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Old 01-18-2003, 06:29 PM
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Post Any Machinists out there??

I have been in retail management for years as a career, and an avid builder of hot rods as a hobby, and have been considering a career change to be a machinist. Can anyone tell me about this profession? Normal work hours, heavy lifting, math requirements, travel, dangers involved, atmosphere of work place, how repetitious or boring is it, good or a dieing profession? Employment opportunities? What you like about it, what you don't like about it? Pay rate, or general info appreciated.
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Old 01-18-2003, 06:32 PM
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Im not a machinist, but theres a shop a mile down the road and a few in town. Most of em works Mon-fri only and they have hoists that lift most of the heavy stuff. Id say its not boring if you like that stuff andmost of todays machines are setup were you dont need a lot of math. Pay? Not sure, but just think of all the work on your own stuff you could do. <img src="graemlins/drool.gif" border="0" alt="[drool]" /> HG
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Old 01-19-2003, 02:08 AM
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Sure would be useful if ya had a hole in your overalls, or maybe ya could make a new dress for the mrs!!

sorry i could not resist.......but it got this post back to the top.
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Old 01-19-2003, 02:46 AM
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Well...I can't speak for you southerners but up here a Machinist makes about $16/hr as a new Journeyman, with experience you could make as much as $27/hr. Depending where you live that could be higher or lower, wages generally follow the standard of living for that area. I know the machinists out east of me make more but their standard of living is much higher (My house in Toronto would easily cost over a quarter million, I paid just over 100K).

Is it a good job? Depends where you work. As an apprentice you will work the nastiest places doing the worst kind of work (ever slide under a full pig hauler to reweld a frame rail while it's still loaded? (The excrement was continously running out the back...and the smell... ). I would suggest you go for a Tool and Die makers ticket, the work is much the same except for the tolerances and type of work and cost of raw materials. You will gain valuble knowledge on Die making and work on generally better equipment. As a Tool and Die maker you will make more money to start and the work conditions are generally better.

Of course not everyone can be a Die maker and your skills and aptitude will determine that, attention to detail and machining knowledge all come into play. Speed is what seperates the men from the boys in this profession because time is money, not everyone can do accurate work quickly.

I have earned my Machinist Ticket (Red Seal) and my Tool and Die makers Ticket (Red Seal) as well as my Millwrights Ticket (Red Seal) and Mechanical Engineering Technologists diploma. All in all about 12 years of schooling if you include apprenticeships. With this much time in I should have went to medical school or University as an Engineer, I would be making much more money. Of course I would not have made a dime while in University, as a machinist I could work and learn.

I suggest you find out where you want to work, I learned in the aircraft industry and did most of my apprenticeships working for companies that served that industry. Over time I got tired of the monotonous repetition of work in aircraft and moved over to jobber shops and Tool and die where there is more room for artistic expression. Doing this job right usually means having some artistic skills and varied experience to see a problem from all sides.

Now at the peak of my career I am in the Medical Industry and provide the skills I learned to those that need it most...the sick. The money is not as good but the responsibility, working conditions and satisfaction is immeasurably better. I make a difference now and it is addicting.

To fully answer your question your math skills will determine how far you go, knowing trigometry and adding 4 digit numbers in your head on the fly will make you stand out. Multiplying 4 digit numbers in your head will make you an expert. Heavy lifting is required, 200 pds is not unusual and doing accurate work under the worst conditions imaginable is necessary at times. The atmosphere can be terrible due to petroleum solvents and oils smoking during cutting or assembly and I hope your not afraid of getting burnt by hot chips. Dust and fumes are a daily occurrence, and needing to take a shower before leaving work is not unusual. It really depends where you work, I laugh at some jobs I had where smoking on the job was considered hazardous to your health...like fuming sulphurized cutting oil was better for my lungs .

I consider my experience as a machinist great training for what I do now, consider it a stepping stone to bigger and better things. Your experience in management is an asset and might provide you with more opportunities later on.

Take a night course to see if you like it enough to do everyday, you will gain valuble experience (and time on the tools) and you can determine if wearing a suit or coveralls covered in grease is more your style. As I get older the suit looks better and better.

Good luck.
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Old 01-19-2003, 07:00 AM
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Tool and die is the way to go! usally their is no time limit on making tooling as with general CNC machine and vtl operator set up/man their is usually some type of rate to make or the boss is on your case! I have been a welder in the areospace buisness with some ocassional VTL and Mazzak (CNC) work when their is no welding? and can say it is a allround decent living if you do not mind the smell of coolant and or tap magic? operator`s of CNC usually get around $10-12.00 per hr in this industry and a good setup man can get upwards of $21.00 if you can do both vtl and cnc mill setup? unfortunatly alot of company`s try to get you to operate two machines at the same time? this can be tough as sometimes somthing can go wrong and you end up with a srap part? then it`s your fault!
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Old 01-19-2003, 07:19 AM
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Very well articulated, 4 Jaw. My Restro Rod Bud is a retired Master tool and die maker. He started an apprentice program with TRW and was Floor Super in 10 years. He then opened his own shop and specialized in the hard to do, superclose tolerance business, a lot of which was for Dept of Defense. He sold out when the contracts contained more verbage on EPA, OSHA, and EEO, than on specs for the equipment. It is a pleasure to work with his skill and knowledge, but his artistic, visionary skills impresses me imensely. Otherwords, some have the aptitude and others do not. I sort of think anyone could be taught to be a machine operator, but it takes aptitude to provide the tools and dies for the operator to use!! An by the way, I don't know what we are going to do when we dont have the skills left to design/program/set up the computer machines! By the way, my Bud has a vast amount of figures and tables ingrained in his memory, but he never fails to look them up to be sure. And 4 Jaw pegged all his attributes, down to the the ability to work fast AND acurately, the first time. Rework is costly!!

Trees
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Old 01-19-2003, 09:16 AM
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I think it depends on a persons aptitude for precision. My background consists of millwrighting and metal fabricaing/welding. As our customers are mainly industrial, the fit and finish is just that. I like fussy, precision oriented projects and some days think I should have gone after tool and die. I think that work/health hazzards are less in that profession and pay rate for tool & die (in canada) is at the top compared to most other trades. My schooling consisted of some machine work, and i miss it. If I could afford a milling machine , lathe and surface grinder, I'd be playing with them right now. 4 Jaw said it best.
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Old 01-19-2003, 02:38 PM
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Thanks for all the great information guys, I really appreciate it. From all the information I am getting, the picture doesn't look too pretty. I would still like to try it out and I had already signed up for a Precision Machine Shop course at night which was cancelled at the last minute because not enough people signed up. I will try again next semester. Everyone is advising to go into tool and die.

Is this a different course than the Precision Machine Shop, or a career direction you take after you graduate from school???

I suspect NAFTA will play a role in reducing job oportunities also. I hope we are not making our defense weapons over seas. There are some things we need to make on our own soil regardless.

If anyone wants to know about retail as a career I can tell you all about it.
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Old 01-19-2003, 03:10 PM
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HotRodMan,
It's all what you make of it. Myself, I love what I do. I've done the same thing day in and day out for 22 years now and have never grown tired of it. It can be boring if you do the same thing in and out every day but usually a tool & die man has something different every hour and every day. It is an art in itself. If you don't like to lift or if you don't like to stand on your feet then don't even think about it. If you have no mechanical abilities then it is probably not for you. If you like sitting behind a desk and pushing a pencil then you better not look into it at all. If you can not take pressure then forget it. If you are slower than a crippled turtle do not even ask for a job at a job shop. Job shops make their money on turnaround. You mess around for a week on a simple job your butt is out the door. You have to have the ability to forsee things before you ever walk towards a machine. Math is the NUMBER ONE PRIORITY. You need to be proficient in math. Mainly geometry. You have to respect the equipment that you are working with. All of it can be very dangerous. One guy at our shop pulled his thumb off because he was using a 1" counterbore with a pair of gloves on. The glove got caught in the drill press and showed no mercy. It is a good profession to be in as there will always be a need for machinist. Good machinist are getting harder to come by and a good die man is even harder to come by. Being a tool and die maker is more than a job. It is more about craftmanship. The good ones are retiring and there are not that many that has replaced them. In my area you can make anywhere from the mid teens to the mid twentys in wages which is great when everyone else is laying off. If you decide to persue it, good luck. After awhile you will love it.

Kevin
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Old 01-19-2003, 03:13 PM
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I worked in the plastic injection mold business in Southern Indiana for five years, and it was long, long hours. The work was challenging, but I thought the pay vs. the skill wasn't up to snuff. Alot of the tool jobs are going to China and places like it now which is a shame. Automotive machining is fun, but most shops pay very little. If you are going to get into the machining biz, it takes time to acquire experience, and, most of the time, the pay doesn't reflect the years you've worked in it.
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Old 01-20-2003, 10:50 AM
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i dunno but there is a little shop in channelview texas where i get all my work done they did all my dads and still do all my dads machine work
they arent cheap but i bet the pay would not matter if your workin on loud motors all day but that is just me!!
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Old 01-20-2003, 01:27 PM
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I have to agree with Kevin, I have never ever worried about a job. Many jobs I got by just walking through the front door and introducing myself, your reputation will follow you which sure makes it easy to find work. As a matter of fact most machinists move around a lot for the first few years and get experience before they settle for one job, when I apprenticed I made it a point of changing jobs every year of my apprenticeship. Not only did I gain valuble experience but I could renegoitiate my wage each time I moved, many shops like to hold your wage back as an apprentice.
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