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  1. #1
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    Default Need Some Life Advice On finding a New Machining Job

    Hello,

    18-25 years of age. Have basic machining/welding course I took for one year in
    High School.

    Currently working in a small machine shop (under 10 employees) for the past 20 months
    (close to 2 years). Started out at around $13/hour wages doing production work,
    basic shop chores, cutting stock in saw, deburring parts, quality control, sweeping the floor, easy mig welding jobs, and very occasionally making parts on manual machines by myself.

    By the end of my first year I had my own tools, and was moved up to making parts off
    prints on conversational cnc/manual machines. Production work is still occasional,
    however I'm primarily doing "brain work" at this point. I am definitely far from a
    machinist, however I can figure out with little help how to make even some technical parts to machine which makes the boss very happy.

    SKILLS:
    At this point I'm doing more assemblies of parts which can be quite mentally frustrating
    and requires mechanical abilities. Can confidently work down to .0005" though we're not
    a climately controlled shop. Proficient in CAD programs as most of us must draw our own
    prints since the shop does significant one-off work. Proficient in sheetmetal fabrication, mig welding hardwire
    and fluxcore. Confident in miking shafts, press/slipfits to .0005". Have a general
    understanding of calculating my own speeds and feeds, proper tooling, machine maintenance,
    shop maintenance, working with ferrous and non-ferrous metals.

    WEAKNESESS:
    G-code, nothing, no experience. The only thing I can do on our G-code mills/lathes is
    confidently change tool offsets, hit go button, stop machine if tool breaks, reset fixtures, manually jog axis.
    Experience in general of making parts. Here I am going on 2 years and every part/assembly/drawing produced makes me learn from more mistakes/improvements in machine setup time.
    I'm not real great at the complex machining like manual threading, any 3-axis milling,
    turning tapers manually within minutes and seconds of a degree, etc.

    THE POINT/QUESTION:
    At this point I know this is my passion, the question is should I stick around for lower wages and learn or is it the smart time to jump into a larger machine shop? The management at this shop never mentioned anything to me about wages (although many times they would compliment me for improving my skills) until I asked them what they thought about me after 1 1/2 year. They keep promising a raise and putting it off till later. This company does not offer benefits much other than paid holidays. That being said I feel that I learn more skills here than any other shop because being a small shop each employee must take the role of welder, customer service, machinist, sheetmetal fabricator, mechanic, draftsman, programmer, jack of all trades.

    Some opinions suggest to use the "run" technique. By finding a big company with big benefits, throwing in a two week notice and that's it. Others recomend to start looking for another job. However my greatest fear of going to a big shop is due to my weakness in G-code I'll become a brainless operator and never make parts on my own again unless I go back to tradeschool. The 2 machine shops I've went to looking for work said they need someone who can program g-code so right there my manual/conversational experience makes me just as dumb as a highschool dropout.

    I feel that I need to sit down and have a talk with management, and if they can't take care of me will really start looking for another job (already looking). The bottom line is I'm not a journeyman yet (maybe in 3 or four years) but I'm MAKING, not just setting up, but MAKING parts. Why should I go through all this thinking to turn tight tolerance shafts for press fits and make a little more than $13/hour when I can go press "GO" in a big shop for $15 or more? Let alone a forklift operator which some positions in the big warehouses are paying $18/hour? Is asking management for a $15.50/hour compensation sound greedy and too much for a small machine shop? College dropouts are making more money than me for doing brainless work at the amazon warehouse, or a friend who makes about $14/hour making shovels and hoes at the local wheelbarrow plant.

    Sorry to be so longwinded but I'm young, an idiot and feel between a rock and a hard place, don't know what to do. Then again feel like the smart thing may be to stick it out get my 5 years experience in, get my journeyman papers and leave if they can't take care of me. Some days making certain parts I feel like I'm being used and underpaid.

    Went from nothing to building two big complicated assemblies (yes, made all the parts and everything all welding and machining); one with eccentrics, the other with fully functional brake pistons. Working on a third one now, if I keep working at this place I'll end up primarily doing assembly work and custom one-off machine work.
    Last edited by Br0WN&$h4RP3; 02-10-2018 at 11:31 AM. Reason: title not descriptive enough

  2. #2
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    What other shops in your area? College trade school nearby?

    You can download prototrak software to your home computer and learn it. You can also do the titan of cnc acadamy. Both will improve your skills.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Br0WN&$h4RP3 View Post
    Why should I go through all this thinking to turn tight tolerance shafts for press fits and make a little more than $13/hour when I can go press "GO" in a big shop for $15 or more? Let alone a forklift operator which some positions in the big warehouses are paying $18/hour? Is asking management for a $15.50/hour compensation sound greedy and too much for a small machine shop? College dropouts are making more money than me for doing brainless work at the amazon warehouse, or a friend who makes about $14/hour making shovels and hoes at the local wheelbarrow plant.
    Why stick with this instead of taking the brain-dead job for a dollar more an hour? Because when you take the brain-dead job, that's all you'll ever amount too. And then you'll get bored, and leave for another crappy job, making another dollar more per hour. Rinse & repeat.

    If you're smart enough to make parts, then you'll never be satisfied long-term in a job like that.



    So why stick it out?



    Because there is not a shortage of skilled machinists in the USA right now, there is an absolute sucking vacuum of skilled machinists in the USA right now.

    Ask them for a raise sure, but what you need to be focused on now, is improving your skills.

    At the moment, you're a novice/amateur machinist, and you want to get to the skilled machinist level, so that you can walk into your next job, and make $5-10 more per hour. And do it again 3 years after that. And maybe again after that.

    Seriously, the money will come, just focus on improving yourself right now. You're young, so don't worry about the money now - focus on your skills, and position yourself for better money in the future.





    Now, this next part is equally, if not more important...

    1- Be humble. You may be improving in skills. The job market may be in your favor. But don't get an attitude, and if you have one currently, deflate it FAST! Nothing will be a bigger turn-off to that corporate HR person at the high-paying factory, who's interviewing you for a great job. Or the owner of the successful medium-sized company who's interviewing you for a key role --- than a crappy attitude. Be humble, be grateful, be kind.

    2- Look the part. Start dressing nicer, & taking better care of yourself physically. This sounds ridiculous, but people "see" you long before they get a chance to evaluate anything about you. Even on the shop floor, you can "dress nice." Heavy duck/work pants & a tucked-in polo is still appropriate for shop work, but looks 10 times nicer than a worn T-shirt & dirty blue-jeans. No worn-out boots with an exposed steel-toe, and no rough/scruffy beards & bad hair.

    To go with this, keep the radio turned down low, work area clean, punched-in 5-10 minutes early, punched-out 10-15 minutes late, etc...

    This stuff shows others that you care about your job, your work, and that you view yourself as a true professional, as opposed to someone just punching a clock and waiting on pay-day. After a while, you will notice that you'll get invited to meetings, and that managers will stop & talk a little more often. They may not even realize it, but they will take you more seriously if you dress/look nicer, and "look the part." This will also help set you above & stack the odds in your favor, when you ask for a raise, and/or interview for the next job that pays much better...

    3- Stay Humble...

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    Regarding G-code programming, look at the example below. This would be for a Fanuc/Mill program. Study this program, until you get an idea of what these codes mean.


    O1234 (MAIN PROGRAM)
    (CUSTOMER NUMBER)
    (JOB NUMBER)
    (TOOL NUMBER)
    (DETAIL NUMBER)
    (OPERATION NUMBER)

    (OPERATION 10)
    (SPOT - DRILL - COUNTERSINK - TAP HOLES)
    (MAKE FROM 1 X 3 X 6 INCH 1018 CRS)
    (HOLD IN VISE & PARRALLELS)
    (X/Y ZERO IS BOTTOM LEFT CORNER)
    (Z-ZERO IS TOP OF PART)


    N10 (SPOT HOLES)
    G0 G20 G17 G90 G80 G40
    G91 G28 Z0.
    T1 M6 (SPOT DRILL)
    S1000 M3
    G90 G54 G0 X1. Y1.
    G43 H1 Z1.
    M8
    G81 G98 Z-.1 R.1 F4.
    Y2.
    X2.
    X3.
    X4.
    Y1.
    X3.
    X2.
    G80 M9
    G91 G28 Z0 M19
    M01


    N20 (DRILL HOLES)
    G0 G20 G17 G90 G80 G40
    G91 G28 Z0.
    T2 M6 (.422 TAP DRILL)
    S600 M3
    G90 G54 G0 X1. Y1.
    G43 H2 Z1.
    M8
    G83 G98 Z-1.25 R.1 F4. Q.1
    Y2.
    X2.
    X3.
    X4.
    Y1.
    X3.
    X2.
    G80 M9
    G91 G28 Z0 M19
    M01


    N30 (COUNTERSINK HOLES)
    G0 G20 G17 G90 G80 G40
    G91 G28 Z0.
    T3 M6 (90* COUNTERSINK)
    S300 M3
    G90 G54 G0 X1. Y1.
    G43 H3 Z1.
    M8
    G82 G98 Z-.375 R-.2 F2.
    Y2.
    X2.
    X3.
    X4.
    Y1.
    X3.
    X2.
    G80 M9
    G91 G28 Z0 M19
    M01


    N40(TAP HOLES)
    G0 G20 G17 G90 G80 G40
    G91 G28 Z0.
    T4 M6 (1/2-13 TAP)
    S300 M3
    G90 G54 G0 X1. Y1.
    G43 H4 Z1.
    M8
    M29 S300
    G84 Z-1. R.1 F23.0769
    Y2.
    X2.
    X3.
    X4.
    Y1.
    X3.
    X2.
    G80 M9
    G91 G28 Z0 M19
    G91 G28 Y0.
    M30




    That program should be 99% safe to load into any Fanuc/mill & run. So print it off, study it, make notes & memorize, until you're ready to try it. We'll tackle milling later when/if we had a part-drawing.

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    I would definitely suggest looking for another job, that process, even if you don't change jobs is informative.

    Understanding how to make parts is the most importance, G-code is just one way to get there. There are plenty of places to study up and then push for time on the non conversational machines at your current employer.

    Do you know what your employer is billing your time at? Some employers are just not good at making money and can't pay you more, other are just greedy.

    You actually wrote a reasonable post and seem to have your head screwed on mostly straight, I think you will find success. Look for a job with health insurance, unless you are still on mom and dad's. Hoping it is just a typo, but the updated title should be life, not lifes.

  7. #6
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    You say this career is your passion yet in 20 months you know zippo about gcode.

    I've only just started in a machine shop in October last year. I've just turned 52. Prior to this I was into excavation but in my spare time I was heavily involved in cnc plasma cutting (home built) and I've also got my own manually lathe and mill, etc.

    Everything I know I learned in my own time, from old machining books, Google, Youtube, forums, etc. The company owner (who knew me a little from social circles) actually approached me, not for my machine shop knowledge but for my interest and attitude. I was shocked that anyone could even think about offering me a job in a machine shop when my main occupation was operation excavation gear, but I guess it goes to show that some employers take interest and attitude very seriously.

    So don't just rely on your time at work to learn. If this job is what you want to do long term, then invest some of your own time to learn. Regarding the gcode, I've bought the book "CNC Programming Handbook" by Peter Smid, a great book for learning gcode. Right now I'm studying a Youtube video on Siemens Shopturn, and writing up my own help file. There's various videos out there on different machining centres and lathes. Check manufacturers websites for any instructional videos. Better still if you can find tutorials for the machines at your workplace. After your normal hours, maybe your boss will let you practise some programming on them when they are idle. And if you get OK at using the machining centres, but get no increase in your salary, at least you have more ammunition for that next job.

    Think about how much time university students put in without pay. They actually pay to get a qualification while maybe not having any income at all. That goes on for several years then they may have a loan to pay back at the end of it.

    Your boss does not seem to be getting you involved with the machining centres very much, I feel sorry for you there. The last week or so my boss has gave me the responsibility of setting up the jobs in the machining centre, unloading and loading the tools, measuring the tool length offsets, setting the work zero position with the probe, etc. And the biggest responsibility of all, setting the job running all by myself (yikes) and hoping I didn't screw up anywhere with the setting up. Doing OK so far. Don't get me wrong, I've had my fair share of floor sweeping, deburring parts, etc, but it looks like my boss has plans for me to eventually be the guy running the cnc mills and lathe. It is hard work learning them but it damn rewarding when the parts come out.

    So make it happen for yourself, learn what you can in your own time, and you'll eventually get that better position with the higher salary.

    Best of luck.

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    My compliment for a very good first post and title. 18-25 years of age, that is not very likely. (?)
    First I would try to stay away from welding, because in a small shop that can be dangerous for your lungs.
    Get a book on G code and study so you might know what Jashley’s program is about with two hours a day home study. In four weeks you should have a handle on G code.
    Make a list of all the top shops in your state, perhaps those that have a product, pay top, have years of success.
    Take a course in community college that might lead to a trade or degree so you might learn more and can list that on your resume (even if only one class)..
    Be the best worker in the shop, say the right stuff, produce the least scrap, help your boss. be on your death bed to take a day off with not a week advance approval, come up with sensible ideas to help the shop but be polite not pushy.
    Likely you may need two years on-the-job to open the door at the top shop. Bouncing around small shops won't do much for your history.
    QT: [I'm not real great at the complex machining like manual threading,] That is child’s play. turning a thread and grinding to .0002 should be in your talents.
    Very likely you will need two years on a job to be worth your salt but it does not hurt to start putting out feelers for an apprenticeship at the top shop.
    It does not hurt to have an interesting hobby or life style noted on your history..Perhaps become a Boy Scout leader or some other worthy activity.

    Good post from ManCave #6 ..go back and read that again..reread Jashley's also

    QT: [management at this shop never mentioned anything to me about wages] You are the new guy/a green kid who might learn a trade..look at the top wage possible and just think about it don'r ask for it. not knowing thread turning or G you are lucky to not be on the broom.

    Treat the older guys with regard and respect so they will help you learn..Don't think going 90 miles and hour on every job makes you better..often making normal to good speed with lowest scrap is the best. be busy all your clock time..keep you cell phone for emergency only..don't be seen with your cell in your hand..take only approved breaks..


    Here is a CD..don't know how good it may be.. but looks like a place to start..Books can be had for $10 and up..
    Amazon.com: G-CODE CNC MACHINING MILLING SIMULATOR TRAINING CAD CAM DVD TUTORIAL GCODE
    Last edited by michiganbuck; 02-10-2018 at 10:48 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mancavedweller View Post
    You say this career is your passion yet in 20 months you know zippo about gcode.


    Best of luck.
    You have a point. However you must understand we are more of a "custom" machine shop who primarily produces one-off work. The G-code programming here is quite minimal and only for the senior guys. For that reason I do know zippo about G-code. In this shop setting, it does pay the company to have employees make the custom parts manually, which is why I do what I do.

    Thank you so much to everyone's viewpoints, it helps me greatly. People I know personally keep telling me to stay where I'm at because I'm technically getting "paid to learn".

    I'll follow your advice and pick up that cnc programming book. One blessing to this company is that I can stay after hours on my own time to make whatever I want and get trained in whatever I want which they much encourage.

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    qt: [Started out at around $13/hour wages doing production work,}

    What are you making now at almost two years down the road?
    How sable is the job?
    What benefits?
    Have you made any effort to improve your self other that what the job taught you?
    Do you have a good or best attendance record?
    Have you made the better or worse reputation?
    Does the boss or owner know/think you are really trying to do your best?
    Are we helping the deserving guy to get the better job?

    QT: *[You have a point. However you must understand we are more of a "custom" machine shop who primarily produces one-off work. The G-code programming here is quite minimal and only for the senior guys. For that reason I do know zippo about G-code.] *Is that the opinion of a less than two year experience guy? ..

    If ManCave was the shop owner or a senior guy what would he think about that answer?

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    Or you could move to SW Washington state - send me your resume. AMS-Jobs (at) appliedmotionsystems (d0t) c0m

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    Quote Originally Posted by Br0WN&$h4RP3 View Post
    Thank you so much to everyone's viewpoints, it helps me greatly. People I know personally keep telling me to stay where I'm at because I'm technically getting "paid to learn".
    And they are right! At just 2 years into the job, you are just starting to learn, sure some big place might hire you, but you are more likely to get put into a position where you do 1 thing all day, every day, for years. Stay where you are for now, read/teach yourself, maybe even take some night classes. You are probably at the age where you are tired of school, but trust me, you need to keep learning every day till you retire or you will be left behind. As to your current pay, its above minimum, and it is a lot more than most of us made at that age.

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    just for a heads-up here is a work wanted add in the Detroit area..
    No, I don't now he guy..

    Hello, I am seeking new employment in CNC production.
    I am 29 and have been working CNC lathes and mills of various types for 10 years. I am capable of setups on mills though I have minimal experience with it. I thoroughly understand GD&T and inspection methods. I was attending Schoolcraft College earning 43 credits in the advanced manufacturing program however had to stop attending after being bumped to night shift. No classes were offer that work with my current schedule. Currently I work with exotic metals. Seeking a day shift position starting at or around $19 hourly. I have a strong dedication for quality work. E-mail with your company name for more details.
    Help wanted :
    Small Fabricating Shop in Troy, looking for CNC Mill Operator Minimum 5-10 yrs experience. Must be able to perform programming. Full-Time Position. Starting Rate between $16 - $20 per hour. Paid holidays and 401K after 90 days. Call between 9:30 AM and 4:30 PM to set up interview, you may also email resume. Hours of Operation: M-F 8:30AM - 5PM. (248) 689-3730

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    You are to young to have to whore yourself out to the highest bidder. If you are learning and enjoy working at the current shop, stick around until you either don't like it, you quit learning, or you have 4 years of solid work history there.

    Be the employee jashley describes. That way everyone who leaves the shop will remember what a desirable employee you are. They might become your recruiter some day.

    Take Motionguru's offer very seriously. Moving away from home will both force you and allow you to grow up, and the list of better employers than he is very short.

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    Work 1 to 3 years at bunch of places to learn as broad a range of skills as possible. Do toolroom work, repair work, manual, CNC, lathe, mill, whatever. When you get bored move on to the next job and make sure to get more money. Work every hour of OT you can, accept any new challenge with a smile.

    Grow your skill set first, but never take a job for less money unless you are starving. If you do it right in 10 years when all the old school guys with diverse skill sets die/retire whatever the fuck you are in a position that is far better than 10 years of pulling your dick and driving a forklift.

    Skills can't be taken away, a gravy are job you are overpayed for can.

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    Knowledge is power. Learn ALL you can.

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    Quote Originally Posted by motion guru View Post
    Or you could move to SW Washington state - send me your resume. AMS-Jobs (at) appliedmotionsystems (d0t) c0m
    Responding to the OP -

    I've been around this forum long enough to be able to say this without knowing you - If you are even remotely open to moving, you would very well served to take Motion Guru's post in complete seriousness and respond to it. Do some searching and you will find that not only is he well respected, but the company he and his partner have built is as respected, as well.

    You can certainly do worse for where you are at, now. However, I'm not entirely convinced you could do any better...

    You just got handed a huge opportunity.

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    I suggest documenting for your own files what you are working on. As in take pics of what you are making, maybe even make a little video with your phone describing what it is and some of the hard things you had to figure out. This is not to post on social media etc but to have for yourself to look back on and remember what you have done. Eventually, I'd be using some of those pics as part of my resume. You may need to get permission as to stay out of trouble.

    I work on different things most everyday and now have a little girl to occupy my mind and make me forget things. Every once in awhile I go through the pics on my computer and am reminded of projects I have worked on and things I have made. Some I have even posted on here to show off a little.

    Something else I'd do in your position is to get a computer if you don't have one and download Fusion 360 and learn it and work towards getting time on the cnc machines with programs you make. I only mention Fusion as it is free for now and seems to have enough videos on youtube that you can learn it for only the time invested.

    I'd also suggest getting to know G code well enough you can hand code programs, even though I don't hand code much of anything anymore, I can edit and trouble shoot programs pretty quickly because I know it. If I only knew how to drive the CAM program, I'd be at a disadvantage when something didn't quite pan out on a setup or I wanted to tweak a program, I'd be stuck going back and forth with the CAM and reposting etc.

    I'd also take Motion up on his offer if even just to hear from him what he is looking for and see what is possible.

    One of the reasons I stayed at the old job as long as I did was I had the opportunity to learn all kinds of machines and processes that I knew wouldn't be available many other places. I left there knowing how to operate and program very well a 5 axis router and all the other cnc machinery in that dept and also made it to the plastics area with their forming machines and molders.

    I'd say push them at work to get on the cnc's so you can learn them, do everything you can to learn every machine and process in the company and take it with you when you go.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Br0WN&$h4RP3 View Post
    The management at this shop never mentioned anything to me about wages (although many times they would compliment me for improving my skills) until I asked them what they thought about me after 1 1/2 year. They keep promising a raise and putting it off till later.
    I dislike bosses who string a person along.
    Next time you do a really good job that puts a smile on the bosses face, ask if you can talk privately. Have a pad in hand, pen ready to write when you say " You said when we talked in January that I would be getting a raise, what are the things I must do to get that raise?"

    Be respectful, but try do get a timeline and specific measurable goals.
    If he is weaselly, like he states "get better at xyz",then
    you ask "if I make rate on xyz 5 times in the next month I will get the raise?"

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  27. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Br0WN&$h4RP3 View Post
    I'll follow your advice and pick up that cnc programming book. One blessing to this company is that I can stay after hours on my own time to make whatever I want and get trained in whatever I want which they much encourage.
    You need to take full advantage of that, especially while you're young and don't have a family pulling at your after-work hours. This is the perfect time to be making your own tools. 1-2-3 blocks, angle plates, etc...

    Imagine some BS part that has a couple curves in it, "that requires a CNC" and use that as a reason to ask the bosses to use the machine.




    And at the same time, don't ignore MotionGuru's offer either. Working for him might well pull you in a number of great career paths, and I doubt you could work for a finer person/company...

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    Re open this thread in 6 weeks to say you understand most of Jasthly's program (in post #4)

    Ok 8 weeks.

    and also say you have a good handle on turning a screw thread.. Perhaps go to YouTube and know:
    1. why to come in at about 30*
    2. how a tool bit should be ground for aluminum and steel
    3. how to drop your half nut.
    4. about what spindle speed you should run

    and for some real browne points how the figure thread depth for straight in and at 30*

    Find out where the best money is in the shop. top grinder hand , top manual machinist, fixture builder, top program writer..set target at the top job.


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