"One Perfect Part at a Time"


“I’ll Buy That!”

I just had a minor epiphany thanks to a comment in an email from my friend Ed. He said, “…I focus on my project and not on the tools unless they impact the project.” What a profound statement. I have been preaching that concept since day one on my web sites.

I often get asked, “What machine should I buy to get started in the hobby.” My stock reply has always been, “First decide what you want to build.” “Second, how much can you spend?”

Ed is an outstanding builder of small scale live steam locomotives and has a wonderfully equipped home machine shop, all top notch machines and tools. His comment hit me so true I could hear the angles singing. Well, almost.

I have read most of Kozo’s books and have seen photos of his modest workshop. He shows his shop in at least the A3 book and several others. I know THAT master builder has a very modest workshop.

Wonderful works are not judged by the machines used to create them. It is the skill of the operator that makes it art, not the chisel and hammer. Are the workshop and tools of Michelangelo famous and on display? No, just what was produced by their use. It is the work that is remembered, not the tools in the shop.

Yes, yes, someday there may be a special on TV about the tools of Michelangelo because some people will be interested, but it is not the tools that have made him and his work immortal.

We all have to decide for ourselves, what is my hobby? Is it making miniature live steam locomotives or owning fabulous machine tools? Neither answer is wrong. Doing both is fine if there is the space and the money. But if my primary… Continue reading

Whaaat! The A3?

Yeah, OK. It’s been awhile. Almost three years! Don’t look too close, There is a enough grime on those parts to confirm the passing years. I have a little write-up in the works about the re-start. Yep, I am planning that. A lot has been going on and I’ll make a few excuses.

The photo’s here are just to make me feel committed. Stay tuned…

A Change at THMStore

The change is THMS is going to manufacturer many of the products it sells. The Hobbyist’s Machine Shop will be refined and improved as necessary into a higher volume work shop in order to enable production runs of some finely crafted products we have long considered making. These products will then be offered for sale through our e-commerce store or perhaps regional sales representatives.

The Hobbyist Machine Store (THMS) is an Internet e-business. The initial mission statement of the business was to provide replacement steel gears for the popular Asian made mini lathe and mini mills. THMS next expanded its mission statement to include supplying small machine tools, accessories and powered hand tools to any hobbyist constructing precision projects in their personal workshops. THMS does not cater to just the machinist hobby, but to any kind of hobbyist who requires small high quality machine tools for their workshops.

The original plan put THMS into limited competition with other Internet and catalog based small tool providers. I have stated on these pages, it is not the intention of THMS to be yet another supplier of lookalike goods. We never intend to become a large discount supplier of common brand tools and machines, just competing on price.

I have been considering making this THMS mission statement “adjustment” for more than a year. I can’t call it a change of mission as this direction has always been a part of my long range strategy. A change in emphasis may be a better description. The emphasis to produce and market my own products.

THM Store will continue to offer, as long as there are orders, the high quality products that are not readily available through other channels. One example is the excellent Proxxon PD400 metric mini lathe and accessories, imported from Germany. We will… Continue reading

New Publication Format

I am nurturing an idea for a “future state” THMS web publication. The literal big picture is video. I believe Internet bandwidth and present day hardware are fully capable of exploiting this content delivery method. Example: My last post contains video.

Since the beginning of the World Wide Web, but more so as it became commercial, the medium has been handicapped by the belief (and a self standard) we could not abandon the old obsolete tools and practices of the past. Some websites today are still being constructed to accommodate text only browsers. I am not trying to be a techno snob but, TEXT ONLY BROWSERS!! Give me a break.

The Amish value the “simple” life, so the horse and buggy make perfect sense. But just like the horse, text only browsing is not in my view a mission of the modern highway called the Internet. Yes, it can be accommodated over on the berm*, but it is truly out of place. (*Chiefly Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. the bank of a canal or the shoulder of a road.)

I am designing my future messages using the visual method of quality video presentation as well as continue my present standard of high quality photography. The video and new photo story pages will be in a new format section linked to the present THMS website. The present “frames” site and this blog will continue unchanged.

Blogs are the hot delivery medium, and I already have three. I decided not use the blog format for my new design. I won’t be looking for easy feedback, as blogs attract a huge assortment of low life and spammers because of that feature. I presently reject 99.9% of entered comments because of off topic abuse. In my… Continue reading

What will it cost to make this for me?

I receive requests from designers and people with ideas asking if I can make something for them. Most of the time I say no, because I have enough projects of my own on which I would like to be working. There are also some designs that are beyond my means, usually because it is too large or requires special tooling and materials. (I wish I could charge the designer for the new tools!!)  Some if not most of the designs also suffer from knowledge of how things are made on machine tools. The sketches and drawings show holes where they can’t be drilled or unnecessary and difficult areas requiring multiple setups.

These requests show that there is a need for prototyping services and these inventors and idea people have problems turning their ideas into products.

But prototyping is not as simple as sending out an unproven design for bids. (Yes, I know it is done.) But I am talking about solicitations from hobbyist and small time inventors who have never worked with a prototype or even in a machine shop. A good design is one that can also be made as inexpensively as possible on standard machines and tooling. That seldom happens on the version #1.

What I am saying is the folks who approach me don’t realize their design may need a lot of cooperation (face time) between the designer and the maker. Of course I am not talking about a bar of aluminum with two holes drilled into it. The designer can do that himself. I see the hard stuff, like machining threads on a very thin tube and the tube is thinner than the thread depth. (Yes, I have seen this.)

Outsourcing prototyping is not inexpensive. Building a prototype may cost 100 to 1000 times what… Continue reading

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