03-15-2005, 10:29 PM
Dear Fellas,

I thought it would be interesting to start a thread where we can post our professions or former professions and see how/if they relate to machining. With that said, I'll be the first to share. I am a elementary school teacher-- no connection to machining there! I've always been interested in the ways things work and the way they are made. Machining is a natural offshoot of this interest. I've also been a railroad fanatic since I could utter, "Toot! Toot!" A few years ago I combined these interests and joined a local live steam club. Shortly thereafter I started constructing a locomotive. I "apprentice" with several old timers and there is no way I could do what I am doing without their advice, help and experience. I like to think of myself, at 32, as a part of the next generation of live steamers dedicated to keeping steam alive.



Paul Gauthier
03-16-2005, 12:17 AM
I have always been a machinist, almost 40 years, damn I hate seein that in print, 40 YEARS, seems like forever. I only wish that the passing of time could have made me an extaordinary machinist. I am adequat at best. I do my best work at home, the 4 jobs that I have had in forty years while not strickly production work, were repitious in nature. I have had my home shop for something more that 16 years. Even made money with it for about 5 years, but that got old and I bagan to lose interest in my home shop. So I gave that up and soon I had my interest again.

Paul G.

03-16-2005, 12:34 AM
I think this has been done about 50 times already. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

I'm retired from the mainfraim computer industry. The last position I held was called a "management consultant". All I did was make managers, directors and CEO's look good to their bosses. Paid good. My hobby was cars. I build cars and color them now. There's an endless need for machining (making) antique or custom parts.

Ken Kopsky
Custom Car Works

Deep in the Heart of Texas!

03-16-2005, 12:37 AM
I am a jack of all trades, I have a janitorial business, an auto repair business, I have worked as a carpenter for the last 15 years, I have enjoyed welding for about 15 years also, I just got a lathe about 1 month ago (the first time I used one) which started that hobby for me, now I want to start playing with steam engines

Matt in AK

Mike Burdick
03-16-2005, 12:38 AM
I was brought up on a ranch but chose Civil Engineering as my profession. I started my own business as soon as I got my P.E. When I first started out it was work, work, and more work! During the day I would market the company and at night do the work that I got – which was sometimes only a parking lot. There were some very lean years for me. My wife was the best blessing I ever had – she made do with very little and never complained!

Well, lucky for me things began to fit together and I now have 32 employees. What really is strange is that sometimes I have to turn down work and give it to my competitors – which I guess means that the company is just about the right size now.

For the last three years I only show up at the office two days a week and spend the rest of my time working the ranch – yeah, some golf too. My machining interest first started when I was very young keeping the farm equipment in repair. Funny how things go full circle….

03-16-2005, 12:42 AM
Network Engineering pays my bills and buys machine tools! ;-)

03-16-2005, 01:39 AM
I'm a Systems Analyst. Programmer before that. Auto mechanic before that. But I have always had an interest in metal working, machining metal in particular.

When I was very young, my parents had some wood working equipment, which was interesting, but I wanted to shape metal. I remember they had a wood turning lathe and I was always wondering if I could get away with putting a piece of metal in there instead!

My even bigger fascination now is CNC stuff. With my programming background, and my desire to shape hard things, I feel a CNC conversion on my mill is in the near future.

I've had a mill and lathe for about 3 years now and have just recently purchased a Bridgeport clone and a 13x40" lathe that now litter the floor with mostly gun related chips. (Guns, one of my other fascinations)

With work being a constant time killer, all I have been able to do with respect to this hobby is learn a lot. Well... I have built about 10 rifles and made some model airplane parts too. But in 3 years of playing machinist, I have gained a very healthy respect for the talents and skills of the people that do this stuff for a living. I'm fortunate enough to work with a bunch of really talented guys that make things tick in our tool & die department. Heh, it's like having 6 instructors available to answer all of my dumb questions.

Heh, a computer geek with a mill and a lathe. There is probably a law against something like that! http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif

That's my story and I'm sticking to it...

03-16-2005, 02:53 AM
First jobs were digging for foundations and cement working. I had an intense interest in electronics starting from about 3 yrs old, which must be what led to my 25 yrs plus in electronics servicing. I ran my own business in this for another 10 yearss until it dried up, and now I'm a cabinet maker. My interest in metalworking came with the purchase of a Unimat, must be about 30 yrs ago, and it's been my major hobby since I got a larger lathe. That's about ten yrs ago. There's not a lot of connection between metalworking and my work-for-pay, but the knowledge of electronics and woodworking helps a lot sometimes. I'm a 54 yr old puppy still looking for my niche.

03-16-2005, 07:09 AM
Worked as Manager of Labour Relations for a School Board for 10 years. Negotiated labour contracts. Couple of nights a week 'till midnight, and weekends too. Quit that and took a teaching job in a small Northern College. Kids were 3 and 7 when I made the move. Wanted to spend more time with them. Took a $20K salary cut, and never sorry I did. Love the teaching job, and spent a lot of time with my kids canoeing and such. They're 18 and 22 now. Always participated in shooting sports, some pistol and long range "bisley"-style shooting. Made myself quite a few rifles, and always had to have the metal work done by someone else. A machinist friend of mine found a great old used lathe and said that if I bought it, he'd help me learn how to use it. I did and he did and I've been learning and enjoying it ever since. I've learned a lot but I know that I've just scratched the surface of what can be done with it. I've learned a lot from you guys just from reading this bbs. I have always enjoyed mechanical things. I do most of my own auto/motorcycle repairs including engine swaps and rebuilds, and now help out my son who is better at it than I am.
I've been laid up for the last three weeks with a cast on my left arm, a cracked thumb on my right hand and a badly torn rotator cuff on my right shoulder. I see the physioterrorist twice a week. I fell downhill skiing. Spectators tell me it was a 9.5 out of 10. Been downhill skiing for 46 years and this is the first serious injury! I have been working and not missing classes, but not much else. When I get this damn cast off, I'll do a series with pictures on how to build a muzzle brake from a solid piece of steel without a dividing head, if anyone is interested. Damn this two finger typing is frustrating.

John Stevenson
03-16-2005, 07:20 AM
Two fingers?
Damn are you suppost to use more than one ?

I got into this by accident.
My old Grandpa said to me when I was about 13, "Never go out with loose women"
So I sarted carrying a screwdriver, adjustable wrench and a set of alley keys, - , just in case...

As no really loose women were evident I decided I had to go more specialised.
This led on to a socket set, extractor set, measuring equipment to see how loose and it's gobne on from there.

Now got 5 mills, 4 lathes, 3 mig welders but still found no loose women.
Obviously I don't have enoght of the right equipment.................................

John S.

03-16-2005, 08:02 AM
AS was said this was done before, But for the Newbees....
It was a dark and stormy night.... Oops nevermind.

I was raised on a Iowa farm, so mechanic and welding skills was always needed, after HS I went into the navy for 4 years saw half the world.Since then I have done every thing from telemarketing in the early years to self employed, presently. Between times I have been a welder,mechanic,wood worker, framer,red steel erecter,maint. mechanic,gigalo,patternmaker,cnc operator, metal plate(chrome&anodizeing), paintball&airgunsmith,laid floors, poured concreet,and a few others, Ive learned alot, forgot some, and wish I could forget some. Ive worked for saints, and ass holes,and everything in between.I will be 47 in june.
I have a 30x40 steelmaster build. filled with stuff,among which..3 lathes, 1 turret lathe,3 mills, surface grinder ,toolgrinders,4 welders, plaz torch,o/a torches,and more tooling than you could fit in a pickup. Wheew, should I add being long winded?

03-16-2005, 08:07 AM
I also was raised on a ranch. My Dad was a saddlemaker and hunting guide. During my teenage years I was a total gun nut and by the time I was 20 I was making a somewhat meager living repairing firearms. An opportunity came up for a good logging contract so I sold all my machine tools to buy a Cat to go logging. Bad idea! The contract didn't last and I had to give up the machine. Went on from there working in the bush until that got old then I started up a fulltime cabinet/furniture mfg business. Ran that down the tube while trying to win a teamroping championship and not paying attention to business. Went from there to being a weldor. Once I got all my endorsements I started up a race car component business and started racing blown alcohol mud rails. Still welding on a more or less full time basis but am still aiming at getting a welding/machining job shop up and running. Only need to spend another $4 million on equipment and the "Grand" opening will happen! You are all invited!(please bring a small horizontal milling machine for entrance fee into the shop http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif )

03-16-2005, 08:08 AM
Grew up on a farm. Always loved helping my dad. He told me an education was important. At 17 he told me there was no more work on the farm for me. That was hard to accept. Time to face the world.

I continued on to University. My second year there, the computer kicked me out. I had a 3.96 GPA and I needed a 4.00 GPA to stay in. I got the notice on my B-day, which was the due date to oppose the decision. I found this out the next day.

I worked that fall for my summer employment, then i walked up to the director of operations at the ski hill and told them i was the guy to supervise the lift employees. Got the job and kept on climbing.

I took every oportunity to learn what i could. Pumps, electricity, computers, welding. You name it I was there asking questions.

One year, when i got my bonus, i decided to buy myself a 3-1 lathe. It was always a question in my younger years if i should go to university in Business or go to college and take a Machinist course. So i decided to see if i would have liked the second choice. So far so good.

I think the biggest thing i have noticed is the willingness to help each other. That seems to be a common theme amoungst machinists.

That is my story...more to come, i just haven't lived it!! http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//wink.gif

Rob http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif

03-16-2005, 08:13 AM
Dear Fellas,

Thank you for those taking the time to respond and share your stories so far. I am enjoying reading about the backgrounds of many members. In spite our varied experiences, we all have one thing in common-- a love of metalworing.

So far two posters have indicated this topic was previously submitted. Oh, well. It's new to me and probably lots of other fellas who have only recently started posting on this bulletin board. As for the future, I promise never to post this topic again and expect you to respond to it.



03-16-2005, 08:53 AM
I was an aircraft mechanic on EC-130's for the PA ANG for the past 23 years lost my fulltime job last year due to a medical disability related back to PG 1 war and now I am considered a disabled vet. I took up machining (no formal machine shop schooling) to support my hobby of garden tractor pulling. The machining aspect allows me to make anything I need and not be subjected to what is being sold to everyone else, I can think outside the box so to speak. I can now do almost everything to build small high perfomance engines in my shop except turn crankshafts. I built my own flowbench for engine airflow testing and now I build flowbench parts for other people. Working on finishing up my own dyno for my engine testing and my plans are to turn this into a part-time business to help with the $$$ difference between what I was making and what disability now pays me.

Nice thing with this "hobby" is I can control my own future since I am the boss. If I have a "bad health day" I can just take the day off.

03-16-2005, 09:17 AM
I got started working doing this kind of work way back in the '70s when my brother brought a working model of a steam engine home from England. I've always been into trains, btw. He had a basement shop and later a bigger shop behind his house. Then, his own business. I started working on a steamer of my own in high school and going down to his house occasionally on weekends to make more train parts. He, by this time was the shop foreman of a large heavy machine shop in Baltimore.

I took a job as a machinist apprentice in 1983 when I graduated from high school. I've worked in 3 job shops, 4 manufacturing companies and 3 maintenance shops in the last 22 years. Currently, I'm the machinist in the maintenance department at Fort Detrick.

I've worked on full sized steam locomotives, submarine periscope assemblies, garbage trucks (manufacturing), elevator guides, filtration test equipment among other things.

I've built a 1 1/2" scale model of a Reading RR camelback steam switcher for myself along with parts and assemblies for numerous other steam locomotive models for other people.

I like to help people out on the bulletin boards if I can.

Andy Pullen

03-16-2005, 09:43 AM
I still work, I do database design. Not horribly exciting but it pays well. I am just starting to learn metalworking, most of my life has been spent in the virtual world.

Ben Diss
03-16-2005, 10:09 AM
I was raised in rural farm country. Didn't have a phone as a kid. In my teens, we bought a third hand B/W TV. Worked hard. Married the right woman. Stayed out of jail. Went to college.

Right now, I'm sitting on the 19th floor in the worlds largest department store. I run IT for the east division of this company. Anymore, I don't "do" anything. I go to meetings, talk to people, etc.

My hobby, model airplanes, keeps me sane for it gives me the opportunity to "do" something. Metalworking is a necessity as I am a perfectionist and many of the parts I desire are not available on the market. I recently scored my first real tool, a SB 10L.


[This message has been edited by Ben Diss (edited 03-16-2005).]

03-16-2005, 10:30 AM
Learned to run machine tools in 1970 while attending tech school (got paid to do this, as the shop instructor needed someone to clean & help "instruct" new students). Worked in sales until 2002 & opened my one-person job shop. Welding, machine work, some woodworking. Every machine tool is used, 1950's to 1980's mostly. Bought the MIG & TIG new, also the Burr King 482 which is the most used tool in the shop. Fortunate to have a good sized shop located 50 feet from the house. Still need a bigger lathe - what else is new?

Barry Milton

03-16-2005, 10:36 AM
Embedded software engineer for avionics.

However, always wanted machine tools to tinker and invent things. The day job pays for the tools as well as everything else in my life, but my tools are now starting to pay for themselves and I am having fun doing it. Not bad, mind you. ;-)


03-16-2005, 10:52 AM
Started at 16 years of age grinding lenses at an optical factory. Interesting. Then back to high school at least for a bit. Then worked at a Machine manufacturing shop. Ran hardinge turret lathes chuckers cnc lathes for 6 and a half years. Off to the aerospace shops for the next 17 years. Modified medical surgical instruments for a short time, lots of rules and regs involved working on these gadgets. They were very interesting gadgets .CNC 4 axes mills and huge profilers. Then moved way up north to Thunder Bay and worked at Bombardier for a years contract that lasted 8 months. Gave up a 15 year senority job to go north and get reamed in the end. Place nearly gone now no work. Off to the ready mix truck driving for 6 months but it sucked. Driving fun but the people in the holes doing foundations were for the most part really ****ed. They hated there jobs SO MUCH they couldnt be civil to anyone on there jobsite who didnt have to do work like them. After that two years in my own business with my supporting Wife Audrey. Got sick of people again and got into the tool and die shop that im currently in. I like the machining trades and have done them for 31 years. My one weakness is moosehead beer.

Tim The Grim
03-16-2005, 11:45 AM
I started machining in High School back in the late '60s making
parts for my 54 KHK Flathead Harley. the school shop had
Logan 12" lathes, a brand new Bridgeport, a good welding ,
forging, casting area and a great teacher, Bob Kuipers.
After graduating I went to a Motorcycle Mechanic school and
worked in a H-D Dealer that soon went bankrupt. I then got a job
in a tool room of a technical ceramics company in Englewood NJ
in '74 and began a varied career as a Toolmaker in 15 different
companies over the next 30 years. I built all kinds of extrusion
tooling, ultra close tolerance metal stamping dies, lots of experimental
and prototype work including DOD stuff and then the tooling for its
production. I got into Wire EDM and CAD/CAM in '87 and that led to
a lot of medical parts and custom implant work.
In '99 I was relocated to El Paso TX to run an AGIE in a precision stamping
house. That shop was outstanding but fighting between the partners
dooomed it. I then bounced in and out of 4 shops, each worse than the
previous, and all loosing work to China until, at the age of 50, I landed a job as
a trainee operator in an oil refinery where I make gas and diesel from
100% West Texas Crude and am known as" Tim The Tool Man".
It's the best job I ever had!!!

I have a 10x24 Rockwell lathe, a 6x18 Craftsman lathe, a Powermatic/Burke Millwrite,
a Taiwan mill drill , a Sherline CNC mill, a Reid Model 2C surface grinder, and
a 14" metal cutting bandsaw as well as a bunch of other stuff in my garage to
keep me and my 3 bikes going as a "Home Shop Machinist".

Cecil Walker
03-16-2005, 01:28 PM
Grew up on a farm in Tenn. USArmy 66-68, BS from MTSU (agri-bus & economics). Worked for a farm equip mfg ( liquid fertilizer & anhydrous ammonia) in Ala., Ga., Ohio., and NC., after this co. was sold I went with a shortline railroad group for the next 10 years. Managed a trans-load facility in Va. and all purchasing for 7 shortline railroads. In 1993 I was approached about the management of a John Deere dealership and have been here since. During the late 80's and early 90's I took the Machinist course at the local Tech school to support my hobbies of hit n miss engines, visible gas pumps, guns, and scale models (gatling gun, 1917 &1919 Brownings). Have been able to fill the shop with good American lathe, mill, surface grinder, etc. from local mfg's closing and moving to Mexico & China (sad situation for our local economy). I have been in NC for 28 years now, the next move will be handled by the undertaker. Married to a wonderful woman for 37 years, no children.

Your Old Dog
03-16-2005, 01:47 PM
I was denied machine shop and photography classes in high school because my math background was weak.

I've been a professional photographer for since I got back from Viet Nam. I've always had an interest in things mechanical. Realized a life long ambition to own a lathe when my employer asked me to reduce the price on an entertainment center I was building for the TV Station I work at. I told them no one knew how to operate the lathe in the basement so they gave it to me!

Now I'm about 4 years out from retirement and building my toy box up slowly. I expect to have a working retirement. Maybe making products for the TV News industry and selling on eBay....

I've had other interest that have all been lucrative for me. I engraved firearms and fed the family with it for 2 years. I've also made custom hunting knives and build furniture. I'm a self taught machinist and that will become very apparent when I start to post some of my projects and really show my ignorance! http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif I do enjoy this board!

03-16-2005, 02:28 PM
I just retired in January after 31 years as an air traffic controller. My hobbies alwasy had hot rods or motorcycles involved. My drag racing got to the point that all the parts had to be custom made and I could'nt afford to continue at that level and pay someone else to machine the parts so I got a machinist friend to help me set up my own shop and to teach me to run a mill and lathe. He was located next door to the race shop so it was easy to go next door and ask " how do I do this". As I said in an earlier post he passed away last week. In the late 90's racing just got to expensive so I sold my racing equip. and now have built a 40 x 80 shop where I plan to spend my retirement making tools to make more tools and then someday I may actually make a steam engine or something.

03-16-2005, 02:41 PM
Interesting how many were farmers or worked on farms. Dad was a cabinet maker by trade but wanted to “return to his roots” so we spent 8 years farming through 3 years of high school. I was real close to the high school shop teacher and he helped me get a job while still in school with a production shop making handloading supplies and bullet making dies. Joined the Army in ‘62, went to machinist school and spent 18 years in the machine shops and service sections before getting promoted to first sergeant and stuck in a desk job. I got to work in 2 depots with some excellent machinists, welders and in one case a super blacksmith. Upon retirement I took up computer programming and have worked at it 23 years. I am now a systems programmer on an IBM mainframe. I have been so lucky to have 2 totally separate professions that were interesting and challenging.

Second retirement is in sight so am getting back to my first love, machine and welding. I am setting up my hobby machine shop. Most machine tools are/were new from a Taig lathe bought new 30 years ago to HF 7x10 and a 14x40 Enco. Have a HF gearhead mill drill and a Grizzly vertical/horizontal mill, 3 drill presses, band saw and 45 years of accumulated hand tools. For welding I have OA, mig, tig, stick and plasma cutter, all new in the last 3 years. I have all the woodworking tools I want and keep it all in a heated 24x36 detached shop/garage. I don’t intend to make any money from this but if a few dollars come in I won’t turn them down.

I like old tractors, I have 2 and am making a third, and making anything from metal or wood. I am working on my second CADplans project, a Cadtrac 1500 after completing a 728 digger. Have several casting kits for model hit and miss engines in the wings and have a billet model under construction. I started bicycling for my health and now it takes way too much of my available machine time, 4,500 miles last year. Mortgage is paid, tools are free and clear, must retire to catch up on my projects.


Dick Plasencia
03-16-2005, 03:23 PM
I think this is a great thread. I never imagined there were so many of you so similar to my background--not professional machinists from birth.
My father ran a machine shop and garage. Fairly big operation. He wanted me to join him in business but I was attracted to engineering and aircraft more than to machining. In the course of time I qualified for aircraft & powerplant mechanic inspector's license and also got my PE which is what provided the bacon and toys for the last 45 years.
Now as the song goes I'm in the winter of my life and it's funny as hell I'm doing exactly what Dad wanted me to do. Since I retired I set up a machine shop in my garage and make some pretty good optical hardware for my customers. I look at this as something to keep me from turning into a couch potato and it is fun.
I may have learned something at my father's knee it seems. In any event machining is very satisfying because I make things I can see and touch and judge the quality simply by looking.
I am pleased to be part of a group like you guys.


Tim Clarke
03-16-2005, 07:06 PM
Well, lemme see... I grew up partway in the construction business. I used to pound nails for my dad, he was a great carpenter. My apprenticeship was cut short when Dad passed away when I was 13. I have no doubt that I'd have followed him into the trade if he had lived a little longer.

I started fixing bikes and lawnmowers about that time, and it progressed into cars, and then big trucks. So, I've made my money as a mechanic for almost 40 years now, the last 9 years as the shop foreman for a large fleet of garbage trucks. It makes me sad that not too many young guys are entering the trade nowdays.

I swapped a toolbox for a old 10" Atlas about 20 years ago. Since than I've been building up my shop. Now, with a Atlas shaper, a Bridgeport, and a 13x30 Turnmaster, I have run out of room in the shop.

I think this is a interesting thread, it gives a little insight about the people here.


03-16-2005, 07:36 PM
Short story:
auto machine shop
trade school (machine tool technology)
more trade school EMT/paramedic
college (ASN) back into the machine shop in college
Still love metalworking so I'm building up my own shop.

I ran into a girl I went to nursing school with and she asked me if I ever got my own machine shop. (Her husband is a welder and we used to talk shop.)
I replied "As a matter of fact I did..." http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif

Hoffman in Warner Robins Ga

03-16-2005, 08:08 PM
Boiler of Water in an industrial steam plant (Kraft pulp mill), for last 10 yrs. Several years ago spotted a couple of steam launches at the wharf downtown, which led to membership in the North West Steam Society. Discovering Live Steam led to the discovery of machine work, which interests me partly because the stupid hormones seem to have tapered off with age and I can finally work without impatience.

Earlier jobs: logging, construction,, sawmilling, a bit of sales. Dad was an accountant and piano teacher, not a farmer or machinist. (I remember on my first job, one of the old timers said in shock "what, didn't yer ol man ever learn you how to run a chain saw?" I didn't have the cojones to tell him "no, but he learned me how to play a minuet on the piano!" (probably where I learned impatience!)

Have a 12 X 36 lathe, 4" bandsaw and D.P. in a converted basement bedroom. Too little time to spend down there.

Spin Doctor
03-16-2005, 08:19 PM
For thirty years I've been working as a Machine Repairman/Tool Maker in a major automotive plant (don't yell at me about the UAW, I am not a member). For the past four years I have been primarily engaged in rebuilding precision spindles (hence the tag name, at the time I thought was cute) but shortly I embark on a new career of converting virgins, starting wars, negotiating peace treaties, balancing the budget and all of the rest of the BS that the retirees talk about over coffee. For a couple of months anways and then I'll probably find something to do thast at least provides beer money. I'll keep my hand in this stuff with the shop in the basement but one needs other interests too. But one can only chase the little white ball so much and do other interests too. One thing I think I might try is community theater. Just so they don't ask me to sing. As Leo Kotkee said it's like goose farts on a windy day

Our motto "should be waste not want not" otherwise our childern will want

03-16-2005, 08:19 PM
Where does the time go? 40 years for me too!

I started off in the mid 60's on the 2nd shift 5:30, pm to 4:00 am, for a Machinery manufacturer. Worked by way up from the de-burring bench, to drill press operator, to misc machine operator (shaper, profiler, cam milling) finally to Mill Hand.

The company closed down & I found another 2nd shift position, this time from 6:00 pm to 4:30 am.(Needed the shift 10% premium, 2 young daughters and a mortgage) This lasted about a year, then the company relocated out of state.

The next 2 years I worked for a tool company making quick change tool posts among other tools.

I jumped to a job shop, making anything from nuclear valves to lazer housings, to artificial hips and surgical instruments using lathe, mill, jig bore, surface grinder. Saturday foreman & leadman.

Next stop a Medical Imaging company for 14+ years, started off in the Model shop & worked my way into engineering as a design engineer. first on the board & then into Cad.

The company closed down, and for the next year I ended up in the toolroom of a Lens manufacturer. Made lens grinding & polishing tools. Designed & built production equipment and automated manual
lens manufacturing equipment.

Moved on to another Engineering position in a medical equipment company where I've been for the last 10 years. The company has the remnants of a model shop, the model maker being long gone. Once or twice a month I get to slip in the shop to make or modify something for myself or others.

Slowly over the years I've been working on setting up my basement shop, picking up odds & ends as I go along. Once that cutting oil gets in your blood it's hard to get rid of.


PS I grew up with a South Bend lathe in my garage & blueprints on the kitchen table.My Dad was a tool & die maker & my brother spent his working life in machine shops. Lots of great stories to tell.

[This message has been edited by egpace (edited 03-16-2005).]

Bob Quale
03-16-2005, 08:31 PM
Went to college, electrical and computer engineering, graduated and got into advertising, started my own retail buisness and then became a full time fire fighter, still do both. I love making stuff and have built a home shop, I have no formal training in machining, and learn everything from this board, or the hard way!

Takasawa 13X30 lathe
Bridgeport clone
Do all surface grinder
German ID grinder
German OD grinder
Step toe shaper
Chinese tool and cutter grinder
Turn pro 7X12 horizontal band saw
Bridgeport cnc R2E4(Dead) I am converting with Rutex drives and Mach2.

03-16-2005, 08:31 PM
I've got a lot less to write than most of y'all. I'm still a student; in my second year of studying mechanical engineering. I got involved in metal and stuff back in high school (a whole 6 years ago), because of the FIRST robotics program my high school had. We had a POS cnc mini-mill, that I sorta learned G-Code on, and a couple of lathes.

I enjoyed working with them and basic hand tools and generally building things so much that it got me into mechanical engineering.

I am now involved in a student organizations here at the University, where I am in the process of convincing people to blow our budget on machine tools. So far we've got a round column mill-drill, a plastic bandsaw (yetch), and a bench sander. Next up is an 8x20 lathe.

In the future I hope to work at a small engineering service type of company. One where I can have a hand both in the design of things and on the machines.


03-16-2005, 08:51 PM
I'm a Midwest farm boy that's been in construction for 30+ yrs.I'm a lurker at this site because I enjoy the lively disscusion no matter what the topic.(I'll try to blurt out something if a woodworking question comes up.)I started building pole barns,went to working on steel buildings and grain bins etc.Got layed off---did'nt care for unemployment----became self employed.I've built a little bit of everything over the years,foundations to roof top and everything that goes in between--including furniture.Mostly remodels and custom woodworking,and 3 houses start to finish.We moved a house to our property and did a total rehab--after first building the shop.Got to get the priorities straight,right?I have done work for a couple of local machine shops over the years and have always been intersted in the trade.About 4 yrs ago I became somewhat disgruntled with the woodtick business and wanted to try something different.I spent 6 months at a local machine shop to see if it could work.Unfortunatley I was doing CNC production work that was just a bit too boring for me.I'm very intregued by working with metal and fine tolerances but not in that setting.I realized I was'nt as bad off as I thought I was.It was back to construction for me.Hopefully someday down the road I can pick up a lathe or mill and start making chips with you guys.Untill then,thanks for letting me hang around here.

03-16-2005, 09:18 PM
Started to work for real in college. I started as a breadman getting up a 3am and finishing the day around 1pm. Worst job in my life.

Was jobless for about 6weeks living in my truck sleeping in the parking lot of the Jockey club in Las Vegas. Played a lot of pool and gambled.

Got a job thanks to my little brother as the Shooting Sports Director to run all the rifle/shotgun/archery ranges for a Boyscout reservation(9 ranges in all) That lasted for 3mos. Hooked up with one of the 3 girls on the entire reservation and later moved in with her in San Diego. In between that i was a barrista(served coffee) to the stars in Westwood,ca. (jim carry, sly stalone, tim busefield, chuck woolery, the cute girl on sex in the city, and many more)

From there got a job in the mortgage industy doing various jobs on the retail side. Meantime i started building cues with somebody teaching me at nites and weekends.

Meet another ladie (my wife) moved to Ohio from San Diego.

I now have 10yrs in the mortgage industry. Right now I am a wholesale rep for a bank.

I just purchased my lathe and slowely learning to use it and get it set up for cuemaking.

03-16-2005, 09:25 PM
I started out building cabinets and furniture all through elementary school and jr high.Then I said to hell with school,and started working my way into a better shop/tools etc.Only catch was in a small town there were not enough customers to afford much of a shop or tools,so I started building my own and rebuilding others.Turned out I liked that and got my first job as a machinist when I was 18.For the next ten years I cut,welded and machined my way through several jobs earning the respect of my customers.For the last eight years I have been working as a self employed contractor for area mfg plants and the surrounding community.It has been an adventure,but one I would repeat.

charlie coghill
03-16-2005, 10:27 PM
Well here is my story. I also grew up on a farm in Colo. Joined the Navy in 1961. After my discharge I went to for Shell Oil Refinery in Long Beach Ca. Work as an operator and attended night school taking machine shop and welding classes eventuall transfering into the machinest groupe.

Hated living in the big city so I quit Shell and worked for the Calif. Dept of Water Resources as an hydroelect operator. Lived in Bakersfield Ca. Still hated the big city.

Finnaly went to work for PP&l in Oregon. 7 years PP&L made me an offer that I could not refuse,I retired at age 57.

I started my shop with a Jet 13X40 lathe 1982. I did have a small flat belt lathe when I worked for Shell but sold it. After using LaBound and other lathes that would do real work I did not like the little lathe.
The rest of the shop has been aquired over the years and now I can spend all the time that I want in it.

BillJ, If you are into steam boats and attented the NWSS meet at Wheeler, last year I believe that I sat across the table from you at the dinner.

J. Randall
03-17-2005, 12:34 AM
Right out of HS went on custom wheat harvest crew, traveled from home here in Okla. up through the Dakota's and then back home in the fall for maize harvest. After that had the usual knock about jobs, drilling rig, rough carpentry and worked in a pipe yard for about a yr. Had always loved anything mechanical and worked on my own stuff, at about 20 started mechanicing in independent auto shops. After about 6 yrs. I hired out to an oil co. maintaining a fleet of about 30 vehicles. I had started having lower back trouble at about 30 was finally dxed with a rare form of spinal arthritis. I worked for a very good co. that worked me in various field jobs, corrosion tech, and then on to crude oil purchasing the last 5 yr. Had to take disability in 1989 at the age of 39. Fast forward about 10 yrs, and I stumbled on the an old Porter Cable Toolroom lathe at a farm sale. I have been hooked ever since. I really enjoy all the knowledge you guys put forth. Thanks James

cam m
03-17-2005, 08:45 AM
Raised on a mixed farm by jack of all trades Dad. Left home at 17 to take construction and farm labor jobs. Decided to improve my lot and worked my way through an engineering degree by working summers in the oilfield. Been around heavy equipment of one sort or another all my life. I've always been fascinated by the metal trades and heavy equipment. Have a modest shop including lathe(s), import mill/drill, stick, mig, oxy/acet, and plasma cutter (coming soon).


03-17-2005, 10:04 AM
I'm the son and grandson of oil field mechanics. Both of them quite talented with wrenches or the shop lathe and a little bit of that rubbed off on me.

Always expected to go to work in the oil fields, but ended up doing 34 years in the power biz running switching centers and the like. Retired about eight years ago. Interesting job, different every day and I was fortunate to have a string of smart and capable bosses. Ok . . . one tyrant and one asshole, but that's a pretty good batting average in the boss dept.

At eight years old, dad took me to one of L.A.s first auto shows. Displayed there were new cars as well as race cars and a few street driven roadsters. I was hooked on the roadsters and have been involved in hot rods most of my life.

I did some dirt bike racing in the Dez as well as offshore sailing for a number of years and somewhere in there I picked up a pilots license and got involved in building a plane. Even so, it wasn't long until I came back to hot rods.

Nowadays I build roadsters - for myself as well as help out on friends projects.
The latest project (a 31 Model A roadster on a 32 Ford frame, very traditional way to do it) was originally slated for Bonneville and the dry lakes, but it turned out so nice I'm going to run it on the street and sell the 32 roadster I'm driving now.

Always had an interest in machine work and an early ambition was to be a machinist.

Bought my first lathe in 1985, did a bunch of trading and selling of garage/personal shop sized lathes and now have a 12 x 36" and 6 x 18" Atlas/Craftsman and a Mill-Drill.
I'm able to make the hot rod parts required at home and turn out a few parts for others. Mostly as a networking kind of deal, not sure if I want to get in on the money making end of it. Money's nice, but time can be scarce sometimes and I prefer to do my own thing.

Next project is knocking out a set of aluminum roller rockers. Looks like a do-able deal and the cost should be considerably less than the $500. - $700. cost for a set of late Buick V8 roller rockers.

I do a little writing on the side. Hot rod tech articles as well as how-to-do-its making simple tools for a hot rod oriented guy. Said articles slanted towards making things with common garage tools and not with lathe or mill.
I've done a few fiction books and they're fun to do since most of them are a trip down memory lane. I grew up on the Southern California coast and it was an interesting place to live as well as being a place where you could do most anything you wanted to at any time of the year. Body surfing in December - sans wetsuit - being but one.

03-17-2005, 12:27 PM
Grew up just outside of Motown,dad was a pattern maker/cabinet maker,a pretty talined one at that, so when everyone else was signing up for woodshop in school, I ran to the metal courses. There was no way I could even come close to competing with the old man..After high school was lucky enough to get a job in an automotive prototype shop and apprensace under a world class metal shaper Ron Fornier. Jumped around from shop to shop as a Fabricator( I.E. Jack of all trades),All the while honing my welding/macining/fabricating skills. The range of projects I was exposed to in my early years gave me quite a base of information to draw on,from buiding robotic equipment for a year, to doing automotive engine machining(Re-building heads/boring blocks), to metal shaping,and general fabrication,and automotive prototype and mock up builds. As soon as I could afford tools for home , I started to buy duplicates of my work tools, and then machine tools.Eventually started my own side buissness and aquired a partner(bad move)and went full time on my own, and had a falling out, he walked away , left me the bills, and no customers!Went back to my last employer ,who was very happy to have me back, made me a leader,and all was good until, our main customer pulled all their work back in house. I got lucky, they took 3 of us with the work and made us engineers to keep the knowlege base we from working on the product for 3 years. Got tired of being an engineer,my dad told me to try clay modeling, because the big 3 were looking for modelers that could run machine tools.He had succesfully transitioned from being a pattern maker to modeling , so I gave it a try. 6 years later I am still modeling and milling clay ,and love my job. I still do side work on everyting from motorcycles ,gunsmithing,and racecars to camera equipment repairs for a fellow worker who films for outdoor shows. Oh, also do a little Farming ,and brewing to keep my sanity.