Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Daily Grind...

No, not that kind of grind...

After almost a year of inaction, obsessive online research and comparison shopping, it's time for me to bite the bullet and buy a good, commercial-grade meat grinder. I've narrowed it down to the 1/2 (or thereabouts) horsepower, #8 neck, stainless grinders from either Cabela's or LEM. However, my innate cheap-ass has raised its head, as it so often does, whispering, "Damn it, it's just a meat grinder! Buy This $99 knock-off  from Northern Tool and stuff that extra $200 in your sock."

I've had people whose opinion I trust tell me the Cabela's grinders truly are worth the money, and the online praise for them is damn-near universal. They're on sale right now, the half-horse model for $329, which is steep, but apparently good grinders- especially grinders that will be doing a lot of venison - are one of those "you get what you pay for, cry now or cry later" kind of products. But the nearest Cabela's to me is in Wichita, Kansas, so shipping a big, heavy grinder will cost.

The LEM is equally praised, and Bass Pro Shops-branded version is (not un-coincidentally) also on sale for $329. And although I generally dislike Bass Pro shops and make it a point to never step foot in the place, we do have one semi-locally. However, I'm also pretty sure that Academy sells the same grinder, and if it's like most everything else, it'll be cheaper at Academy, with the added bonus that you won't have some jerk-off accosting you as you're walking out the door trying to sell you lakeside condo timeshares in Missouri like they do at Ass Pro.

There is also a third option: I could try to win Hank Shaw's Book Promotion Contest and win the sweet 1/2 horsepower Weston grinder he's giving away (According to online rumor, Weston may or may not be the actual manufacturer of the Cabela's grinders). The only problem is that A. the kind of picture I had in mind probably wouldn't be in the best of taste, and B. (and I'm quite embarrassed to admit this, especially since I'm trying to get Hank to come out next spring and go paddlefish snagging with me) I actually haven't bought a copy of Duck, Duck, Goose yet to be able to take a picture.  In fact, I haven't even shot a Duck, Duck or Goose yet this season. Long story there. But I'm going to, Hank, honest. Shoot a duck this year, and buy your book...

So anyway, before pulling the trigger, I thought I'd ask for any last-minute suggestions, ideas or recommendations. Anybody have any personal experience with either the Cabela's or LEM grinders,or even that cheap Northern Tool meat grinder? Did I mention it's 99 bucks? It's also actually gotten not-bad reviews on a lot of the online forums. And it's 99 bucks. And there's a Northern Tool in OKC. And it's 99 bucks.

Or should I just lump it and buy quality the first time around? I've been butchering my own deer for years, and for years I've been messing around with a combination of junk grinders, other people's grinders, and other people's junk grinders. My brain says I should really be leaning toward quality...

But did I mention that Northern Tool grinder is only 99 bucks?


  1. Dude. Bite the bullet and buy either the Cabela's (I have the 3/4h and love it) or the LEM. Do not, I repeat do not, go the cheap route. You will spend most of your time either cleaning sinew off the cheap-ass, dull blade or trimming your meat so obsessively you'll whittle it down to nothing. A good grinder will change your life.

    Also, get Hank's book you cheap bastard. It will also change your life.

  2. After burning out two cheaper grinders, I went for the Cabela's and haven't looked back. At some point, I was averaging something like a hog a month, which led to a lot of grinding, and this thing never slowed down.

    Of course, if you won that grinder Hank's giving away, you'd probably be pretty satisfied too...

    And how could you not have his book yet?

  3. Sorry to cost you money, but I've burned out a cheapo grinder (and I was being careful, I swear). Several years ago my dad bought me the Cabelas 1hp grinder and I was mortified by the price, the size, the shipping costs he must have incurred...and then I used it. And a buddy used it. And another and another and another...five or more years down the road (and probably ten elk and as many antelope) and the thing is still going strong. And I grind my meat nearly frozen. You're paying for the motor, I think and they seem to use good ones! The only way you'd regret it is if you threw your back out trying to lift the dang thing.

    Happy Grinding!


  4. Personally, I am way too poor to be able to afford cheap gear.

  5. "Personally, I am way too poor to be able to afford cheap gear."

    Spot on. Excellent advice.

  6. I really hate it when people give me good advice...

  7. We don't grind much of our meat, a few pounds for sausage, mostly, but the grinder attachment on a big kitchenaid stand mixer and a hand grinder work find. I get tired of turning the hand grinder, but it doesn't really take that much time or effort. Further, when stuffing sausage, the ability to control the speed of output with the hand grinder is very nice.

  8. After making thirty pounds of elk burger and chorizo the other night, I'm convinced that a good commercial-grade grinder is worth every penny.