a spreadsheet to keep track of it all. Here’s a question though: among the table travels, horsepower ratings, spindle options, and other specifications listed there, are you also collecting details about the machine builder? What about the distributor? Do you care about parts and service? Or is price the ultimate decider when choosing the best knee mill?
The Best Knee Mill?
I get it. Everyone wants a good deal. But they also want dependability. And service. That’s true for everything from cars to kitchen appliances to big screen TVs. Machine tools, however, are a bit different than the average purchase. Cars, for example, are primarily used for commuting, shopping trips, and the occasional family vacation. Buying on price alone might end up a costly mistake, but unless you’re a delivery driver, it probably won’t affect your ability to make money. Machine tools, on the other hand, are expected to run for hours each day, year after year. They have to remove metal reliably and accurately, often in the face of poor to non-existent maintenance procedures. An unexpected breakdown might mean a day or two of lost wages, although it could mean something far worse.
The Best Milling Machine Price?
I bought a bargain knee mill once. It was quite similar—at least on paper—to Kent USA’s KTM-series milling machines, but a couple grand cheaper. I’m not naming names, although you’d recognize the brand if I told you. The salesman I purchased it from assured me that parts were readily available here in the US. He also assured me that “one of his guys” could fix it if something went wrong. Two years later, the spindle pulley cracked. I then found that the salesman had moved on and the dealer had switched brands. Long story short, it took two weeks to get a replacement part, and I had to install it myself. By then, the job I was working on was late and my customer found another supplier. Forever.
Or The Best People?
The moral of this post is clear. Specifications and features are important, but no more so than the people standing behind the product. That’s why I’ve since begun basing my purchasing decisions as much on the distributor’s track record and the manufacturer’s years in business as I do on price. I know now that, if I’d spent a little more back then my equipment, things might have turned out far better for me. Another lesson learned.