Real People Real Stories - In Conversation with Tim Gack

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.

Q: What Tormach machine do you use?
A: Tormach 1100M Mill - I’ve owned it for 3 years now.

Q: Tell us more about your craft and what it is that you make?
A: We mostly make parts to support automated testing of electronic circuit board assemblies. We make things like guide pins for automated circuit board testers. Occasionally we’ll create what’s called a ‘bed of nails’ fixture and drill about a thousand holes. When we’re not running that we make gifts and whatever else we can find to do for the local community - nothing too fancy.

Q: What has been your biggest success with your Tormach this year?
A: Learning how to run it - I'm not a machinist, I’m an embedded systems engineer. There isn’t anybody locally here that really has a machine like this so between the videos on Tormach and the YouTube community, we somehow managed to get the thing making parts without destroying anything. So, I would definitely say that the biggest success is just learning how to run CNC. It took about a year to get used to using it. Thank goodness most of the stuff we make is plastic so you can’t do too much damage.

Q: And with all the good there is some bad...what's been your biggest failure in your shop?
A: Yikes, there have been a few fabulous disasters. The biggest would have to be the first time I hit the cycle start button on our 1100M. I screwed up the Z reference and when I hit cycle start, the cutter went right through the work pieces and kept right on going until the collet holder hit the top of the material. I thought it would go right through my Saunders Machine Works fixture plate which was also brand new and never been used. Fortunately, the collet landed and no hard was done - no machines were damaged in the process. That was a spectacular opportunity for some continuing education.

Q: How would you describe your Tormach in 3 words?
A: Best Toy Ever.

Q: What would you say has been your best creation to date?
A: Believe it or not it's just an ashtray - Tormach even shared an image of it on Instagram. I made about a hundred of them as gifts for family and friends with scrap materials from leftover drafts and stuff.

Q: What's one piece of advice you'd given to someone starting out with a Tormach machine?
A: Learn the math and the basic machinist skills - speeds and feeds with cutter selections. There are some resources out there, but I found that reading the Machinery's Handbook to be really helpful in figuring out what cut or how fast to run it.

Q: How would you rate Tormach out of 5 stars?
A: I'm going to give it 4.5 - I love the machine, I really do. I would definitely buy another, but it does come with some challenges being an entry level machine. Every once in a while, there are some productivity challenges to overcome - spindle speed and accuracy namely. If we want to do something sub-thousand of an inch accurate and repeatable I found it challenging to hit that. Maybe the machine will do it and I just don’t know how to do it.


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