What's new
What's new

How to start a business? Machine first or connection first?


Aug 17, 2007
North Fork Idaho
"I can think of a number of parts/devices that I could sell on eBay shooting for 30 to $60 an hour."

Shoot for 120+, there will be times when everything goes wrong and you will be 30 anyhow


Oct 10, 2009
WRT pricing products I factor the cost of machine time for milling and turning at $100/hr. I don't consider all the labor that goes into a part like the time to pack and ship or the cost of the toner cartridges to print the instructions, etc. But I do make sure that every minute of machine time with a reasonable fudge factor is accounted for in the cost to make the parts. I also don't price my parts based off cost to make them. I just make sure that cost is covered by a large margin.

Occasionally, some products don't follow the rules because they are high volume or they are made from a rem during the making of another part. For example I have parts made from 1-1.5" sawed plate 6061 and 7075. The parts have organic shapes so there are lots of off cuts. I like to utilize those rems by doing a first op while that plate is clamped in a VMC. Then all those 1st op parts are run through a second vise op to make some dumb simple part that may not be that profitable, but moreso than selling the rem for 55 cents/lb


Jul 23, 2015
At the risk of sounding philosophical and all, I'll put out one opinion:

If you are thinking about starting your OWN business, you are contemplating stepping into one of the trickiest disciplines out there for making a living: Being an Entrepreneur. I would argue (carefully) that comes before machining skills, because it's the umbrella under which everything else falls.

Entrepreneurs are super-self motivated, take the initiative, and all of that combined with an innate ability to do so reasonably well or accurately. Anyone can suddenly jump up and "take the initiative" and go do something. That's no guarantee they do it successfully enough times it matters, that they had a rational approach to making the decision, etc.

On topic: IMO you want to start doing the Entrepreneurial footwork and start researching/evaluating what you are considering. That covers a lot of bases, but some of the first ones that come to mind are things like: What's the market? What are you going to manufacture, auto parts, low tolerance work, high-volume production vs custom short runs, die-cast & molding tools, custom gun parts, etc.? What manufacturers or suppliers (potential customers) are in the state you will be operating in? What potential budget do you have in mind? What are building/space/machine costs going to be, including tooling and measurement?

Start laying all that out in a Word Document, or Excel, or Powerpoint, whatever. That's your brainstorming knowledge-base. Incorporate advice from those more experienced, such as those here in this forum. There are decades, if not hundreds of years (combined) knowledge to be found on these forums. Consider what you are hearing, decide on what seems relevant.

Don't discount the idea of "measure twice, cut once" if you are thinking of stepping up to be self-employed or an employer. And you have to cover ALL the bases on that, not just the more obvious target of making stuff to sell to a customer.

Anyway, pretty general, thanks for the patience in reading this. Should you go for it, I wish you all the success to be had.

Take care.
Last edited:


Jul 31, 2004
Southeast Michigan
What do you make an hour? What do you need to make an hour? Now multiply by 3. One of those thirds goes to the business, one goes to you, one goes to the gov't.

If your business can't support your wage x3, you are going to have a hard time building a business around it. Costs are in addition.