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Care and maintenance of your grinder

Posted: Thu Apr 28, 2011 09:45
by steelchef
As the snow and ice quickly retreat, I am finally only about a week away from getting back to using my BIG smoker. The cut down, Little Chief has worked as a "stop gap" but isn`t quite what I need.
While preparing for the first batch, which will be: ... ey-sausage, modified and smoked, it occurred to me that my grinding equipment has not been sharpened recently.
All cutting edges need to be tuned up, constantly. We know how to deal with knife blades but grinding blades and plates get very little attention.
I use a flat cutting board (this should be checked with a straight edge if you are in doubt) and lay out a strip of 220G paper, add a little olive oil and give each plate and cutter about 20, rotating strokes on each side. The plates are then thoroughly washed, dried and re-oiled. The cutters are subjected to a further 20 strokes on an oiled 400G paper. They are likewise cleaned, re-oiled and stored in ziplocks. This maintenance will not reduce the life of your equipment, in fact, it will prolong it. Most folks clean their equipment and put it away without regard to the ravages of oxidization on stainless steel.
Care and maintenance of "grinders" is often overlooked but can make a huge difference to the quality of your sausage.

Posted: Sun May 01, 2011 04:07
by ssorllih
I took Steelchef's advise and got my grinder plates and knife out to sharpen.
I have sharpened my wood working tools for many years and new tools always need honing. I don't know way I though that meat processing tools would be any different, I always have to sharpen a new knife.
Working with a granite block from a kitchen counter top and several grades of silicon carbide abrasive paper and some olive oil I went to work. After about a half hour they are much better than they were but I expect it to take several more sessions to get them truly sharp.

Posted: Sun May 01, 2011 09:03
by Chuckwagon
Ouch! Steelchef, (my son) :roll: (oh boy!)
I agree with your regular maintenance plan, but I`ve got to strongly disagree with the "method" of sharpening your blades. Woodworkers like Ross, especially are aware that a plane blade is NEVER sharpened on it`s flat side. Think of the two "flat contact sides" of a pair of scissors. A cutler never touches them. He does however, grind the beveled edges to sharpen them. Your rotating grinder blade`s contact surface must remain perfectly flat within a few thousandths of an inch. I never attempt to sharpen the flat side (platen side) of the blade.

It`s just my 2 cents worth. Just my suggestion. (My son and I operated "Bear Claw Benchmade Knives" over 25 years and sharpened everything but the I.Q. of our local congressional representative. Our customers would have lynched us if we had sharpened the "flats" on scissors, plane blades, grinder blades, or any blade that contacts a "platen)".

Our friend Beardedwonder is a machinist in England. He and I once tried to defend our views of the "correct" sharpening procedure (as listed above) on the English Sausagemakin' site. We met a lot of resistance to our opinions so we just gave up. :roll: However, our blades are the sharpest in the northern hemisphere! Right Beard-O? :wink:

Best Wishes,

Posted: Sun May 01, 2011 09:52
by steelchef
OK! Upon reflection, I understand your POV completely. :idea: However, I have an old grinder, (retired due to the incredible noise level it emits) which has been kept sharp by this method for 20+ years.
The idea was passed on to me by a butcher who used the method I have described. He also taught me how to sharpen scissors by cutting fine sandpaper.
I'm proficient at sharpening saw chains by eye but getting an eye for the angle of a grinder blade is quite beyond me since the bevelled edges are rounded. I'm talking specifically about a Kitchenaid attachment grinder with a stamped steel blade. The old grinder has a forged blade but still has the curvature on the bias.
If there is a better way to accomplish this, I'm all about learning how. Please enlighten us all. :grin:

Posted: Sun May 01, 2011 17:11
by Dave Zac
Fantastic topic. I for one have been very negligent in proper storage and never considered sharpening the grinding blade, let alone the plate. Chuckwagon's explanation makes a lot of sense to me. If I get that flat edge off an iota, I'm done right? But, Mr Steel says make sure its flat and you won't warp the edge...makes sense too. blade needs attention. Guess I gotta let this one play out and learn here.


Posted: Sun May 01, 2011 17:39
by ssorllih
Plane and chisel blades are kept perfectly flat on their back surface.
The grinder plates that came with my chinese made #10 grinder appear to have been sharpened on a 50 grit belt grinder. there are surface grooves as deep at the grooves on an old 78 rpm record. Tendons will easily snag in the holes and not shear.

On the sausage making site on the Polish side of thes site the writer discribed the proper condition of the plate and blade. Both mating surfaces must make perfect contact and are best lapped together. When they are right you can rub them together and they will stick like two glass plates with no air betwee them.

One of the problems that we have is finding a perfectly flat surface to use to support our abrasives. If you try to grind just two plates together you can get 100 per cent contact but no assurance that they are flat. If you use three or more plates then you can grind them together and get 100 per cent contact and perfectly flat.

The most accessible flat surface we can get is a granite tile from a tile supplier. They are flat enough that wiped clean and rubbed together they will stick and have to be slid to separate them. When I use such to support my abrasive papers I am certain to get a flat finish.

What I must do is remove the coarse grinding marks from manufacture and develope a polished surface such as I have on my planes and chisels.
We used to rebuild pumps for nylon fiber production we had to finish the mating surfaces to better than four interference light bands per inch in order to be certain that the pump wouldn't leak.

Posted: Mon May 02, 2011 00:17
by unclebuck
A friend of mine has a machine shop, so when it appears to be needed, I take my plates to him to be lapped. He sharpens the blades on a milling machine. Very little metal is removed, putting the blade into 100% contact with the plate, and the best mated cutting surfaces that you can get in a grinder(better than new). The price is always right! :wink:

Posted: Mon May 02, 2011 01:43
by ssorllih
I need to find somebody with a surface grinder.

Posted: Tue May 03, 2011 01:54
by Chuckwagon
Yup! I opened up a can of worms. However, this is the sort of topic that drives otherwise timid members to put in their shouts too! We would surely welcome any input from our members with any experience sharpening blades.

Ross wrote:
One of the problems that we have is finding a perfectly flat surface to use to support our abrasives. If you try to grind just two plates together you can get 100 per cent contact but no assurance that they are flat. If you use three or more plates then you can grind them together and get 100 per cent contact and perfectly flat.
Ross, if you MUST grind the flat surface (by hand), just use a pane of glass or a mirror for the perfectly flat suface. Lay down a wet sheet (to stick to the glass) of "wet-or-dry" automotive abrasive and go after it. IF YOU MUST! :roll:

I can see Steelchef`s point about "truing-up" the surface of a very worn blade and plate, but let`s face it... Steelchef is one rubber ball that bounced off the surface of the moon way back when the cavemen ground up dinosaurs for dinoburgers! At the time he way trying to patent his latest invention - the helicopter ejection seat! Shucks pards, any PRUDENT sausage grinder would have changed out his blade and plate for twenty bucks! But Noooooo.... not the steelchef. His noggin` is as hard as that hyperecutectoid steel he is trying to grind away! :shock: Steelchef doesn't suffer from insanity . . . He enjoys every minute of it! :lol:

Best Wishes,

Posted: Tue May 03, 2011 02:17
by ssorllih
There is a tool grinder in town and I shall take several saw blades and a couple of grinder plates to them for sharpening.
Chuckwagon you really must compare a float glass mirror with a granite tile. The granite won't be more flat because both are nearly perfect. When two plates of glass are pressed together you can see rainbows between them . These are interference fringes. If you lay one of those glass plates on a granite tile you will get the same fringes It means that the surfaces are matched within a few wave lengths of light. You can often see them on a microscope slide and cover glass.

Posted: Tue May 03, 2011 02:20
by steelchef
I thought you had gone ranchin' again. Where you been old Guru/Moderator?

I`m almost sorry I brought it up but I`m certainly not going to argue with Dad about the issue. I can see his point too but that`s because he has no hair to cover it. :razz:

Now about the helicopter ejection patent. I did receive it finally, after it was modified to eject downward instead of up. :oops:

AND: FYI, in this century it costs about $75 to replace a blade and two plates. :shock:

P.S. I snagged that Lithium you asked for. It will be in the mail as soon as I get my calendars. :lol: