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    Quote Originally Posted by ducesrwld View Post
    how many knives a week or month you aiming to make or sell? as far as options go i'd think you'd do just fine with just about a bare bones optioned machine. a couple thoughts:

    1 - coolant pump i'd go with the larger pump unless its changed the larger pump wasn't much more but haven't looked at them in years....
    2 - like stated unless doing a lot of plastic or aluminum 10k spindle may not be necessary
    3 - i'd think you'd be doing some 3d contouring on your knives, maybe not....if you are high speed machining look ahead as a control option is going to be a necessity to keep up
    4 - again unless its changed getting the plastic lid for the top of the machine to enclose it keeps things a little cleaner
    5 - the Haas staple on just about any mill...4th axis wiring I could see with knives this coming in handy down the road with a small rotary table
    6 - TSC for your needs probably money spent elsewhere TSC really comes in big for A LOT of drilling or deep hole drilling neither of which is probably high on your list

    i'd keep as much money on tap for tooling & fixturing this bad boy up. again options and the mini mill may have changed but back in the day a lot of mini mills came in with the bare bones put on them.

    just a couple thoughts....and last may want to ask the question to your Haas contact see if he knows of any of the shops in the area looking to unload an older machine or make room for new spindles never hurts to ask.
    I plan to make between 5 and 10 knives a month. The amount of hand work and fitting limits me to this. Maybe as I get better the number will grow but even if someone handed me the parts this would be close to my limit. I work 50 plus hours a week mostly out of town, so weekends and holidays are the only real time I have to devote to this. If the demand rises I may look at ways to increase this number. I really want these to be 100% in house. The heat treat alone takes 15 hours to do properly and I can only do 2 blades at a time to maintain the quality I want. More kilns would help but they are 3k a piece. I guess what I'm saying is that the fastest cycle times are not a huge priority right now. The time I spend grinding the blades would be plenty to machine the handles. Accuracy and repeatability are my main concern. Hopefully this info is somewhat relevant. Thanks for your help.

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    With that low qty I'd be farming it out to another shop. Why bother with the headaches??



    Sent from my Pixel 3 using Tapatalk

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    Quote Originally Posted by as9100d View Post
    With that low qty I'd be farming it out to another shop. Why bother with the headaches??



    Sent from my Pixel 3 using Tapatalk
    Let me start this by stating that you are probably right.

    My reasons for doing this myself are as follows:

    I want complete control over every process, I don't want to rely on anyone else if possible. Nobody cares more about my products than I do. I realize that a real shop will be much more skilled but my expectations are high. From what I have heard farming out small batch machining is expensive. I would need to pass that cost on to my customer and I get no benefit from it. The higher price tag makes my knives less desirable and further reduces my already niche audience.

    Yes the cost of the machine needs to be accounted for but I am more willing to not pass that cost along as much because I will pay the machine off and it will not be a recurring cost. I want to keep my knives priced competitively. Having the machine allows me to make small changes and cater to customer requests. This is much more difficult if someone else is making my parts. If someone is spending custom knife money they expect and deserve this kind of service.

    I will be developing another skill. The idea of learning all this for myself is intriguing to me. I have learned every other process until now and I enjoy the challenge. This started as a hobby for me and continues to be one. It is important to me to do everything myself. It is something I enjoy that I want to turn into a business. The business doesn't need to make me rich by any means. If it can support itself as I learn and grow I am happy. Generating a small profit is a bonus.

    So far every step has been this way. I could have farmed out many processes for cheaper but then I haven't really leaned as much and I would be less capable and knowledgeable down the road. Hopefully I can continue to grow and all this work eventually pays off in a larger way. All I can do is keep at it. For me the machining is not just a means to an end but another process I want to learn in order to make my knives better.

    I could attempt to make a similar profit by charging more but it can be a dangerous game to play. There is lots of competition and a lot of guys do a great job.

    Some of the raw materials can be quite costly. I currently have my parts waterjet cut which I would rather not do and some stuff has been wrecked in the past. It can be awkward getting the money back and explaining the delays. So far its just been a few hundred dollars but It could just have easily been a few thousand. Some of the raw materials get super expensive and can's always be replaced.

    Hopefully this isn't just incoherent rambling. Anyway, that is why I choose to ignore your reasonable logical advice and deal with the headaches for now. Thanks for your input.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stang Bladeworks View Post
    Let me start this by stating that you are probably right.

    My reasons for doing this myself are as follows:

    I want complete control over every process, I don't want to rely on anyone else if possible. Nobody cares more about my products than I do. I realize that a real shop will be much more skilled but my expectations are high. From what I have heard farming out small batch machining is expensive. I would need to pass that cost on to my customer and I get no benefit from it. The higher price tag makes my knives less desirable and further reduces my already niche audience.

    Yes the cost of the machine needs to be accounted for but I am more willing to not pass that cost along as much because I will pay the machine off and it will not be a recurring cost. I want to keep my knives priced competitively. Having the machine allows me to make small changes and cater to customer requests. This is much more difficult if someone else is making my parts. If someone is spending custom knife money they expect and deserve this kind of service.

    I will be developing another skill. The idea of learning all this for myself is intriguing to me. I have learned every other process until now and I enjoy the challenge. This started as a hobby for me and continues to be one. It is important to me to do everything myself. It is something I enjoy that I want to turn into a business. The business doesn't need to make me rich by any means. If it can support itself as I learn and grow I am happy. Generating a small profit is a bonus.

    So far every step has been this way. I could have farmed out many processes for cheaper but then I haven't really leaned as much and I would be less capable and knowledgeable down the road. Hopefully I can continue to grow and all this work eventually pays off in a larger way. All I can do is keep at it. For me the machining is not just a means to an end but another process I want to learn in order to make my knives better.

    I could attempt to make a similar profit by charging more but it can be a dangerous game to play. There is lots of competition and a lot of guys do a great job.

    Some of the raw materials can be quite costly. I currently have my parts waterjet cut which I would rather not do and some stuff has been wrecked in the past. It can be awkward getting the money back and explaining the delays. So far its just been a few hundred dollars but It could just have easily been a few thousand. Some of the raw materials get super expensive and can's always be replaced.

    Hopefully this isn't just incoherent rambling. Anyway, that is why I choose to ignore your reasonable logical advice and deal with the headaches for now. Thanks for your input.
    I get it. I support it, but if I had to be in your shoes I'd do it differently. It's like having a baby.... There is never a good time to start but if your passion is CNC machinist, you're on the right path.

    If your passion is making money by selling knives, a CNC machine probably isn't the right move given the low volumes.

    If you're stuck on a CNC mill is suggest a used Haas minimill with an NGC control. Get high speed machining and probing installed if it doesn't have it already. Buy Maritool holders and stick with imco endmills.

    You can get started pretty easy that way without a ton of fuss.

    Sent from my Pixel 3 using Tapatalk

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    Quote Originally Posted by as9100d View Post
    I get it. I support it, but if I had to be in your shoes I'd do it differently. It's like having a baby.... There is never a good time to start but if your passion is CNC machinist, you're on the right path.

    If your passion is making money by selling knives, a CNC machine probably isn't the right move given the low volumes.

    If you're stuck on a CNC mill is suggest a used Haas minimill with an NGC control. Get high speed machining and probing installed if it doesn't have it already. Buy Maritool holders and stick with imco endmills.

    You can get started pretty easy that way without a ton of fuss.

    Sent from my Pixel 3 using Tapatalk
    Thanks,
    I guess my passion is making the best knives I can myself. Cnc is very interesting and something I would love to learn. For now the cnc would be the difference between selling 20ish knives a year and 100 or maybe more. Still a small number but much more. I can only plan so far in advance without overspending. I appreciate the info. I am keeping my eyes peeled for used machines.

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    I have learned that people make up their mind and.......... the rest is noise.

    However, let me at least try. I totally get the interest to own a CNC. I did too and it grew.....into a disease...an expensive one. Not saying that is totally a bad thing, but....

    What I will recommend is try to keep the buy in LOW! Unless you can digest losing 30 grand or more! Not even saying you will but I have seen it happen. What I will recommend is find an older Tree knee mill. They are 3 axis cnc, can be found cheap, you won't find anyone to knock their quality or rigidity. I could tell you a story about comparing a smaller one to a full size Haas POS VMC. You probably won't get a tool changer. No enclosure, etc, but you will get some serious CNC experience and while you burn those countless hours looking at that control and trying to solve simple problems, you can think to yourself "at least I am not making a huge monthly payment on this!"

    I am reminded of a popular guy on youtube that bought a new Haas up in Can-uh-duh.... To be right honest, he and I would get along just fine, but there is something in the water when you can dump 100k on a brand new VMC to "fart around" with. He has made about every rookie mistake short of outright crashing it, which is going to hurt his pocket just a touch.

    you may not want that much blood on your hands. For reference, go look at my latest thread in this section. These are the expensive problems you can count on!

    As for performance, LOL, that tree will be slower, but again, I highly doubt you will find anyone here to that will actually say a Haas mini would be more rigid than anything Tree ever made. There are many others, but personally, I think you will find MUCH more value if you stay away from Haas and Fadal. In older machines, Haas didn't know how to build a rigid machine, and Fadal's control and wiring was childish. Find some Jap iron with a Fanuc control and know you have a SOLID platform.

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    What software will you be using to program this?

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    Quote Originally Posted by huleo View Post
    I have learned that people make up their mind and.......... the rest is noise.

    However, let me at least try. I totally get the interest to own a CNC. I did too and it grew.....into a disease...an expensive one. Not saying that is totally a bad thing, but....

    What I will recommend is try to keep the buy in LOW! Unless you can digest losing 30 grand or more! Not even saying you will but I have seen it happen. What I will recommend is find an older Tree knee mill. They are 3 axis cnc, can be found cheap, you won't find anyone to knock their quality or rigidity. I could tell you a story about comparing a smaller one to a full size Haas POS VMC. You probably won't get a tool changer. No enclosure, etc, but you will get some serious CNC experience and while you burn those countless hours looking at that control and trying to solve simple problems, you can think to yourself "at least I am not making a huge monthly payment on this!"

    I am reminded of a popular guy on youtube that bought a new Haas up in Can-uh-duh.... To be right honest, he and I would get along just fine, but there is something in the water when you can dump 100k on a brand new VMC to "fart around" with. He has made about every rookie mistake short of outright crashing it, which is going to hurt his pocket just a touch.

    you may not want that much blood on your hands. For reference, go look at my latest thread in this section. These are the expensive problems you can count on!

    As for performance, LOL, that tree will be slower, but again, I highly doubt you will find anyone here to that will actually say a Haas mini would be more rigid than anything Tree ever made. There are many others, but personally, I think you will find MUCH more value if you stay away from Haas and Fadal. In older machines, Haas didn't know how to build a rigid machine, and Fadal's control and wiring was childish. Find some Jap iron with a Fanuc control and know you have a SOLID platform.
    Thanks for the feedback. I will look into older machines as well. I am having trouble finding anything local that fits my requirements. I would be lying if I said that the idea of a new machine wasn't more appealing. I love new tools but I would be foolish not to look into the used market. I am less comfortable with it because I don't know much about the machines (repair costs, parts availability etc.). I am fortunate in that I do not need the machine to make money right away. I plan to budget so that I have the time to learn and get used to things. I did look into Tree machines but everything around here is too large for my shop. If you know of any places to look for used machines I'm all ears. Thanks for your reply. I appreciate it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by plastikdreams View Post
    What software will you be using to program this?
    I plan to use fusion due to the lower cost. I have found some online resources that teach it on a basic level. The only other program I am aware of is solidworks and it's outside my budget. If anyone has any tips or recommendations for CAD CAM software let me know.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stang Bladeworks View Post
    I plan to use fusion due to the lower cost. I have found some online resources that teach it on a basic level. The only other program I am aware of is solidworks and it's outside my budget. If anyone has any tips or recommendations for CAD CAM software let me know.
    Throw up a drawing similar to what you want to do ?

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    Don't discount Fusion because of the cost. The mission drives the gear train, and F360 will do everything you need and more, and the support base on the internet for a novice is fantastic.

    I do some programming for a renowned knifemaker - it is a super cool market segment and very fun. For knife work, I would prioritize 3D surfacing capability and large program size when looking at machines. The used market has some gems but there are a lot of issues trying to run modern spline surfacing programs on old controls and servos. Hass doesn't make great machines, but they do make modern machines.

    Spindle speed is a big one. Even cutting exotics (the last knife I programmed was Timascus and Zirconium) you need a lot of RPM to get the proper SFM for small tools.

    If you wanna make crazy cool knives... look into wire EDM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EmanuelGoldstein View Post
    Throw up a drawing similar to what you want to do ?
    To be honest I don't have anything like that ready yet. I need to figure out my plan for fixturing first. I can throw up my 2d cad if that helps at all. I need to work through some practice with fusion then move my design over to a 3d model before I can really get into it. I am at a point with it right now where I don't even know what I don't know. Hopefully that will change as I learn more. I will be sure to post stuff up as I figure it out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Finsta View Post
    Don't discount Fusion because of the cost. The mission drives the gear train, and F360 will do everything you need and more, and the support base on the internet for a novice is fantastic.

    I do some programming for a renowned knifemaker - it is a super cool market segment and very fun. For knife work, I would prioritize 3D surfacing capability and large program size when looking at machines. The used market has some gems but there are a lot of issues trying to run modern spline surfacing programs on old controls and servos. Hass doesn't make great machines, but they do make modern machines.

    Spindle speed is a big one. Even cutting exotics (the last knife I programmed was Timascus and Zirconium) you need a lot of RPM to get the proper SFM for small tools.

    If you wanna make crazy cool knives... look into wire EDM.
    Thanks for the advice, I would love to here anything you are willing to share about cutting timascus or zirc. Right now my biggest question is whether or not its worth it to upgrade to a 10k spindle. I have cut timascus before on my small mill that maxes out at 2250rpm with good results so I know it can be done, I'm just not sure how much better it can be. I have never worked with zirconium before. I have looked into speeds and feeds calculators but I would love to hear from someone with actual experience cutting those materials. As I mentioned before cycle times are not my main concern. If I can get a good surface finish accurately I will be happy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stang Bladeworks View Post
    To be honest I don't have anything like that ready yet.
    Paper and pencil still works Make a sketch of something sort of like what you want to make, snapshot on the smartphone, upload here so people can see what you really want to do. So far it's just "I want to make knives." In case you hadn't noticed, there's lots of different types of knives !

    I need to figure out my plan for fixturing first.
    To me, thats backwards. First you have an idea what you want to make, then you design the fixture to hold it based on what the part will be like. Not the other way around !

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    Quote Originally Posted by EmanuelGoldstein View Post
    Paper and pencil still works Make a sketch of something sort of like what you want to make, snapshot on the smartphone, upload here so people can see what you really want to do. So far it's just "I want to make knives." In case you hadn't noticed, there's lots of different types of knives !


    To me, thats backwards. First you have an idea what you want to make, then you design the fixture to hold it based on what the part will be like. Not the other way around !
    Did you see my pictures from my earlier post? I posted one of my hand made knives. It is exactly what I want to make just in a more efficient manner. I will add some more pics here as well. This model has been doing well for me and I just want to automate the machining processes to increase my throughput capability. If I am misunderstanding what you are saying please let me know. Thanks for the reply. I initially assumed you wanted to see fully 3d drawings of the parts on a fixture.

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    capture.jpg
    Here is my 2D CAD, Hopefully It helps show what I'm trying to do. This is the file I designed to make the knives from my second post.

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    I was actually in a similar boat to you a couple years back as I used to outsource parts until I decided to acquire a machine. Lots of people here in this thread have already mentioned great tips, but hopefully my input still helps. I'm in the knife industry as well and you can see my work here atsquidindustries.co. I currently have two Haas VF2SS and a Doosan DNM 4500.

    Personally, I would recommend that you outsource the parts until you're able to increase the volume on your knives. Becoming a machinist and making your own parts is extremely fun and rewarding, but I don't think it's going to be worth the hassle. Since you mentioned that you're already working approximately 50 hours a week, you'll have limited time to do the machining let alone the handwork that you put into your knives. The way I see it, you should outsource as much as you can because you'll be producing even fewer knives if you took on the machining yourself. Let other people with better machines and experience put out the parts that you need so that you can focus on the important handwork. Once you've reached a bottleneck and really need to ramp up production, then you should go for the machine.

    If you're still hellbent on buying the machine, I would also recommend the minimill. The Haas Minimill is an excellent machine and my friend Julian Klein (@jk__design) makes excellent knives with his super minimill 2. For options, you're only going to need the 10K spindle and maybe the high speed machining. I would recommend that you pick up the 10K spindle since you'll be close to maxing your RPM when 3D surfacing your handles. You might need the high speed machining but I skip it first and see how it performs without it since you can always purchase it afterwards (it's a software so it can be enabled anytime).

    Fusion 360 is a great option. There's tons of resources out there and learning the CAD/CAM on it shouldn't take you very long. Fixturing is pretty simple and cheap to make yourself but I would recommend Orange Vise if you can afford it since it'll allow you to use both a traditional vise and pallet system.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Squidmaster23 View Post
    If you're still hellbent on buying the machine, I would also recommend the minimill.
    For an opposing chepskate viewpoint, I would not. I'd get a decent, reliable older vmc for ten grand and save myself $30,000. Who cares if it takes five times longer ? he wants to make 20 a month. Fadal, Mori Jr, even a blue Hurco can do this job, it just takes a long time.

    AFTER things take off, then he can spend the big bucks to go a lot faster ... but I would not take on that burden when the demand is unknown.

    If he had an order from Walmart for 12,000 pcs/month, things would be different. I don't know about you rich guys but thirty grand on an idea is still real money to me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Squidmaster23 View Post
    I was actually in a similar boat to you a couple years back as I used to outsource parts until I decided to acquire a machine. Lots of people here in this thread have already mentioned great tips, but hopefully my input still helps. I'm in the knife industry as well and you can see my work here atsquidindustries.co. I currently have two Haas VF2SS and a Doosan DNM 4500.

    Personally, I would recommend that you outsource the parts until you're able to increase the volume on your knives. Becoming a machinist and making your own parts is extremely fun and rewarding, but I don't think it's going to be worth the hassle. Since you mentioned that you're already working approximately 50 hours a week, you'll have limited time to do the machining let alone the handwork that you put into your knives. The way I see it, you should outsource as much as you can because you'll be producing even fewer knives if you took on the machining yourself. Let other people with better machines and experience put out the parts that you need so that you can focus on the important handwork. Once you've reached a bottleneck and really need to ramp up production, then you should go for the machine.

    If you're still hellbent on buying the machine, I would also recommend the minimill. The Haas Minimill is an excellent machine and my friend Julian Klein (@jk__design) makes excellent knives with his super minimill 2. For options, you're only going to need the 10K spindle and maybe the high speed machining. I would recommend that you pick up the 10K spindle since you'll be close to maxing your RPM when 3D surfacing your handles. You might need the high speed machining but I skip it first and see how it performs without it since you can always purchase it afterwards (it's a software so it can be enabled anytime).

    Fusion 360 is a great option. There's tons of resources out there and learning the CAD/CAM on it shouldn't take you very long. Fixturing is pretty simple and cheap to make yourself but I would recommend Orange Vise if you can afford it since it'll allow you to use both a traditional vise and pallet system.
    Thanks for the advice,
    I checked out your site and the products look awesome. I do not want to outsource the machining and I don't think there would be any profit left over if I did. I am very fortunate that my knives are gaining some traction. I want to use that traction to purchase a machine. As I get better I hope to make more but I always want the knives to be in house. I view it as a hobby that can pay for itself now. I totally get that purchasing the machine isn't the best or smartest business move. That being said it is something I want to learn and maybe it will pay off down the road if and when I expand. If I never buy a machine I will continue to make them by hand in my garage. For years this has only cost me money and now that it is starting to pick up I want to reinvest the money into getting better. In addition to the added throughput I want to be able to provide more customization for the customer and a better way to service things. Right now each part is hand fitted to all other parts of a single knife. No parts are interchangeable so if someone snaps a blade off prying open a car door or something it is very expensive and time consuming to replace it. I want to get to a point where my parts are interchangeable and I can offer upgrades / replacement parts if need be. If it never advances out of my garage and I only make 20-100 knives a year I will still be happy as long as I am learning new things and not losing money. Hopefully this helps explain my mindset going into this. That being said I don't want to waste money on options I don't need. I am also not really looking for a project / rebuild machine. I want something that is easy to get help with should I need it and where parts and service are local and readily available.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EmanuelGoldstein View Post
    For an opposing chepskate viewpoint, I would not. I'd get a decent, reliable older vmc for ten grand and save myself $30,000. Who cares if it takes five times longer ? he wants to make 20 a month. Fadal, Mori Jr, even a blue Hurco can do this job, it just takes a long time.

    AFTER things take off, then he can spend the big bucks to go a lot faster ... but I would not take on that burden when the demand is unknown.

    If he had an order from Walmart for 12,000 pcs/month, things would be different. I don't know about you rich guys but thirty grand on an idea is still real money to me.
    Thanks,

    Totally valid points. All the used machines I have found seem to be much more than 10k. I am actively looking at used machines I just haven't found one that fits my budget and application. I am space limited. If I am going to buy used I need to see a significant cost savings vs new. Maybe I am not looking in the right places.


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