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What made you guys first?

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  • #31
    To fix and/or make stuff.

    As for the first machining work, not counting drilling holes in bars of metal, and grinding/bending the odd one of them, to modify existing equipment, the first thing I used a lathe for (after figuring out how to do threading on it) was to help make an adjustable grinding station for sharpening lawnmower blades (I spent maybe 1/2 that a similar commercial unit would cost).
    Last edited by dave_r; 01-29-2017, 05:38 AM.


    • #32
      Originally posted by Shipdisturber View Post
      My Grandfather and Father were Machinists my son is one too, I on the other hand am a Heavy Duty Mechanic and have been for the last forty years. I remember going to the machine shop my family owned as a wee tyke barely able to see over the dashboard of my Grandfathers 1949 Mercury, there I saw a world of mechanical awe. When they finally let me look around on my own in the shop I was amazed at the size of the machines and what they could do. I heard stories of jobs done big and small, about inventions never patented because they were just too busy for that sort of thing and the history of how it all started with my Grandfather. I learned some basics there along with welding and pulling wrenches which leads to today where I am presently cleaning up a hardly used 1945 South Bend lathe for projected use into my retirement. Now when it comes to employment I rarely repair anything, mainly train Apprentices and help direct young Journeymen but when I'm home the mechanic in me is set free. Can't post pictures on this website otherwise I would show you pictures of my latest almost finished project.
      Yes you can, there are no restrictions on who can post pictures contrary to what the blurb at the end of the thread always says.

      Read the "sticky" about photos at the start if the forum. WE LOVE PICTURES!!



      • #33
        What made you guys first?
        Probably some Pepsi or Chocolate Chip Cookies, two of my dad's favorites...That's what made me first.

        As for how I got started on this slippery slope, it was the trains that did it. I needed things and the lathe looked like a fun way to make them. I bought a little Taig, planning to learn on a new machine so I didn't have to wonder if it was the machine or me that wasn't giving me the results I wanted. It's not a bad way to go really, as long as you realize you're not going to turn more than small objects on it. I occasionally use it in repairing trains, and have completed some repairs with it where the parts were likely to be unobtainium.

        I sure wouldn't mind getting a bigger lathe, one about the size of my wood lathe would probably keep me happy for a long time... but I'm keeping the Taig even if I get a big lathe. (If anyone's got one in the central IL area that needs a good home, I might be willing to trade space and little green rectangular things for it.)


        • #34
          I've just always, since my earliest memories, wanted to build stuff. At this point I almost feel compelled to build stuff. I have no idea why.
          Try to make a living, not a killing. -- Utah Phillips
          Don't believe everything you know. -- Bumper sticker
          Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects. -- Will Rogers
          There are lots of people who mistake their imagination for their memory. - Josh Billings
          Law of Logical Argument - Anything is possible if you don't know what you are talking about.
          Don't own anything you have to feed or paint. - Hood River Blackie


          • #35
            Guns. I got tired of paying and/or waiting for somebody else to fix them.


            • #36
              Mine was firearms as well. Some parts just cannot be found. My first turnings were re-tipping Gewehr 98 Mauser firing pins that had been 'demilled' by snapping the tip. New firing pins are available, but these are serial numbered parts. Also do Gewehr 88 commission rifles. It has progressed far into other interests, automotive, jewelry, etc.


              • #37
                I have always had a desire to build things beginning at about eight years old in 1948. I began with simple model airplanes as most boys did in those days. I can't tell you how many Comet stick model kits I messed up before getting the hang of it. I also religiously read Popular Mechanics, Popular Science, and Mechanix Illustrated magazines beginning in about 1950 when I was ten years old. Popular Mechanics always had a brief section on machining metal in every issue and I was intrigued with the idea. At the age of sixteen I was offered a job at a local hobby shop working on Saturdays, during Christmas holidays, and during the summer. I saved my money and bought my first metal lathe, a Craftsman (Atlas) 6"at the age of seventeen. My Dad who was an avid hunter and fisherman was greatly disappointed that I wouldn't buy a nice shotgun. I told Mom and Dad I would put it in my bedroom and it wouldn't make a mess. Boy! Did that get a laugh from my parents! I was forced into the basement. That metal lathe was the first machine I ever owned, wood or metal. Slowly, using the money I was making from my part time job, I added a Craftsman floor type drill press (which I still have and use), and a Walker Turner 14" band saw bought used (which I still have and use). I entered college at Georgia Tech and, being from Atlanta, I lived at home. I still had my part time job so I added a Smith's oxy-acetelyne welder (which I still have and use). After I got out of Ga. Tech in 1964 I kept adding to the shop until over the years I have accumulated a very extensive metal and woodworking facility. I can't explain it, it appears to be a sickness!!! Is there a "tool-a-holic anonymous organization somewhere?
                Last edited by Planeman41; 01-29-2017, 12:05 PM.


                • #38
                  I have always been interested in making things. This started in my early childhood and I can remember getting my first tool kit with a few basic, woodworking tools. I was in pig's heaven cutting my first board (scrap). I guess I see metal as a continuation of this. You can make more sophisticated things with metal. And I love electronics too. And computers.

                  I think it may represent a desire to control my environment. We all like to be in control of things.
                  Paul A.
                  SE Texas

                  And if you look REAL close at an analog signal,
                  You will find that it has discrete steps.


                  • #39
                    I was always interested in building stuff from a earlier age, started off with wood construction but got bored with it's limitations.Bought my first machine at 16yrs old a 16" Import power hacksaw from the new local Peavymart store.Did a few odd jobs after high school and at 22 returned to the family farm and with spending a lot of time operating farm machinery let the brain to dream up and design machines to make jobs easier and more efficent.Married at 25 and 3 kids later was still intrigued with metal working a lot of friends and neighbors would tell me you can't build this or that most times proved them wrong.At 50 decided to build a larger shop to meet the demands of larger equipment and my desire to make room for upgraded metal working machines.I am content with my current inventory of machines now other than would like to have a Mig Welder,we see how next year crop turns out.At 57 am currently working on a grain auger to speed up handling grain at grain dryer to be completed for fall of 18.


                    • #40
                      One thing I always think of is the parts that can be made from a single chunk of metal. Holding any stock metal chunk in my hand I always think "this chunk can be machined into some $1,000,000 possibly life saving part, or just turned into waste/scrap." That thought has always intrigued me.


                      • #41
                        I have always wanted to make things and fix things. But life in general and some poor decisions along the way interfered.

                        At age 20 I was working in a cotton spinning mill, and was in and out of the machine shop quite often. I often think that I should have stayed at that job (they wanted me to) and perhaps learned more about metalworking, but I had other dreams at the time.

                        A few years later I was taking courses in furniture manufacturing, and thought a lot about about dropping that and taking some of the machine shop courses offered at the technical school. But the thought of adding 4 hours of classes 4 evenings a week on top of a full time job dissuaded me.

                        In my work in furniture manufacturing, I eventually found myself in the metalworking end of it...working in the tooling dept. grinding knives, making and maintaining saw blades, and designing machine attachments and accessories, and eventually doing maintenance and rebuilding a couple of major machines. Through all of this I kept learning more and more about metalworking but never in a living situation that permitted a home shop and equipment.

                        It was not until about 13 years ago, however, that I was in a situation to have a shop and start obtaining the tools and equipment I had wanted for so many years. My first lathe was a Craftsman 6 X 18, with milling attachment. I started making things with it immediately, such as new latches for the old storm windows in our house, countershaft for my wood lathe, a solid brass canopy to match a light fixture we had, etc.

                        Since then I have acquired more really nice tools and equipment...more than I ever dreamed I would own. Now I make tools and stuff to support my woodworking and other interests, I make tools and stuff to support my metalworking interests, and on and on.

                        And to say the least, discovering and participating in this forum has added a lot to my education.


                        • #42
                          This is a great thread! Very interesting reading everyone's story.

                          I was brought up in a generation that was encouraged to pursue higher education to the extent that vocational courses were looked down on. My dad had a similar story in school, his guidance counselor told him that there was no future in his passion (working on cars) and he ended up becoming an electrical engineer instead. Growing up though, he was always fixing things, working on cars, making things. I remember him telling me to consider the vocational courses at our high school, but I was too interested in computers at the time. I've loved learning how things work and fixing things since I was a kid, but as far as I was concerned in high school, working with my hands for a living just wasn't an option... because my friends, teachers, and guidance counselors had successfully brainwashed me into thinking a job working with your hands was somehow second-rate (in fact, I'd go so far as to say the exact opposite is true in reality).

                          I wasn't ready for college, I partied instead of doing my coursework, and got kicked out for bad grades after the first semester. I worked in a printing factory for a year while I tried to figure things out... didn't take any longer than that for me to know I didn't want to be a stock slitting machine operator for a living, lol. I reapplied to the same school, got in, and continued there for a year with decent grades, but my heart wasn't in it. I ended up transferring to a 2 year tech school nearby to get a 2 year degree in the same discipline (computer science), and was happier there and did better with a more practical approach to my studies. I got good grades but it was still difficult for me to maintain enough interest in the mandatory courses that I didn't care about, to get the work done. I've always had a hard time motivating myself to do things I don't want to do, whereas I'll develop a case of mania and work around the clock on something I love.

                          Anyway that piece of paper got me a good job, I got great experience, got to work on some really high end offset printing machines, got to see the world on someone else's dime, and started making my own life. Can't knock it. I continued to build and repair things in my spare time, especially anything car related. Like my dad, I'm crazy about cars. Still, machining never even crossed my mind - never gave it even a fleeting thought.

                          Looking back on things, I think it's fascinating that I never got into machining right from the get-go. I don't know how or why it worked out that way, but it did. Maybe if there had been a lathe in my dad's workshop growing up, things would have been different. As it happened though, it was my sudden interest in repairing pocket watches that got me pulled into machining, many years after graduating school and leaving home. In fact it was after I was married and we had purchased our home. It would have been around 2010 that my interest in machining started and my first real lathe project was at the tail end of 2011.

                          There's not much point in thinking about how things *could* have happened, it can't be changed and I wouldn't want to change it anyway. But it is sad how many people were/are steered away from trades they could excel at (and that we desperately need). My boys (6 and 8) have been able to identify lathes and milling machines for years, and already love spending time in the shop. My girl just turned 1, but my guess is she'll be a shop rat too. Whatever path they choose, I know they'll do great things. My youngest boy is uncanny with a coping saw, the kid hasn't broken a blade yet! I must have broken every blade my dad had when I was a kid.

                          Anyway, all that to say my interest in machining is inexplicably recent.


                          • #43
                            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.
                            This! It started off with wanting a go-kart when I was in 5th grade. I started snagging old lawnmowers out of the trash, learned how to fix small engines, learned basic metal working, welding, etc. Eventually I wanted to build a transmission for my karts using the gears out of a self-propelled mower so I started poking on the internet... I found this place and bought a Smithy 3-in-1. The rest is history!

                            I learned electrical, plumbing and carpentry when I bought a house. I now do tile, drywall, furniture and cabinet making, etc. all because I want to build the things I want!


                            • #44
                              "Young man it's not bought, it's hand made every piece of it!" I was told as a 1st year
                              apprentice when I asked where he bought his lovely skeleton model of a elevator complete
                              with tiny buttons, opening doors, lights and bells...must say he got me interested in machining.


                              • #45
                                Originally posted by SGW View Post
                                I've just always, since my earliest memories, wanted to build stuff. At this point I almost feel compelled to build stuff. I have no idea why.
                                Completely (and succinctly) articulates the origins and nature of my own interests. I might add: a disinclination to become totally dependent on someone else's expertise to solve my own problems.

                                I might mention my eldest son who has a similar orientation and a home shop with machine tools to go with it.
                                Last edited by tlfamm; 01-30-2017, 12:18 PM.