by PLANofMAN at 8:00 PM
(12,218 Views / 9 Likes)
There is remarkably very little information on the internet about the hand cranked grinders of yesteryear.

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I've spent a great deal of time lately scouring the internet for details and clues, all with the eventual end goal of finding the "best" of these mechanical marvels, and putting it or them to the test.

Of course there were dozens of manufacturers, with dozens of grades and sizes per manufacturer, and also different designs for different jobs. This has made the task very difficult, near impossible. Add to this, they were made for about 100 years, with both the mechanical improvements and decline in quality that time brings to all tool manufacturing.

The final obstacle is that these were often heavily used, abused, and in many cases, when found, are just worn out.

I will be focusing on specifically the bench type grinders. There were usually three different grades each manufacturer made, each with a name unique to the manufacturer. For the sake of simplicity, I will call those grades "Home use," "Shop use," and "Industrial use." In general, the size dictated the use, and the manufacturer recommended the various sizes for different jobs, which I will paraphrase here.

4": Home workshop
5": Mechanic
6": Small workshop or private garage
7": Factories, machine shops, lumber camps, ranches, and plantations
8": Shipyards, rail and construction, machine shops, garages, industrial training schools.

As you can see, there's a bit of overlap on the 7" and 8" sizes with both being put to the same type of use, but the 8" size is designed for constant heavy use. The 4" and 5" sizes were designed to be readily portable.

At any given time, the vast majority of hand crank grinders you will find on eBay or Etsy will be of the "home use" variety. Cheap when new, and basically almost disposable. The vast majority took 4" or 5" stones, a size almost not made anymore, which renders them virtually useless for the modern day enthusiast. The largest size took 6" stones. Most of these had straight cut gears and cheap pressed in, babbitt style bearings. This covers about 90% of the hand crank grinders on eBay. These weigh perhaps 3.5 to 4 lbs each. (I'm told that harbor freight carries a 3" stone that works well on the smaller grinders).

The next grade of grinder is the "shop use" variety. More or less the same thing as the home use grinders, but designed to be used hard and long. The cases were stronger and bigger, the gears were better made, often helical cut, and two or three times wider than the home use gears, and the bearings were made of bronze, or gray iron, or in some cases, even ran on ball bearings as we passed from the 1920's and '30's into the age of electricity. They also tended to use bigger wheels, up to 7" in size. It is these 'diamonds in the rough' that the user hopes to find in his hunt through rusty piles of tools. The remaining 10% of the grinders on the market are these, with perhaps 10% of those being the size capable of using 7" stones. Those few weigh almost 20 lbs.

The industrial grade hand crank bench grinders are very few and far between, with a searcher lucky if he finds but one in his lifetime. These exclusively took 7" or 8" stones, and were of the very highest quality. They were also monsters, weighing between 30 and 50 pounds.

The final group of machines, which I have not spoken of yet, are the "high speed" bench grinders. Whereas a regular hand crank grinder has between a 7:1 to 12:1 ratio, meaning the grind stone makes 7 to 12 revolutions per 1 crank of the handle; high speed grinders make between 22 to 30 revolutions per crank. Indeed, the fastest of these can spin faster than a modern grinder, provided the 'crank monkey' turns the crank as fast as he or she can. A relatively sedate speed of one crank per second will get the wheel on a 30:1 grinder spinning at 1,800 rpms, which is faster than the 1,750 rpms the average woodturner's electric "low" speed grinder operates at. A regular electric bench grinder runs at over 3,000 rpm, which is much faster than needed or wanted for sharpening tools. These grinders tend to have a distinctive boxy shape, similar to a squat tombstone, and are much wider than a typical hand crank grinder.

Unfortunately, they share the limitations of their less weighty cousins. Namely, that they take small stones. The bigger sizes; 7" and 8," are all but impossible to find, and the small 4" and 5" sizes are almost as elusive. For safety reasons, I cannot recommend regular stones on high speed grinders. These machines lack the guards and shields of modern grinders, that are designed to protect you in the event that your stone detonates (fragments apart during use). Keep reading... there are alternative wheels.

Note: hand...
by PLANofMAN at 7:00 AM
(38,859 Views / 15 Likes)
First, by reading this, you swear never to reveal this post to my wife, the current custodian of my family's "secret family recipes." Second, Merry Christmas!

Now that we've gotten the inconsequential life & death stuff out of the way...

This is a secret recipe. Well, it used to be secret. Now it will be on the internet, and we all know what that means. People are gonna eat real good and claim their granny was given this recipe by a dying Frenchman in Normandy or some such rubbish. Call it "Le Grande Imperiale Carrot Cake" or something.

The truth is far more pedestrian... My mother clipped the original recipe out of a newspaper, the Silverton Tribune, I think, back in 1981. She tweaked the recipe slightly over the years, but quickly perfected it and jealously guarded the recipe for the next 40 years.

Moist. Rich. Decadent. The world's finest Carrot Cake. This is the best of the best, my Christmas gift to you all.

Company Carrot Chiffon Cake
(Yes, that's really what it's called. It probably sounds way more impressive in French or Spanish). If you repost it elsewhere, throw me a bone and call it the "Foster's Carrot Cake."

Sift together and set aside:
2 cups of flour (general purpose is fine)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder

Beat together:
1-1/2 cups of vegetable oil
2 cups sugar

4 eggs, one at at time, beating well after each addition.

Blend in the dry ingredients at low speed. Last of all, fold in:
2 cups carrots, grated very fine
1 cup crushed pineapple, well drained
3/4 (to 1) cup of chopped raisins

Note: well drained means "well drained." Dump it in a mesh strainer and let it sit. Don't press it, wrap it in paper towels or anything like that.

Chopped raisins means mince the suckers. Chop them until you hate yourself. They will stick to the knife, the board, your fingers... I mix the chopped raisins, pineapple, and carrots together before folding into the cake batter. It helps to keep the raisin bits from clumping together. (Pro Tip: Dusting the raisins with a touch of flour keeps them from sinking to the bottom of the cake). This might be a good time to note that the pineapple and raisins are not very noticeable in the final cake, unless you forget to add one or the other.

The original recipe called for "1 cup of nuts" instead of raisins. Absolute madness. Adding nuts is a fantastic way to ruin a great cake. YMMV.

Bake in an ungreased 8" x 12" x 2" baking pan or dish (or any pyrex 2 qt. rectangular casserole dish) at 350° F (177° C) for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. This is a self-lubricating cake. Greasing the pan will add a lovely scorched flavor to the outside and underside of the cake. Don't do it. A light spray of PAM or equivalent on the bottom of the pan or dish is fine.

The cake itself will be dark brown, a far cry from most ginger colored, cake-in-a-box carrot cakes. Let cool completely before frosting the cake. Overnight is best.


It needs frosting. Lots of frosting. A great carrot cake needs an equally great cream cheese frosting. This is the world's best recipe for that too... It's called:

Cream Cheese Frosting
(What? You thought the names would suddenly get fancy now?)

Mix together:
1 - 8 oz package cream cheese, room temp
1/2 cup butter, room temp
1 lb. of powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Dump ingredients in your kitchenaid or equivalent. Mix. Dump into gallon sized ziploc bag. Cut off the corner, squeeze and spread evenly on the top of the cake. Use a spatula to smooth it out.

This frosting recipe is the one that originally came with the carrot cake recipe, save for two omissions. The original frosting recipe called for 1/8 teaspoon rum flavoring and 1 cup of shredded coconut in addition to the above ingredients. (I've never tried it that way... don't plan on it either).

While basic, and the best things usually are, this is one of those happy coincidences of a perfectly proportioned recipe. Doubling the recipe eliminates almost any need for measuring. One box of butter, two packages of cream cheese, one 2lb bag of powdered sugar, and two tablespoons of vanilla extract. You'll never go back to a Duncan Hines can of cream cheese frosting again.

Our family also uses this frosting recipe (doubled) for The Pioneer Woman's cinnamon rolls. Those are fantastic as well. I recommend using softened butter rather than melted butter if you do try that recipe. Much less messy. The final result is an epic Cinn-a-bon level cinnamon roll. Add pre-cooked bacon bits to take it to the next level.