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What made you guys first?

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  • What made you guys first?

    What made you guys first interested in machining,
    Originally I thought having a machine shop would make me able to make jigs in case my parkinsons problem got so bad I was becoming a danger to myself. Yeh right the truth is when I saw a dirty old piece of rusty metal in the round being turned in a lathe, and just in the same way that a piece of old wood can be made into something beautiful with imagination and dedication and work and the love of woodworking. When turning this old rusty cylinder into a magical ( almost) new shiny piece of metal I was well and truly hooked. I love my wood and machine shop what fun to end the last part of your life retirement in that case has been good to me despite my problems and Bronwens. Love you guys brotherly love . Alistair
    Please excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

  • #2
    When I was about 14 there was a small machine shop up the road. My buddies and I were building a home-made go kart and needed an adapter made for the sprocket. We talked to the owner and he was a very accommodating fellow and helped us out for, at the time, a quite reasonable fee. While looking around his shop I saw all these neat machines. At that time I had no idea what they were used for. During one of my trips to his shop I noticed a small metal lathe hidden away in the corner, it was a Dunlap sold by Sears and Roebuck I believe. I asked him what he was going to do with it and long story short for only a few dollars I became the proud owner of a metal lathe. After hooking it up to an old washing machine motor I was able to make chips and I mean only chips.
    From those early days I got more and more involved in machines and machining and arrived at where I am today.


    • #3
      I wanted to be able to build what I wanted. I first learned wood working, then engines, then welding, then machining. I like the idea of being able to build/fix anything.


      • #4
        Machining started out as a means to an end for most all my inventions are "tangible/mechanical"

        not something you can just hang on a wall...

        but now that I have a little shop I have to say it comes in handy for all kinds of stuff, even just fixing things around the house or whatever...

        sometimes im in too much of a hurry just to get stuff done and be able to enjoy it - other times It's like im in sync and an extension to the Mill and we start cranking out some amazing stuff together... can be allot of fun at times when that happens...


        • #5
          Originally high school machine shop instilled the interest. Its like that old joke about the salesman after asking the guy at the gear factory what they make who incredulously replies "you make gears? I thought you had to buy gears!" It caught me with excitement this idea of being able to make all manner of things from scratch.

          As a young adult I spent a few years fixing up old(ish) cars but I got tired of rust and dirt....and it wasn't that rewarding - there was little creativeness in bolting together parts and assemblies someone else designed.(there's creativeness if you are doing stuff like on these custom car/bike shows, but that wasn't my taste). I like really like that about it, that you can create just about anything ....that and the mental challenge of "solving the puzzle"; how go about making parts.
          in Toronto Ontario - where are you?


          • #6
            A means to have a Live Steam Locomotive. Still don't have one, but thats ok!


            • #7
              High school "metal shop". Tried wood shop my first year but it didn't really appeal to me. My maternal grandfather was a blacksmith, so I guess I've just got the metal gene.


              • #8
                When I was 5 years old, I told people that I wanted to be an engineer when I grew up, but back then it was because I wanted to drive the train.

                In my first "career" job, I worked for a company that made oceanographic equipment. Everything was under one 30,000 sq. ft. roof. Sales, electronic assembly, painting, machining, and my old favorite, engineering. Although I've always been on the electronics and computers side of things, I was inspired when I could sketch up a mechanical widget on a scrap of paper, and more often than not, this clever guy in the back with the fancy machines could get from sketch to a working widget.

                It wasn't until much later that I could manage to obtain anything more fancy than a Dremel tool, but it's amazing what can be accomplished with a little imagination and a Dremel.

                I've always had the tendency to look at things and wonder how they're made, and I've always liked being able to make and fix things.



                • #9
                  Originally posted by vpt View Post
                  I wanted to be able to build what I wanted. I first learned wood working, then engines, then welding, then machining. I like the idea of being able to build/fix anything.
                  Sounds a lot like my journey.


                  • #10
                    Working as an engineer I was convinced some designs would be better/cheaper if designed with machining in mind. So I started spending time in the model(machine) shop. Then I bought a mill and made an adapter to fit a Mopar 4 spd in my El Camino. Then came a lathe and lots of piddling around - but it keeps me out of my wife's hair.



                    • #11
                      My old metalwork teacher, Mr Jim Wrigley, at my old school in Yorkshire. No prizes for guessing that his nickname was "spearmint" !
                      Man who say it cannot be done should not disturb man doing it!


                      • #12
                        I've always liked tinkering with things. You can do a lot with glue, tape, tin-snips and screws if you are not too worried about the looks.

                        My first real machining started as I was learning about locksmithing. The state I live in prohibits ownership of many common tools for opening locks unless you are a locksmith or a student of the locksmith trade. The fear is that lock picks can be used by crooks. I found I could mail order all the supplies I like just by checking a box on the forms that said "student". I learned that It can become a very expensive hobby. A jig to hold the cylinder while working on it was $55.

                        That's why I bought my first mill. A little bitty thing, but it allowed me to make the tools that I read about without spending a great deal (more) money.

                        The lathe came shortly after that to allow me to make custom high tech flashlights. It does not require a huge lathe to make a 4 inch long flashlight.

                        Drilling out the blanks for fountain pens required more Z than my benchtop drill press could manage, so that justified the 1000 lb knee mill.

                        The welding came after that when I wanted to make fixtures without having to drill and tap things . The usual progression from brazing to flux-core to MIG to TIG.

                        I don't know what my next endeavor will be. The garage is awfully crowded.
                        At the end of the project, there is a profound difference between spare parts and left over parts.

                        Location: SF East Bay.


                        • #13


                          • #14
                            In high school, 1964, I belonged to an activity called Junior Achievement. The sponsor of my unit was Pratt & Whitney Machine Tool in West Hartford CT. We were invited to tour the factory which was very interesting. I decided to apply to the apprenticeship program, was accepted and started my apprenticeship in October of 1965. After a long and interesting career I retired in August of 2011 having been a machinist/oolmaker/modelmaker/instructor for all those years.
                            Errol Groff

                            New England Model Engineering Society

                            YouTube channel:


                            • #15
                              I'm a 3rd generation machinist. My Grandfather and Dad were both machinists. My Dad had a shop that at one point employed 40 people. I used to be there a lot as a kid when I wasn't in school, it was cheaper than hiring a babysitter. My Dad died of cancer when I was 12, so I didn't inherit the shop. My Mom ran it by herself for a year, but it was too much to do that and raise 3 kids at the same time. She sold it at auction. When I got older and wanted machines I had to start over from scratch. Oh well, that's life.
                              Kansas City area