View Full Version : Making $$ with a shop

12-15-2004, 04:25 PM
My wife's always after me about all the tools and equipment I have. I have a Mig, a stick and oxy/ace rig. Grinders, drill press and a bunch of air tools/hand tools. Plus a 10x24 lathe and soon to have a full size mill and 8 in. shaper in the shop. I'd like to make a little $$ or at least horse trade jobs for tooling or something like that. Trouble is that I don't have any idea how to get work.
Any ideas? Oh yea, I also have a LOT of hammers and recently acquired an indexing head for the mill.

Hoffman in Warner Robins Ga

12-15-2004, 05:38 PM
your local chamber of comerce may have information or even a website about local manufacturing business's .otherwise you may have to just go through the phone book.when you call a company ask about who does purchasing/engineering/RD. In some company's you have to go through purchasing but on the small R&D firms in my area dealing with the engineer is easyist. tell them what you have to offer and send them some info about your shop.after every phone call analyze what went well and what needs work with your"cold call" style .If your shop looks even half way profesional invite them out to see it because men LIKE workshops and it is a good way to get to know people.mostly all of this works best if you are a real bussiness ,if you'r just a guy looking to do casual work many company's will be uninterested in you.Just letting people you know and the people at toolshops and other macho places know that you make and fix things might bring in some work . Sometimes machineshops may have work to subcontract out to a small shop owner but it will often be work with a poor ratio of labor to earnings . definatly get business cards and try to work up social contacts .good luck!!

[This message has been edited by hollister (edited 12-17-2004).]

12-15-2004, 05:51 PM
You're in the medical field. Ask around and see if the prosthetic department (scuse if that's not the right term, but you get the idea) can use a few parts now and then. Hell, with your interests, it might be your calling. You could offer to do repairs/fittings for folks that don't have the money for a full blown hospital bill, and still make a little money and get some experience in the process. Maybe.

12-15-2004, 05:55 PM
Look at all the parts on E-bay. Make what you want, when you want.

Good luck
Happy holidays
Be safe http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif

12-15-2004, 05:57 PM
Thanks. The first thing is to get the shop pretty decently tooled which I'm doing at a pretty good clip. Then I guess I'll learn the limitations and capabilities of my machines and get proficient again. Been out of machining for about 7 years...
I'm mostly scared of taking a job I can't handle. You know, "Sure, I can handle that. No problem." And then find out that it's a little more involved.

Hoffman in Warner Robins Ga

12-15-2004, 06:11 PM
Hey Vinito. I was trying to think of something relating to medical and I think you've hit on something! There are several prosthetic shops in Macon. When I get ready I may call on them. I'm makin' progress on the mill...

Hoffman in Warner Robins Ga

12-15-2004, 08:19 PM
Poke around custom car and bike shows. Not every car & bike builder is a machinist. One of my best customers showed up at a garage sale we were having looking for tools. Got to talking and found out he's a house painter who does early Lincoln restorations. I gave him the nickel tour, and now he comes to me for the one off stuff you can't buy from a catalog. Best part is, he knows it's unique, so price is never an issue. There's usually no hard deadline either, so it fits into a family life. Get to know people in the other trades. Sometimes they need a special tool or part made, or something fixed. For me, it's not too steady, but it does help to buy more equipment.
Good luck,

12-15-2004, 08:42 PM
Hoffman - Liability is a big concern in orthotics/prosthetics. I wouldn't bet on making anything for patient use. Somebody might have an idea they need prototyped though, or maybe fixtures. By the way, I am a prosthetist -orthotist.

12-15-2004, 10:45 PM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Not every car & bike builder is a machinist.</font>

There're not? LOL....

Seems like I spend more time in front of my machines than I do bangin' fenders and sqirtin' paint. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

12-15-2004, 11:26 PM
the first order of business for you is to hop in your car, drive over to Milledgeville.
drive up to that big white building and ring the bell. ARE YOU CRAZY?
want to make a small fortune in the motorcycle business?
start with a large fortune.
down here i call most of the biker crowd WHIMPY "i will gladly pay you tuesday for boring my cylinders today" dont let the parts go before you have the money.
having said that let me suggest what i have learned in the past 2 years since i started.
find out which machine shops in your area are really busy and offer to take some of the overload off them.
make sure that you tell them that you dont want their customer, you want them for a customer.
have them black out the title block so you cant know who the prints belong to.
medical devices may be a very tough market. EVERYTHING has to be approved by the FDA down to the coolant. traceability on material etc. imagine the worst and factor it by 10X.
e-bay is a good option but how do you guess what sells well? my wife is on me all the time to sell on e-bay. do i want to invest $500.~$1000. on hopes i hit THE WIDGET?
if you have a horizontal boring mill and welding equiptment visit the local site prep guys and the heavy equiptment guys. for repair and maintenence work.
in essence use your immagination.
if your a conventional guy you will really be in a lonely spot.
everybody wants CNC capability.
where i live there are over 100 machine shops. all trying to get the same work.
if you have an idea for a product lne develop it. you have a much greater chance of calling the shots that way.
here the chamber doesnt want to help much unless you join. i would encourage joining.
custom car guys usaully have more $$$ than bikers.
good luck on your endevor the first year is the hardest. i dont know if it gets easier or you just grow a tougher skin...jim
oh yeah one last thing. DONT GIVE UP

[This message has been edited by toolmakerjim (edited 12-15-2004).]

12-16-2004, 12:27 AM
get jobs from the city, state and us army corps of engineers(feds&dod).

garbage trucks are big money, im not kidding you, they run 5-7 days a week and need work(sometimes big).

well drillers,loggers,contruction workers,farmers,recyling centers, also bring on the work.

I could go on and on, no shortage of work if you can do it.

12-16-2004, 12:56 AM
buy a printing press then you can really make money.

Do you want to make beer money or real money, I think one will be quite a bit harder than the other. I find manufacturing a product with a limited range of variation has been a good way to go. But first you need to build machinery , and thats what you can do in your shop.

Here is my 18 month project, now been running 5 hrs a day for 3 years


Its a rotary diecutter for making labels.

12-16-2004, 02:13 AM
This is in response to Toolmaker Jims posting. I made motorcycle parts years ago for a bunch of Bikes that made it into cycle canada showcase magazine. I never got paid much if anything at all. Also one fellow who went on to become Tuner of the Year with his Roadracing sponsorship actually was telling people back then that he had made the parts that I had actually made. I was at his bike shop one day and a fellow I didnt even know was looking at me looking at scots bike and had the unmedigated audacity to tell me how scott had made the motor mounts and brake stay caliper brace. I didnt say anything at all but that was basically the end of making bike parts for other people. Years later when delving into Harley Davidson Stroker Engine building and making crancase Laps to true up those horrible shovelhead cases, I found out that the Boys would rather trade illigal Substances in lieu of labour ect,. I am totally crapped out on motorcycle machining. It has been a big dissapointment for myself and a few others I know. If you want to make money in your shop go to the yellow pages and find every ones adress that is involved in machining ect, Then visit them and let them know what equipment you have and how much a hour. You can undercut many other shops as a Small Home Based Machine Shop. Stay away from the Losers. Good Luck. Madman

12-16-2004, 03:07 AM
Stanko, I don't recognize that one, is it a single station Webtron with Mark Andy paint?

I've got a highly modified Mark Andy 820 at work with an addon 4th print station and die station, turnbar, guide larger payout, splice table, constant turning anilox rolls, 830 style running register etc. I built the payout, splice table, a second airmotor driven waste windup, and a registry adjuster before the last die station. Since my brother in law owns the company I have the option of using it for personal use any evening I want but I haven't found a project for it yet.

As for making money with machining, that's why I bought my CNC, I've already made back a good percentage of what I have in it selling a custom tool I came up with to Porsche enthusiats. A larger product line, website and ebay are next on the agenda.

-Christian D. Sokolowski

12-16-2004, 03:24 AM
Hey rsr911, nope its not a webtron, but you are spot on with the Mark Andy paint. Its completly homebuilt and it makes money.
I started with a MarkAndy 830 brochure and just borrowed some concepts and ended up with this. It cost about 1/4 the price of a commercial machine and runs about 250 fpm so Im pretty pleased with it. Your 820 sounds interesting a friend of mine just bought one but he hasnt really come too terms with it


12-16-2004, 11:35 AM

12-16-2004, 11:16 PM
You have the same idea as me. I'll tell you what I am doing since it may be up your alley.
I am a police Sergeant where I live for the past 14 years. In May I was chasing a drunk driver. The drunk driver rammed my patrol car into a telephone pole at about 45 mph. It totalled my Dodge Durango and it also totalled my L5/S1 disk. It looks like they are going to medically retire me.
I have a shop full of machines and tooling that I have been building up for years. Mill, lathe, bandsaw, drill press, Giant compressor, several welders, etc. My plan is to open a small at-home machine shop catering to motorcyclists, hotrodders, home machinists, and gun owners. My pitch is to do the one-off parts that the big machine shops would charge too much for. We have several large machine shops around here but they have minumum charges of $100-$150. They have a HUGE overhead and it costs that much just to accept the order and set up for that ONE part. I know several of the owners and told them that I will be planning on doing small jobs. They were happy to hear it. Since I would not be infringing on their business, they would like to have someone to refer small-time customers to. I could probably complete a custom bracket, or otherwise, for less than the big shops set up fee.
My plan is to have a disclaimer (since I am not an engineer), have a clause about the cost of any design changes, and require 20% down to cover the raw materials (unless it is some exotic metal). I can only work 1 or 2 hours a day, and since it will be a sole proprietorship business, I can write off the business expenses on my personal taxes (using a schedule). I can work for myself for once, and take only the jobs I want. If I can barter in exchange for something I need, Uncle Sam doesn't get a piece of it.
My wife is happy that I can make the best of my situation and finally get a return from all of the tools I have.
I hope this helps your pondering ideas.
Good Luck

12-16-2004, 11:37 PM

Can you go in to a little more detail or contact me offlist?


Jim Caudill
12-17-2004, 12:44 AM
I had some success with making "models" for trade shows. I have built full-size motorgrader consoles (for Cat and Champion) and model excavators to demonstrate auto-control systems. My problem is that they get me to build a few with the "promise" that there will be future orders for use as "training aids" and showroom demonstrators. Guess what, they have never come back for any of those other units. They come back for 5 of a different product but never the 40 to 50 of the prior product. Check with exhibitor display companies about making one-of assemblies. They typically work in wood, and may need someone to do their metal stuff.

12-17-2004, 01:54 AM
I think Bob-O is on the right track to your finding machinist work. I started doing machinist work for people restoring antique cars and fire trucks and now have more work than I can handle. These are people usually in the 45+ age group and willing to pay to have a one off item done for their antique car or truck. Before I retired I could make more on a two day weekend then I could for five days of regular work so it wasn't hard to make the move. My main draw is my foundry and the ability to first cast the part then machine it. Over the years I slowly enlarged both the foundry and machine shop as more work came in to justify the cost. I produce some items for a couple of the antique retail vendors but most is with individuals and the word gets around and so I never have had to advertize for work. I was once told "Don't make or reproduce an item that someone has already started to do." That has worked for me since there are so many items out there that haven't been reproduced and gives you a clear field to work in. If you do good work at a fair price they will be back for more and will tell others about your work. Bob

12-17-2004, 02:56 AM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by snowman:

Can you go in to a little more detail or contact me offlist?


Hi Jacob, I have changed my profile to show my email, not sure if its working . You can email me antonius@paradise.net.nz


12-17-2004, 03:57 AM
Seems like a good thing to decide is what sort of business are you interested in forming. The sort of two choices here:

1) You plan to make a living, feed the family, pay the bills, must get paid or sell the farm sort of job.

2) You have a hobby, lots of tools, and enjoy working in the shop. If somehow someone wanted to pay you, great. If not, fine, you would play in your shop and be happy.

Sounds like you are in category 2? I have had such a business in my electronic/robotic hobby for nearly 10 years. Its OK, but is sometimes a pain in the butt. I get to write off lots of stuff, invest in new toys without the wife asking too many probing questions. The upside is it gives you defined projects to apply your hobby skills to. The downside is you now have customers who have their own schedules. After 10 years, I have more repeat customers than I honestly care to have. There is a slight loss of freedom!

I would start by doing small jobs for very cheap. You might not clear more than a few bucks an hour for the first few, but it will give you a chance to see if you like it without having your end customer demanding the world from you. It also gives you an out with the wife regarding not making enough at it to make the time worth it.


12-17-2004, 08:50 AM
.......I bought my lathe to make parts and modify stuff for me. I hollowpointed one of my bullet moulds and now I'm doing it for lots of people. That and bullet sizers and swage dies, etc.

The neighbor kid bought a new engine for his RC car and the motormount won't work. Made him some new ones and I guess he mentioned things to his friends, so I've made some RC car parts, and mini-bike parts etc.

Nothing steady you can count on, but I don't want anything big or steady or production type stuff. It's interesting, stimulating, and satisfying as usually the person has no idea so you have to figure the whole deal out. Makes a few bucks to help out and it's fun.


12-17-2004, 08:56 AM
I agree,
Here's another thing. Know your tools, their capability and how to use them... WELL.
The range of jobs coming through your door will be mind boggling to say the least. Learn to say NO.
Start with small easy jobs, break disks and things like that. Make sure you get a detailed explanation of exactly the part your cust. wants and remember most people have NO idea what making a specific part entails and will cost. Make sure YOU do.
Good luck,

12-17-2004, 10:57 AM

Are you casting just aluminum?

I'll occasionally do a small foundry job for someone, but I've always been afraid of actually doing more of it. I do it in the back yard, nobody can really see it...but I'm sure the big boys are paying the EPA to come and inspect their systems. And Osha, and the fire marshall, etc. Mine is just a really hot bbq grill http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//wink.gif

If I were to make it a business, it'd have to become a furnace....and I'd have to deal with all the crap that goes with it.

Have you done this, or do you just ignore it?


12-17-2004, 11:05 AM
Make what you want, when you want.
They buy parts. And they are just one place.
There are a lot of places that deal in old obsolete things.
Parts are hard to come by, and so they are expensive.
That’s just one place, one type of thing to make.
Make steam engine parts. anything, don’t wait till
you have all the tooling to make anything you want.
Make what you can now.

www.gunpartscorp.com/webuyparts.htm (http://www.gunpartscorp.com/webuyparts.htm)

Good luck
Happy holidays
Be safe http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif

Michael Az
12-17-2004, 12:02 PM
The way I read your post you are just looking for some ocasional work. Really use your imignation and look around when your in your car. Almost every industrial buisness needs a machine shop service but many may not know it. I have done work for McDonalds restaurant on occasion because the maintance fellow knows me. Any farming in your area? Farmers are always needing shafts rebuilt and other things. I have done shaft repair for conveyer belts for Coca Cola. But you will have to knock on doors and talk to people. Word of caution, I am very careful of what I will do because of liability. I don't want to do a car repair that may leave me wide open should the part fail.

01-04-2005, 11:22 AM
am I the only one who worries about the liability aspects of making just about anything for someone else? I guess I just read about so many lawsiuts that I know its not something I want to get tied up in.

I have a project that is currently being road blocked because of protecting myself legally. I can see these same issues with making just about anything (speciffically car/motorcycle parts).

Michael Moore
01-04-2005, 11:53 AM
I worry about it. I'd like to be able to build an occasional motorcycle race frame and the like, but the liability aspects are pretty daunting. Even if you get a suit thrown out you are likely to easily be out of pocket US$5-10K. Liability insurance seems largely unavailable unless you are making some serious money to afford a high cost/unit.

Luckily, right now I've got too many of my own projects to have time to do more than penny ante stuff for my friends. But some day that might change.


01-04-2005, 12:47 PM
Snowman, I know exactly what you mean about doing things in your backyard. There is always one person who feels duty bound to call the fire department and report your smokey BBQ. As a side note, one of the larger diecat model makers in the U.S. started out by melting aluminum pistons in his home furnace. Now they sent most of the work to China.

01-04-2005, 03:48 PM
"I have a project that is currently being road blocked because of protecting myself legally. I can see these same issues with making just about anything (speciffically car/motorcycle parts)."

There will be a wreck. Everyone with a logo gets sued, threatened, extorted, etc. You know it will happen... be supprised if it does not.....

Yet Walmart, autozone, and others can sell car parts.

May be find a disclaimer from those sources? Best way is to start a shell company - it rents stuff from you. Have a vulture come to call? Most they get is an empty carcass. What else can you do in this country? Form a corporation - do it cheap. Just my opinion.

01-04-2005, 07:44 PM
hey hoffman why dont you make small cnc mills and lathes? i mean like smaller than the mini mills. One guy on ebay made one and it had no software, just hardware. and it convered to a lathe (it had kind of a rotary table with tailstock that mounted on the mill, it was 5 x 5 x 10 inches of travel, he sold it for 4 grand US.... i think your capable of one, its not like it needs to be ultra precision, or too rigid, probably just to cut plastics or maybe aluminum..

01-04-2005, 11:07 PM
If you are planning to do all this work from your "HOME GARAGE" better check local laws.

Where I live it's against "CITY CODE" to do commercial work in a residential area. All it would take is for ANYONE to complain and you'd have 9 kinds of trouble from you know where.

01-05-2005, 01:02 AM
Sound thinking in this City... After all, we don't need no more stinkin' jobs...? Don't need no stinkin' bajdges, either....

Don't need no HP (garage), Ford (garage), AT&T (attic), Apple (garage), dorm room (dell), sell Real Estate, and so on... and so on..... We have plenty jobs now, right?

Pis#$&^% on stupid laws like this. The only problems you generally run into are if you mess with chemicals, make too much noise, anoy people with UPS deliveries, have employess that take up up all the parking, or make so much money we are green with envy.

Good Luck!