Real People. Real Stories. - In Conversation with Jon Working

Our mission here at Tormach is to empower people who make things, and what better way to do that by sharing the stories of the Tormaker Community - people just like you.

CNC machining started out as a hobby for Jon Working; he spent 18 years in engineering and fabrication, and now he's able to earn a living from the two Tormach machines in his own shop. Catch up with hobbyist turned business owner, Jon, below! 

Q:What Tormach Machine do you use?
A: 1100MX Mill and 15L Slant-PRO Lathe

Q: Tell us more about your craft and what it is that you make?
A: I mainly reverse engineer and manufacture restoration parts for vintage vehicles. Customers will bring me a part that they can’t get anymore and ask me to make something that will look and function in the same way and they’ll order it from me.

I will be developing my own products as well. I’m looking at making furniture hardware - I made a drawer pull out that looks like a button for my wife’s craft room. I used the lathe to do part of the work and the mill to do the holes where the thread to go through.

CNC machining started out as a hobby. I did engineering and fabrication for a company for over 18 years and CNC machining was a hobby on the side. I started making a couple of these parts and it kind of grew, then this February I went full time doing it. I’m earning my living off these machines now in my own shop. I love it - working by myself, for my own shop, doing things the way I like. It doesn’t feel like work at all.

Q: What has been your biggest success with your Tormach this year?
A: The Tormach machines gave me the ability to continue my own business as a full-time venture and it definitely would not be possible without them.

The power requirements of the Tormach machines are a significant point too. I can run my entire shop for about $30 per month (less than 500 kWh) with both Tormach's running and several other machines 8-hour days, 5 days a week. Also, I don't need a phase converter.

Another aspect that was a big deal for me is that I am very self-reliant and I was able to install both machines myself, and when we moved this year, I could move them and set them up again with no help or expensive equipment. I just rented a small equipment trailer and used a pallet jack.

Q: And with all the good there is some bad...what's been your biggest failure in your shop?
A: I’ve broken a few end mills on the 1100MX. The lathe - I haven’t been able to break that yet.
I’m not trained as a machinist, so I’ve been learning and figuring things out as I go so, I don’t know what’s going to happen every time. Then when I do something and it works, I’ve got a little more experience every time. I’ve seen people do it but when I actually do it myself and it works, it’s great and now I know what I’m doing on that part of it so I can try and figure out the next step.

Q: How would you describe your Tormach in 3 words?
A: The Right Fit.

Q: What's one piece of advice you'd given to someone starting out with a Tormach machine?
A: I would say if you’re new to CNC, definitely start out with a Tormach. I tried doing a DIY conversion before I got mine and by the time it would be the equivalent size to the 1100, I realized I’d already spent more money and time trying to make the conversion work, whereas if I’d have got the Tormach straight away it would have worked as soon as I set it running.

YouTube is a great resource for learning how to use the machine - NYC CNC John Saunders and the Tormach channel have a lot of content showing what the machine could do. I would watch videos on there of people making parts to get a sense of it and how much the machine can do. An industrial machine can cut a big chunk of metal a lot faster but that’s not what I needed it to do. A lot of the parts that I make, the tool is already working as hard as it possibly can, and a bigger machine wouldn’t get it done any quicker.

Q: How would you rate Tormach out of 5 stars?
A: I would give Tormach 5 stars. I’ve had good luck with them. Sometimes I’ve had a problem with the machine, and they’ve taken the time to talk to me and explained that the problem I was experiencing could be fixed easily because it’s something I was doing and not the machine. I’ve talked to quite a few different people asking how do I fix this, how do I program to run multiple parts, etc,, and they helped me walk through the programming language for that so that I can put a link to the material in the layer, hit cycle start and go away to do something else while it makes multiple parts.


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