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  1. Starting a very small businuess

    In some ways, that's precisely the point of the many regulations, taxes, and insurance requirements. These things are barriers to you because you haven't planned beyond "start now and hope for the best". Past experience has taught society to protect itself from entrepreneurs who haven't considered the many ways their shortcomings can hurt others. Punishments tend to be severe to deter others from taking the same shortcuts. There's an old quote attributed to G.K. Chesterton that applies here. "Don't ever take a fence down until you know the reason why it was put up". I don't want to presume to know what you're thinking. I can imagine that if I were in your position, I'd feel frustrated by all these barriers, up to and including posts like mine that discourage people from just winging it in business. I could see that as a social or professional fence trying to contain my ambition. Maybe folks are threatened by my ability, or my insight, or my talent. Maybe they built this fence to protect their own interests. OK, maybe that's true. But what if they built this fence to protect something they care about? What if they knew that the world is cruel and unforgiving of failure? What if they saw me stumbling as I tested my boundaries? Maybe the best question is this. "What would it look like if people were trying to keep me from making a mistake? How would I know the difference? Well for starters, I might ask myself if the people building the fence stood to gain something from keeping me contained? I might also ask myself what value I hold to people inclined to protect me. Speaking for myself, I'd say you're valuable to me because you're driven to make something of yourself. The world needs people with purpose and skill. I can relate to that ambition as much as I revere blacksmithing. You're also valuable to me because you gave me an opportunity to share life lessons so you don't have to repeat my mistakes. In that way, you could give my struggle(s) meaning. I try to teach others to repay those who taught me.
  2. Shop Class?

    That is very true. Just yesterday I was looking at the photos that accompanied a press release about a "3D Printed house" that was on display in Austin Texas for SXSW. They claimed it was 800 square feet and built in 24 hours for 3rd world housing needs. There wasn't much clarification. Eyeballing the photo, it's more than a little probable that the square footage included a wrap-around "porch" that constituted over half the total area quoted. OK, so maybe I'm being picky about that measurement. Well, the 24 hours probably isn't really true either. That's how long "printed" part of the house takes. It doesn't include stuff like windows, doors, roof, paint, insulation, or the perfectly flat concrete slab they need to start with. Again, maybe I'm quibbling. What about it's claim to be a solution for 3rd world housing needs? Perfectly flat concrete slabs, literal tons of water, temporary tents large enough to fully protect the entire site while the machine is running, electricity, windows, doors, wood, steel, insulation, paint. Sure seems like a long list of requirements for a 3rd world situation. I don't mean to denigrate the machine or the knowledge and skill of the people who developed it to this point. I think it's entirely possible that they will find ways to overcome it's current deficiencies. The thing that galls me is the marketing that makes the brazen assumption that we won't notice that all this technology is capable of building, is a crude mud hut. What, pray tell, do these people think they're replacing? To tie this all back into the topic of the thread, I can't help thinking that if the parties involved had shop classes when they were in high school, they might have made different decisions.
  3. Shop Class?

    I had the same experience in high school. To add to it, I would say that when I finally did get to Trig and Calculus, the lessons weren't particularly aligned with practical application. As I recall we were approximately 70% of the way through Calculus 1 when they finally got to "The fundamental theorem of calculus". It's a lot like algebra where the very last thing you're taught is the quadratic formula which solves 90%+ of the quadratic equations you're likely to encounter. I had college instructors from the Math and Physics departments who hated the practical desire to "turn the crank" on a problem. I'm curious if the folks lucky enough to have had a metal-shop class in high school were taught to use more practical applications of mathematics?
  4. Shop Class?

    That reminds me of something I was telling my kid last night. I had a situation where we knew the length of several conduit runs but the supply house didn't label the cut wires with their length. The guys wanted to make an apprentice roll them all out to figure out which was which. This wasn't optimal because the conduit runs were very far apart and we'd waste a lot of time moving stuff around. I measured the diameter of the coil to the nearest tenth of a foot, counted the coils, and multiplied everything by 3.1. Most of the time, that math is simple enough to do in your head and it's sufficiently accurate to serve the purpose. Somewhat related to this is an old trig trick. Any triangle with equal length sides will have 60 degree angles. Take a compass (makeshift if need be) and scribe a quarter circle arc. Move the point to any spot on that arc and sweep the marker to where it intersects the first arc. Connect those three points and you've got it. If you need a 30 degree angle, divide the length of one side in half and connect that point with the opposing corner. If you've got something that's square, you can simply set one length along the triangle's side, and slide it up or down until the other length corresponds to the opposing corner of the triangle.
  5. The Dreaded Dimple!

    Does the stock you're countersinking have a corresponding bump in the bottom of the hole? If so, it seems like that would suggest the slug of stock material is flowing to the point of least resistance which is the heat-softened point of your countersink. I would be curious if you could make a countersinking taper that terminates in a cylindrical punch. With a matching backing plate it seems like you could punch the slug and achieve your countersink without having to dress the hole or the punch. Alternately, the cylindrical part could ride your drilled pilot hole to keep it from deforming during countersinking.
  6. Little things that make a BIG difference

    Put drinking water where you can reach it from the forge blower or wherever you rest during heats. Put the pitcher of refills where it won't spill, or be forgotten. Dehydration makes everything harder to do. Once the fire is lit, it's harder to find time to get more water. Stop when you're tired. I've burnt more stuff in two trying to make things go faster when I was tired than anything else. Getting the air flow, fire pot, and forge all dialed in with a coal or coke forge. I used to spend half my free-time fighting to keep the forge lit, let alone actually heating the work. Coke has many positive attributes, staying lit in the absence of a constant draft is not one of them.
  7. Shop Class?

    Sure thing!
  8. Shop Class?

    Biggun, I've broken a few taps and drill bits myself. I've never run into trouble with a 10-24, but small stuff like #4-40 just wants to break under a hard gaze. A lot of the tapping an electrician ends up doing is in sheet metal, and even then, it's mostly cleaning up threads that were painted or galvanized. Most of that stuff can be sorted out with a notch filed perpendicular to the threads of the appropriate bolt. Thomas, I think you've nailed it. Everything is disposable to them. I don't have any prejudice against power tools, cordless or otherwise. It bugs me to see tools getting destroyed, even if they're not mine. That being said, there are times where the best business decision is to get it done with what's available even if that means destroying some tools. Stuff like repairing your vehicle with the chrome-plated putty tools they sell at an all night gas station.
  9. Shop Class?

    Lots of great comments. I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand I'm sad that these skills aren't being taught, on the other, I'm frustrated that grown adults in this age of easy information aren't curious enough to figure out what they're doing wrong. Even if they weren't concerned with the growing pile of broken tooling, it seems to me that a person would look for ways to get more done with less work. These guy's are perfectly willing to spend their own money to buy cordless tools to replace manual ones to save themselves some work. One example is using a cordless reciprocating saw to cut conduit. They run them so hard that the temper gets cooked out of the edge. One guy had a dull blade within fifteen minutes and a flat battery in half an hour. All from cutting thinwall conduit!
  10. Shop Class?

    I'd like to know if middle, and high schools still have shop classes? If so, are there lessons on how to properly use metal-working tools? Last week I had and apprentice and a journeyman electrician, both roughly 30 years old who were breaking drill bits and taps at an alarming rate. We were drilling and tapping holes for 10-24 bolts in 3/16" thick structural steel. I provided a tap wrench, oil, bits, taps, everything. I left to get some material and returned an hour later. They'd drilled and tapped three holes, at a cost of three broken taps, five drill bits, and two pilot bits for carbide hole saws. I went to get them three more of each, then demonstrated how to drill and tap a hole. I also provided a demonstration on how to use the hole saw. I specifically pointed out how important it was to stay perpendicular to the work, and to watch the chips to see if your pressure and speed were good. Both guy's looked at what I'd done as though it was sorcery. The apprentice was positive I'd just gotten lucky, so he told me to watch as he gave it a try. The look of shock on his face when everything worked perfectly was memorable. I had to repeatedly tell him to slow the drill, or take it more gradual with the tap, break the chip, then turn it back in, etc. In every case, he finished the work faster, by operating the tool slower. Sadly, the next day I learned that they had fought about it after I'd left. The apprentice thought that hardness leaves metal tooling as soon as it's broken. He was destroying bits trying to "drill out" broken taps or drills. The Journeyman was proud to tell me that he corrected the apprentices superstition as he told me that he knew that taps won't break so long as you hold them with a tap wrench in line with your forearm! I got the impression that neither of these guy's had ever had a general metal-working shop class when they were in school. Looking back, I can say that by the mid 1990's there were no metal-shop classes beyond jewelry and automotive maintenance in my high-school. There was a metal shop classroom, packed with mills, lathes, welders, torches, shears, benders, rollers, and drill presses, but we weren't allowed to go inside. I learned how to drill and tap a hole by watching my dad, and then later, by doing it myself.
  11. Logging Saw

    yt12 I believe Roy Underhill mentioned that a lot of hand saws got resharpened to the point where the remaining metal was used to make scrapers. He had a video up on PBS where he was making saw blades for English style dovetail saws. The teeth were cut by a special punching machine that auto-indexed to the next tooth. The heat treated steel coming off the roll was punched, cut, filed, and set without any heat, drilling, or spark generating abrasives. I suspect they'd struggle to maintain tolerances and flatness by heat treating after cutting, and setting all the teeth. Plus, the corner of each tooth would be a natural stress riser for cracks to start. Even so, I've seen more than one "wall hanger" logging saw that had a crack started in a gullet.
  12. Starting a very small businuess

    JHCC, That's very well put. I would add question five: If you answered "yes" to questions 1-4, do you know how to access the people buying? I think there are a whole lot of otherwise viable business plans that get stuck on question five. People who take the "build it and they will come" approach are rarely successful. Despite what we see in media, it's awfully difficult to get noticed in the online market. Any time the barrier to entry is lowered, the competition at the bottom ranks grows. Every sale opportunity is like throwing a scrap of food to a pack of starving dogs. One, maybe two dogs will get the scrap, but several will mortally wound one another in the fight. Survival at that end of the market is day to day subsistence. One false move and you're done. Oh, and sometimes the scrap is poisoned because the clients are starving too. Ryancrowe92, I would like to suggest a different approach. The "straight line" you've drawn between your interests and becoming an entrepreneur are completely understandable. While there are a lot of difficulties in starting a business, there are people who overcome them. I've seen really hard working and intelligent failures, and I've seen fools that were successful beyond all reason. The deciding factors are timing and opportunity. Imagine the business plan in terms of an archery hunt to feed yourself. Now it's technically possible to just lob an arrow into the woods hoping it will bring down your quarry. That didn't take too much skill or time, but odds are good that you'll lose an arrow. Since you've got to supply them yourself, every lost arrow depletes your ability to continue the hunt. That can get to a situation where you're finally in range of a broadside buck with no arrows in your quiver. In business we call that an "opportunity cost". OK, so let's say you're more exacting, so you do some target practice. That's fine for a little while but it's gonna be hard to improve your marksmanship when you are hungry. Your hunger is overhead. If you don't have food in your pantry (income), you'll eventually starve. So that's got a down side. Alright, let's say you go to the nearest forest and just shoot whatever presents itself because you're no longer particular about getting fed. It turns out that the small game is quicker and harder to hit. Maybe you bag a few but you'll break arrows in the process (outlay). When pursuing small game like rabbit, your eyes are always be on the ground so you won't notice the rare buck that was within range until it's running away. So far, none of this seems to be working out so well. Yet there are hunting magazines with pictures of rich guys posing next to their trophies, what gives? Well, the rich guys can afford to hire guides and pay ranches to deliver them within range of a trophy. The real "stalk" for these hunters is picking the right outfitting company. All of that is very frustrating which is understandable so consider the following. A whole lot of farmers shoot a deer on their own property. See, they're "hunting" for the right opportunity every day at work. They take the pressure off their target practice by feeding themselves via the farm. These are the guy's who say "it doesn't take much" to be a productive hunter. Sure, once you factor out the property access, constant scouting, and perhaps nine months of planning based on years of experience, it just takes one shot to put a deer in the freezer every hunting season. Heck, they've probably killed all their deer with the same arrow. To apply this to blacksmithing, I have an example. There's a blacksmith near me who used to work for a super high-end construction company. They built for the wealthiest of clients. He was a quality assurance and safety guy for the company so he was always on the sites, often in contact with the clients. The clients wanted specialty everything, including stuff that he could make as a blacksmith. Being at the right place (opportunity) at the right time (timing), he was able to take his hobby to full-time employment. While that's awesome, it's worth mentioning that he spent 30+ years working his way up in construction before that window of opportunity opened for him. Most of which occurred in significantly better economic conditions than we have today. Still, I think it's only fair to call his plan a success because he never gave up, and he never went hungry.
  13. Starting a very small businuess

    Ryancrowe92, I read your response, especially the part about circling back to fully read what's been posted. Something in your response jumped out at me. You're framing your situation exclusively in terms of money. I probably would have done the same thing when I was younger which might even explain a few of my mistakes. Young people are often encouraged to sink their time and energy into their interests so they can sort out what they're going to do with themselves. Being young, it doesn't seem like a big deal to sink a few years into this or that. If it doesn't pan out, there is still have time to try something else. Especially if family is supporting the whole venture. All of the above is treating a substantial portion of your life as though it's happening in a consequence-free vacuum. Life does not work that way. If you're not applying yourself to something that's rare, difficult, and useful to others right now, it's highly unlikely to provide a living wage later on. A lot of younger people will reply that they're willing to accept a lower wage to pursue what they love. Sure, but what happens if you decide to get married and have children? How do provide for your combined goals, dreams, and desires? Perhaps more importantly, how will you provide for the needs of people you care (or will care) about? There's an entire generation of Millennials who've spent tons of time and money pursuing education related to their interests that was/is completely at odds with the available jobs on the market. A whole lot of Millennials can't afford to support a family so they're waiting. Meanwhile the biological clock of their fertility is running out. They followed bad advice and we are all suffering the consequences. Spending a few years pursuing a dead-end can have life-changing consequences for everyone you care about. Your time is incredibly valuable. Choose wisely.
  14. Starting a very small businuess

    I would recommend practicing your blacksmithing, reading up on your market, and biding your time until timing and opportunity align. "Just do something" business plans don't work. Etsy, Ebay, Amazon, etc. don't exist to make individual craftspeople famous or prosperous. Just because it's technically possible to be successful using them, doesn't mean it's even remotely feasible for the vast majority. Online marketing is discussed like it's easy, obvious, and effective. None of those things are true. Building a functional website that's aesthetically pleasing, technically functional, and easily found by potential customers is an incredible burden for anyone who hasn't studied web design. Even if all of the above wasn't an obstacle, the truth is that most people haven't got the money to spend on non-essential stuff. Amazing marketing, perfect product, excellent value, none of that can put spending money in your client's pockets. Spend some time trying to link up with businesses that do what you're interested in. You'll get a lot further, a whole lot faster if you're building on a good foundation. Good luck.
  15. blacksmithing on the next decade.

    Latticino, Thanks, and I agree with you, it's sad. Thomas, Your comment got me thinking about something. Doing market research is excellent advice and has been for a long time. One thing that is seldom mentioned is how larger trends will affect the answers you're likely to get. For example statistically speaking, most American's haven't seen a pay raise in the last ten years. That has a huge influence on what people actually do, versus what they'd like to do. A whole lot of business plans won't really be viable until that improves.