What's new
What's new

Shop in Garage

John01.

Plastic
Joined
Jun 16, 2024
Location
PA
Parent here. My son (20) has been working at a shop for a while, saving money while still at home, and wants to put a machine in the garage and start a shop. I told him to do the research on the costs of getting started and making a profit and I'd get electric in the garage. Just to double check what he comes up with, what are some of the basic things one should do/need to start a shop in a garage? Don't want to see him get a machine and such and him being unable to make back what he puts in, so looking for any help regarding the situation.

Thank you.
 
Not nearly enough information except for some generic machine in some generic garage.

A 2 car garage in a tight neighborhood with an HOA will have a very different answer than a guy in a corn field in Iowa. "Machine" is also wayyyy too vague. Is this to self-manufacture products you guys have in mind? Or do you want to do job shop work for others? Again, the location will drive this. Can you legally run a business out of your house?

Then there is the question of what will your business have? If the plan is to buy a couple of manual machines, hang out a shingle and "wE mAk3 paRtz", you'd better have a local repair industry in mind. People using second hand CNC machines and working for what amounts to minimum wage are trying that formula. What will your manual machines offer that a CNC shop down the road can't do in half the time?

I'm not trying to dismiss the idea. You might be in a particular area, with a particular overflow of customers, that none of us know about. Those are just some points to consider.
 
Missing a lot of details.

Is he a trained machinist? At 20 years old he still has a lot to learn.
What kind of machine is he going to put in the garage, an old manual lathe or a 5 axis CNC?
What is he going to make in this shop?
Does he have all the measuring equipment to check the parts?

So without knowing what level of experience he has and what he is going to make, your questions are difficult to answer.

A final thing to consider, many cities don't like a business to be in a residential garage and code enforcement can be a big nightmare. A friend of mine got caught with the garage door open and the city seeing a garage full of CNC machines. He had to remove all the machines and wait a few weeks while the back of the garage was extended. A wall was put up so with the garage door open, nothing could be seen.
 
Last edited:
Parent here. My son (20) has been working at a shop for a while, saving money while still at home, and wants to put a machine in the garage and start a shop. I told him to do the research on the costs of getting started and making a profit and I'd get electric in the garage. Just to double check what he comes up with, what are some of the basic things one should do/need to start a shop in a garage? Don't want to see him get a machine and such and him being unable to make back what he puts in, so looking for any help regarding the situation.

Thank you.
"get a machine and such and him being unable to make back what he puts in"
Won't know until he has the machine(s). At least it's not like a guitar or other musical instruments...generally a lathe or mill is too big to gather dust under a bed.
Seriously---provide guidance and support and see where your son takes it.
Always thought this was a sweet set-up....
 
For sure consult the city ordinances first ......I f ya gonna break the law ,know what laws ya beakin ,and what it might cost...........guy down the back of me got pinged by the city council ,he's going on about "Penalty Points" ......he thinks they are some kind of kiddy sticker emoji ..........Noooo.....each 'penalty point ' specified is a monetary penalty ,currently a penalty point is around $300............so if an offence is 10 penalty points ,means you are up for a $3000 fine.
 
Sorry for the vaugness, I don't personally know much on the subject. My son said he wanted to get a robodrill and he wants to make custom knives and make whatever else while making his own knives.

Not sure if it helps clear anything up, but thank you to those who have responded already. Want to support him seeing as he's wanting to do things unlike most his age, but also dont want him to get over his head.
 
Well, I'm 20 years ahead of you. My son wanted the same thing just after high school, so i bought him a used CNC mill. Then a used CNC lathe. He never made much $ with it as he was just too young to have the business acumen. BUT he did learn a lot and wasn't becoming a druggy like some of his friends.

It was a good decision in hind sight.

My advice, just keep it on the down low as a hobby for now.

BTW, after working 20 years in industry, he started his own machine shop. It is going well for him.
 
Okay, happy father's day. This guy has a whole channel and a bunch of videos. This is a very specific video you should watch. It's about his personal history of how he got into business. It began with wanting a Haas Mini Mill in his parents garage and wanting to make mountain bike parts. He tells the whole story of how it evolved to the current business of making machine tool work holding. Sometimes where he starts might not be where he ends up.


Then there is this guy who happens to make knives. I won't pretend to know the market. I won't pretend he's not making a portion of his income from YouTube. I am going to say that this guy is also damned smart (like Jay Pierson above). He would not have gotten this far if he weren't a smart guy.


My personal opinion: there are a lot worse ways to spend and 'lose' $25-250K getting a worthless degree these days. If he wants to pick up a used Robodrill, Haas or whatever and make a go of it, it's going to be far easier financially than an unmarketable degree. At least the machine could be sold later, yes, even at a loss. You can't resell classes in Viking Art History.

You'll have to decide if your son is like the guys above, or if he's purely dreaming. Without calling out people on here by name, there are a handful of people on this forum who have made a successful go of it, or are in the process of doing so.
 
I would run at least 60 amp 240 volt service to the shop/garage. That is enough for a small shop with a welder. It is also useful for a BEV charger. 30 amps off a dryer circuit will be enough for smaller tools. Shop will need some heat in winter to prevent rust. Gas or heat pump will be cheapest.
Upgrade the ceiling insulation before a bunch of heavy machines block access. Paint any flat surfaces a light color to bounce light around.
Bill D
 
He wants to make knifes , then ya need to see what yer insurance co thinks about havin a forge in a house that their covering . Don't really know how one goes about finding that out without it being the hard way though . Make sure that the show area is covered with type X drywall . Or will he be doing the forging & tempering outside , hopefully in hte back yard so the neighbors don't know whats going on , well at least for a while .
animal
 
Robodrill is small enough, robust too, will need the AD30 or bigger phase converter (they say it needs a 100 amp circuit feeding the AD30)
All power wire and conduit
Breakers
Boxes
7.5hp air compressor
30 tool holders
Bt30 holder/vise to hold the holders while changing tooling
$1800 in tooling (min)
Tool storage(tool box or vidmar)
2- 5 gallon Pails of coolant concentration
1 Gallon way oil
1 RODI water filter setup
40 gallon tote to hold the RODI water
2 matching machinist vise
14mm t-nuts
Vise hold downs
12mm studs And nuts
10 sets soft jaws
Hiamer(robodrill usually don't have probe, but some do)
STI tool setter is beautiful
USB-rs232 pendant (shopfloor automations works great)
Starret Master level
Some hand tools like 3/8 Allen for vice jaws
Cabinet lighting is a plus (got mine at home depot)

Heated garage for winter (or your tooling WILL rust from condensation of heating the garage up and cool down)

Shop bench (the gorilla step at homdepot works great right next to the machine)


I'm sure I can think of more later but this will get you started.

So yeah $$$$$
 
Robodrill is small enough, robust too, will need the AD30 or bigger phase converter (they say it needs a 100 amp circuit feeding the AD30)
All power wire and conduit
Breakers
Boxes
7.5hp air compressor
30 tool holders
Bt30 holder/vise to hold the holders while changing tooling
$1800 in tooling (min)
Tool storage(tool box or vidmar)
2- 5 gallon Pails of coolant concentration
1 Gallon way oil
1 RODI water filter setup
40 gallon tote to hold the RODI water
2 matching machinist vise
14mm t-nuts
Vise hold downs
12mm studs And nuts
10 sets soft jaws
Hiamer(robodrill usually don't have probe, but some do)
STI tool setter is beautiful
USB-rs232 pendant (shopfloor automations works great)
Starret Master level
Some hand tools like 3/8 Allen for vice jaws
Cabinet lighting is a plus (got mine at home depot)

Heated garage for winter (or your tooling WILL rust from condensation of heating the garage up and cool down)

Shop bench (the gorilla step at homdepot works great right next to the machine)


I'm sure I can think of more later but this will get you started.

So yeah $$$$$
This is a good list, but I doubt a Robodrill needs an AD30. I run my Brother TC-S2B on an AD20 from a 30 amp breaker. Also, you can cut some corners to save some money from that list. The Haimer is nice but you can just use an edge finder, and you can skip the RODI setup if you just run a dehumidifier in the shop. Use the distilled water for your coolant. I'd add a horizontal metal cutting band saw and some precision ground flat stones to the list as well. Material is much cheaper if you buy it in long bars and cut it yourself and the stones are handy for cleaning up precision surfaces, especially useful if you're buying used tooling.
 
This is a good list, but I doubt a Robodrill needs an AD30. I run my Brother TC-S2B on an AD20 from a 30 amp breaker. Also, you can cut some corners to save some money from that list. The Haimer is nice but you can just use an edge finder, and you can skip the RODI setup if you just run a dehumidifier in the shop. Use the distilled water for your coolant. I'd add a horizontal metal cutting band saw and some precision ground flat stones to the list as well. Material is much cheaper if you buy it in long bars and cut it yourself and the stones are handy for cleaning up precision surfaces, especially useful if you're buying used tooling.
Absolutely, you're right!
I think the AD30 is only good for 40 amps and I think I'd use every bit of it with a thru spindle coolant pump so got the AD30.

The harbor freight band saw is a great purchase, the bigger one. And a lenox blade
Couple stones for sure will be needed.
Ebay auctions for tooling is HARD TO BEAT!!!
 
I always thought you were supposed to make knives with a forge ,anvil and hammer......silly me!
You can but hard to make money that way. I guess you never came across Aaron Gough on PM? He seems to be doing very well.


 
Fancy knives are all forged. Really fancy ones are forged then stoned by hand forever till optical fits with the fittings.


He does mill a few parts to “rough”them out.

If you can afford a mini mill or robodrill for the garage great! Side hustle in the garage is a tough road that removes fishing and art time. Making stuff just to make without compensation is more rewarding. Work takes enough of our hours.
 
I was talking to one of my daughter's friend's father who is a public insurance adjuster. I asked him if I was in any danger of not being covered should anything happen in my shop. He told me he said as long as I'm not using it as a business I'm fine. If it's a business you need a different insurance. In my case everything is 100% hobby although I do occasionally sell some stuff on the side he just told me never ever ever admit to selling anything on the side and you should be fine.

Now I'm mostly manual machines and I have a big model steam locomotive that would be showing in the pile of rubble. I think I could pass it off as a hobby. A robodrill with no active project sitting beside it, in a shop all set up for production throughput might be a harder sell. So bottom line you may want to talk to your insurance company and see if they have a home business add on.
 
There are tons of guys making knives out of their garages. They are all on youtube also, thats why people all think they can do it too. I see knives going for $1200-$2500 each, with long waiting lists.

That is enough to get people interested for sure. But who the hell spends that much on a knife? It just cuts things. I can see getting a good blade, but the rest of the knife is like a tattoo to me. It just looks cool, but not necessary. I only use knives to open boxes, I never got into collecting them.
 
Definitely help your son make a go of it!

Most here would recommend a used Brother instead of Robodrill, they're both great machines (if taken care of).

Haas makes some neat smaller machines, and even though you probably haven't considered it, they will finance a brand new one with good credit and a down payment. A new, small Haas is cheaper than buying a new SUV or pickup truck, and they hold their value extremely well in the used CNC market.

And as far as products, there is practically no limit to the market for small shops to make and sell stuff. You have to know how to get the word out there (website, web forums, social media, knife shows, ads, etc.), and keep marketing over time. It is quite amazing the size of the market for knives of all price ranges!

If your son isn't proficient in Fusion360 (or some other CAD/CAM you plan to buy/lease), then he needs to become skilled on the software before doing anything else. Every knife detail he makes will be designed in 3D first using CAD, then the CAM side is used to make his CNC programs.

ToolCat
 
Last edited:








 
Back
Top