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MD Labs/ Mad Dog Knives
Literally thousands of successful grinds and finishes later, I know that Burr King is truly the King of the belt grinder world.
I strongly believe in credit where credit is due, so this unsolicited testimonial is long overdue.
 
I have been using Burr King equipment for about 15 years now. During that time my company, Mad Dog Knives, has risen from relative obscurity in a niche market to being a well recognized and highly respected brand of hand made knives sold, used and avidly collected the world over.
 
I started making knives professionally in December of 1988 after leaving a career as a Rocket Scientist. After wearing out three "off brand"  bargain belt grinders in as many years, I became disgusted with their tendency to self destruct under what I considered normal usage.
 
I finally switched to Burr King in 1992 after seeing some of them at an industrial show and speaking to the Burr King rep there at the show. I owe him a debt of gratitude for taking the time to explain the advantages of the Burr King designs to an obvious skeptic, and allowing me to "test drive" the grinder right there at the show. At the same show, I noticed that the guys in the 3M booth were also using Burr King grinders to showcase their newest belts. I ordered my first Burr King , a 2" X 72" knifemaker machine, shortly thereafter.
 
I currently own three Burr King grinder products.
 
1) My first Burr King is a 2" X 72"  single speed grinder that I have converted to a 2" X 60" through the expedient of removing the mast that elevates the idler wheel. This conversion allows me to use used belts from the 4" X 60" unit after I split them to 2" width.
 
I ran this grinder as a 2" X 72" for several years until I got the 4" X 60".
 
I have never replaced anything on this machine except the drive belts and the dog on the belt tensioning system. I use this machine every day, and I work seven days a week. It has a LOT of mileage on it.
 
This grinder has been a strong performer since day one, and absolutely trouble free. I ground many hundreds of knives on it before converting it to 2" X 60" for use on handles and shaping processes after getting the big 4" X 60".  This machine is now primarily used for grinding and shaping glass/epoxy composites, although it is also used for steel, especially during my sharpening processes.
 
Had I realized the advantages of a variable speed grinder, I would have ordered this one as a variable speed unit. The "extra" cost of the variable speed system is well worth it and amortizes itself almost immediately. This grinder is the one I used when designing and developing the Mad Dog Knives SEAL ATAK knife, the only knife in U.S. Military history to ever receive a sole source justification.
 
2) My beloved Burr King 4" X 60"  model 960-400 variable speed grinder. My closest companion about 40 hours a week.
 
This Burr King is the workhorse in my shop, every Mad Dog Knife and Ax produced since early 1995 has been ground on that machine, and it has run about six or seven hours a day all of those years. Despite this extreme usage, it has also been effectively trouble free. I have replaced drive belts many times, the tensioner dog once (I made hardened tool steel versions for both grinders so I wouldn't have to replace them ever again)  and I have replaced the contact wheel bearings twice. That's it. I am even using the original contact wheel on the machine. I treat my equipment well, but I use it a LOT. The durability of this machine has been amazing. On the rare occasions when it required maintenance or replacements, it has been simple and easy to work on. Down time is a killer for any machine oriented business, and mine is no exception. The absolute reliability of these machines is one of the best reasons I could give for buying them.
 
I quite literally make my living with this machine. It runs smooth, grinds amazingly well and without it, my knives would not be all that they are today. The variable speed feature allows finishing with finer belts or ripping off great quantities of hard steel with 60 grit, and the wide contact wheel allows long belt life and a wide enough surface to do darned near anything on the contact wheel. My grinding style is unusual, as I flat grind on the contact wheel (instead of a platen) with the contact wheel running axis vertical. I am unaware of any other knifemakers utilizing this technique, and it would certainly not be possible without the Burr King being such a smooth running machine. This machine has worn out thousand of grinding belts, and the old belts are used for composite handle grinding after splitting on the 2" X 60" machine which used to be a
2" X 72" "Knifemaker" machine.
 
3) I have recently added a 2" X 72" variable speed probe type grinder, your model 720. It replaces a couple of lesser machines that have long since given up the ghost. Had I to do it all over again, I would have upgraded to this machine long ago. The benefits of 20/20 hindsight.
 
The different contact wheel sizes have added a lot of ability to create new designs and execute them quickly and reliably. I do everything by hand, so my tools have to be literal extensions of my body. This machine makes me feel like I have a whole other knifemaker in the shop! The fact that this grinder is reversible is also a big help, a feature I have never seen on a grinder before.
 
The 720 machine has now been mounted on a custom made base which I designed and fabricated such that I can rotate the grinder from belt running horizontally as it was originally designed, to belt running edges vertical/wheel axis vertical like my customized 940-600.  This saves a lot of neck and back strain as I grind some pretty strange shapes at times, and the different axis attitudes allow me to do so with a minimum of  stress and strain on my already over taxed body. The new base was a pain to make, but it was worth it.
 
Dealing with Burr King staff is always an exercise in professionalism and courtesy. Every time I have needed parts, you have had them in stock and got them out promptly. If I have a question, someone is there who actually knows what I am talking about... and best of all a real Human Being always answers the phone.
 
Burr King Grinders and Mad Dog Knives have made for an unbeatable combination, and I can not recommend your products, service, and professionalism highly enough. Without Burr Kings working as hard as I do in the shop, life would be a heck of a lot more difficult.
 
Thank you for making a great product, and thank you for maintaining such high standards of quality.
 
If a new knifemaker wants advice from an 18 year veteran that has already made all of the usual mistakes and more than a few that were evidently quite unique, it would be this:
  • Don't waste your money and time on lesser equipment.
  • Start with a Burr King, you won't be sorry! 
Literally thousands of successful grinds and finishes later, I know that Burr King is truly the King of the belt grinder world.
 
Long Live the King.
Kevin "Mad Dog" McClung
President
MD Labs/ Mad Dog Knives