When I pick up a tool (or anything else) made in China I expect that I will need to do some finish work that really should have been done at the factory. The Northern chain grinder is no exception but was better than most of my other chinatool experiences and I believe it will do the job. In general the tool is much better fit and finish than I expected with the worst problems being burrs and blasting sand in the vise swivels and an under (read non) engineered chain stop. Here is the work I did and it took longer to type this than to do the work.
1. The vise adjustments were very rough and here is the reason for one of them, the base casting. Notice the shiny area where the vise base slides on the casting? It wasn't that way as shipped, very rough. 1 minute and a sheet of 320 backed by a block leveled the paint and rough casting to this condition.
2, Reason number two for vise problems was the aluminum swivel base had been sand blasted. Sand blasted parts dont slide, especially when sand is still on parts. A brushing removed the sand and an old sharpening stone smoothed both the flat and radial surfaces. 320 and an old file would have done the same thing. Again you not after perfection here, just to smooth out the sandblasting a bit.
3. Third reason for vise problems is flip side of same part. Same sand blasted finish and wont slide against top part of vise. Fix is 320 paper and fingers with sanding in the direction of movement.
4. Assembling tip, slightly grease the base before placing on the base casting and note two balls placed in recesses and screwdriver pointed at springs. Grease springs to hold in place while assembling. I greased this just a bit but may regret it later if wheel dust gets in there.
5. Slop in chain stop. There is a step in the shaft under my fingers and the nut is supposed to keep the stop up on the larger part of the shaft but it cant do that because of the step in the thumb nut. The slop created then causes a "spongy" stop. The fix is to get rid of the recess in the nut by filing flat.
6. Another reason for chain stop slop is the cap screw at the bottom of the stop was not tight enough. a quarter turn tightened the stop on mine but with China tollarances may not repair others?
My impressions? The grinder ranks up there with the best of China's knock off tools. I was able to produce a razer sharp chain on my first try and I have never run a grinder before. If you understand what you are doing with a file and how it makes your chains cut then pitch the confusing instructions and you will have the thing adjusted in 2 minutes.
For $100 vs what $300? or so Ill spend 5 minutes with a file and a sheet of 320 paper. I am happy. Didn't have time to measure things up for the Oregon engineer, too late tonight. maybe tomorrow.