Career Change: Manual Machinist
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    Default Career Change: Manual Machinist

    Currently I am in the process of changing careers (from engineer; to manual machinist). My question is, what would make a good candidate for a position like this?

    The company is a medium size company that has been in business for over 50yrs. While they do have fabrication/CNC capabilities, they are looking for someone to “jump on the Bridgeport” and get started right away making chips. Mainly on knocking out the smaller prototype jobs.

    As for me, I am the first in my family to go to college. The best class I have ever taken as an undergrad was a lathe and mill basics course. It was pretty much everything you needed to know to get started building experimental equipment. Since then I have spent hours on any type of machine they would let me use trying to improve my skill set. However, I am no card carrying machinist.

    I am trying to see where the gaps there are in my skill set and what I would need to know to bluff my way through an interview Career Change: Manual Machinist. Anyways, your help and input is greatly appreciated.



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    In my city, a mechanic is needed at the Nestlé plant to service and repair electric forklifts and other special equipment.

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    I'd say a manual machinist needs to be able to play with blocks and such. It takes a bit different mind than CNC or CAD. Still, same function in some respects. Also, need to be aware that the Bridgeport mill is flexible. ie you can tilt and rotate the head. Lets you hang parts off the side of the table.

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    To answer your question...
    A good manual machinist candidate should be old as dirt, grumpy, MAYBE have a flip phone, drive a 30 year old car, and possess the ability to avoid anything that even smells like a technological advancement.
    That being said...why?
    I 100% support the notion that a good CNC programmer or machinist should be able to run a Bridgeport, Tram it in cut some threads on a manual lathe, hand grind a drill and a turning tool. But to target manual machining as a career move seems a bit odd.
    IMO...The best CNC guys have a manual background....the best engineers and programmers have a machining background. (In my experience...)

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    With the exception of a flip phone, it sounds like I am pretty much already there!


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    I think running manuals much more fun than CNC, and for a one-up it is hard for CNC to match speed.
    So most any shop should have a lathe, surface grinder and a mill, along with a guy who can be making chips or sparks within a few minutes of getting the job.

    I used to hack out a needed simple replacement machine part faster than a draftsman could draw a print.

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    Default Career Change: Manual Machinist

    That is pretty much what I have been hearing. The value is in the speed of set up and getting it done faster than it can be programmed. Most shops just need to have the random small job hacked out while the CNC machines do their thing.


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    I agree with Toolsteel. Why go the manual route?

    I am an engineer who transitioned into management. I am integral in the hiring process for machinist, and I would almost never even consider a manual machinist. As toolsteel mentioned, I assume anyone with a tech degree for cnc can also run a manual machine in a pinch, but I cannot make that assumption the other way around.

    Manual shops are quickly fading away, I would be working to stay on the cutting edge, not learning antiquated techniques.

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    QT: [The company is a medium-size company that has been in business for over 50yrs.]

    Are looking to walk from an engineering position to taking a manual machinist job at another shop?
    Are you out of work and looking for a job?
    Do you have CNC machining experience?
    likely you are pretty green at manual if having only tech school background training.
    Do you have machining tools.?

    QT: [what I would need to know to bluff my way through an interview.]
    likely tell the truth and see where that takes you.

    like toolsteel said..can you...run a Bridgeport, Tram it in, cut some threads on a manual lathe, hand grind a drill and a turning tool?...do a simple surface grinder job?

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    Quote Originally Posted by michiganbuck View Post
    QT: [The company is a medium-size company that has been in business for over 50yrs.]

    Are looking to walk from an engineering position to taking a manual machinist job at another shop?
    Are you out of work and looking for a job?
    Do you have CNC machining experience?
    likely you are pretty green at manual if having only tech school background training.
    Do you have machining tools.?

    QT: [what I would need to know to bluff my way through an interview.]
    likely tell the truth and see where that takes you.

    like toolsteel said..can you...run a Bridgeport, Tram it in, cut some threads on a manual lathe, hand grind a drill and a turning tool?...do a simple surface grinder job?
    ^^^^ This right here.

    DO NOT waste the employers time with "trying you out" and then 2 weeks in, they have to fire you, and start the process all over again.

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    Default Career Change: Manual Machinist

    I am currently employed as process engineer at a manufacturing plant. My background is in material science, but I have an advanced degree in mechanical engineering (and an associate degree in engineering science before all that).

    Here is what I have in my home shop worth noting: Bridgeport Series 1 with a 2J head, Monarch 10EE, Chevailer surface grinder. All of them I’ve bought at scrap prices and brought back to factory spec.

    For CNC work, in grad. school I ran a Tormach 440 which I added in a custom 4th axis that I cobbled together from spare parts and wrote all the code to run it. In the home shop I have a CNC router that I fire up from time to time.

    I could go down the CNC route, but there is a BIG difference between operator and machinist that I am trying to avoid. Most of the manual machinist I’ve had the pleasure to work with have been in an R&D setting. In some the cases the design input from these guys was integral to the success of the project.

    For now, I am trying to assess what type of certifications and experience does one need to apply for a machinist job. Yes, I know how to use Fusion 360 and all the various packages. Yes, I can keep tolerances of +/-0.007mm (I even know my left from my right and can play with blocks). But does my experience in the home-shop, or university lab, translate to success in the job shop?

    With this possible career change, I am not trying to ‘feel it on for size’ before I waste anyone’s time. Rather, I want get understanding of what skill set do I need to have in order to hit the ground running and lower any possible learning curve. Getting fired two weeks in is not my goal here.

    In terms of ‘why?’ manual machining, I see it as a way to fill the gaps in workflow and how to provide value for the shop. Staying cutting edging and being able to transition the latest technology into the shop is absolutely essential to sustainable success. But without an understanding of where it all came from, I think there will be difficulties in the long run. My focus would be prototype development, so manual machining would be more cost effective (in some situations) than CNC.

    Hopefully this clarifies things a little more. All the input has greatly been appreciated.


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    IMO, an R&D setting is most often found in colleges/universities these days, or maybe really large companies. Everybody else is working their tails off to survive and you'll find your nice peaceful home shop, where you know where all the tools are, and they aren't broken, has nothing to do with a commercial shop. Be careful what you wish for.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Alchemy View Post
    I am currently employed as process engineer at a manufacturing plant. My background is in material science, but I have an advanced degree in mechanical engineering (and an associate degree in engineering science before all that).

    Here is what I have in my home shop worth noting: Bridgeport Series 1 with a 2J head, Monarch 10EE, Chevailer surface grinder. All of them I’ve bought at scrap prices and brought back to factory spec.

    For CNC work, in grad. school I ran a Tormach 440 which I added in a custom 4th axis that I cobbled together from spare parts and wrote all the code to run it. In the home shop I have a CNC router that I fire up from time to time.

    I could go down the CNC route, but there is a BIG difference between operator and machinist that I am trying to avoid. Most of the manual machinist I’ve had the pleasure to work with have been in an R&D setting. In some the cases the design input from these guys was integral to the success of the project.

    For now, I am trying to assess what type of certifications and experience does one need to apply for a machinist job. Yes, I know how to use Fusion 360 and all the various packages. Yes, I can keep tolerances of +/-0.007mm (I even know my left from my right and can play with blocks). But does my experience in the home-shop, or university lab, translate to success in the job shop?

    With this possible career change, I am not trying to ‘feel it on for size’ before I waste anyone’s time. Rather, I want get understanding of what skill set do I need to have in order to hit the ground running and lower any possible learning curve. Getting fired two weeks in is not my goal here.

    In terms of ‘why?’ manual machining, I see it as a way to fill the gaps in workflow and how to provide value for the shop. Staying cutting edging and being able to transition the latest technology into the shop is absolutely essential to sustainable success. But without an understanding of where it all came from, I think there will be difficulties in the long run. My focus would be prototype development, so manual machining would be more cost effective (in some situations) than CNC.

    Hopefully this clarifies things a little more. All the input has greatly been appreciated.


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    Q:[and what I would need to know to bluff my way through an interview]
    To try not to leave out the rest of the story.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Alchemy View Post
    Currently I am in the process of changing careers (from engineer; to manual machinist). My question is, what would make a good candidate for a position like this?

    The company is a medium size company that has been in business for over 50yrs. While they do have fabrication/CNC capabilities, they are looking for someone to “jump on the Bridgeport” and get started right away making chips. Mainly on knocking out the smaller prototype jobs.

    As for me, I am the first in my family to go to college. The best class I have ever taken as an undergrad was a lathe and mill basics course. It was pretty much everything you needed to know to get started building experimental equipment. Since then I have spent hours on any type of machine they would let me use trying to improve my skill set. However, I am no card carrying machinist.

    I am trying to see where the gaps there are in my skill set and what I would need to know to bluff my way through an interview Career Change: Manual Machinist. Anyways, your help and input is greatly appreciated.



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    "what I would need to know" huh?
    First off, if your best class was undergrad basic machine tools and STILL wonder at skill set gaps...a card does not fix it. Fact is, "card carrier" indicates membership of those who exist supporting lowest common denominators.

    Yeah, bluff your way through an interview. It won't work again, out on shop floor...
    We can look at your tools and tell.
    We can watch you handle them and tell.
    We can listen to you describe a setup or operation and tell.
    You'll describe your garage 'shop' or off work pastimes and then you are fu*ked.

    Summed up, visualize college student Hooper meeting Quint, a bit after "tie me a sheepshank..." "how's that?".

    Don't bother shooting back. In 60 years, mentored by giants and pass it along at every possible instance.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Alchemy View Post
    Currently I am in the process of changing careers (from engineer; to manual machinist). My question is, what would make a good candidate for a position like this?

    The company is a medium size company that has been in business for over 50yrs. While they do have fabrication/CNC capabilities, they are looking for someone to “jump on the Bridgeport” and get started right away making chips. Mainly on knocking out the smaller prototype jobs.

    As for me, I am the first in my family to go to college. The best class I have ever taken as an undergrad was a lathe and mill basics course. It was pretty much everything you needed to know to get started building experimental equipment. Since then I have spent hours on any type of machine they would let me use trying to improve my skill set. However, I am no card carrying machinist.

    I am trying to see where the gaps there are in my skill set and what I would need to know to bluff my way through an interview Career Change: Manual Machinist. Anyways, your help and input is greatly appreciated.



    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    You remind me of when I was serving my apprenticeship at a cat dealer. A 25 year old with 15 years experience bluffed his way past personnel and the old shop Forman saw through it before the guy said hi.
    The old foreman gave him a swing frame under a dozer to airarc. As he was getting ready to start. The Forman got us together to watch the show.
    There he was laying flat on the concrete floor in a pair of coveralls, turns the air on strikes a arc and he's squirming around from the sparks. When he struck the second arc I thought a couple of the old guys were going to piss themselves from laughing.
    He didn't hold his job for 3 hours, but sure made a bunch of us laugh for a month.
    If you have 6 months experience just say that and they might work with you.. tell them your a master and anyone with experience might give you a job just for good laughs.
    I have been doing manual work for 40 years not a day goes by I don't learn something. I help people who have 10 years experience with setups, job layouts etc. Occasionally I call a guy with 60 years experience for advice.
    Just be honest and truthful and you might have a chance.

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    As an engineer I would expect you already know how to trig out bolt circles, if not, learn it. I find it faster to use a calculator than look up tables.

    Manual shop will likely require to you single point thread and measure them.

    Rotary table and indexing head use and calculation.

    Dave

    Taper calculation and measurement.

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    A manual machinist job can be a very fun job in the right shop. Usually, one is expected to run almost all the basic machines and be able to fudge out just about any part, but nobody knows everything.

    At one shop I was expected to know heat treat size set after heat treat. Good that I found a book or I would have been lost on that. No, I don't consider myself a machinist even that I held that job for a time.

    The seasoned guy, the hand like lathe hand, mill hand, grinder hand will know many shortcuts on a certain machine.
    I am a grinder hand and an OK hack on most machines.
    Being handy with grinders one can quickly make a to-fit gauge so to run many lathe or mill parts closer with not having to use slower measuring tools.

    like toolsteel said..can you...run a Bridgeport, Tram it in, cut some threads and three wire check on a manual lathe, hand grind a drill and a turning tool?...do a simple surface grinder job?

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    Quote Originally Posted by mneuro View Post
    I agree with Toolsteel. Why go the manual route?
    It's all about $$$. There are no machinist available... thank goodness.

    "Let the Good Times Roll"


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