Wednesday, December 9, 2015


Bear with me on some of the articles being brief.  

I usually don't have a lot of time to write posts especially long detailed articles.  

I started out on this adventure while I was still in Iraq.  Bought my first pro machine 6 months before I went home.  Had the software sent to me in the middle east and taught myself how to draw 2D CAD.

I went home and opened up a small CNC plasma cutting shop.  I mainly cut structural steel and signs. It was OK, not great money.  Then bout 2 years later circumstances changed and I had a lot of competition.  So I had to totally up my game and re-invent my business.

I started out working with someone else whom I thought had the necessary skills. However after 5 months and a lot of fail, I kicked him out.  I then restarted from near zero.  All my savings gone.  It was very difficult.  My electricity at my house was turned off for 4 months while I kept the shop lights on and rent paid there.  I managed to scratch and crawl my way back up out of the hole I was in.  

I learned how to do 3d CAD, designed and built a bunch of working 3D printers and basically spent 12-15 hours a day on this.  Let me tell you, you gain a lot of experience working that many hours every day.

Earlier this year, I had my big professional printer finally done.  Prototypes were working, and production documentation was complete.  It was the first time I ever took a raw design all the way to a sellable commercial product.  

However life threw me a monkey wrench.  The first batch of production parts from the machinist took 3 months to arrive.  3 months of worry and watching my finances drain away.  

In a fit of frustration, I took some of my meager funds and built my first CNC mill.  I posted the pictures.  It looks like crap, but it only cost me $300.  It takes a lot of constant adjustment to make it work properly but it does work and is fairly accurate.  I used that machine to prototype and make other machines including printers and mills.

I do have access to CNC lasers, CNC benders and other full machine shop equipment, however just to prototype an idea means a ton of travel time so I use those machines for final parts only.

I did use the plywood mill to make a better mill, and then I made an even better machine. Now I am making some fairly nice stuff, although I am always striving to make it better.

Next month I open a store front to sell CNC routers and CNC plasma cutters. I have made a few already and they work.

I also will be carrying the steel frame mills made by my Chinese buddy for the local market.  

I am pretty excited bout it. Considering how bad things got last year, I have come a long way and learned a lot of lessons about bootstrapping from hard experience.

Eventually I would like to build more heavy duty machines as my skill level grows.  

My new shop opening next month will have a CNC laser cutter, CNC plasma table (for demo and production work), a router for production and a couple demo machines along with my printers.

I will keep you informed of my adventures.


Phil said...

Right on, congratulations and good luck!

Doug said...

Hey I know exactly where your coming from.
I'd like to help you if you care. I'm a welder of 40 years experience, have a small fab shop at my house, I do blacksmithing, machine work, basic stuff as I have hand screw lathe and bridgeport mill, and associated metal forming equipment. I can send you pics of my work to prove my bona fides.
My welding/fitting skills are extensive. I have 15 years of aerospace experience to top off a decade in motorsports racing fabrication, some nuclear, ground turbine, and general metal fab/forming experience over time. I literally welded rocket engine components, lot of ridged tube and sheet metal section weldments. I have 64 various certs for nickel alloys, cobalt, titanium, corrosion resistant steels, tube and pipe, plate and structural, in GTAW, GMAW, SMAW, Orbital, Electron Beam, Torch/Furnace/Induction brazing, heat treating, radiographic non destructive testing, and a slew of associated skill sets in metal forming/joining.
Point here is not to blow my horn, but to provide a sincere justification of my experience as a genuine craftsman, for working with like minded patriots craftsman and makers.
I have a superb Miller Tig welder, and if you need something welded, I'll do it it for you. I'm not looking to make money now, I'm looking to make connections and build a community like you. Barter and other forms of compensation would be grand. I'm willing to go out on a limb now, and help you out if my resources would be useful to you, for future mutual gain.
As a for instance, you have a chassis you require to fabricate, and having it welded would be simpler and more cost effective method of final assembly, (maybe it is more cost effective to use steel instead of plate aluminum alloy fastened together with threaded fasteners, you have access to a laser and plasma cnc), send me a B/P, an assembly, your specifications, I build any necessary jigs or filtering, give you an idea of the value of my labor and such, I do a sample weldment, send it back for inspection, and figure how to proceed from there. Like I said, if I can help you now, as you become more successful and solvent, we can develop mutually satisfactory compensation down the road.
I live in WV.
Understand, I'm of meager means, this is a hard way to earn a living, but it is the best thing going bar none. I want to live system D and be as self determining and self sufficient as is possible. But believe you me, the only way folks like us are gonna get there is together.
Fuck corporate power, fuck the state, fuck the sonofabitches running things. We beat them and win with our freedom and creating wealth the fuckers can't get their greasy meathook on.

In any case, I'm happy you are doing these things you are. It takes courage and conviction, and indomitable spirit. Free unfettered enterprise and the economy it creates is as integral to liberty as our rifles, the two are inextricably linked.
Good on you Brother. I hope you do well no matter what.
God bless you.

admin said...

I'm open to suggestions.

One thing I have learned over these last 4 years is that a CNC machine itself is easy to make. That is if you buy off the shelf linear guides and parts.

But it's expensive.

The hard part is making it good and low cost.

Shoot me a message via the contact form

Phil said...

Those are some very impressive skills and that is one Hell of an offer.
I am a Millwright at a place that does Industrial Heat Treating and would kill to have even a quarter of those skills because I know that of which you speak are extremely rare.