"One Perfect Part at a Time"


A Learning Experience

LesLearnI struggled for some time getting the vacuum assisted lost wax casting system to perform properly. I thought it was mostly my fault and I almost believed the technique was beyond my ability. I was considering jumping over to the centripetal casting system. I decided I needed to keep trying as I knew the equipment I had was working perfectly and the only weakness was myself. It has turned out that the vacuum process is not beyond my skill and ability, but was something I just needed to practice to develop the proper skill.

Now my vacuum assisted casting is going very smoothly and I am not in the least intimidated by the process. There is a lesson to be learned here which is to pay close attention to what is going wrong. My lesson was to have faith in myself and work past the early failures.

I didn’t just find out about this little secret of success called “keep trying”. I have practiced it all my life. It is the very reason I am now confident with vacuum assist. Quitters are never successful people as they find failure as something to fear and don’t want to risk appearing weak or unable to perform, even to themselves. The usual “out” is to blame the equipment.

It’s not the equipment.

I have discovered I can learn from my mistakes when I accept the responsibility. If you have been reading my blogs for any length of time you have seen when I admit getting something wrong. I usually call it “a learning experience” and will describe what went wrong. I believe learning experiences should be shared so that someone else doesn’t have to make the same error to receive the lesson.

In my major occupation where I ran multimillion dollar projects, we… Continue reading

Take Your Best Shot

Taig Derringer (NOT!)There is a HUGE amount of BS on the internet forums about proper size CNC hobbyist machines. Internet opinion forums and blogs, because they are unregulated, have become impossible for a newbie to determine fact from reading someone’s personal agenda. Don’t trust anything you read including what I have to say. Just take what you read for what it may be worth to you.

Every brand, design, size and cost of a machine has it reasons. Unfortunately, what amounts to urban legend has driven the uninformed hobbyist to believe there is always better quality available for a lower cost; the best for the less. This is while some bloggers preach that only bigger is better.

There are products designed primarily for a low cost reason. There are products that are produced primarily for a quality reason. Then there are products produced that look at both those factors and are made and sized to do a particular job and do it without failure with the correct level of quality.

Many hobbyists are restrained by budget. Therein lays the problem. There are poorly designed machines sold at very low hobbyist prices because it is a well defined market with newbie’s that have limited money to spend.  I have written about it for many years. Some hobbyist choose price over quality and undersize the machine capabilities (because of price) for the purpose (work) they want the machine to perform.

First step is to clearly understand your intentions of use.

I personally own several sizes of hobby grade machines. They are excellent for my purpose and how I use them. I know their limitations and don’t kid myself into thinking those limitations don’t exist.

I have (and sell) Taig machine tools. I have many-many hundreds of hours of operation on my Taig CNC milling… Continue reading

Model Engine Builder

Model Engine BuilderI have always looked forward to getting my copy of M.E.B. I just received notice Issue #28 is “Finished and Ready for Download” which is a new term due to digital publishing.

If you want to build model engines this is the publication to get. There is also a free Newsletter:

“Sign up today for our free newsletter at www.modelenginebuilder.com. The sign-up form is on the right of the page. This newsletter contains some articles from the magazine but more information about other relevant issues like taking good pictures of models, etc. There are six newsletters ready for download and the seventh is just about ready for posting.”

Go check out their website listed above or click on the logo and start your subscription today.

Resting on an Obsession

I got myself into a binge improving my websites. I have to admit that web publishing and doing it well has become a personal obsession as big as working in my shop on “hardware” projects.

I suspect that creative work is never finished as almost any design engineer, graphic artist or programmer will admit they usually come to a stopping point rather than a finish. There is always that one more little tweak that can be added. At least I find that is true for me. What it becomes is a point of diminishing return and a decision is made that the mission (project) has been accomplished. There is no obsession to keep going.

I think I am at that stopping point in updating my blogs and website displays. Well, maybe it is more of a resting point. I am satisfied with design at the moment. I hope that for my sake it is a rather long rest. Ha! Now I can just need to train myself to just add content material and stop playing with design of the box.


There is an aura of obsessive perfection about a machine shop and the people who enjoy machining. It stems from the general knowledge we work in the realm of one thousandths of an inch (or 0.0254mm). Not so well known is we sometimes get into one ten-thousandths of an inch, thankfully not often.

Some machinists, especially the newer untrained hobbyist types have an overwhelming creative desire or obsession for dimensional (± 0.000) precision. That is not the meaning of my THMS slogan, “One Perfect Part at a Time”.

I know there are times to be critical of exact dimension but that most of the time there is an important thing called tolerance. Good design includes and specifies tolerance.… Continue reading

The Monster That Ate My Machine Shop

New THMS front page sneak peek

Sneak Peek

“What have I done? What have I created? It’s too late now. It lives, it is ALIVE!

Uh, well it’s just an update to “The Hobbyist Machine Shop” website. It is just starting to take on a life of its own. I was expecting it would.

I am moving the old pure HTML website into a PHP coded, MySQL database assisted, Content Management System (CMS). I documented my intention and provided more information in a previous post.

As of this post I have the new monster breathing and it can be viewed live at http://thehobbyistmachineshop.com/cms/.

It’s not ready for prime time with only about 8 hours work on it so far. When ready, I will change the link and the new site will just open without needing the “cms” directory pinned on the end of the URL.

I already like the better file management the CMS provides. The present (old) site is a monster of its own far worse than the new one as to how all the pieces are stuck together. I was going to let the old monster live and just start using the new beast for current events. That creates a lot of look and feel differences. So I am pretty resolved in letting the new site devour the old until the old can just go away.

That’s no easy task. There are hundreds of directories and many thousands of files. I have found a way to copy and paste and transfer whole directories of files and pictures. But that means I have to re-link every picture in an article to its new location. I could leave the photos where they are and the links will work just fine. Then the photo files live outside the expected structure of the… Continue reading

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