The tool & die shop where I served my apprenticeship had about 10 guys all
working with manual machines. There is no doubt that all of that work could
be done by two guys a VMC and a couple of wire EDMs nowadays.
If you think that all the manufacturing jobs were lost overseas, you are
misinformed. Most were lost to automation, which includes CNC.
thought a good machinist could do as well or better than the machine. I was
told that they knew that, but all their machinists were retiring soon and
they just couldn't find replacements that knew anything. So they imported an
expensive machine to do the job.
Note that they had to import the grinder. They also had to import the rolling
mill the rolls were for. Nobody in the US could/would build such a mill.
Kids being raised by single moms who didn't learn to work with their
hands because it wasn't a woman's place to do these things.
For awhile I owned a hardware store in Alaska. I knew absolutely
nothing about hardware when we bought it, but I eventually learned
what the stuff was called. Never did learn what to do with most of
Luckily, I now have a very kind, generous gentleman friend who does a
lot of the repair stuff for me. Some I could do but have this great
fear of making whatever it is worse than when I started.
I doubt my son can do much in the way of working with his hands. His
girlfriend is better at car stuff than he is because she worked in the
motor pool in the Army. At one time she was probably better with guns
than he is, but he's catching up.
I would mention that those men who can do even the most basic of work,
whether on the home or car, are richly rewarded by all the women who love
being with someone who is 'handy'.
Examples: I changed an alternator in the parking lot of the Autozone in
less time than the guy next to me took to replace his windshield wipers, and
the woman I did this for couldn't wait to richly reward me for being so
skilled. I nailed up a soffet vent that had come loose for my neighbor, and
got a delicious cherry pie. I swapped out a ceiling fan for a sales rep and
the woman told everyone at work what a great guy I was, "...and so handy,
I think its a code word...
I used these stories to convince my son to learn how to do this stuff, and
recently he replaced a hood release cable for a girl in his dorm. He told
me that she was very grateful, but he wouldn't share the details wih his old
I have to mildly disagree with the originaly sentiment. I go to garage
sales often, and I do see many garages with tools and machinery. Just
recently I bought a huge kiln from such a garage (resold for 8x what I
paid), or a big shop compressor (which I kept), etc. There are people
out there with interesting stuff, although they are a clear minority.
Just today I saw someone selling 1-2-3 blocks, machinist vise etc. (he
wanted too much for his stuff, e.g., $35 for a 1 hp motor with bad
True, there are some bastions of creativity out there still. Not many in
this area. Mostly I see a benchtop drill press, a plastic table saw and a
few hand tools. Maybe an RAS. Nothing wrong with this picture if it's
being used. Too many times around here, it's either brand new (and been
that way for a while) or hasn't been used for many years. Maybe we just
don't take time to use the tools we have available. Too hot, too tired, two
jobs, etc. It's true, there out there. Just not that often. In other
parts of the country, machinery is much more prevalent.
Was visiting my aunt Prudence (that's her true name, too) and she had us all
doing errands at the mall while she bought groceries. I got to go to the
hardware store for something-or-other. I noticed a lady asking the clerk
something and as I passed by I overheard him say "Those are what we call
The best part was the _absolutely_ neutral tone of voice he used; give that
guy a raise.
Blame the home builder. The last 4 homes that I have lived in have had
garages only big enough for cars. When I was a kid I recall most every "Man
of the house" was able to change a tire, make minor repairs and build items
from wood. This neighborhood was built just after WWII and every garage in
the neighborhood had at least 1 additional room attached for a work shop,
storage, and in my case the garage had 2 extra storage rooms and a maid's
quarters. All this detached from the main 1,200 sq. ft. 2 bedroom 1 bath
house. I do not recall any of these extra garage rooms not having some kind
of work area or work shop.
My neighbor has a 25' by 30' or so shed/mini barn. An Amish crew (we live
in Ohio) came out and built it in one day, a couple of years ago. $6500
for 750 square feet; that's only $8 per square foot. It's a real beautiful
structure with tons of overhead storage (it's a tall shed). He has a table
saw and a planer and all the other toys in it. Speakers in the corners
hooked to a stereo receiver. Wood burning stove. And if they ever sell
their house, the shed is a huge selling point. Now to talk my wife into us
We've got a two car garage with two doors, but we never "park" the cars
I or my son will pull a car into one of them to work on it, but as far
as regular parking goes, there's so much stuff stacked up against the
walls (plus a couple of lally columns down the centerline) that
squeezing through a barely openable car door inside the garage is such a
PIA that we just park outside.
But we still use a garage door as our usual entry/exit to the house,
'cause it's much closer to where we park than the front door is, and it
has "keyless entry" via a push of the garage door opener button inside
the car. <G>
When I bought this house eight years ago, I couldn't even find a
realtor who even knew what a workshop was. One listing claimed to have a
workshop, so I got directions and went to see it. The "Workshop" was two
feet of 1" * 12" particle board over the dryer in the laundry room. I
went back to the realtor's office and read him the riot act in front of
everyone there, including other people looking for homes. I asked him if
he had been married so long that he had forgot what it was like to have
the space to do what he wanted, when he wanted. Finally, he asked, "Just
what the hell are you looking for?" I smiled and told him that I wanted
a house suitable for a single many with hobbies. A 150 square foot
house, and a 3000 square foot shop. he told me that i would NEVER find
it in Florida, because no one wanted a workshop. He was wrong. I found
a home with a 30' * 40" garage, a 18' * 28' storage building, a 12' *
12' "Workshop", a 12' * 12' laundry building, a 12' * 24" one bedroom
cottage, and a three bedroom home with a large family room and a small
All for under 40K, and it should be paid off in a few more years. ;-)
Service to my country? Been there, Done that, and I've got my DD214 to
A friend of mine found a nice place with a work shop.... An old chicken
farm. 5 buildings 60 feet wide by 150 feet long with good roofs, and
construction, with a nice house. Total cost was 200K. Oh I forgot, 14
acres of land too. This was in lower NY state.
That's a really great idea. Only downside that I can think of is that
(at least around where I grew up), those buildings typically had openings
half-way up that easily opened for fresh air during the warm months. Not
sure they were very weather or air-tight. Also, do you know whether they
had concrete or dirt floors? But for a relatively small amount of
remodeling, one could have a woodshop, a tractor restoration shed, a
metalworking shop --- (Dang, I'm out of hobbies and still have two more
buildings to go; I guess one could be used by the family for storage).
If you're gonna be dumb, you better be tough
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