Burr King was incorporated in 1951 by Don MacCarthy Sr. out of East Los Angeles. “A gentleman brought in a three wheel band saw and wanted it converted into a belt sander,” reveals his son, Don MacCarthy Jr., President of Burr King Manufacturing Co., Inc. “So, my dad did the conversion and that’s where the idea came from for our first machine; what we call the Model 760, which is still our number one seller.”

After his father passed, his son moved the company to Missouri. “My father had passed away and I wanted to get out of California for awhile,” MacCarthy Jr. explains. “It wasn’t the type of place for our kind of company so I thought it would be better if we were in the center of the country.”

The original Model 760 was cut completely out of steel. Now constructed of rugged casted aluminum and rigorous, precision machined  parts, the three wheeled  design allows both horizontal and vertical clearance for odd shaped parts to be more easily sanded and finished. The design also lends itself well to the user to conveniently change out the belt. The 760 has undergone few updates resulting in a time tested machine for the last sixty years. Most of these have been added for safety under OSHA guidelines or improvements such as the inclusion of urethane coated idler wheels to enhance the overall lifespan of the product.

Burr King products are designed, assembled, and painted in the United States. The raw materials, motors, casting, and primary components are all sourced from the USA. This is not true for many of their competitors. Products manufactured by companies in foreign markets, mainly China, are sold cheaper than what domestic companies pay for raw materials. The imitators, while similar in design, rarely go through the same quality control, utilize poorly made components, and may not provide guarding that is on par with current regulations. When a consumer makes the decision to purchase a Burr King product, they are not just getting something that was pushed out hastily from a factory overseas. Frequently, Burr King customers have gone out of their way to encourage the company not to move their production to China like so many others have.

Most competitor “grinders” will turn at 3000 surface feet per minute. This speed is much closer to a woodworking tool than something that has to work efficiently, reliably, and smoothly with metal on a day to day basis. Most motors used on Burr King grinders are high speed motors which turn the abrasive belt up  to 8000 surface feet per minute but can be optioned with a variable speed motor. This allows the customer to further extend their capabilities and work with woods, composites, plastics, rubber, stone, and fiberglass.

Simply put, what Burr King is selling is not just a product. MacCarthy’s family and his twenty-three employees are selling something that is somewhat lost in this disposable generation. First and foremost for them is the delivery of quality. Their designs take into account that there are Burr King machines that are still in use in the field today that were produced twenty or thirty years ago.

“Our sales people say they like to sell them because they don’t have to go out and maintain them. They are a simple machine,” says MacCarthy. “Normally if there is a problem the consumer can order a part and maintain the product themselves.”

Frequently, their products are demonstrated at trade shows, but they will also bring the product to the customer in one of their mobile demonstration vehicles. Steve Harker, Burr King’s National Sales Manager says, “all the customer needs to do is call us. We will come to you with our products, then the customer will experience what we call the Burr King difference.”
There are also several videos uploaded to YouTube by Burr King themselves. Videos range from simple demonstrations of sharpening mower and mulcher blades to instructional videos showing how to convert the Variable Speed Box from 110 Volts to 220 Volts.

Along with their time tested belt and disk grinder designs, Burr King also manufactures vibratory processing machines. In this process, parts are placed into a bowl or chamber with media or compounds of various types depending on the users desired finished product. These products provide a safer alternative for finishing smaller more fragile parts. The advantage of using a vibratory machine like Burr King’s VibraKing is that the process finishes a part with an equal and even force unlike other methods that can result in distorting or tearing the metal. Burr King’s vibratory equipment range from 3 quart up to 8.5 cubic feet, and are described as being ultra quiet. With use of the optional VibraHush lid, a VibraKing chamber’s sound emissions are are reduced three to six decibels.

Burr King’s products are used in so many different industries and applications; from attachments to sharpen hunting knives, to applications in robotics, guitars, and prosthetics, to polishing jewelry, or creating knives that are a work of art.

Kevin “Mad Dog” McClung of Mad Dog Knives, switched to using a Burr King in 1992. That same year his fixed-blade knife design was used by the Naval Special Warfare Groups. This design became the only knife in the United States military to receive sole source justification for its manufacture. “I have been using Burr King equipment for about 15 years now. During that time, my company 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.”

In terms of fabricating parts for custom motorcycles, Jeff Ernst, co-owner of Twisted Choppers, spoke highly of Burr King in his own testimonial. “We produce around fifty chassis and two hundred fenders a month, and each one of them owes part of our quality finish to Burr King. The durability and flexibility of the machine makes it perfect for our business,” he said, “if it’s grinding tubing for a precision fit on a frame or polishing down a weld on a fender, it makes a difference.”

The late Boyd Coddington, known for his iconic hot rod designs including ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons own CadZZilla, and star of the Discovery Channel’s “American Hot Rod”,  praised Burr King designs. “I have been using Burr King for the past 25 years,” he said in a testimonial, “the products are so versatile offering adapters and belt sizing which enable us to finish edges from any modified type of metal we happen to need during our hot rod builds. Burr King allows us to set the industry standard!”

Over sixty years have passed since a Burr King grinder first found it’s way into the hands of talented machinists, artists, and hobbyists. Don MacCarthy Sr., passed Burr King onto his son, who has carried the company from its roots in California to America’s heartland. The company is intended to stay in the family, carrying on to the third generation with Don MacCarthy Jr’s daughter. Burr King is a company that has taken the values of family and a commitment to service and delivering a quality product to embody the spirit of “Made in America”.

“I thought that when they came out with the water jets, and the lasers, and all those new machines that it was going to put us out of business,” said MacCarthy, “but it turns out parts still have sharp edges and they still need to be finished. Even with all the new technology, deburring is still part of the process. As long as people are working in metals, we are going to have a bright future.”
 


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