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Tried and True Machine

david n

Active member
So since I changed some settings on my Phototbucket account, my shop thread went down the tubes. I'll just start over by cuttin and pastin from the other thread. Most of it will be a repeat, but I will try to working in some new stuff. I already changed the title. I couldn't go with "My Piece of Heavan: Part 3". And I figure if 'ol Russ can have two shop threads going at once, eh, why can't I?

So here it goes:

I think it's time to start a new thread of the new shop and home. But first I'll start back at the beginning. On a cold March morning back in ’77, a baby boy was born, 9 lbs 14oz. (Big one, I know.) Well, I won’t go that far back. Let’s jump ahead a few years.

I grew up on a small farm that raised mostly rocks and weeds. My father ran a construction company and farmed. He was a jack of all trades: stone mason, carpenter, farmer, sawmill owner, welder, arborist, lumberjack, cabinet/furniture maker, wood carver, blacksmith, gardener, baker, heavy equipment operator, mechanic, business man, land developer, etc. Almost all of his skills and knowledge were self-taught and he made sure all those thing he did, he included his children. We were drug along to job sites, to auctions, to farms, to mechanic shops, blacksmith shops, you name it. He took us along. And by us, I mean the 11 kids he had to provide for. Of course we all didn’t pile into the old crappy Ford Torino station wagon at once (my oldest brother is 57 and my youngest brother is 33), he just made sure over the years that he taught us something. And I suppose that has stuck with me. I keep trying to learn new things all of the time and I make sure my kids are part of it.

So I always loved mechanical things. I loved to take stuff apart (and never seemed to put them back together again). And growing up on a farm provided a plethora of junk to rip apart (once anything was wore out or broken, it went out back in the pasture in a big pile). Small engines, old appliances, gear boxes, entire tractors and old power tools were some of my favorites. The fun to me wasn’t the actual dismantling, but the parts and components inside. I loved how they looked, functioned, and how they were made.

So to fast forward a little, I went on to college with the idea of getting an engineering degree. I lasted a year. I knew I wanted to be the guy with dirty hands and an engineer usually never lifts a tool or sees grease and oil. I need hands on. I had that from my dad of course, but also from two of my brothers who had a manufacturing company. I started working with them in the summers and weekends during junior high. I did everything from sawing parts to welding, from drilling holes to deburring sharp parts, and from sweeping floors to my first tastes of machining. The manual lathe and mill in their shop had me hooked. I worked for them all through high school and by the time I was 18, I was doing design work, prototyping, building jigs and fixtures, and needing to learn more.

So back to the college dropout, I went down the road to the local trade school and signed up for machining. I breezed through all the courses with little or no effort. It all came fairly easy to me. When I finished I took a job a high end mold shop, whose customers where Honeywell, 3M, Medtronic, Polaris, Trek Bikes, and Alliant Tech. It was fun stuff to work on. But after only a few years and only scratching the surface of becoming a mold maker, I scraped together as much cash as I could, bought a turning center and stuck in a 10’ X 20’ corner of my brothers’ shop. That was ’99. I was 22, had only a few years of machining experience, and I had zero customers. I had it made!

It was tough going. I worked for my brothers full time and machined parts in the evenings and weekends. I cold called like crazy and knocked on lots of doors. I had a few contacts for some of my first work. I had no tooling. I underbid a lot and scrapped plenty of parts. It seemed like I was never going to make it. It took a long time to actually feel like I knew what I was doing. I just never stuck my head out too far and I only bought the bare necessities.

In all that work, sweat, tears, and stress, I met my wife and she was naïve enough to marry a workaholic. A few years after buying our first house, I paid off that turning center, built up a small pile of customers, and decided I need a new piece of equipment and new place to put it. I bought new VMC, pile of tooling, lathe, mill, and air compressor and built a 28X32 shop in the back yard. I worked a few more months during the day for my brothers and then went full time for myself in ’05. Now I was in the big time, new “huge” shop, new machine, working for myself. Man was it work. A 12 hour day was a short one. Weekends were a distant memory. I was loving and hating it all at the same time.









I snagged a few really good customers and the work was gravy and hours became less. I didn’t even lift the phone anymore looking for work. I kept getting calls from new prospective customers that were given my name by others. Life was good and I kept growing in machining knowledge, manufacturing, and business.




david n

Active member
Now that gets us up to a few years ago and the shop is feeling cramped. Adding more benches, shelves, machinery(new turning center and mini mill), made that huge shop seem, like a cave. Our house was feeling the same, small 2 bedroom with 2 kids and one on the way. The land hunt has begun. All I know is I wanted out of town and I need three phase juice. Well there was plenty of land, but 3 PH was scarce. I had to be patient.

We looked, and looked, and looked, and LOOKED. Shop is bursting at the seams and the house is in chaos with now 4 kids. But after a few years we finally found what we were looking for. Our very first thought as we looked the last plot of land was, “This is the ONE.” We bought 34 acres of high and dry rural land with 3 phase power at the road. Fifteen acres is open land and 19 acres is solid woods. Tons of deer, turkeys, geese, and grouse for hunting. Trees, trails, and adventures for the kids.


So our property is located in north central Minnesota near the small town of Pillager. We are actually 7 miles from town, 6 miles from the nearest clinic, 9 miles from the nearest hospital, and about 18 miles from the nearest major shopping area. The location is about 90 miles north of our current home. We are on the edge of farm country and the begining of the MN northwoods. Here in MN we would be "Up North". Many lakes and large tracks of public land are close at hand. We camp and fish quite a bit and the area will offer tons of options with a much shorter drive. The only draw back I will have is I'm about an hour further from many of my vendors in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area. But I'll trade and extra hour or two in the car for what we have here any day.

Here's the land on the day we cut the check for it, sometime mid March 2012. We had to drive an hour and a half to the title companies office for closing. We didn't tell the kids what we where doing. After signing off, we drove them out to the property and told them it was to be their new home. They were(and still are) pretty pumped.





Don't I look excited?



New member
Hey how would you compare the Hyundai to the Haas as far as rigidity and general capability?

david n

Active member
Hey how would you compare the Hyundai to the Haas as far as rigidity and general capability?

It basically is a Mazak QT with a Siemens 840C control. (I loved that control) The casting had a M right in it. The iron is identical. I don't have the machine anymore and I wish(in some ways) I still had it on the floor. It was more rigid than the Haas and had much more power. I sent her down the road for something that had better local service. A PM member bought it from me and has been happy with it(I hope :D).


Active member
The casting had a M right in it.

The M on the Hyundai lathe casting is for Meehanite, the high-quality cast iron used on well-built machine tools.

A fella in our area has two of those Hyundai lathes. With mazatrol T32 controls!!

Hyundai used to build these lathes for Mazak in Korea, for the Asian market. Many of the Hyundai's had Mazatrol T32 controls, although most were built with Siemens. Hyundai built authorized copies of a couple of larger Mazak cnc lathes as well. At some point Mazak and Hyundai parted ways, with Hyundai continuing to build and sell the "Mazak copy" machines for a few more years. Now Hyundai lathes are their own design.

JP Machining

Active member
A PM member bought it from me and has been happy with it(I hope :D).
Still working good, takes a 1.5" Sandvik 880 and only pegs the load meter at about 110%. 1733 rpm and .007" ipr through 4.7" of 1018 :) I only wish it had live milling....and maybe a sub spindle.... oh and y axis too... ;)

Bruce Nelson

New member
Does your company have anything to do with Tried and True tools off University Avenue in North Minneapolis? I have shopped there for many years.

Lord Byron

david n

Active member
Here's a before and after pic of the driveway. The soil in the area is sandy loam for the first foot or so, then gravel after that. The dirt guy I hired for the drive, construction site, and the sewer is a super nice guy, down to earth and knows his stuff. All the neighbors and most of the local contractors think quite highly of him. So when he put in the road approach and the drive, I let him do it his way. I asked about some Class 5 for finishing off the drive and he told me the fill mixed with a little top soil would do just as good. He said he could haul some in if I still wanted, but he promised that the drive would set up like concrete and it did. He basically made his own Class 5 on site. Saved me about a grand. We have already had electric co trucks on it, cement trucks and delivery trucks and none even came close to sinking or rutting any of it. And that even after having 18" plus rain in June! I didn't need a lick of fill for any of it. I have plenty of space and he took fill from on site. I put in an extra wide approach since there will be trucks coming and going periodically.





The excavator also suggested the nice curve in the drive. It turned out great and I couldn't be more pleased with his work(and prices). He also prepped the construction sites for the house and shop and will be back out in a few weeks to put in the sewer, dig water lines, and do some final site clean up.

david n

Active member
The approach and drive are in, construction site is prepped, and the forms are set for the shop. I had a concrete crew set forms and then it was my turn to get the plumbing in, foam laid, pex tube down and rebar placed. I got all that done in one weekend. I had help, but I was tired!



The base soil under the shop was laid down and compacted after every 6 inches or so. It was laid down in early May and forms weren't set until the end of July. So with good soil prep and tons and tons of rain, the site was as stable as it was going to get. Again I didn't have buy any fill. It all came from onsite. Digging was a bear. The dirt was like concrete.



She was making sure I was doing it right. Slave driver I tell ya.

Here I'm diggin in some foam to "line" the forms vertically. It's 1.5" polystyrene 16" wide. It insulates the slab and with the addition to another 32" of foam buried horizontally( total of 48"), it becomes my frost footing for the building. Now, I know all the concrete and foundation "experts" are shaking their head and are saying that is no way to build. Well, they can stuff it. This type of insulated slab meets MN state building code for a frost footing. Many buildings and homes are built this way in the area with NO problems at all. There is one stipulation though, the building must be heated. Of course I have no problem with that since it's my shop, but if you build an out building for storage in this way, you must heat it through the winter.



I had a shipping container dropped off to store materials and tools. Kept 'er locked up. Not really a high crime area, but you never know.



After placing the vertical foam and the plumbing, I put 2" of high density foam under the slab. As for plumbing, it was pretty easy, sewer for one stool, drain, and sink. One rough in pipe for the water line. That's two of my 7 brothers in the background.

After the 2" foam, came the radiant heat tube(pex) and rebar. For some reason the photographer( ah hem, my wife) didn't get a pic of stapling that down.



You can see the pex and the rebar in this pic. The whole shop is one heating zone. Install was pretty easy. Two rows of 1/2" rebar were place around the perimeter and the rest was placed in a 36" grid. The floor is a floating slab. It was poured 5" of 4K PSI crete and a monolithic perimeter edge of roughly 15" So along with that and great soil prep, she ain't going nowhere! Look at the concrete crew. The youngest guy there was 57!

More to come...............

david n

Active member
The concrete is poured. Finish is pretty good. Flatness, not so much. Overall the floor is flat, but there is one big dip in what is to be my office. I'll be puttin down some self leveling sub floor and tile. Of course the extra cost of that will be billed to the concrete contractor.

I jumped ahead of the power install with the concrete. Right before the floor was started, the power co trenched in the juice to the tune of $11/FT. No too cheap, but not as spendy as some power coops around here. But it was still a nice size bill since the build site is 700' off the road.



Ahhhh 3PH, gotta love it. Worked out well too. The morning they were to install, a guy from the power co calls and asks what voltage I wanted, 208 or 240. Well, up til then, a different guy at the power co was telling me that I could only have 208 installed for safety reasons. I'll take 240 please.



On the backside of the pedestal are two meters, one for the shop and one for the house. One meter is 400A of 1ph for the house. The house boiler for the infloor heat needs 100A itself and another 200A for the rest of the house. That leaves me with an extra 100A for a future outbuilding/workshop/storage building. The other meter is for the shop, 400A of 3ph. I'll run 2-200A panels. That should be enough for a one man band.



The boy says he's bored. I tell him,"There's a shovel. Go dig a hole." Keeps him busy everytime. For some reason he thinks the chainsaw would be more fun than the shovel.:scratchchin:



Since our new place is an 1:45 min drive, we set up camp and spend the weekend. Works out well, but it gets cramped with Ma and I, and the 4 kids.