I'm thinking about picking up a Blum Mini Press for boring my doors, but I'm not familiar with them at all. What should I look for? I assume there are different heads that can be interchanged and would also like to use it for Rafix closet connectors. What's a good price for a used one? Any problem areas to look at on used units?
From contributor Z:
You want to make sure that the motors are all in working order. That the 35 mm bit as well as the 5 mm bits are able to be freed and reset. Check to make sure the hold downs work and release. The press ram should be in good working order. Listen for any air that could be leaking from loose or broken connections or hoses. Check to see if the stops are adjustable and able to be zeroed in.
I have the Meplamat 2000 and that thing is a tank. I think I paid $100.00 and then another $50.00 for some new air lines and a drier/separator. I have seen both the Meplamat and the Blum machines used go for around $1000.00. Are they worth it? Unless you like playing around with a drill press all the time and taking the time for special setups and jigs, they are worth their substantial weight in gold. You can realistically get one for around $400-$800. Cash talks and you can probably find a decent deal on Craigslist.
The hinge machine makes it to the list of "If I Knew What I Know Now, I Would Have Bought These Machines First..."
My main question is, are they comparable? Do they use different drill patterns? (I haven't used Grass before but looking at some specs, it seems they offer different hinge patterns.)
Both machines are close in price and priced attractively. The shop is within a few hours drive, so I'd also save shipping. What's your vote? Get the Grass, plug it in and go to work? Get the Blum, add a drive and enjoy the pneumatic cycle? Keep looking?
When choosing your hinge brand, there are several points to consider. First, consider the reputation of the hinge brand. Do they offer a lifetime warranty and knowledgeable technical support?
Next, is there a reliable source of supply in your region? Is there more than one source of supply for the brand? You do not want to be in the middle of a job and be told "sorry, we're out of stock until the ship comes in." Does your local distributor have a knowledgeable sales staff? You will appreciate this later.
Is the hinge supplier price competitive and reliable for deliveries? Consider the hinge itself. Are they easy to install and adjust? Do they offer the fixing method that is best for your shop procedures? Do they include cam adjustments?
Does the brand offer a range of hinges to meet your application needs based on the type of cabinets you intend to build? Does the hinge brand offer a good lineup of specialty hinge products (angle hinges, thick door hinges, profile door hinges, fixing options, soft close hinges, etc.)?
Will you primarily produce face frame or frameless cabinets? Does the hinge company offer a good selection of product for both styles of cabinets?
Are you building custom cabinets with many variables, or a fixed product line with limited design applications? Is the hinge brand considered innovative? Do they continually bring new products to market?
Once you determine which hinge brand meets your needs, you can select a hinge machine from that company. If you have a small shop, a manual machine may be adequate. If your hinge use is substantial, a pneumatic machine would probably be best. All brands offer their machines in a variety of electrical configurations (110v single phase, 220v single phase, 220v 3 phase, 440v 3 phase).
What is the electric setup in your shop? Most hinge brands are finally following the lead of Salice and Blum and offering their hinges in the 45mm X 9.5mm boring pattern. You will want your machine to bore in this pattern. This is evolving into the universal pattern.
Most hinge machine brands offer an interchangeable line boring head. These are okay but not really very efficient. After all, this is a hinge machine, not a line boring machine. There are many line boring machines on the market in price ranges from economy (a few hundred dollars) to very sophisticated (several thousand). A dedicated line boring machine will have anywhere from 13 spindles upward. The line boring heads for hinge machines will only have 5 or 7 spindles.
Also, the more times you must change your machine over from the hinge boring function to the line boring function, the greater the risk of error (particularly if you have employees). Changing from one operation to the other involves changing the fence setting as well as changing the head on the machine.
It is always best to have dedicated machines for each operation.