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What I Lack In Experience...

I can't claim to be very skilled or very knowledgeable, but ever since I was a kid I knew that I was born to be a machinist. More recently, I have had the good fortune to use a 9” swing South Bend lathe at work and also a beautiful autofeeding drill press with a back gear and a monstrous Jacobs chuck. The joy I get from using these machines is so cathartic and soothing. I have done and am happy to do work on these machines all day long. Probably the only thing I enjoy more is stick welding. I really hope to get a job in the future where I can learn to use a mill really well and also more lathe experience. The smell of hot cutting oil makes me smile every time. It is the smell of my contentment.

EDIT (12/25/12): I wrote that almost two years ago. Since then I've started a new job and gained a LOT of hands on experience with machine tools. I am now pretty well versed in manual lathe (chinese Grizzly), Bridgeport mill, and also Haas CNC lathe and mill. I taught myself G-code from the Haas manuals in between changing out part blanks on the lathe and now I can write full programs for the lathe and the mill. I love it. The precision of those CNC machines is really impressive. Also the surface finish we get using indexable carbide tools is just awesome. Machine heaven.
TIMeNIHIL TIMeNIHIL 22-25, M 5 Responses Feb 14, 2011

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I haven't ever used haas machines. I use mainly daewoo's, doosan's, and ycm's. the control on all of those are basically the same at they utilize fanuc NC controls. Carbide tooling is a must, and there is no beating sandvik when it comes to rigidity and strength. I work in a production machine shop in canada and we have 14 cnc machines, 11 mills and 3 lathes. I still have trouble understanding the codes, I haven't work in this industry for that long.

wow, that sucked, I typed like 2 paragraphs and saw i wasn't logged in. oh well.

Sound like you've accomplished a lot in the last couple of years and are going about it the right way and I don't mean to rain on your parade but you probably did get yourself fully versed for the work environment you're in right now but think about it, have you used the followrest, steadyrest, taper attachment and tracer? Singlepointed multileads manually? Done linepipe and API-spec tooljoint? Done BX face seal and Polypak internal ID detail work? Used live tooling on non-metals like composites and ablatives? It gets humbling real quick, I laugh when a person says they're a "Master Machinist" ... There is no such thing and no standardized criteria for establishing anyone as such. Like anything else, even the best in the world are still learning. Congrats on your accomplishments, it sounds like you're on the fast track. Someone once said: "Success in where preperation meets opportunity"

i can say i know how to do only what i have already done. i learned how to do a few of the operations you mentioned in school, but i haven't had the opportunity to actually use those techniques at work yet. i would never be so bold as to call myself a master machinist. right now a more accurate job description for me would be 'part fabrication,' not even machinist. i also went back (humbly) and changed "fully versed" to "pretty well versed."

I've been a machinist for 36 years. Get the book published by South Bend called:
"How to run a lathe" You will learn a tremendous amount from it. Also read the Bridgeport Mill Operator's Manual so you learn the right way to run the machine, the way the manufacturer says to.

my shop teacher gave us the old filmstrip version of "how to run a lathe," and i downloaded the bridgeport manual a few months ago. great resources, great advice, thanks!

I been a machinist for 34 years and I want tell you never smell that burning oil it will kill you. Get water soluble oil. Join the navy they will teach you very will. I started in us army and that work for me.