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  • newbie advice needed

    Hi all-
    I stumbled upon this messageboard after grabbing a copy of HSM at the local Borders Books.

    I've always been interested in machining since I worked as a machine operator in a small tubing shop about 10 years ago.

    Since then I have gotten into computers and was most recently working on Wall St as a tech support manager on a trading floor. Sept 11 put the final nail in the failing company's coffin, so I'm unemployed. I've had a hard time trying to find a new job due to the saturation of my job market. Quite frankly, I'm not crazy about that field, anyway.

    While I had some time on my hands, I've been considering a career change to something I'm actually interested in. I've contacted the local community college about classes-- they do have them, but they won't start until the fall. I made a cold call to a machine shop that I saw in a TAD magazine article-- the guy I spoke to told me to go to school for it then come back. Not much help.

    If I'm going to study on my own, what should I be reading? I know the field requires a lot of math-- what should I study in particular? Any good books on machining in general, or does it all come with experience?

    I'm honestly having a hard time finding out much about the field-- a lot of people seem pretty close minded about 'letting me in'. I'd like to spend a few days at a shop and see the day to day happenings go down. Maybe it's not for me-- but I won't know untill I try.

    I'm very good working with my hands, I build high performance VW motors as a hobby. I have also restored quite a few of them. Repairing computers came naturally to me, that's why I did it. The whole 'wall street/ big business work ethic' wasn't for me, and watching all those poor people die in those buildings right in front of me solidified my desire to do something I enjoy for a living. Life is too short to be miserable at work.

    I would imagine that my computer skills would come in handy with the cnc machines, but I think I have a lot to learn about the basics before I go there...

    Any suggestions would be great!

  • #2

    Well, you certainly stumbled upon the right BBS as I did. There are countless years of experience available and everyone seems more than willing to help.

    I took a machinist course at the local community college about 20 years ago and then did nothing with it. I have lately been fortunate enough to be able to acquire a lathe and milling machine for my home shop. I am now in the process if trying to re-train myself in the techniques. This is harder than you might think, and I realy think that the best way to learn is to attend a community college.

    As far as the math goes, it seems to me that geometry is the most important discipline, with maybe physics (mechanics) a close second.

    Anyway, welcome, and I'm sure that some of the old hands will have some really good advice.


    • #3
      After you think you have enough geometry you will find that the basics of trigonometry are the most useful things you could study in the math area. You really need to know the sine, cosine, and tangent functions, truly understand them, and learn how to use them. The how to use them part comes mainly from hands on experience and a few scrap parts.


      • #4
        Any comment on this? I found it on Google.

        Tooling U

        I signed up for the free lesson, and it was pretty good- for me...

        It seems like I can take all the classes I want for 90 days for $99? That seems like a pretty good deal. It looks to have Shop Essentials in addition to actual techniques. Should I drop the $99 on this? What would a future employer think of this? Is it a joke to them or is this a good tool?

        thanks, guys.
        Chris Chemidlin

        [This message has been edited by vortexblue (edited 06-26-2002).]


        • #5
          To get a job as a machinist you are going to have to start somewhere. Tech school courses on basic lathe, mill, and then CNC programming and machining. Unless you are doing a retrofit of an older machine to CNC the computer experience will not help all that much. Firm understanding of basic mechanics (physics), and trig are essential. The addition of analytical skills for problem solving will also help you become a better machinist. Read books, the more the better.

          Most important is you have to get the experience. This means getting the basic skills and starting at the bottom unless you turn out to be truly gifted as a machinist (not likely - sorry).

          So get your nose to the grinder and start reading books from the library on the subject and get to the classes in the fall. When you do get the training and go looking for that first job take some samples of your work with you and answer questions honestly.

          Make sure you fully understand how to use and care for the machines, tooling, and measuring tools. Nothing impresses a prospective employer less like handing you a Vernier caliper and asking you to measure something - and you do it wrong or appear nervous doing it, or worse - can't read the caliper (but I never used Metric ones before!).

          I don't know what else to tell you my friend.


          • #6
            I don't work in the field, just doing it as a hobby right now...I've been considering the same thing as you. My job is such that I don't really do anything but read BBS's all night. I'm lucky to have six community colleges within twenty miles of me.

            I would say stick with the community college least around here the instuctors and tech department always seem to know about the jobs available. Especially those that are willing to take someone with education only. Most of the advertised jobs I see are for experienced only.

            Of the six JC's around me three have machinery Pasadena City College has a real machine shop course where you start with lathes (and support tools like drill presses, grinding wheels, bandsaws, etc.) and you spend a semester learning lathe tool grinding and turning, the next semester focuses on the vertical mill, the next focuses on grinding and introduces the EDM, the next starts CNC, etc. and each step has a project that increases in complexity. The other, Cerritos College, that I'm attending right now basically has two introductory machine courses and a CNC curriculum.

            There are plenty of job announcements on the Cerritos bulletin board that could be applied for with education only, some are even willing to train. Pasadena doesn't have a bulletin board but the instructor approaches responsible students when he has job info.

            I don't know if it's the same everywhere, but that's been my experience here with the two colleges that I've attended.


            • #7

              I looked a little at Tooling U and I think that if it was my $90 I would spend it differently. Machining is such a hands on art that I think it would be very difficult for me to learn it just from an on line course. I would spend the money on tuition at a community college, or on a good book which you will have long after 90 days. Just my thoughts.


              • #8
                Thanks for all the replies.

                Is there anyone on the board from the NJ/NY/PA area?
                I'd like to discuss some things like salary, local shops, etc.

                thanks again!


                [This message has been edited by vortexblue (edited 06-27-2002).]


                • #9

                  [This message has been edited by vortexblue (edited 06-27-2002).]


                  • #10
                    Vortex, When I read your initial post, I thought- If I were hiring, I'd give that man a chance. But Thrud has given you the best advice so far. To change what he says a little bit: Get your fooot in the door, Know MORE than you claim to know, watch for places (after you are hired) where you might be used or useful but don't talk- wait till you are needed.
                    Most important (I say this as a man who has been fairly high level supervisor) remember you are new man, probably low payed new man- and a smart supervisor gives every job to the lowest paid man capable of doing the work- so you sweep when the old guys BS, clean machines, fetch tools etc. Don't dispair, you also learn where the dirt is, every machine you oil and clean you get a chanceto move it to the limits of its traavels, figure out where the knobs connect too.
                    BTW, yu have one advantage over many men who are employed in the various trades- you should be able to read and when most peole see 2 plus two and get four, you see more and know the answer must be 6, 8 or more. Thats where the trig, math, theory give a deeper insight- but the guy who don't dig too deep sometimes gets the job done with the wrong tool while you are searching for the right tool!!! Gotta find yourself a slot and fit in- no one is going to change so you can fir- you gotta change.
                    The others here have given you more knowledge than you would get in any school, at any cost. think on it and realize that what looks like 2 plus 2 in some of those post is adds up to about 16 when carefully considered



                    • #11
                      There was a post on here about a web site for a military training circular that I found to have a lot of valuable info. Do a search for TC 9-524, I think you will learn a lot.


                      • #12

                        I've started to do all the reading on the military papers.. Good stuff, just what I needed.

                        I'm also going to enroll in a program at the tech institute near me for September.

                        thanks again!