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Sort of OT- Origins of our interest in machining?

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  • Sort of OT- Origins of our interest in machining?

    Just watching the latest Joe Pie video on YT over breaky. The one about using a stop for parting off multiple parts.

    The way he just pulled out some bits and pieces and repurposed them for something different than originally intended made me think about how much a machinist's shop and tool kits are like a Meccano or Lego set. We make a bunch of this stuff and then use it for the original and other purposes wherever they fit.

    And that got me thinking about my early years as a kid where I played with tinker toys as a very young tyke and a bit later Meccano and Kenner building sets.

    No Lego for me though. The introduction of Lego in Canada was still a few years away.

    Between tinkering, Meccano'ing and Kennering and when not doing that beating nails into scrap boards in my Dad's shop to make all manner of imaginary vehicles and constructs I think I was pretty well doomed to some manner of shop time as a life long hobby.

    It started out with building and flying model planes at 11. And along the way I added metal working in my Dad's shop in my early teens for making parts for my models and later on race cars. And once I got to realize that wood working did not need to include massive and thick clouds of dust (my Dad LOVED his big 36" disc sander... maybe a little TOO much? ) I found that I enjoyed wood working when using low dust tooling options.

    So that's my bio.... Nothing about long walks on the beach at sundown. Just the circumstances that led me to shop time and making things as a life long pursuit.

    …. Your turns for your own early origins of interest......
    Chilliwack BC, Canada

  • #2
    It's in my blood. My dad's father was a core and pattern maker in a foundry, and a gifted mechanic, machinist, wood worker et al. After high school, dad started pouring iron by hand, and went to night school for college, worked his way up through the machining trade and retired as a senior manufacturing engineer. All of my uncles were doers and makers in several trades. Nobody on either side of the family ever had to call a repairman. I got my first tool set at age 5, and they were not toys, but the real things; a claw hammer, coping saw, egg beater drill etc. I was taught how to use them, and graduated to bigger and more complex tools so that when I was old enough, I was able to build my own soap box derby cars. From there it was wood, and metal shop in high school. After 4 years of electronics in the Air Force, I took a job as a turret lathe operator, and have been in the trade ever since.
    “I know lots of people who are educated far beyond their intelligence”

    Lewis Grizzard


    • #3
      I'd say it was pretty much a slam dunk that you'd go that way what with the exposure to all your dad and relatives.

      My own Dad never really pushed me in any direction or even showed me how to really use the tools. But of course monkey see, monkey do....
      Chilliwack BC, Canada


      • #4
        Most of my idea's/inventions are mechanical which in turn requires me to put them into material, so I naturally ended up with a mill, machining can be kinda fun once in awhile but usually only when im drinking, so most of the time when im building my own stuff im tying one on to some degree, otherwise it's really just a means to an end for what I do and many times wish i could just skip it all and push a single button and materialize a part that I need... some people are machinist with a drinking habit - I more so consider myself a drinker with a machining habit...


        • #5
          Like to build stuff, however the 3d printer has replaced 95% of what I do for proof of concept work.


          • #6
            I remember watching my dad doing things. He was an accountant, not any kind of wood or metal worker, but when something needed to be done, he tackled it. And he always had a work bench in the garage, up till his last day. I remember that a tool box with a few simple tools was one of my early Christmas presents. I loved it and couldn't wait till I could cut boards and hammer nails. I always wanted to make things, to create things with my hands. And yes, I had Tinker Toys, Erector Sets, and Plastic Bricks. And model trains.

            But there was another element, from Hollywood. Things like Science Fiction Theater and other series and movies where the scientist worked day and night to discover and build something new. That left a firm impression on me and it has been part of my life ever since. I am retired, but to this day I still work into the wee hours of the AM on my latest project. I don't think my wife understands, at least not completely. I am not sure that even I completely understand. But it is me. There is a certain satisfaction in creating something that is new and perhaps unique.
            Paul A.
            SE Texas

            Make it fit.
            You can't win and there is a penalty for trying!


            • #7
              I started in the early 90's because I wanted to make telescope parts. Started with a Smithy and worked my way up from there. I now have a Victor 16x60, BP 2J head mill, BP Series II CNC machine with Centroid controller, 24" Grob bandsaw, and a few other goodies. I actually wanted to become a machinist back when I started, but was making good money and did not want to give that up at the time.


              • #8
                My paternal GF had been a metal finisher in Germany and he worked for Stieff Silver when he came to the US around 1926. My maternal GF was a boiler maker at Sparrows Point. My father worked as a technician for an elevator company, then as a machinist at Martin's, then after WWII he worked at Schenuit tire mfr and then as an electronics designer at Catalyst Research, where they made batteries for missiles. He was always building and fixing stuff, mostly radios and TVs, but he was also skilled at electrical wiring, carpentry, and other trades.

                I grew up playing with pipe fittings, blocks of wood, wires, nuts and bolts, etc. I had a "Handy Andy" tool box, chemistry set, microscope, Tinker toys, Lincoln logs, Erector sets, and an electronics experiment kit. My favorite TV show was "Science Fiction Theater" around 1957-1958. I took woodshop, metal shop, and mechanical drawing in school, and my first real job was working as a technical illustrator for "Educational Aids", where they made electronics kits. I also worked as technical manual writer, QC technician, and draftsman. I went to Johns Hopkins in the EE program, but changed to Computer Science, and never quite graduated. I started a small company called "Campus Repair Service" where I fixed TVs, stereos, car radios, hair dryers, bicycles, and just about anything. I lived in Yellow Springs, OH, for the summer of 1973, and got a job at the local electronics repair shop, then came back to MD where I got a job as an instrument tech and then electronics design engineer. In 1988 I started my own company which I still have but I'm mostly retired.

                I had a friend who was a highly skilled machinist from Czechoslovakia, and I learned some metalworking skills from him, as well as other machinists and metalworkers. My electronics design work also involved mechanical design, such as sheet metal enclosures and copper buswork, so I learned the processes involved when working with machinists and fabricators. I bought my HF 9x20 lathe and round column mill/drill, as well as many other machine tools, in 2003, and learned from books, YouTube, and trial and error, until I took two semesters of machine shop classes 2014-2015.
                Last edited by PStechPaul; 11-06-2019, 08:40 PM.
                Paul , P S Technology, Inc. and MrTibbs
                USA Maryland 21030


                • #9
                  I'd expected mostly youth stories more like Dave's and mine. Yet it's now 2 and 2 for early youth vs diving in during adulthood. This is already shaping up to be more interesting than I thought.
                  Chilliwack BC, Canada


                  • #10
                    Dad was a carpenter and taught me a lot- but I wasn't particularly interested in following in his footsteps. Our family business was a cafe, sports shop, and hobby shop. I got into making models, and then slot cars came into the limelight. After playing with that for a while I wanted to build my own chassis, which I did, but I wanted to go further. Around that time I saw an ad for a Unimat lathe and realized that I could make parts with it. I had been using Dads wood lathe to make things, including plexiglass lenses. It wasn't until I was 23 that I decided to buy the metal lathe, since by then I realized that I could do lots of things with it- plus I had a job and could save up to pay for it. I never had interest in metalworking in school, so I missed out on that head start, but I was interested in physics and had already immersed myself in electronics, so having a machine that was going to be able to drill holes in pc boards was important to me. I got back into slot cars for a bit and made my own wheels, though that turned out to be an ill-fated venture. I put a lot of hours on that Unimat before I got into my first 'real' lathe. The rest is history- I still have the Unimat, plus now a modest collection of other machinery.


                    • #11
                      My father was a good man, but not the least bit musical or mechanical. My uncle Jimmy, on my mothers side was a mechanical genius. He had a grade school education, which was all that was available in the time and place he grew up. My God, the man was sheer magic with anything mechanical. Car engines, chainsaws, hit and miss engines, washing machine engines (yes, they ran off gasoline in the 1930's when there was no electricity in our part of Ontario)--just anything. Uncle Jimmy wrenched on engines, played the fiddle, and drank whiskey. He taught me all of these things starting in early childhood. Okay, I was a bit past childhood for the whiskey. He was the only one of numerous aunts and uncles to have this amazing ability, and somehow I ended up with all of it. Non of my many cousins were really interested in mechanical things, except out of dire necessity. We were all poorer than the proverbial church-mouse, so we had to be innovative to keep our old cars on the road. I started building "mechanical contraptions" in grade school, and have never stopped. Say what you want about genetics, but I have always considered myself blessed to have inherited the mechanical soul of my uncle.---Brian
                      Brian Rupnow


                      • #12
                        I look around at some of the stuff iv created and im proud of it - I feel now like I could not live without my mill for that fact, but what equally amazes me and if not more so is a few of the relics iv built before I got it, with just a file, a grinder - a sandpaper finishing fixture built from a sheet of plexiglass and I created WHAT? just blows me away, and a testimonial to the words persistence and determination, You can have all the tooling in the world and it cannot compete with a fertile mind that just plain wants to get things done...


                        • #13
                          I started in the early 90's because I wanted to make telescope parts. I have always been the type of person to want to do something new that was challenging to the intellect. Started with a Smithy and worked my way up from there. I now have a Victor 16x60, BP 2J head mill, BP Series II CNC machine with Centroid controller, 24" Grob bandsaw, Syncrowave 350, and a few other goodies. I actually wanted to become a machinist back when I started because I was so excited about it, but I was making good money with what I was doing, and did not want to give that up at the time.


                          • #14
                            My dad was a mechanic/welder (whatever was needed to fix cars, trucks, heavy duty equipment, both in remote campsites and later in the big city), so I was interested in cars & mechanics growing up (well, until I met my first computer...)

                            About 10 years ago, I returned home to help my parents, and, as part of that, I started a landscaping company, and with that, the equipment needs regular maintenance and fixing. As well, pretty much no equipment is designed for average sized people like me (6'5"), so I also modify the equipment to work better for me. And more recently, I've begun making tools (such as a blade-sharpening grinder) as well as making/modifying equipment to do new things (a walkbehind outdoor vacuum, plow attachment for a large lawnmower, bagger system for a large lawnmower).

                            Primarily, I use a welder, drill press and angle grinder as my machining tools, but I also use a lathe for the round bits.
                            I am looking for a cheap milling machine to expand the range of bits I can make.


                            • #15
                              Born the last of 5 kids, waaaay last,... my closest sibling is 10 years older than me. Anyway, dad's health was declining most of my conscious childhood but he and my older brothers, ....oldest is 20 years my senior..... had hobby machines that I had barely ever witnessed running. There was a Sheldon Lathe, Craftsman Drill press, hand drills, grinder, scroll saw, and a miller welder and more or less incomplete sets of hand tools.

                              Being one who had to see how everything worked, I got into mechanical mind set early. Dad did all he could to answer questions, but constant tinkering with the equipment I got real comfortable with all of it, doing basic stuff. And I still have all of my fingers! As a teen working on my stable of junk cars to keep at least one running, found even more uses for the old machines.. After high school, spent 2 years "helping" -couldn't really call it an apprenticeship- my brother in law with his mold making business. Eventually, as an adult, I continued to make most of what I needed due to a deep DIY mindset exacerbated by what seemed like a constant lack of money.

                              Mu junk cars eventually evolved into somewhat newer models, and my tinkering moved on to lawn mowers and garden tractor upkeep. Never much more than a garage mechanic, I really came to enjoy making stuff, at first to make something else work, then, just to accomplish something. My wife will ask "what is that?" answer. "it's a metal thing,.....I made it!!"

                              I'm 67 and still have the 1940d Craftsman Drill press, the scroll saw, and the 1960s Miller welder. Add a couple of grinders, a newer PM10x22 lathe and several complete hand tool sets and there you have it . Just can't seem to leave that stuff alone, or perhaps just find things that need some odd steel piece or bushing to work like new.

                              There does seem to be a common thread in these posts. Either you got into it as a kid, or were forced by necessity to "invent" the things you needed. I suppose the saying "Necessity is the Mother of Invention" is very accurate indeed.

                              BC Rider, your original posted question was a heck of a good idea.

                              S E Michigan