People are always asking me where did you get that?   And, my answer is always “Mcmaster”.

Mcmaster-Carr is an old time industrial supply company with a very efficient modern business model.  It’s a big cut above all of it competitors like Travelers, Enco, MSC, Grainger, etc for the following reasons.  

  1. Mcmaster has a great web site!   The best in the industry!
    • The Mcmaster web site defines the standard that all other web sites should be judged against

    • It is really easy to find things.   Even if you don’t know the exact technical names of things.
    • There search engine is the best.  It finds things even when you don’t really know what you want.
    • They show good summaries at the top of things.  For example if search on “steel plate” they will show you a summary that explains the grades of steel (A2, 1440, O1, etc).
    • They show just the right amount of little pictures to guide you thru the process of seeing what is available and finding what you are looking for.
    • Mcmaster is far better than its competitors.  Who want to show you 10,000 images of each bolt size, etc.    Mcmaster shows just one  picture of bolts,  etc with all the different sizes in tables.

    • Mcmaster often shows a sidebar that lets you zero in on the size of things.   For example you can ask it to show you all the tubing they have in stock with a 1/2″ inside diameter.   Then you select if you want copper, steel, plastic, etc.

    • Mcmaster has CAD drawings in PDF format for most things.   You can use these to check the part you are ordering is really what you want.    Will the head on that bolt be to big?

  2. Mcmaster shipping is really fast!
  3. I live in Poughkeepsie NY.   Almost everything I order arrives on my door step the next day from their warehouse in NJ. If I order before 8am it may come the same day!   This is there standard shipping method.  No extra charges.

  4. Mcmaster shipping is really cheap!
    • Anything that fits in a 12″ x 18″ x 6″ box is only around $5 for shipping to Poughkeepsie NY.   Weight does not seem to matter.   When I order heavy steel items, it still cost around $5.

    • Even when they ship things in bigger boxes it tends to be around $5.   I don’t known how they do it, but I love it!

    • When they ship steel to me in 6 foot tubes it is around $12 for shipping.   Weight does not seem to matter.

    • One thing about Mcmaster is you never get to see the shipping charge in advance.  You just have to trust them.  I have done business with Mcmaster for many years and there shipping charges are always very reasonable or down right cheap.

    • It appears that Mcmaster does things the old way.   Your order goes directly to the warehouse.    After the order is filled it goes to the business office were they add shipping and tax.    

  5. Mcmaster has a huge selection of good quality items.
    • But, you can find what you want because there web site is really good.

    • For most things Mcmaster does not show you the brand name.   Don’t worry the quality will be good.   It appears they use their own CAD drawings to get quality stuff from their suppliers.  

  6. Mcmaster’s  prices are very competitive.   Often the lowest with shipping.
    • If you want to buy new power tools (drill, circular saw, etc) then you should look on Amazon.

    • If you want to buy metal or machine shop stuff then suppliers like Travelers, Enco, MSC may be cheaper.    But, maybe not with shipping.

      Lower quality? Others are often cheaper because they stock more brands of lower quality cheap imports.   Mcmaster often only stocks good American Made stuff plus one of the better imports.

      If you compare apples to apples on quality, then Mcmaster is often cheaper.

  7. Pay by Credit Card
    • If you order via Web and pay by Credit Card you don’t need a business account to do business with Mcmaster.

    • You need a business account to get a catalog.   But, who cares.  Mcmaster’s web site is great and gives you PDF access to all of their catalog pages.

Red Box Heater & Blue Blower

Is it time to think about investing in a heater?

Are you tired of standing in a cold studio or work shop?

Are you letting $1000’s of dollars of turning tools sit idle because you are to cheap to invest $150 in a heater?

Main Heat

The heat in my house is base board hot water driven by a natural gas hot water furnace with 4 zones.  The 4th zone is the main heater in my studio.  It  is a  fan forced “Modine” hot water heater.

The Modine heater works great.  It is the best solution because it is efficient and no open flame (pilot light) in my studio.

Note: “Modine” is the brand name.  But, it is also commonly used to refer to and box heater that hangs from the ceiling.   May be hot water or gas fired.

240 Volt Red Box Heater

It takes about 1 hour for the Modine to warm up my studio from 50 to 65 degrees.  When I forget to turn it on early I use my red box heater for supplemental heat.

The red box heater I like is manufactured by Marley Electric Heating, Model# 402. Contractor Heater,  4000 watts at 240 volts.  Roughly 11″ x 11″ x 12″. The same heater is sold under the Marley, Qmark, Berko and Fahrenheat brands.  Just look for BRH 402 heater on Amazon.  $150 on 2/8/2013

I like this heater because.

  1. Its red and rugged!
  2. It is fan forced.  So it shoots a steam of hot air across the studio.
  3. It puts out a lot of heat!.  But, it is not to hot.  You can stand in front of it and feel very comfortable.
  4. It is portable.  You just plug it in.  It is easy to move around.  Easy to store in summer. Not to big.
  5. You can easily hang it from wall or ceiling with wire, gas welding rod or chain.
  6. It is 220 volts.  120 volt heaters are to wimpy for me!  I want heat now, lots of it!
  7. It has a knob on the back that turns it off/no and sets thermostat temperature.
  8. It is not to noisy.
  9. It is low and square.  Very stable shape.  You really can’t knock it over.  So, no fire hazard.
  10. It is easy to clean with a blast of compressed air.

The model BRH 402 heater is the smallest model in the BRH series.  It  draws 16.7 amps at 240 volts.  Thus it requires a 20 amp 220 volt circuit breaker.   However, I run the heater on the same circuit as my large 3hp VB36 lathe.   I plug them into the same wall outlet. 

It is a little known fact that you can replace the local hardware store variety single outlet 220 volt receptacle with dual outlet one.  You need a  “NEMA 6-20 duplex receptacle” ( item # 7120K942)

Marley makes larger BRH heaters.  But they require more than 20 amps.   Click here for details.

120 Volt Blue Blower with Heater Attachment

I love my “Nascar Blue Blower” it is “the best fan I have ever owned”.   I take it every where in the summer.

I love this fan because it will blow a stream of air, straight across the room, 10 feet or more. It has low, medium, and high speeds.  High = wind tunnel.  It is a small portable squirrel cage fan driven by a 180 watt motor.

They make a $30 heater attachment that snaps onto the front of blue blower.  It works pretty good.  But, I don’t like standing in front of it.  Its just a little to cool.  Because, even on low speed the blue blower moves to a lot of air.   The heater works fine if you don’t stand in front of it.

If you don’t have 220 volts then blue blower heater is a good 120 volt solution.  You just have to live with less/slower heat. I take the blue blower heater with me in the winter when I stay in cheap motels.
I don’t think they are still selling the orginal blue blower.   I have seen lots of knock offs.  Same quality?  Look around on Amazon.  Original fan $70 + heater $30.

Air Cleaner

I have a JDS 750-ER air cleaner in my studio.  It is a very important part of my heating and AC systems.

The air cleaner hangs from the low ceiling in the center of my studio.  My “Modine” heater is positioned so it blows hot air across the room into the intake on my air cleaner.   The air cleaner blows the heat around the rest of the shop.

Two Quick “Oneway” Improvements

Here are two quick improvements to “Oneway” tools

Longer Chuck Wrench Handle

For me, the bar on the Oneway Chuck handles is to short.   It slips out of my hand, hurts my hand or I can’t get enough leverage.

I have replaced the bar in my chuck handles with a 7-3/4″ long Hardened Steel Shaft. Part # 6112K44 = “Hardened Precision Metric Steel Shaft 8 mm Diameter, 200 mm Length”.  $6 on 2/1/2013.

The 8mm shaft is a perfect substitute.  No drilling, no fuss.   Just pop the red end covers off the existing the rod.  Slip in the new shaft.  Reinstall the red end covers.

I do not want the longer rod to bend easily.  Thus I use a handed steel shaft rather than cold rolled steel rod from local hardware store.   After a year of use the shaft is like new.  No bends.

The photo below shows the old back rod and the new silver shaft.

Add a Shaft Collar to Oneway Wolverine Vee-Arm

I have added a two-piece shaft cover to Vee-Arm on my Oneway Wolverine grinding jig.   I no longer have to fuss around with pencil marks on the square bar, etc.  See photos.

If you have one of those new CBN grinding wheels you will never need to move the collar.  If you have good old grinding wheels like me then you have to move it after you dress the wheels a few times.   A lot less often then you might think.

A 1″ round shaft collar works on the 3/4″ square bar IF AND ONLY IF it is a “Two-Piece” shaft collar.  One piece solid or split collar will not work.   They are just a little to big.  The extra play in a  two piece shaft collar makes it just the right size.  Or you can just take it apart and grind a little off the flat ends. Part # 6436K18 = ‘Two-Piece Clamp-on Shaft Collar Steel, 1″ Bore, 1-3/4″ Outside Diameter, 1/2″ Width’  $4.25 on 2/1/2013