Picked myself up a small early Christmas present, and they just came in:
Regular Guild readers will know I've been working on a new to me vertical mill I acquired last year, and which I finally got running and usable a couple-three months ago.
I've used it for a few jobs so far, and plan to do more with it here shortly as soon as I can get a couple more minor issues taken care of (the big one at the moment is the lack of a spindle brake, which makes tightening or loosening the drawbar kind of a pain.)
One of the other, more easily solved issues is the fact I only have one set of collets. I've only ever needed one set of collets, since in all these years, I've only ever had just the one machine running.
But in the last month or so of using it, it's been kind of an annoyance having to walk back and forth between the two machines, because it always seems the tool I need is on the other machine.
While I'm not going to duplicate the expensive stuff, like the inserted-carbide fly cutters, I decided it was time to buy another set of R8 collets, so each machine would have it's own dedicated set.
AND... I decided I'd splurge, and not only buy a new set, but buy some of the best I can get.
Virtually everything you can get out of most of the tool resellers, or Shars, or especially eBay, are Chinese-made imports, of often dubious quality. That said, the collets I've been using for nearly 20 years now were Asian-made and of dubious quality, and they've all proven to be pretty decent.
Digging around on eBay, I could have gotten a 13-piece set for as little as $20. These American-made Hardinges cost $45 each.
But Hardinge basically invented the spring collet- Hardinge was originally known as Cataract, and the Cataract #5 collet they invented is still known today as the 5C collet.
And, I don't need a 13-piece set. That includes sizes like 9/16", 7/16" and 11/16", which are all, today, kind of oddball shank sizes. I don't own, have never owned, and in fact have never even seen an endmill or other tool with a fractional-sixteenth shank. (Except for 3/16", a common size for miniature endmills.)
Really, you can easily make do with just six sizes- 3/16", 1/4", 3/8", 1/2", 5/8" and 3/4". I got those five above (they were out of 5/8") for... well, with shipping it was $275 or so. But I figured it was worth it- they're guaranteed concentric, properly heat-treated, solid one-piece (as opposed to the imports which are 2-piece) and considering the imports lasted me 20+ years so far (I originally bought the Jet mill-drill in '94 or '95) I expect these Hardinges will last longer than I will.
Funny thing to get excited about, but hey, I make my living with these things.