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Advice for the greenest student imaginable

Atoadaso

Plastic
Joined
Mar 17, 2022
Hi all,

If this is in the wrong place, please move it. Thanks.

31 y/o disabled man here, and I refuse to spend my life on disability.

Spent the last 4 years working in the mental health and substance abuse field in numerous capacities, most recently as a Peer Support Specialist. Absolutely burned myself out to the point of a near mental breakdown. I started off very, very good at what I did. By the end I didn't care about anyone or anything. The job had drained and sapped me of every drop of compassion and empathy I had. I'm out now, and I'm staying out.

I am very interested in machining. I watch machining videos in my leisure time, admittedly. I find it fascinating. Only problem: I am GREEN GREEN GREEN. Growing up, academics were stressed and hands on things were absent. I tried a welding class some years ago. My welds looked like they were done by a stupid monkey. Took an intro to machining class back in like, 2015. Had no idea what I was doing and kept screwing things up. The textbook might as well have been written in Japanese.

I am greener than the average green student. My classmates grew up doing shop stuff. I grew up nose deep in textbooks.

What advice do you have for someone like me? Someone who, despite these challenges, wants to carve out a stable, sustainable career? "Academic" careers that interest me are few and far between. Most of the degrees I would get wouldn't lead to a job. I'm basically exploring if machining is an option, and hanging around this forum to see cool machining stuff and learn.

Thanks!
 

Rudd

Stainless
Joined
Jul 30, 2003
Location
savannah, jaw-ja
If you intend on going into either welding or machining, you are going to need some sand. I.e., you can't make one effort, screw it up, and decide to move on. I've been doing this a while, and I still make mistakes. I try to learn where I went wrong, then re-do if needed and get it right.
 

technocrat

Cast Iron
Joined
Feb 9, 2009
Location
Oz
Machining is complex and learning complex things requires that you can accept and apply feedback in order to improve. All fields have their own vocabulary, so learning the terms and what they mean is a big part of entering any new field. Without the right terms, you will have difficultly learning and some may have difficulty teaching you. Hanging out an learning is very important as is deciding which part of the field you want to enter.

It sounds like with purpose and passion, you will be able to find your niche but it may take a while. With the right attitude, being green can be a big advantage but you have to find the right teacher and work environment.

I wish you all the best, but seriously what has changed since 2015? Why will it be different?
 

GregSY

Diamond
Joined
Jan 1, 2005
Location
Houston
If I were you....I'd consider the office side of machining. As in, the CNC programming side. It's a lot cleaner and you still get to go out in the shop enough that you can see the results of your work become real.
 

CalG

Diamond
Joined
Dec 30, 2008
Location
Vt USA
Drop the green thing. Have you followed the production of steel, aluminum etc.

You can be a NIMBY, but you will never change reality.
 

Atoadaso

Plastic
Joined
Mar 17, 2022
Machining is complex and learning complex things requires that you can accept and apply feedback in order to improve. All fields have their own vocabulary, so learning the terms and what they mean is a big part of entering any new field. Without the right terms, you will have difficultly learning and some may have difficulty teaching you. Hanging out an learning is very important as is deciding which part of the field you want to enter.

It sounds like with purpose and passion, you will be able to find your niche but it may take a while. With the right attitude, being green can be a big advantage but you have to find the right teacher and work environment.

I wish you all the best, but seriously what has changed since 2015? Why will it be different?

I'm definitely more focused than in 2015. My recent career in public service has taught me focus. 2015 I was battling some serious alcoholism, so staying on top of my studies wasn't a top priority. Now, I'm not having those issues. Sober as a horse and ready to get down to business.
 

Atoadaso

Plastic
Joined
Mar 17, 2022
If I were you....I'd consider the office side of machining. As in, the CNC programming side. It's a lot cleaner and you still get to go out in the shop enough that you can see the results of your work become real.

Yes, that stuff is so cool!!! I literally watched a two hour video series on programming. Really cool stuff.
 

johnoder

Diamond
Joined
Jul 16, 2004
Location
Houston, TX USA
Going in with this that is an absolute

You will have to make the big shift from mostly interfacing with PEOPLE to interfacing MOSTLY with technology and the related concepts and hardware

Absolutely no one will be interested in a chatterbox

Need an example? - you will have your "look see" simply by digesting some of the great individual posts on this forum - solely the product of one mind - totally without a spoken word
 

Joe Gwinn

Stainless
Joined
Nov 22, 2009
Location
Boston, MA area
I am very interested in machining. I watch machining videos in my leisure time, admittedly. I find it fascinating. Only problem: I am GREEN GREEN GREEN. Growing up, academics were stressed and hands on things were absent. I tried a welding class some years ago. My welds looked like they were done by a stupid monkey. Took an intro to machining class back in like, 2015. Had no idea what I was doing and kept screwing things up. The textbook might as well have been written in Japanese.

What advice do you have for someone like me? Someone who, despite these challenges, wants to carve out a stable, sustainable career? "Academic" careers that interest me are few and far between. Most of the degrees I would get wouldn't lead to a job. I'm basically exploring if machining is an option, and hanging around this forum to see cool machining stuff and learn.

Actually, books are a very good place to start, as there is a lot of knowledge to be transferred, and books are quite good at this. Start with a number of the older standard textbooks for teaching people how to do the various kinds of metalworking, starting with hand tools, and working on up. These books are not at all academic, and are very practical.

If there are courses available in your area, this is also a very good idea.

With the machines, pay close attention to the various safety issues - the typical sizes of machines that one stands to operate are perfectly capable of maiming or killing the unwary and inattentive.

When I was learning (by just this process), I protected myself carefully and my machines some, threw out lots of failures and broken tools, and carried on.

 

gbent

Diamond
Joined
Mar 14, 2005
Location
Kansas
Your disability will affect what aspects of machining you are capable of doing and what areas you will find very difficult. There are literally tons of machining publications from 1900 to 1950 that were produced for various trade schools and apprentice programs. They can be easily found on 'bay and other used book sites. For just a few dollars you can get some very good starter books. Find some hand work projects in one of the books and complete them. Strive for completion, not perfection. Use that as indication if machining is a road you wish to travel.
 

dalmatiangirl61

Diamond
Joined
Jan 31, 2011
Location
BFE Nevada/San Marcos Tx
You mentioned being disabled, machining can be a physically demanding job, whether its standing all day watching a machine, or lifting heavy pieces. There are some niche areas that still qualify as machining, such as gunsmithing, watchmaking and micro machining, so the question must be asked, what do you want to do. My fun today was getting the forklift running after sitting all winter, I need it for things too heavy for me to lift, get the point.
 

eKretz

Diamond; Mod Squad
Joined
Mar 27, 2005
Location
Northwest Indiana, USA
Yeah same for me. Bad back, couple surgeries that didn't help much. I can only do a few hours worth of any useful work a day, some days not even that. And I mostly keep to smaller stuff unless I have someone or something to do the lifting for me. How you are disabled will determine if you are of any use to a shop. I work part time a few days a week in a buddy's shop but only teaching/training/supervising the guys there and only a few hours a day. I only got the job because he knows me and my skill level. Everywhere else turned me away as soon as they heard "back issues."

I am setting up my own shop in the garage and will start doing small repairs and possibly making a few things to sell or such. It's a lot easier for me to do things on my own schedule and work around the times when I don't feel good.
 

GregSY

Diamond
Joined
Jan 1, 2005
Location
Houston
That's why I suggest CNC programming....I assume the disability is not gonna work well with actual machining. Machining is tough on much of the body, for many years.
 

Ries

Diamond
Joined
Mar 15, 2004
Location
Edison Washington USA
Washington State has excellent 2 year AA degree programs in welding, manufacturing technology, and similar metalworking trades. They are cheap, have great instructors and modern equipment, and really good job placement histories.
I personally have hired lots of grads from Bellingham Technical College, and the welding program at Skagit Valley College. I also have hired from the Automotive tech and Industrial Design departments at Western.
The welding kids have tig, mig, stick and gas experience, all current certs, and get hired right from graduation again and again.

My advice is, go to school.
 

memphisjed

Stainless
Joined
Jan 21, 2019
Location
Memphis
Mental health time for mig time sounds almost like a good business. Travel the country and get to learn from different people in need.

There was a girl maybe 2’ tall that has an astonishing amount of metal knowledge. I watched her climb up on drill press tables to use them. She had a way with kids teaching enameling and basic silversmithing. Have not seen her in years- point is handicap is not a show stopper.
There is a welder in our shop named hook- never right, always left (one arm is a hook).

Making stuff is primal human Satisfaction. Penland, arrowmont, Appalachian center for crafts, touchstone, and the list goes on have week long to a few months long classes in craft (industrial arts if you like a more manly discription). None that I know teach machining- but teach making. A sculpture class is going to be cutting and welding. You make a few bad welds on scrap then have to clean out a few bad welds on a part you cut makes you better.
 

crossthread

Titanium
Joined
Aug 5, 2004
Location
Richmond,VA,USA
Atoadaso.....please,please, please don't take what I am going to say the wrong way. It sounds like you don't have a lot of mechanical aptitude or experience. I am not saying you can't gain experience but it takes years. Just because something is "cool" doesn't necessarily make it right for you. I love machining and I would never steer someone away from it unless I thought there was a good reason. There is absolutely no reason why you couldn't realize your dreams of machining as a hobbyist. I can't begin to tell you all of the skills that are needed to make a living as a machinist. It is a field that draws on all your senses. Touch, sound, sight of course, manual dexterity even smell. A lot of those skills are learned from an early age on. Some can never be learned and you are just born with certain abilities or you aren't. If this is something you want to pursue then I truly wish you the best of luck.
 

IninefingersI

Aluminum
Joined
Mar 9, 2022
Location
Doo Dah, Kansas
I'll be the first to admit, that I'm probably less experienced than 90% of the people on here, but I'll chime in. Most of my career was spent in Engineering, and I kind of fell into this by circumstance.

This is what I've learned. There are 3 skills that I would consider indispensable.

1) Problem solving. The machine shop is the gateway between dreamland and the real world. In the real world, there will always be things that go wrong. The trick is to fix as many problems as you can before they happen, and quickly identify and correct them when they do.

2) Attention to detail. A lot of people say they can pay attention to detail, but they don't understand the level of detail a machine shop requires. Most people can't really comprehend how small the numbers are that a machine shop deals with every day. A lot of engineers that put those numbers on drawings don't even comprehend them. If you think something is prefect, you just aren't looking small enough.

3) I don't remember this one, but it is really important.

Good luck.
 








 
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