Machine Shop

Side jobs (Pizza, not anything dirty)

So, I’ve been busy the last few months with a side job. Not a CNC related one; just a regular ol’ extra job. Mainly because money continues to be a thing I need if I don’t want to live in a box. I have been slinging pizza for the man, because I can’t sling rocks.

Still, crummy side jobs do have the added benefit of the sheer entertainment value and humor. Take this scene from the other day:


Our hero is standing on the porch of a trailer.
Knock knock!
After a minute I hear from inside, “Shut up, you assholes!!”
Me, “Pizza!”
Pause. “Shut up you assholes!!” Pause. “Wait a minute, dude!”
There’s the sound of a LOT of empty bottles falling, which goes on for a minute or more.
“Hold on, dude!”
More bottles falling. Pause. More bottles falling.
Is this guy running a recycling center in there?
More bottles falling. “Hold on, dude!”

The waiting. It’s the hardest part.

It’s a single wide. How long can it take to get to the door?
“Hold on, dude!”
More bottles falling. Finally, the door opens. Surprisingly, he is not wearing a shirt.
“It’s 19 bucks, ” I say. He stares blankly for a while.
“The total is 19 dollars. For the pizza.” Still more staring.
“Didn’t I pay online?”
“No, you called in, and said you wanted to pay cash.”
More staring. Then he goes back inside. There’s the sound of even more bottles falling. How could there be any NOT on the floor already? A couple minutes later he returns, and pays. Of course, there’s no tip, unless you count that I finally could leave.
Keep in mind, it’s 12:45 in the afternoon.

Take away

So, what the job doesn’t pay in money, it makes up for in humor! But I’d rather have money.

Machine Shop

Made in LA

Haas DT1 CNCAs it turns out, we here in the LA-area aren’t *just* better looking than all of you: we make lots and lots of stuff here. And not just movies. Planes. Clothes. Bombs. Tortillas. All of the stuff you need for daily life. Er, and then some.


NPR just did a really good profile on manufacturing in the LA area.


“There is certainly no greater joy for a manufacturer [than] to walk through the factory and hear the noises and sounds of machines turning and people doing work,” says Jeff Hynes, CEO of Composites Horizons.

I couldn’t agree more: there’s nothing like the sound of stuff being made.

Machine Shop

Offerings? Chips, more like!

So, it looks like scientists don’t know what lathe chips look like. I’ve swept up a lot of these offerings to the gods! “Oh thank you, Leblond, lord of the spinning metal, for another good turn. Ooommmmmmmmm….”
Metal chips of the gods;

General Machine Shop

Web Marketing Your Machine Shop

Krixis consultingA lot of machinist types don’t really pay attention to their website, I find. Even fairly established shops will have a site, and pretty much forget it exists after it is up. In the modern marketplace, that is a big mistake. There are a lot of potential new customers out on the web, who just might want to drop a bunch of cash on your bench, but you won’t find them if they can’t find you because of your poor web marketing. It goes without saying that main way people shop these days is online. The same goes for industrial clients, as it turns out.

Here is some info from people who are focused on web marketing for industry: Machine Shop Customers First Stop, Your Website When I had my own shop, I found quite a few customers online. Or rather, they found me. Now, it doesn’t have to be super-complicated. A lot can be done with a WordPress blog (like this one). One key is to keep updating (whihc blogs make it easy to do). Keep letting people know all of the cool stuff you are out there doing. Er, in there, in the shop.

Machine Shop Shop Tips

Some Good Tips on Using a Surface Grinder… and Zig Zag Papers

While a lot can be learned in machining from studying books, I have always found that one of the best resources is older machinists. They can explain a lot quicker how to get something done than you can read about a technique and try to figure out what the author was trying to say. They will also probably sprinkle in some insults about your dubious intelligence, which are good to save for later use. With that in mind, here is a good video primer on using a surface grinder to square a block, done by Don Bailey, owner of Suburban Tool in Auburn Hills, MI (near my hometown!).

Don sure does seem to know a lot about Zig Zags…. he doesn’t really LOOK like your typical Zig Zag user, though. But his advice to roll your doobs tight… no wait, I mean, to use cigarette paper as a good .001 shim on your surface grinder is good advice. Paper is very slightly squishy (there isn’t much to compress, obviously, but it will compress just slightly, especially when wet), so it can give you that “just enough” amount of shim on a surface grinder project.

Don also points out to go no more than .0005 on a surface grinder. Go too heavy, and you’ll load up the wheel too much, burn your material, break the wheel or at the least make it break down quickly, giving a bad, uneven surface finish, which is pretty much the opposite of what you want when using a surface grinder! Now, that advice is for your typical small surface grinder– larger ones no doubt can take much heavier cuts, as they are designed for that.