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How Do I Choose the Best Used Machine Tools?

By Lori Kilchermann
Updated May 17, 2024
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When purchasing used machine tools, it is important to buy tools that can be resharpened and used for a long time. A careful examination of the cutting edge will reveal the condition of the tool; burned and discolored cutting edges can reveal misuse and damage to the used machine tools. When attempting to purchase the best tools, avoid these discolored tools since they could have lost their temper and, therefore, their ability to remain sharp for extended periods. The best used machine tools are often purchased from a tool supplier that takes used tools on trade for new purchases. These tools often have lots of life left in them and are only exchanged to keep the user supplied with like-new tools.

For the average home machinist, used machine tools can constitute the bulk of the total machine shop expense. It is imperative that only the best used machine tools be purchased, allowing you to get the most for your tool-buying budget. Often suppliers of new tools will take old tools in on trade and the supplier will resharpen and heat-treat the old tools. This provides a good supply of used tools that the supplier is able to sell at reduced rates to machinists who do not have the budget nor the need for expensive new tools. Many of these used and reconditioned tools are top-of-the-line, brand-name tools sold for the same price as inexpensive off-brand tools.

There are two main tell-tale areas of machine tools to examine when purchasing used items. The cutting edge and the handle or shank of the tool. To get the best in used tooling, buy only the tools that have smooth cutting edges free from discoloration. Overheating of a cutting edge results in loss of temper evident by discoloration; these tools are frequently difficult to resharpen and will seldom hold a sharp edge. This will force you to resharpen the tool frequently, leading to a loss of time and areas of poor surface finish on your projects.

When buying used machine tools with short shanks, the tool has a limited amount of resharpening left. This tool will not last as long and is not a good value. Buy only used machine tools with long shanks to ensure a long future of resharpening and getting more value for your money. Whenever possible, purchase used machine tools from reputable manufacturers to ensure that you have a quality tool that will offer top-notch results for your efforts.

About Mechanics is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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