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  • Shops of greatness

    Farm Mags. have "top shops" stories. They all look like the Taj Mahal (SP?). I realize that a shop is a representation of self. I keep too much junk around, but I notice that some design things make some shops doing the dirtyist work easy to keep clean. I would like to see what made some of the shops of greatness. H. Ford's, Edison exc. before they made it. I have more lathes, a shaper, welders, drills hydraulic press than Mr. Ford but my shop stinks like the chicken barn it used to be (I don't think I will ever get rid of that smell or be the next Ford).

    So the question is "What about a shop helps the spark of creativity glow into productivity and greatness?"

    and "What are fatal flaws in a shop?"

    Where did you go right? and wrong.

  • #2
    [[email protected]]So the question is "What about a shop helps the spark of creativity glow into productivity and greatness?"
    QUOTE]

    Booze, a comfy chair, an active mind, a willingness to make mistakes, the first aid kit to help heal those mistakes, and the ability to escape from the pressures of the surrounding world....

    I may have missed a few, but I think those are the biggest ones for me.
    "I am, and ever will be, a white-socks, pocket-protector, nerdy engineer -- born under the second law of thermodynamics, steeped in the steam tables, in love with free-body diagrams, transformed by Laplace, and propelled by compressible flow."

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    • #3
      Boeing started in a barn with a dirt floor.
      Douglas started in a lean-to, also with a dirt floor.
      Pratt and Whitney started in a lean-to, but they had a wooden floor.
      Starrett started in a rented room, he had a wood floor.
      Curtiss started in a barn with at least a partial dirt floor.
      The Wrights had a dirt floor in their shed.

      What you'll find with those people is that their shops were not an end, they were a means to an end. They did what they had to do to get the job done. If that meant working in the mud when it rained inside more than it did outside, then so be it. Their shops weren't where the ideas happened. The ideas happened largely inside their heads and the shop was merely a place to experiment, perfect, and bring the idea to life.
      Last edited by A_Pmech; 06-13-2011, 03:23 PM.

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      • #4
        A shop must satisfy your comfort zone. Some people cannot stand clutter, while others cannot stand an immaculate work place. I fall somewhere in between. I will work in my shop until I can't find a damn thing, and then I'll take a day or two and clean it from top to bottom putting everything back in it's place. Then I start the cycle over again.

        It also makes a difference what type of shop you need. If you mainly work on diesel trucks, you will probably not have a painted floor that you can eat off of. But if you build shuttle parts, you probably keep a very clean and nice environment.

        Again, I fall somewhere in between. One day I may be welding up a trailer or some other steel project, the next day might find me soldering a circuit board or working on an antique clock. Small parts can seem to disappear in a cluttered up shop.

        My shop is very comfortable to me. That is why I continue to do stuff. Your shop should feel the same. Just having a buttload of money and stuff wrapped up in it doesn't make it comfortable or fun... it simply makes it a good photo-op for a magazine.

        Mark

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        • #5
          My 2 cents

          Hi Everyone,

          I should be in the shop right now but I just had to pipe in here because this hits a nerve for me.

          I grew up in my dad’s machine shop starting over 50 years ago & have had my own R&D shop for 38+ years. Worked in several factory shops, job shops & a university R&D shop. There is no linear progression here of shops they were all jumbled in no particular order through the years.

          One of the most important things I learned about creativity is that it is a personal thing that nobody has a patent on or exclusive access to. There is more attitude (self image) wrapped up in creativity than I believe anyone will ever be able to pin down.

          For me, I would advise if it is creativity you want then don’t worry about what someone else thinks about a shop. Concern yourself with what you feel comfortable with.

          I have worked alongside top notch Tool & Die Makers with horribly messed up benches & with those whose benches you could eat off of.

          My shop is a mixture of both conditions.

          I have noticed that invariably the EUREKA moment’s come when I am not trying to force them. When I am busy w/the task at hand & my conscious mind is focused on it, I am much more likely to tap into whatever creative pool exists and the ideas flow.

          This happened again this morning while I was walking my dog. The idea I needed for a problem (that I created) popped into my head while I was doing something else.

          As far as productivity, there are so many considerations that I don’t think that this can be addressed w/o knowing the available shop layout & cubic footage. Plus things like available light, size of work to be done etc. all have to be considered. But once again it will fall back on your shoulders as to what works for you.

          When I was at my dad's & he was apologizing to a purchasing agent for our messy shop, the fella replied that this was exactly what he wanted to see. He said he wanted to see a shop so busy that they didn't have time to keep it spotless. The statement he made stuck with me all this time, "Why should I pay someone else to clean their shop?"

          Greatness? Oh boy, that’s a real topic for discussion.

          Greatness in whose eyes? Who’s definition?

          When Henry Ford’s name comes up the alarm bells in my heart start clanging. When I learned about the way he treated his own son, it makes my skin crawl.

          Believe me I have chased greatness in other people’s eyes only to find it empty & hollow.

          Any advice I have about greatness is, if you find that you are closely surrounded by people that you can/do respect, then chances are they feel the same about you. If that’s the case, you have already achieved greatness.
          Last edited by jhe.1973; 09-06-2011, 03:22 AM.
          Best wishes to ya’ll.

          Sincerely,

          Jim

          "To invent you need a good imagination and a pile of junk" - Thomas Edison

          "I've always wanted to get a job as a procrastinator but I keep putting off going out to find one so I guess I'll never realize my life's dream. Frustrating!" - Me

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          • #6
            I'm worried about worrying about this too much.

            I moved in to a house a month ago and have a reasonable sized (20x20) room with a concrete floor I'm going to be setting up as The Shop. Sure, i'm going to do all the epoxy paint floor, wall protection stuff. But set up is driving me crazy. All I have now is a couple little Grizzly mini machines and a grinder. But I'm half inclined to put the benches on casters (no not really) so I can change the layout at will until it suits me.

            As a career software developer I can't imagine a workplace that doesn't have whiteboards, so I'm definitely going to have a couple 4x8s and a drawing/planning table on one wall. But aside from that and a durable humidor I've no idea what I'm going to want.
            ----
            Proud machining permanoob since September 2010

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            • #7
              Originally posted by [email protected]
              Farm Mags. have "top shops" stories. They all look like the Taj Mahal (SP?). I realize that a shop is a representation of self. I keep too much junk around, but I notice that some design things make some shops doing the dirtyist work easy to keep clean. I would like to see what made some of the shops of greatness. H. Ford's, Edison exc. before they made it. I have more lathes, a shaper, welders, drills hydraulic press than Mr. Ford but my shop stinks like the chicken barn it used to be (I don't think I will ever get rid of that smell or be the next Ford).

              So the question is "What about a shop helps the spark of creativity glow into productivity and greatness?"

              and "What are fatal flaws in a shop?"

              Where did you go right? and wrong.
              Ford and Edison loved what they were doing. That is the secret. To have a successful shop you must be motivated to succeed either by greed for money or love of the game. I operated what I would call a modestly successful consultation and development prototyping business from my home many years back while holding down a full time job in which I was doing exactly the same type of work. After about 8 years I found myself becoming sick of all things 'machine shop' despite the fascinating problems I was asked to solve by my customers because that's all I was doing from 8 in the morning till midnight. I shut down the business after finding new sources of help for my customers and haven't looked back.

              This forum, incidentally, has whet my interest in getting back into the saddle and putting my shop back in order. I don't think I or my shop will ever be "great" but I plan on having fun just like Ford and Edison. It has taken me many years to learn that true "success" is nothing more than a state of mind.

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              • #8
                My shop also goes through cycles of total mess and semi-neat conditions. I can turn out work to fairly close tolerances, but most of it is just ordinary stuff. I have come to realize at 75 that all I want to do is to be able to do what I need. Does that make any sense? I build furniture, engines, repair clocks,upholster, electrical work. plumbing,etc. It hurts when I have to call a repairman for the increasingly complex household appliances.Mother boards,how can you fix that stuff? My woodworking things are scattered around, the swarf and sawdust get all mixed up,but I guess that's my life. Thanks for looking. Bob F.

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                • #9
                  I have an old friend whose shop is a total disaster!!!

                  There is only a narrow (12in wide,) footpath through it the place is SO FULL! The ceiling also is mostly covered with stuff hanging up everywere, this friend has been a packrat forever, but when he's in there he's at his most content times surounded by the stuff he loves.

                  I,m very sure he does not know everything he has , but possibly he remembers were most of his treasures are. An interesting place to gaze around at all the stuff,,,,(if you can find a place to sit!!!)

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by madwilliamflint
                    I'm worried about worrying about this too much.

                    I moved in to a house a month ago and have a reasonable sized (20x20) room with a concrete floor I'm going to be setting up as The Shop. Sure, i'm going to do all the epoxy paint floor, wall protection stuff. But set up is driving me crazy. All I have now is a couple little Grizzly mini machines and a grinder. But I'm half inclined to put the benches on casters (no not really) so I can change the layout at will until it suits me.

                    As a career software developer I can't imagine a workplace that doesn't have whiteboards, so I'm definitely going to have a couple 4x8s and a drawing/planning table on one wall. But aside from that and a durable humidor I've no idea what I'm going to want.

                    Pretty much what I did, software developer, retired, built a house with 4x9 metre shop just through the wall from the lounge. I built my workbench in so that I can hammer, bash and hack without shaking everything to the floor, otherwise my shop is very unfinished. My mill still stands on blocks and so does my lathe. My plans for 'finishing' the shop change by the day.

                    One day I will move that mill and the lathe through the door to the garage and organise everything, I wont have a plan when I start but when I finish it will be the condensation of all the thoughts I have had on the matter.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by DATo
                      Ford and Edison loved what they were doing.
                      The Wright Brothers were the same way. They were self funded, had no college education and wouldn't have gotten the time of day from any one "in the know" on the theories of the principles of flight. What they did have was passion and a dream to follow. They knew they could make a plane fly and they knew it would change the world. In other words they believed...

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Ohio Mike
                        The Wright Brothers were the same way. They were self funded, had no college education and wouldn't have gotten the time of day from any one "in the know" on the theories of the principles of flight. What they did have was passion and a dream to follow. They knew they could make a plane fly and they knew it would change the world. In other words they believed...

                        Wright Bro -v- US Government and Prof Langley.

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                        • #13
                          You're reading my mind, that's exactly who I was thinking of.

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                          • #14
                            My own shop has evolved along a path that banishes the 'can't do's'. I've discovered that when I get an idea, one of the first processes that runs is to ascertain whether or not I can actually do the various operations that a project will take. We've all been there- dang, I need this, to do this part- maybe this is a good time to make that tool, or even buy it. You end up making a tool to make a tool to make a tool, sometimes straying far from the original project.

                            For me, it's more important to know that I have the means to do this, or that, or whatever, than it is to have the shop neat and tidy. It doesn't bother me (usually) to trip over things to get to the --- so I can do --- part of the process. Like anyone though, I get to the point where I make the decision to clean and organize. Then I can spend days on just that.

                            In a sense, I've only recently become aware of the wide range of operations that CAN be done in my shop. It's starting to impact me now because I don't have nearly as much resistance to doing a project, because the restrictions are disappearing.

                            When I look in my shop now, I see utter chaos, but at the same time I see possibilities everywhere. It's such a boon to my creative process.

                            I've made a lot of the machines here, and purchased many also. I've learned a lot down there, and there's little that can match that kind of hands-on learning. I've set up the shop to make the best use of the space and shape that I can. There are several foot wide access pathways, and seldom does that seem like a limitation in any way.

                            So, how would I describe a 'top shop'- I think I just did.

                            Could I use more space- sure. Could I use more tools- yes. I sure could use a cnc water jet cutter. If I had the money to just go and buy everything I needed as it came up- first thing I'd have to do is get a bigger shop. Then my project would be the shop- creative juices would flow- but I'd have to get back to an interesting project of some kind. Then the mess would build up and I'd happily go about walking around it all - drill this here, bend this here, shape it over here, grind it here, don't bring a movie camera in here thank you.
                            I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-

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                            • #15
                              my shop

                              I've listened to all of you and have seen a whole lotta similiarities. My two biggest problems have been my own making. I put too small (1/2") pex pipe in the floor too far down (4-5") and a too high ceiling (20 1/2'). The floor heat in winter is good for my dog and my feet but at chest height was cold and a little uncomfortable. The ceiling height is good for most of the year when a dump truck comes in but the winter is ugly!!. I do have to put in a wood burner stove and have a question to you all who have them: does your building insurance change? or how much and what was the reason? Other than these problems, I am semi retired (work when I want to) and can play in my shop any time I want to, Wayne.

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