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The Case for Working With Your Hands

mobile_bob

Stainless
Joined
Oct 23, 2005
Location
tacoma washington
many years ago while waiting for my dr in an examination room
i overheard him bitching about mechanics, specifically how expensive his airframe mechanic was.

when he came in he must of picked up my smirk about his attitude
and asked me what my take was on the subject.

i told him that if i needed brain or heart surgery, i would want the best surgeon available, and i would want him well paid and not worrying about having to hurry up.

i went on to say

conversely if i were a wealthy dr and owned my own airplane, and it needed engine work, i would want my mechanic to be well paid, and not worry about hurrying as well.

after all if the engine dies, unlike a car you can't simply pull off the side of the road and call AAA for a tow.

he thought about my comments and then did the procedure on me, followed with instructions to the front desk, "no charge"

he told me he got an education from a mechanic that day, and felt he should pay for it in some manner.

:)

bob g
 

rklopp

Diamond
Joined
Feb 27, 2001
Location
Redwood City, CA USA
Like Crawford, I have a PhD, but I get deep satisfaction machining precision parts and repairing machine tools. I think I'm pretty good, and could make my living doing those things. Unfortunately, these things don't pay enough, so I work as an engineer and manager, probably earning close to 3X what I could as a machinist. At least I earn enough to have a little extra to indulge my machine tool fantasies. What I lack is play time.

I doubt there will ever be a time when machinists are paid enough to make it much more than a labor of love.
 

Close Work

Cast Iron
Joined
Apr 14, 2007
Location
Texas
This guy isn't very interesting and will likely not be successful as a writer and probably isn't a very good mechanic. Not trying to be rude to the guy just honest. I am glad he is doing something he enjoys.

I agree with his ideas about failure in choices of education and life direction causing great waste and frustration.

TV education/culture is the root of a lot of current social problems. Examples of this are "mechanics are dirty and definitely not cool, mechanical engineers are all men and all dirty and wearing hard hats, some "scientists" are cool maybe, doctors are cool, lawyers are cool and crime scene investigators are cool. This is real opinion from very bright high school seniors. High school kids making life choices based on TV lead to near do well PhD's working on motorcycles.

Make things that no one else makes if you want to make a lot of money with your brain by using your hands and experience.
 

KIMFAB

Stainless
Joined
Jun 21, 2008
Location
Logandale,Nv
Another PhD here. I learned early on that the machine industry is woefully underpaid and went into the telephone business while doing machine work on the side for enjoyment. There were many times I ended up making something unusual or hard to get for the phone company. This worked out well with no conflict of interest problems and a nice income on the side.
It would be interesting to find out what the difference in the amount of psychological problems were between office help and people who actually make things. Maybe a poll?
 

SBAER

Hot Rolled
Joined
Aug 21, 2006
Location
Kitchener, on canada
Like Crawford, I have a PhD, but I get deep satisfaction machining precision parts and repairing machine tools. I think I'm pretty good, and could make my living doing those things. Unfortunately, these things don't pay enough, so I work as an engineer and manager, probably earning close to 3X what I could as a machinist. At least I earn enough to have a little extra to indulge my machine tool fantasies. What I lack is play time.

I doubt there will ever be a time when machinists are paid enough to make it much more than a labor of love.

I am a mechanical engineer that used to make a good living as a self employed machine designer. The downturn in the automotive sector has forced me diversify what I do for money, I now spend more than half my working day building or repairing things in my shop which was originally just a hobby shop. Despite the fact that I make a bit less money now, I am happier and love to go to work each morning. Perhaps because most people I interact with know my background, I feel no less respected by other people than I did when I worked on a computer all day, in fact I think the opposite might be the case.

I have designed some pretty complicated automated machines with hundreds of components but the greatest satisfaction I have found is in repairing things that others have thrown away. I am convinced that someday our culture will swing back towards being less tolerant of waste.
 

ColoradoBoy

Stainless
Joined
Feb 4, 2001
Location
Hotchkiss, CO USA
I tend to skim when reading so maybe missed it in the article or another post.

The best thing here about working with your hands and producing something, is the satisfaction that you created something in the world that someone else can use, will last several lifetimes and hopefully others will enjoy. I make custom knives.
 

Dr Stan

Banned
Joined
May 15, 2008
Location
Owensboro, KY
Milacron,

Excellent article that brings up points I have made over the years. As a machinist also with a doctorate and an educator I'll both agree and disagree with the following paragraph.

High-school shop-class programs were widely dismantled in the 1990s as educators prepared students to become “knowledge workers.” The imperative of the last 20 years to round up every warm body and send it to college, then to the cubicle, was tied to a vision of the future in which we somehow take leave of material reality and glide about in a pure information economy. This has not come to pass. To begin with, such work often feels more enervating than gliding. More fundamentally, now as ever, somebody has to actually do things: fix our cars, unclog our toilets, build our houses.

The primary culprits were the politicians at the state and Federal levels who pushed for these changes in the curriculum. It began during Reagan's first term when he and his Secretary of Education attempted to eliminate Federal funding of vocational-technical education. When that effort failed they managed to turn vo-tech education into a form of special education, effectively destroying that which they did not like or understand.

Do you remember G.W.H. Bush's comment that there was no difference between those who make computer chips and those who make potatoes chips?

Some of the blame also lies at the feet of ignorant educators. Most high school teachers go from high school to college and back to high school never having to work a full time year round job. Thus, they do not have a clue as to what really happens in business and industry, especially manufacturing. Some of these same individuals become principals and superintendents who are in charge of the overall curriculum.

A similar situation also exists in the school boards with many of the members more interested in keeping costs (taxes) low rather than providing a meaningful curriculum designed to prepare the next generation for participation in our society, particularly employment. Many of the above named people also have the misguided idea the technology simply equals computers.

Thanks for posting the article.

Stan
 

KilrB

Stainless
Joined
Feb 18, 2007
Location
Angleton, Texas
... A similar situation also exists in the school boards with many of the members more interested in keeping costs (taxes) low rather than providing a meaningful curriculum designed to prepare the next generation for participation in our society, particularly employment. Many of the above named people also have the misguided idea the technology simply equals computers.

Stan

[email protected]%$# I wish some of those were on our school board!

If they're not going to provide a "meaningful curriculum", which I do not believe they are, the least they could do is keep taxes in line with what they are providing.

The inverse seems to be the case.
 

lalatheman

Hot Rolled
Joined
Nov 17, 2002
Location
Western ,Oh ,usa
Several responses said they liked it but its long ! At top says MAGAZINE PREVIEW

Mags sometimes have actually paid writers by the word, to get bulk.

Also he is writing trying to reach "other" readers , that don't have PM 'ers background , he needs to present background logic and reasoning and build his case more slowly.

Like to reach the lowest common denominator in a group , one must move slowly , the brighter ones my get bored ,

Seems like he said what of of us here have felt, however he was able to verbalize it , and as a magazine preview artical in the NY Times . . . . . BRAVO !

David
 

jimfnd

Aluminum
Joined
Jan 21, 2008
Location
North Dakota
I'd have more respect for Obama if he had ever done anything with his hands.

The closer one gets to the Ivy League, the farther one gets from reality.
 

ewlsey

Diamond
Joined
Jul 14, 2009
Location
Peoria, IL
First of all, this is 3 years old.



I'd have more respect for Obama if he had ever done anything with his hands.

The closer one gets to the Ivy League, the farther one gets from reality.

People who work with their hands are smart enough to know that being President is a terrible job. Why would anyone with any sense want to be a politician?


I understand what this guy is saying, but it is only applicable to a select few. I agree that people should relish working with their hands and being self reliant, but making a living at it is not for every one. The world only needs so many motorcycle mechanics. I doubt anyone dreams of driving a garbage truck, but we still need the trash picked up.
 

Joe in NH

Diamond
Joined
Jul 28, 2007
Location
Stratham, Cow Hampshire
OP article is good.

Somewhat reminiscient of "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance," a book I am particularly fond of.

Humm. I did home repair at $25 an hour for nearly 5 years while unemployed as an engineer. Some was interesting. Some was not. It was lucrative. I could earn NEARLY what I am being paid as an engineer, and there is no travel, no nights in motels away from home, no "honey-do" lists on my short returns back.

I think I want to think about all this again...

Joe in NH
 

gmatov

Diamond
Joined
Feb 22, 2006
Location
SW PA
Jimfnd

"I'd have more respect for Obama if he had ever done anything with his hands."

How much more respect do you have for Romney, who never did anything with HIS hands. Would you accept HIM as Pres., though he has ties to Harvard, too, including a Law degree.

How much respect do you have for Jimmie Carter, who was a hands on peanut farmer? Little, I would imagine, from your side if the aisle.

How much adoration do you have for Reagan, who was a grade B actor and spokesperson for GE, got out of the Draft, and much better actors than he quit and went into the services, Stewart Grainger and Jimmy Stewart for a couple and LOTS more. The DUKE couldn't go, got deferments because he might have been forgotten, did they not pump out six oaters a year with him in them.

You would hate him if he had been a ditch digger. Dem, black, liberal, just simply NOT Republican!!!

George
 

Ries

Diamond
Joined
Mar 15, 2004
Location
Edison Washington USA
Jimmy Carter is the only president we have had since maybe Truman who actually did real work with his hands.

Carter was, and is, a pretty decent home shop woodworker. He made most of the furniture in his house.

When he left the white house, his staff all pitched in and bought him a couple grand worth of new Delta tools. Home shop grade, nothing like Milacron's Martin sliding table saw, but the best stuff Carter had ever had in his life. And he still has it in his shop, and he still works in his shop most days.

But neither Bush was "Handy", beyond some chainsaw wielding. Nor was Clinton. Or Jerry Ford. Or Nixon. Johnson grew up dirt poor on a farm, but as soon as he had any money, he didnt want to get his hands dirty.
 

Oldwrench

Titanium
Joined
May 21, 2009
Location
Wyoming, USA
Crawford's article wasn't about the work ethic so much as the work aesthetic, and was a pretty decent exposition of why we feel good about making things as opposed to merely trading information about them. I feel good for him, too. My own liberal arts degree from a major university is framed and hangs on the wall of my office restroom...opposite the toilet, where I can reflect on its absolute practical worthlessness while appreciating the symbolism.
 

Grey Rider

Hot Rolled
Joined
Jun 13, 2006
Location
Dayton, OH
The abridged version from James Nasmyth, circa 1883:

"The truth is that the eyes and the fingers - the bare fingers - are the two principal inlets to sound practical instruction. They are the chief sources of trustworthy knowledge as to all the materials and operations which the engineer has to deal with. No book knowledge can avail for that purpose."
 








 
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