Shopping for a Used Hinge-Boring Machine

Here's detailed advice on what to inspect when considering a used hinge boring machine. August 15, 2011

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?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
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.

From contributor B:
Most distributors offer programs where you pay nothing (or very little) for new hinge machines. I know all Salice distributors and most Blum distributors do. I would check with your local supplier first.

From contributor C:
Even if you paid 1500.00 for a new one, trust me, you will recoup your money and then some. See if you can find a decent used Blum that isn't too beat up. I have two that are 10+ years and we have pressed a lot of hinges. I can't tell you how many. I got both of them on a rebate program.

The hinge machine makes it to the list of "If I Knew What I Know Now, I Would Have Bought These Machines First..."

From the original questioner:
I've been doing a lot of looking and researching but I'm not sure I'm any closer to making a decision. I've found a shop selling some surplus equipment and he has a Blum MiniPress that's pneumatic and a GrassEco press that's manual. The Blum is 220v 3 phase and the Grass is 220v single phase. I don't have three phase power, so if I go with the Blum I would need to add a freq drive... No big deal - I've got 3 now.

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?

From contributor S:
My vote is to buy a new Blum Minipress and not look back. I bought mine brand new in 2010 for $1650. I looked for used for a long time and all I found were really old, worn out machines. If you still want used, I highly recommend getting one with the table depth adjustment wheel with readout. I have never been happy with anything from Grass.

From contributor B:
The most important consideration is not necessarily the brand of machine to buy, but the brand of hinges you will want to use going forward. All of the major hinge brands offer substantial and quality boring and insertion machines.

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.

From the original questioner:
Contributor S, where did you find a buy like that? The prices I'm seeing are twice that for the manual version. I would go with a new one if I could find a buy like that.

From contributor S:
I had been looking for a while and had finally found a new-in-box year 2008 Minipress in another city for $1500. I called my Blum rep to ask him if this was a good price. He said no and hooked me up with the half off price on the new machine. I also recommend the new model insertion ram. I built a cabinet with extension tables and drawers with dividers and label holders to organize all my Blum hardware.

From contributor R:
All of the hinge companies have a machinery guy on staff, and if they won't come out and check the machine for you, they can walk you through any problem you have over the phone. The standard in the industry is now a 45mm dowel pattern and either a 8mm or 10mm dowel. There are only 3 or 4 makers of concealed hinge machines and parts are out there for anything you buy. The only thing you need to watch for is machines that use the air supply for control valves (dirty air can mess everything up). The air needs to only do the hold downs, and insert the hinge. Don't just look for a Blum machine, but look for a machine that will drill a 45mm pattern. There are some great 3 ph machines out there in a 45mm pattern. Yes, you need an insertion die to press the hinge in. Get with the factory rep. You may have to go over his head a time or two, but he can get you what you need. Check IRS Auctions as well as Craig's list.