Hitting the Mark in a One-Man Shop

Dave Wentz has always worked with his hands. After working in a canvas shop for 20 years he worked at a metal stamping factory – with a tool and die apprenticeship – and a smaller machine shop, all before going out on his own. “I had designed and developed my own product, and when I had the opportunity to do fabrication on my own, I decided to go for it.”

Wentz does an array of fabrication for various customers, including a steady set of eight parts and secondary operations for a local screw machine shop.

“They run the parts on their machines, and then I’ll do anything from mill flats to side drilling or finish profiling,” he explains. “I also do some fabricating work for manufacturing companies that sub out some of their work. So I get small batches of pieces and parts all the time.”

A PCNC 1100 was the best fit for Wentz’s one-man shop, as it had the work envelope and cutting capabilities to keep up with the work he was looking to do. While often associated with production-style runs, the ease of use of his PCNC 1100 affords him the ability to easily change his machining to adapt to changing parts. He gets so many of one part that he has created a unique fixturing system to do the secondary operation. This has lead to the development of an efficient staging process and racking system with the more common parts that he works on, which allows him to clamp, cut, inspect, and count the parts with speed.

“It’s held closer to where it’s being machined, as opposed to where I was originally holding it – on the square base. That improved both tool deflection and part deflection.”

Wentz’s custom design allows him to not only create multiple parts faster in his one-man staging and assembly line, but it also allows him to keep much tighter-quality on the parts. Wentz does almost all of his work by manually programming G-code on his machine.

While he’s dabbled with Fusion 360, he hasn’t taken the leap to using the software in his daily work. “I’m my own worst enemy when it comes to CAM/CAD. Baby steps.”

“When I bought the machine I got all the bells and whistles with it – the 4th axis and whatnot – they’re still in the crate,” he continues. “It’s really just a matter of taking that step in the learning process, once I better myself with using CAD/CAM.”

Wentz is hoping to grow his customer base locally and develop more working relationships with the local businesses and manufacturers. Wentz is also looking to grow the sales of his own designs, like his Bow Vise and Arrow Puller.

“I’ve been a hands-on person almost all my life, I just switched from working with canvas and rope to steel and aluminum. I didn’t originally envision that, but I had the opportunity to pursue it and I’m thankful for that. I’m not getting rich, but it’s satisfying.” Wentz says that he has a lot of learning yet to do with his mill, but he’s always excited to be making more projects and fabricating more parts and he credits his PCNC 1100 for being the right fit for a one-man shop.

“There’s a lot of things that the machine is capable of that I haven’t put to the test yet, but the machine itself is great. I love it!”