"One Perfect Part at a Time"

quality products

Progress Peek

I am spending a lot on mental energy and linear time developing what will be a really cool controller for the Taig Micro-mill. I want it to be a solid option for my customers who buy a Taig CNC ready mill from me and want a complete system. Read “Sneak Peek” previously.

I don’t plan to make a nickel on this controller. I can personally build an even better one if I wanted to but there is no need for a “better” one. The new one is top notch. I also do not want to be in the business of supporting electronic devices I built myself (as a manufacturer). My own homebuilt controllers have been wonderful but I do not desire to sell and support them.

What it comes down to is where do I want to be spending most of my time, building controllers or making jewelry with my excellent performing mill?

What I want to do is use my tools. The controller just becomes a transparent device that hides in the shadows and gets the job done. I don’t want to keep fooling with it. It’s just a reliable tool I don’t need to constantly upgrade and maintain. I may “tweak” a setting in MACH 3 once in awhile but I don’t want to go in under the lid into the hardware.

I am nearly there. The refining process is fun but I do not want the development period to last forever. I know when to freeze a design. I really want to get back to using my time and my machine for creative work.

I have two Taig machines so I will eventually have the new one available for local sale. I am not looking forward to trying to repack the mill for… Continue reading

Looking Ahead 2012

I offer a little machine shop rambling today. It’s getting close to the end of another year so I have been taking stock of what I have accomplished this year and what I need to be thinking about for the next year.

One big item is my operation of the “The Hobbyist Machine Store” website store. I already have written that I dropped one of the “me too” product lines. The store is too small to be a good income producing venture. I would have to say it financially compares to being slightly better than leaving my money investment in a low producing CD or savings account. However, the investment of time is nowhere near justified by that financial return. It certainly does not produce what I term a living income.

I began the THMS business because I wanted to establish a reputation for the store and myself. The next big driver for starting this small business was and still is my access to the mini-mill and lathe steel replacement gears. That product will definitely continue for the foreseeable future as long as the supply is available.

Future products will be single source or self manufactured. I will move away from only hobbyist machine tools. I am working on some saleable product ideas I can personally produce with small machine tools. I.E, products manufactured within a small machine shop. The store will be the outlet for those products rather than offering the machine tools themselves.

One consideration rejected was to bring back the model locomotive wheels I produced by CNC machining. Unfortunately rejected because it is an extremely narrow market niche. I have decided I am not going to invest effort (mass produce) extremely specialized, speculative products. I made the wheels for myself so it was not… Continue reading

Proxxon Removed From THMStore

I shut down the Proxxon product line in my eCommerce site, The Hobbyist Machine Store, (THMS). It is just the best business decision I can make under the circumstances

Nothing wrong with the product. The PD400 lathe and all the other Proxxon products are just wonderful machines. The biggest problem is it is what I call a “Me Too” product line. I am not the only store offering the product. The only thing I have to offer is a reduced price from MSRP and actually try to meet or beat the “street price” of other vendors.It’s a premium product and perhaps the economy has stopped the sales.

Any marketing I would do is a benefit to all my competitors who may offer a slightly lower price. That is how the Internet works. Decide what you want and search for the lowest price. All marketing effort and cost must therefore be carried by the distributor. There is not enough profit for a small dealer after discounting the price, to contribute to any dealer funded marketing plan or budget on his own.

This is no surprise to me and I don’t feel badly about how the business works. I knew this going in and even talk about not wanting to offer “Me Too” products in the store site. So this never was a sound business decision. Since the THMS doesn’t (yet) put groceries on the table, I wanted to see if the US hobby market was ready for a quality lathe – the PD400, and see if I could make sufficient profit selling them. The other Proxxon products came in just because they are good products.

I haven’t completed a PD400 order since early in the year but have quoted more than half a dozen. Either the purchase was not made… Continue reading

It Blows My Mind

Well maybe not my mind but just about everything else in the shop. The Texas heat spell got to me and I finally splurged for a new fan. I had a cheap house type fan for many years (plastic construction). You may see it in some old shop photos. It gave up at the end of the last heat season. This new fan is all metal and much more powerful. Note the description (in the store link) of the fan clearly states “High Velocity”.

I purchased it from Northern Tool and Supply for $89.99. With Texas tax the total was $97.41. I had it shipped to the local store for free (they didn’t stock them)  so for less than $100 it is a good deal in my opinion. Here is a link for everything you might want to know about this fan: FAN LINK

A workshop minded coworker (at my real job) and I discussed the merits of high velocity fan size for garage size shops. We were first attracted to the 30 inch fans but when I did the math (the engineer in both of us) of how much air at 8000 CFM those fans could be moving, the small 2 car garage would have served as a wind tunnel flight testing facility. 20x30x10/8000 = 0.75, a complete shop air change every 45 seconds!  The purchased 20 inch fan is still able to deliver nearly 6000 CFM on high speed. My testing so far shows the lowest setting very adequate in my shop.

There is no escape from air noise when moving that much CFM with a small fan at high velocity. So yes, there is some fan noise with this fan. It goes with the work and is definitely a function of velocity.… Continue reading

Where is it made?

I received an email from a person who had been viewing my ecommerce web site. He asked me where (what country) a certain product I sell was made. The product is sold from Germany but the first thing I replied was, “with today’s world economy, he should have asked where the product was assembled.”

I didn’t know the answer so I gave this person the toll free number of the distributor in the USA and also the email for the same. I also made a remark (maybe unfairly, sorry) that it is far easier to dial a free number and ask, than to read three mindless guys posting pure speculation in a forum like somehow the answer was a secret and none of them had a telephone.

At least my guy wrote to me (a dealer) to ask. I wasn’t chiding him. It’s OK to ask the horse for the answer and hear it directly from its mouth… Ha!

That is as far as my response went, but it did set me off to thinking. Asking where (what country) something is made is a fair question. It is interesting information. I use that kind of information to influence or create an image of quality or sometimes lack of quality. It’s a common marketing ploy.

Today it is more smoke and mirrors than helpful decision making information. Leaving politics out, we are truly in a world economy. Many things are much better made and lower cost because of this fact. Even the American (Made in the USA) slogan where some people here in the USA demand 100% USA parts, seldom get it. The bauxite used to make the aluminum I machined on my Asian lathe to create the Made in Texas, USA component might have been imported from Canada.  Yeah,… Continue reading

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