all 182 comments

[–]blondihacksBlondihacks[S] 34 points35 points  (1 child)

Thanks for coming out, everyone! It was great to chat with you all.

[–]jakkarthHas a cool flair[M,🍰] 6 points7 points  (0 children)

Thanks for visiting /r/DIY! We hope you'll visit with us again :) I personally have really enjoyed it.

[–]DrBiochemistry 29 points30 points  (2 children)

No question, just thanks for the great info and entertainment.

I'm in a completely different field, but enjoy watching over your shoulder and learning something different. Cheers!

[–]blondihacksBlondihacks[S] 28 points29 points  (1 child)

Thanks for watching, and for the kind words! People may not realize how much a nice comment means to online content creators. We get so much abuse that the good stuff really helps. 😀

[–]DrBiochemistry 9 points10 points  (0 children)

Thanks for the reply. Looking forward to the stream engine completion!

[–]jdriscoll 15 points16 points  (3 children)

Hi Quinn. Fan of the channel. Do you really brush your cat's teeth every day? It takes two people and a blood infusion on standby to trim my cat's claws.

[–]blondihacksBlondihacks[S] 20 points21 points  (2 children)

I do, in fact! I have two veterinarians in my family, so I wasn't going to get away with not doing it. It took months of working up to it, though. You have to train the cat to let you do it, and it's not easy. Sprocket is used to it now, and she tolerates it.

[–]jdriscoll 10 points11 points  (1 child)

Can you share more pictures of Sprocket on Twitter?

[–]blondihacksBlondihacks[S] 14 points15 points  (0 children)

She's been lobbying for that for years, so I may give in.

[–]raptor_au 16 points17 points  (8 children)

Hi Quinn, massive fan from Australia here!

One of the things that I've been looking at when it comes to milling machines and lathes is three phase power. I've worked on three phase machines for both my uni and work and love them, but would struggle to have those in a home setup.

Do you think machines that run off standard voltage are comparable in flexibility these days? Are there any makes/models of lathes and milling machines that you recommend for someone starting out in a home garage?

[–]TheRedditMachinist 10 points11 points  (7 children)

You can get a VFD. Not only will it run the motor with nearly the same power as 3PH it adds the ability to control the motors speed which is super handy. Adding a button for jog is nice also.

[–]ParkieDude 3 points4 points  (5 children)

Old motors don't like VFD's. Use caution.

edit: Article discussing issues of using VFD's on older Motors


https://www.phase-a-matic.com/ has been around for ages. It uses a timed relay and a capacitor to energize that third leg to get it spinning. So three-phase motors are running on two-phase. Power is down, but you're still making chips.

I have a surplus 3 hp motor that runs as an "idler". Phase a Matic starts is running, which produces the back emf. So now I can turn my milling machine on and off.

Sold my metal lathe, still have a robust Index Milling machine (power X Y and Z). Industrial machine. Kurt Vise, DRO. Clearing out the shop, time to downsize. Near Austin, TX

edited: VFDs are much cheaper today. $500 for 1.5hp motor & VFD means life for old lathes. The linked article discusses the heating, and other, issues.

[–]TheRedditMachinist 4 points5 points  (3 children)

What? What exactly is special about old motors that “doesn’t like” what I assume is the pulsing from a VFD? Makes no sense to me. AC motors are basically unchanged from their inception.

[–]ParkieDude 2 points3 points  (2 children)

VFD will take the AC, Concert to DC, then pulse small pulses at much higher frequency recreating 30Hz to 120Hz to the motor (giving a 4 x speed range.

Sometimes you are fine, some motors will run hotter due to the harmonics. So a 40-year-old motor seems to fail with a few years in a commercial shop.

The thing that blows me away is how much the prices have dropped. 1.5hp Motor and VFD for $500.

[–]tanmanX 5 points6 points  (1 child)

Differences/advancements in the electrical steel used in the motor laminations, the actual shape of laminations/winding geometries. Also the varnish on the windings of older motors does not have as high a dialectric strength as modern varnishes to resist the voltage spikes of high speed DC voltage switching into "AC".

[–]ParkieDude 5 points6 points  (0 children)

Thank You!

My 1942 LeBlond had the original motor.

My 1966 Index 555 Mill still running with the same motor.

The twin to my mill was bought by a friend, who installed a VFD and killed the motor. Oops. I still am running mine with the Phase-A-Matic. The machine shop had downsized, my mill had the spindle reground to R8 tooling. His machine had the original B&S 9 tooling (came with a ton of tooling). That was 1995.

I love to make chips, but time to sell everything and retire and go fishing!

[–]MpVpRb 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Most cautions in the article are irrelevant to using a VFD on a machine tool. I use a VFD on my old Bridgeport and it works fine

[–]MpVpRb 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I use a VFD on my Bridgeport and it works great. A VFD must control the motor directly. You can't run anything other than one motor and all control of start, stop, reverse or variable speed must be done through the VFD

[–]jackofspades1198 12 points13 points  (7 children)

Hi Quinn! Machinist and engineer in training (17 yrs old) and have learned so much from your channel. My question to you is, once you are finished with your current steam engine build, do you have plans to connect it to anything or power anything with it (dynamo, water pump, etc)?

[–]blondihacksBlondihacks[S] 23 points24 points  (6 children)

I have a few ideas, but no spoilers on that front. One thing that a lot of folks do is build a model line-shaft machine shop to go with the model stationary engine. You can buy kits for model lathes, mills, etc to run from the model steam engine. It's like a dollhouse for engineers. 😉

[–]TacTiggle 21 points22 points  (0 children)

I'm still rooting for the steam powered pencil sharpener :P

[–][deleted] 9 points10 points  (1 child)

You should do that and then use the tiny lathe to make a tiny steam engine!

[–]TacTiggle 7 points8 points  (0 children)

Somewhere on the internet is a photo of a near perfect Kurt vice someone made that was the size of a penny. The leadscrew was a 4-40 screw. that would be just the ticket for a tiny machineshop!

[–]jackofspades1198 5 points6 points  (1 child)

That would definitely be a cool evolution. Maybe put in some lego machinist mini figures for added accuracy :) Can’t wait to see where the steam engine and all your future projects will go!

[–]liyang 6 points7 points  (0 children)

You could have some fun adventures with a very small lathe.

[–]rpavlik 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I assume you saw the TPAI video recently where he got a commercial model of that type from an antique store...

[–]compiled{{ flair.text }} 11 points12 points  (5 children)

Any tips on where/how to source materials? Is it mostly just looking for deals on ebay, or do you visit a local metal supermarket on occasion? Do you buy with a specific project in mind, or just pick up pieces when you can and know you'll find a use for them at some point?

[–]blondihacksBlondihacks[S] 28 points29 points  (2 children)

If I need a lot of stuff, I go to my local steel yard. My workbench was about 500 points of steel, so I wasn't gonna haul that home or buy it online. Luckily the professionals deliver. 😀 The only disadvantage to a steel yard is they usually have minimums. They want to sell you at least 20 feet of something, not 18" for your little project. However they also have an off-cuts room full of weird and wonderful chunks of materials that I'll pick through.

For smaller chunks, my go-to these days is eBay. There are great off-cuts sellers on there who take advantage of USPS flat-rate shipping boxes. You can order 50lbs of steel and brass for $30 with free shipping! 😀

If I can't find it on eBay, I go to McMaster Carr, which a lot of people don't realize will sell you materials in any size and shape and they ship next day, generally. Not the cheapest option, but if you need two feet of precision-ground tool steel and a foot of cast iron, they have you covered.

I actually did a video on this topic a long time ago... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBVo8wufsCE

[–]ta394283509 4 points5 points  (0 children)

wow I never thought of trying eBay. even if it was 30 lbs for $30 it would be cheap. thanks

[–]gravitydriven 1 point2 points  (0 children)

McMaster Carr ships same day almost every time. Their service is as good as it gets. But it is very expensive.

[–]Badabinski 1 point2 points  (0 children)

My advice is to find a local metal working shop and ask if they'd let you look through their cutoff pile. I know Chris from Clickspring gets a lot of aluminum from boat builders. I've scored some nice little brass offcuts that way.

[–]Robots_Never_Die 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Metal supermarkets is extremely expensive. Find a local supplier that isn't them. They're like wholefoods when you just need an aldis.

[–]blondihacksBlondihacks[S] 11 points12 points  (0 children)

If you want to help support what I'm doing, the best way is Patreon:

Alternatively, if you can't get enough weird crap with random YouTuber logos on it, check out my merchandise store:

[–]im_sarah_valentine 53 points54 points  (17 children)

As a woman maker, I sometimes struggle to find my place in the making community. I often choose to participate under a non-gendered pseudonym to avoid the reactions of the small but frustrating group who can't see past my gender. Finding other women makers is exciting, and I've really enjoyed watching your videos. :) Have you experienced any pros or cons to being a female maker? How do you deal with them?

[–]blondihacksBlondihacks[S] 66 points67 points  (12 children)

100% yes. The machinist community in particular overwhelming white male, and it's very difficult to get taken seriously or frankly even be treated like a human being sometimes. I receive a pretty constant stream of abuse from every source, but I do my best to not let it keep me from doing this stuff that I love. I have many great supporters as well, so I try to focus on them!

[–]TacTiggle 25 points26 points  (0 children)

I receive a pretty constant stream of abuse from every source, but I do my best to not let it keep me from doing this stuff that I love.

Thats not super surprising but a giant bummer nonetheless.

[–][deleted] 35 points36 points  (2 children)

Just wanted to say that I share your videos with the FRC team I mentor with whenever someone is interested in using the lathe/mill for anything fancier than drilling holes - you have some of the best "basic machining skills" videos, intermixed with some seriously cool projects.

Anyway... my main point is that, as a white male myself, having you do the teaching is not only safer and more useful, but does that little bit to get people who aren't exactly like me into engineering. Thank you!

[–]blondihacksBlondihacks[S] 41 points42 points  (1 child)

Thank you very much! One of the reasons I started the channel was because I didn't find what I was looking for for educational resources on YouTube. There's lots of "machining porn"- channels with big machines that can spray blue chips by the pound all day, but nobody was helping out the beginners the way I thought it could be done.

[–]mcdanlj 23 points24 points  (1 child)

Thank you for persevering. No one should have to deal with that abuse, it makes me sad and angry. It shouldn't matter that I'm a white male hobbyist machinist, but I've definitely learned from watching your videos and I keep learning. I can't imagine what sort of inferiority complex would make anyone abuse you for sharing (so well!) with us what you learn. No question here, just thanks...

[–]ParkieDude 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Early on it was fun to share stories and tips with a fellow machinist, but you find there are haters who just want to hate. So I'd tell people to post in comments their tips. Some would just trash my way of doing things, but never posted a video themselves. Simple, delete comment and ignore it.

These days still lots of ideas, but find it is best to just make things and then go for a bike ride. So don't post anymore.

[–]EEpromChip 19 points20 points  (0 children)

it's very difficult to get taken seriously or frankly even be treated like a human being sometimes

Coming from an overwhelming white male, I have to say: I watch your videos and say "Hmmm why does she only have ___ subs? She's entertaining without being 'over the top' or trying too hard for the comedy. She is incredibly knowledgeable in machining. Why so low?"

Anywho, keep doing what yer doing. Also - "tappy tapp tapp annnnnddddd ...... Yatzeeee"

[–]mechtonia 6 points7 points  (4 children)

The online machining forum/comment-land is at least 30 years behind society in terms of inclusion and equality. For me it was one of the most disappointing aspects of venturing into the hobby. I can only imagine the garbage Quinn must have to deal with.

[–]DoomsdaySprocket 2 points3 points  (3 children)

To be honest machinists as a trade are not on the forefront of inclusivity, in my limited experience. Which sucks, because in the same way as the welding community, women are perceived to be better once we actually get in. So many guys assume I must be a fantastic welder because I'm a female millwright, but I seriously haven't had time to sit down and get any skills better than "make it stick with MIG."

These old guys are retiring, and their attitudes are retiring with them. Unfortunately many of them are also very old-school when it comes to training apprentices of all kinds, lots of young guys even get abused because of the hazing culture for apprentices and just decide to move on. So, if machining as a trade starts dying out, add that to the list of why.

[–]mechtonia 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Tim Lipton's book "Sink or Swim" has a bit to say about the difference between engineers and machinist that does into the culture. In a nutshell my understanding was that on the shop floor, you learn via stick whereas in engineering it is more about the carrot. Also engineers collaborate whereas machinist hoard information and techniques. Of course these are generalizations but it certainly fit my 20 years of experience as an engineer that works with tradesmen frequently.

[–]DoomsdaySprocket 1 point2 points  (0 children)

The hoarding thing I totally understand what you mean. Millwrights are too excited to brag to do that, but machinists do seem to be worried about being irreplaceable.

[–]Distroid_myselfie 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Late to this thread, but as a fellow millwright, I just had to say Hi!

[–]HalfAnnunaki 2 points3 points  (1 child)

Me and my wife just found a shop that is taking on newcomers and teaching them and I've been getting praise and recognition, while she is only getting it from the shop manager and his wife with whom we had known before the job. Shes a really hard worker too it's kind of bullshit

[–]im_sarah_valentine 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I live near a major city, and I know they have maker spaces there. I wonder if any of them have a ladies night, or if there's an entire maker space specifically for women makers. I know I'm not alone in having concerns about getting a membership in a space like that because of these issues.

[–]tanmanX 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Tangentially Related: my sister used to basically run a maintenance department for an inbound call center. In her emails she would use the masculine form of her name, and talk deeper on phone calls so she wouldn't be dismissed or not taken seriously (she's currently in the OSU Maintenance department).

[–]queryFn 9 points10 points  (1 child)

For a typical video, how much of your time is spent on the machining we see, vs the machining we don't see, vs non-machiny stuff like adjusting lighting and cameras, and editing? One of the things you're well-known for is your ability to make machining concepts approachable for new hobbyists, so is there anything about your video making process you feel helps you get that understanding across?

[–]blondihacksBlondihacks[S] 20 points21 points  (0 children)

I would say the time is about 60/40 machining versus setting up cameras and lights. It used to be more like 90/10, but I got faster at the machining and fussier about the filming, so now it's 60/40. 😂

Editing is the real time sink. I spend about 30-40 hours editing a video, because quality is all about time spent in the editing room.

I think the reason that I can communicate well with beginners is because I'm still one myself. I think the experts often forget what it feels like to NOT know this stuff, and they are mainly speaking to each other about how smart they are. I still remember the frustration at not being able to get really basic information. I tap into that when I'm planning a video.

[–]flyingwolfEvery tool is a hammer except the screwdriver, that is a chisel. 10 points11 points  (1 child)

Hey Quinn,

When you are just zoning out and doing the work (and we can't hear you talking) what sort of things are you listening to? Audiobooks? Favorite music? What keeps you entertained while doing the work?

[–]blondihacksBlondihacks[S] 12 points13 points  (0 children)

I'm a massive podcast junkie. I listen to them all day every day. NPR shows, retrocomputing shows, machinist shows, comedy, history, all sorts of stuff.

[–]lqqkout 9 points10 points  (4 children)

Thanks for all the great YouTube content! I’ve been watching a ton of machinist videos lately and want to start buying a ALL THE TOOLS! (And tooling!)

What are your thoughts about learning over YouTube vs in-person? I’d love to get some in-person instruction... but COVID means my typical options aren’t available 😭

Are there projects that you’d like to do that aren’t possible on your setup /in your small shop? If so, what are they? I feel like the scale of things I want to work on always outgrows either my tools or my space 😬

Thanks again for the great channel and the AMA!

[–]blondihacksBlondihacks[S] 12 points13 points  (1 child)

I think YouTube is an amazing resource for learning this type of work. It's not a "real" trade school education of course, but it's way better than trying to figure it out yourself, that's for sure. Having an actual instructor there with you is faster for some things (especially welding, which is difficult to learn from videos) but that assumes a good instructor, too. For the hobbyist though, YouTube really serves very well for this.

The main thing I can't do in my shop is surface grinding, which means I can't do a lot of really high precision stuff. Someday I hope to have more space and be able to get real grinding machines in here.

[–]lqqkout 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Thanks for taking the time to reply!

[–]RoscoePSoultrain 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Many high schools have night classes where you can get access to a machine shop. Also, some Makerspaces, if you're fortunate enough to have one of those nearby. Most major metros will have a bunch of old fellows in a model engineers club/society; try to join one of those of you can and just meet as many folks as you can. Ours has an awesome library with back issues of all the magazines and an extensive collection of reference books.

[–]AwkwardNoah 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Sadly I wish that was still the case where I live. Our school used to have an auto shop but they sold all of the equipment during the 2008 mess

[–]jakkarthHas a cool flair[🍰] 5 points6 points  (6 children)

Hey Quinn, thanks for being here! I've really enjoyed your steam engine series. What got you interested in machining in general, and steam engines in particular? Do you have another project in mind after this one is complete?

[–]blondihacksBlondihacks[S] 8 points9 points  (5 children)

Steam engines are (I think) self-evidently fascinating, and anyone who isn't amazed by them is probably not someone I'll be friends with. In all seriousness though, they are a great match for home machine shop projects, because they are fairly simple beasts (in their earlier forms) and the tolerances on them are generous. The reason that they launched the industrial revolution is that you can build them fairly poorly (with 19th century machine tools, after all) and they still run. Unlike internal combustion engines, which self-destruct if they aren't built perfectly, steam engines are very forgiving. Plus they are pleasant and very civilized.

I have a list of projects about three lifetimes long in my notebook, so fair to say I have a few things lined up. In between the latest steam engine, I build tools, things for around the house, and I do educational videos.

[–]jakkarthHas a cool flair[🍰] 7 points8 points  (4 children)

Is there a minimum set of hobby machinist tools needed to complete a steam engine kit build? For example, could I complete one with only a lathe and no mill, or vice versa? I too find them fascinating, but the cost of entry even with import hobby tools is pretty intimidating.

[–]blondihacksBlondihacks[S] 10 points11 points  (1 child)

It is possible to build an engine entirely with a lathe, though it is much more difficult. The best source for inspiration there is the old model engineering books from the 1930s through the 1970s. Back then small hobby mills didn't exist, so those old timers got very good at doing everything on the lathe, and their setups are inspiring.

[–]jakkarthHas a cool flair[🍰] 4 points5 points  (0 children)

I'll look into that. Sounds exciting! Thanks again for hanging out with us :)

[–]RoscoePSoultrain 1 point2 points  (0 children)

If I could only have one of the two, it would be a lathe with a vertical slide attachment. A lathe impersonates a mill better than a mill impersonating a lathe.

[–]sirmistersir1 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I have been building this same engine and I am using a 1943 Atlas lathe with a milling attachment I bought for $800.00. I probably have $300 in drills, cutting bits, measuring devices etc. I find it very difficult and time consuming to get good results. But I'm getting better and it's working.

[–][deleted] 6 points7 points  (2 children)

What's your advice to someone who desperately wants to do machining but doesn't have access to any tools?

Oh, and did you actually open a can of beans on your lathe?

Your channel is awesome btw.

[–]blondihacksBlondihacks[S] 10 points11 points  (0 children)

I would suggest seeking out a maker space (once it is safe to do so). Lots of them have machine tools and the training to go with them. You can also buy a very small lathe like a Sherline or Unimat. Any lathe is better than none and you can still make neat things on those tiny machines, even in an apartment or bedroom.

I did not actually open a can of beans on my lathe, but my Patreon supporters got a behind-the-scenes video on how that stunt was done. 😄

[–]12_Horses_of_Freedom 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I just bought a Taig earlier this year and I really like it. It’s also a lot cheaper, but still of similar quality to a sherline. It’s about the size of a desktop typewriter and weighs approximately 40lbs. It’s a nice size for my teensy workshop. I don’t know if that’s helpful, but the micro-machines are space friendly and affordable!

[–]jdriscoll 6 points7 points  (9 children)

I work as a software developer. I've always been interested in working with my hands (lots of PBS as a kid) but after 20 years in front of a monitor it became an important way to feel more connected with something I made. Have you found machining to balance out the intangibility of your day job (or is that just me?)

[–]blondihacksBlondihacks[S] 10 points11 points  (3 children)

That's one of the main reasons I got into this stuff, in fact. As a life-long software engineer, I wanted to make things I could touch and get away from the computer. There's something deeply cathartic about creating with your hands that you just don't get from programming, as fun and creative as it is. Machining is a great compliment, because the thought process and problem solving is very much like software engineering. You hear me use software engineering terms a lot when I talk about machining because the concepts map 1:1 quite well.

[–]jdriscoll 6 points7 points  (2 children)

What would say is the software equivalent of an angle grinder? :)

[–]blondihacksBlondihacks[S] 22 points23 points  (1 child)

sudo rm -rf /


[–]jdriscoll 4 points5 points  (0 children)


[–]Triabolical_ 0 points1 point  (4 children)

Also a software developer; I agree totally with what Quinn says.

There's a gateway that you might enjoy; there are a lot of fun things that you can do with microcontrollers, and it's fairly approachable because the software side will be *easy* for you.

The usual advice would be to buy an arduino and find yourself a project. I'm partial to addressable LEDs though I do some other stuff. I don't want to hop on Quinn's coattails on her AMA; if you want more information send me a message...

[–]ParkieDude 1 point2 points  (3 children)

I'm a hardware engineer.

I started down the crazy process of buying a milling machine and metal lathe, and TIG, and... back when the efi332 stuff started out. I wanted to get the old carburetor off my car and replace it with fuel injection. Learned all sorts of things along the way, finally understood why machine shops had less than zero interest in making one-off parts.

So 30 years later, sold my lathe and getting ready to sell my milling machine. It's been a long crazy road, but had a blast!

[–]Triabolical_ 1 point2 points  (2 children)

I was planning on going into hardware because of my previous electronics experience, and then I got to college and software was so much easier for me...

I really want to get more into metal - I have a welder but my skills are just above "vandal" level - but I need another hobby like I need a hole in the head...

[–]ParkieDude 0 points1 point  (1 child)

This was a fun project

The first two CNC machines were failures, but a great learning experience. This was used MACH3 and I used Vetric CAD.

Friends would come over and say it was like walking into a candy shop! Trying to pass down as much as I can to my kids, but need to keep cleaning everything out. Tempus fugit.

> " I need another hobby like I need a hole in the head... "

Actually I have two extra holes in my head. Prep day XRAY

[–]Triabolical_ 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Thanks for sharing; that's pretty...

[–]jippen 6 points7 points  (1 child)

Heya Quinn - let's talk ppe. Do you have any PPE you particularly love or hate in your shop? As a computer need doing more with my hands when I can, I find bad ppe can make a hard project much harder.

[–]blondihacksBlondihacks[S] 17 points18 points  (0 children)

Here comes the controversy! 😉 I don't talk much about PPE on my channel because it's the shortest route to a flame war and I don't like spending my day deleting angry comments.

That said, obviously safety glasses are number one. I also use a paint respirator (rated for organic vapors) for all grinding and anything involving a lot of cutting smoke. I use latex gloves around strong chemicals. I wear a leather apron for general hot-chip protection, and I wear Cat work boots at all times. Short sleeves and short hair!

[–]blondihacksBlondihacks[S] 6 points7 points  (2 children)

Okay everyone, I'm going to have to wrap it up in a few minutes. Any last questions? I'll call it at 6:30 PDT (15 mins from now).

[–]flyingwolfEvery tool is a hammer except the screwdriver, that is a chisel.[M] 2 points3 points  (1 child)

Have a great night Quinn!

Thank you so much for the AMA, we appreciate it.

[–]blondihacksBlondihacks[S] 5 points6 points  (0 children)

The pleasure was mine! 😃

[–]HareuhalPM me penguin pics 6 points7 points  (1 child)

Thanks for the AMA. If you could offer one piece of advice for someone wanting to get into this field, what would it be?

[–]blondihacksBlondihacks[S] 14 points15 points  (0 children)

Buy a lathe and start making chips! There's no substitute for getting your hands dirty and just trying it out. There are lathes for every price point and every size, pretty much, so find one that fits your situation. If you live in a studio apartment, check out watchmaker's lathes and try your hand at that! If you have access to a big space but not much money, watch Craigslist for cheap run down old American machines and try cleaning one up and getting it going.

[–]tgwozdz 4 points5 points  (1 child)

Hey Quinn!

Do you have any plans to get back to Veronica and the F18 graphics chip?

Thanks for all the content!

[–]blondihacksBlondihacks[S] 7 points8 points  (0 children)

I do plan to, yup! I'm strapped for time right now, so what little I have goes into the YouTube channel, but Veronica is still on my bench with the F18 hooked up, making sad eyes at me.

[–]STweedle3K 5 points6 points  (1 child)

Hi Quinn,

loved your lathe skills and mill skills playlists. Do you have any more beginner friendly projects in the pipeline?

[–]blondihacksBlondihacks[S] 7 points8 points  (0 children)

Check out my Lathe Skills playlist, which is basically "starting from zero". Most of my tool-making videos are also very approachable for a beginner, such as the Machinist Hammer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tu1fgwjbJ-o

...or T-nuts: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TL0OsfFkBL8

... or Smartphone mount: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6wMraK_jsU

[–]similar_observation 5 points6 points  (14 children)

I'm in the market for a laser engraver+cutter for steel and aluminum plates of no more than 1.5mm thick. I may also deploy it for larger scale use, so something a little more than hobby level would be nice.

Got any suggestions?

[–]blondihacksBlondihacks[S] 7 points8 points  (5 children)

I actually know very little about lasers, so I won't be any help there, I'm afraid.

[–]similar_observation 5 points6 points  (4 children)

well dang. Leaving the question up for posterity.

[–]blondihacksBlondihacks[S] 9 points10 points  (3 children)

One thing I can say is that if you want to cut metal, you're not going to find a consumer laser that can do it. You'll need to look at CNC plasma torches or a CNC router for that. Getting lasers to cut metals is very difficult and you need way more power than is even legal to own in a laser tube in most countries.

[–]blondihacksBlondihacks[S] 6 points7 points  (1 child)

Really the best you can do as a home gamer are the K40 CO2 lasers that you can buy from China on eBay. Those aren't technically legal in most countries though, and they won't cut metal. You can cut and etch wood, glass, leather, acrylic, etc, but metals don't absorb much laser energy so it's a very difficult process to use for that.

[–]mcdanlj 7 points8 points  (0 children)

The K40-class machines mostly come missing critical safety features like lid interlocks. Also they don't include cooling, but tubes die right away if they aren't cooled properly.

I help run MakerForums, which has a meaningful concentration of folks who like to share knowledge about how to make the K40-class lasers safer, among various other forms of making. There's a K40 Intro there for folks who would like to learn more.

Look up Nd:YAG lasers and RF-pumped CO2 lasers with O2 gas assist for cutting sheet steel. I've heard apocryphal stories of people scoring good deals on used equipment on ebay, but never talked to anyone who actually succeeded in that. ☺

Here's an example of someone cutting steel with an RF-pumped CO2 laser with estimated costs described like this:

...total estimated cost is about $15k or so. The laser itself was $6500, I bought a cnc table for $500, and the optics were another $2500. A chiller from ebay cost me $500. There were lots of other incidental costs like a lot of electronics, motors, motor controllers, 220 volt wiring, cooling and ventilation. The biggest operational cost is oxygen. A tank of oxygen is $55 and can easily be used up in a weekend. The operational cost of electricity is negligible. The stainless is pretty cheap, around $1 a pound.

I'm not sure when that was written. The author quotes the original price of his Coherent G‑100 laser at $27,000, so presumably he bought it used for $6500, and right now I see one manufactured in 1999 listed for that price not including the controller. They cost over $1K to refurbish.

[–]similar_observation 4 points5 points  (0 children)

fair enough, I might be in the market for two machines at this rate. Thanks

[–]Dr_Frasier_Bane 4 points5 points  (6 children)

Universal Laser has some good fiber lasers you might want to look at.

Boss laser has some as well and they tend to be less expensive.

CO2 lasers advertise as being able to cut metal but in my experience they give a rough cut and are much more temperamental than fiber. Engraving is also orders of magnitude easier on a fiber laser.

[–]similar_observation 0 points1 point  (5 children)

Do you have any suggestions for a machine with the surface of approximately two sheets of paper lengthwise side by side?

[–]Dr_Frasier_Bane 0 points1 point  (4 children)

Just to make sure, you're looking for a work area to that's roughly 22" x n", yes?

[–]similar_observation 0 points1 point  (3 children)

Honestly, my planning tells me 8x14x6 (LxWxH) is adequate, but I don't know what kind of stuff I'll shove into the machine when I get bored. Which may or may not include the deck plate for a mechanical keyboard or panels for a computer case.

[–]Dr_Frasier_Bane 2 points3 points  (2 children)

The price difference is substantial between these two but this is an engraver, and this will handle your cut. Also factor in an oxygen tank for when you cut, exhaust filtering, and software.

[–]similar_observation 1 point2 points  (1 child)

That's quite the ballpark.

[–]Dr_Frasier_Bane 1 point2 points  (0 children)

It absolutely is. Unless you plan on doing high-volume production of laser cut parts I don't see the point of owning one. Go to a shop for a custom cut piece.

[–]Triabolical_ 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Cutting metal with lasers is expensive; something in the $10,000 range is a starting point and you will likely need options to get you a working machine.

[–]TheBrooklynKid 4 points5 points  (1 child)

Hi, im interested in learning fabrication on the hobbyist level, I've wanted to do so for years. I've been looking at getting an older metal lathe with mill attachment, any advice?

[–]blondihacksBlondihacks[S] 7 points8 points  (0 children)

Watch Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace in your area. You can also try used machinery dealers and machine shop auctions. Pretty much any machine from the 1940s up through the 1980s is probably going to be a good machine. They were all built to last.

[–]Dingleberrydaddy 4 points5 points  (1 child)

Love the channel! I’m curious, do you have any long term plans to upgrade to a bigger shop and / or bigger machinery? I’d love to see you making chips on a Monarch lathe!

[–]blondihacksBlondihacks[S] 6 points7 points  (0 children)

I would love to! I'll need to move to do that, and I have long-term plans to do so, but it'll be a while.

[–]Arnold_Chiari 5 points6 points  (4 children)

Why did you tell me NOT to Google Trepanning, when you knew I would?!!

I didn't need that.

[–]blondihacksBlondihacks[S] 3 points4 points  (3 children)

Can't say I didn't warn you 🤷‍♀️😬

[–]ButterflyCatastrophe 2 points3 points  (0 children)

As someone who has done the other kind of trepanning, trepanning on the lathe is way more scary.

[–]jakkarthHas a cool flair[🍰] 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Would have been a great tie-in for next Saturday's video since it's Halloween. Do you have something fun planned?

[–]blondihacksBlondihacks[S] 4 points5 points  (0 children)

I don't generally theme videos to specific times because my production schedule is several weeks long and it's hard to get the timing to work out right. Maybe one of these days, though!

[–]jakkarthHas a cool flair[🍰] 4 points5 points  (1 child)

What kinds of ways do you build the blondihack community? Obviously you put out great content and interact with people in comments and AMAs. Are there other ideas you have for interacting with us, your fans? In-person meetups once things settle down, or maybe another collaborative project with other makers like the Project Egress thing?

[–]blondihacksBlondihacks[S] 6 points7 points  (0 children)

I've done a number of collabs, including with This Old Tony, AvE, Adam Booth, Dragonfly Engineering, and others. I also attend shows like Good Of The Land Fest and the Bar Z Bash (or at least I did, when it was safe to do so). I hope to keep doing all those sorts of things, along with all the online stuff- I have community on Twitter, Instagram, and Patreon as well.

[–]gatoAlfa 6 points7 points  (9 children)

hi Quinn thanks for doing this! love your channel. I don't think I will ever have metal machine shop but love to live the experience vicariously trough you.

Honestly one of the things I like the most is that to me you are moving forward making the best use of smaller lighter machines; but do you eventually want to move to a "Bridgeport", "Monarch" kind big old machine (if space was not an issue)?

On a related question I'm pretty sure there are new quality heavy machines in the marked, why no YouTuber uses them (AFAIK)? Is it because all new is machines are CNC?

[–]blondihacksBlondihacks[S] 11 points12 points  (8 children)

I would like to have big machines some day. Right now space is a big limitation for me, so small machines will have to do.

They do still make big manual machine tools, yes. However they are very expensive brand new, and there's little motivation to buy one when there are perfectly decent used machines out there. Machine tools from the 1930s onward were built to last 100 years so usually they only need cleaning up and you can make parts with them again. You also have to be careful with the "new" manual machine tools because they are made to a price point and often there are build quality issues. Compare that to a Monarch that was built 50 years ago to a much higher standard, and it's still going to be better than an inexpensively built new machine.

[–]SawdustGeek 4 points5 points  (7 children)

I've heard that monarch will still build you a manual lathe if you *really* want a brand new one, but you'll be taking a mortgage out to get it. Apparently its somewhere in the ballpark of 150k for one. Sure makes the used ones look like a deal :)

[–]blondihacksBlondihacks[S] 8 points9 points  (6 children)

The Chinese are still cranking out full-size manual machine tools as well. Jet, Grizzly, Weiss, and others will happily sell you one at a very reasonable price. The build standard on them is not what a 1950s Monarch was built to, but back then that Monarch also cost a small house as well. You get what you pay for, same as it ever was.

[–]SawdustGeek 5 points6 points  (5 children)

Yep - and while still heavy, those imports are a good bit easier to move than a lot of the old iron, which is a big plus for many hobbyists.

My monarch 613 has only a 13x30" working area. A more modern import 14x40 is in the ballpark of 1500 lbs or so, and by specs, "sounds" bigger. That monarch is 7215 lbs and close to 8' long.

Took a big excavator to hoist it off the trailer and then two pallet jacks moving very slowly to get it into position.

[–]blondihacksBlondihacks[S] 7 points8 points  (3 children)

Yah, having the means to move these machines is a big deal. The nice thing about machines like mine is that an engine hoist, or even a couple strong friends is all you need. No need to own forklifts, pallet jacks, winches, etc. 😄 That said, I know a guy who moved a 14x40 Logan and a Wells Index mill into his basement by himself. He completely disassembled them, and did everything very very slowly with chain hoists and come-alongs.

[–]jakkarthHas a cool flair[🍰] 3 points4 points  (1 child)

I bet that would result in a very thorough understanding of how the machine operates!

[–]LucidSteel 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I bet that would result in me never selling my house!

[–]SawdustGeek 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Absolutely - I can pretty much chart my progression through this hobby by the amount of weight I could safely move, from furniture dollies and hand trucks up to my excavator and forklift (best tool I have tbh). Moving even big machines isn't "hard" per se, but you definitely need to have the right equipment, and think through both how to do it, and what could go wrong during it so you know how to react if it does go sideways.

Even "small" machines of a few hundred pounds can do some real damage if they move the wrong way at the wrong time, but its all doable with careful planning :)

[–]TacTiggle 2 points3 points  (0 children)

That monarch is 7215 lbs and close to 8' long.

sweet jesus, that's enourmous

[–]jakkarthHas a cool flair[🍰] 4 points5 points  (1 child)

With over 100 videos on your channel, is there a particular project that stands out as your favorite, or that you thought you had ruined but managed to save?

Any plans to add more of the electronics stuff from the blog to the videos, or is your youtube channel exclusively for machining?

[–]blondihacksBlondihacks[S] 7 points8 points  (0 children)

My current steam engine project is definitely a favorite. The project that "worked out" the best might be the smart phone mount: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6wMraK_jsU ...I made two of those and I use them every single day. It's surprising how well they work for what was an off-hand idea.

I'm also really proud of my toolmakers clamps: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6wMraK_jsU

I'll be doing more electronics, but it will mostly stick to the blog. I find machining works better in video, and electronics works better in print. For my money, those are good matches for the types of information involved.

[–]TacTiggle 3 points4 points  (4 children)

Have you met any of the other popular youtube machinists (ToT, AvE, Abom etc.)?

What ever happened with the machinists relay? Uncle bumbleflork's video on that is what originally led me to your channel.

Thanks for doing this and keep up the awesome content!

[–]blondihacksBlondihacks[S] 9 points10 points  (3 children)

I have! I've spent some time with Adam Booth, and he's an absolute peach. SUCH a nice guy. I've also met Emma Ritson, Stan Z, Dale Derry, Keith Fenner, Keith Rucker, and a few others. Mostly at shows like Good Of The Land Fest and the Bar Z Bash. Both great events. I've "met" Tony and AvE in email (did some collabs with both) but anything I might or might not know about them will be taken to my grave. 😉

[–]TacTiggle 7 points8 points  (2 children)

Abom really does seem like a genuinely nice guy. And his tools are H U G E

Other random thought: have you ever thought about getting involved with battlebots? Seems right up your alley

[–]blondihacksBlondihacks[S] 9 points10 points  (1 child)

It could be fun, but I already have five lifetimes worth of hobbies that I'll never get to. 😀

[–]jonmakethings 3 points4 points  (3 children)

Thank you for the YouTube videos, I think I ended up looking you up after another channel pointed me that way.... I much appreciated the details you go into and the sense of humour.

Quite random questions: How is your workshop heated? Mine is starting to get cold this time of year as the heating is blocked by.... Well stuff.... What (if anything) do you use as extraction when soldering? How much tweaking did it take to dial in the lathe when you first got it?

[–]blondihacksBlondihacks[S] 6 points7 points  (2 children)

My shop has no climate control, so I dress warm in the winter and sweat a lot in the summer. It's rough, but for now it's what I have to do. Someday I hope to have a better situation there.

When soldering, I open a window and try not to breathe in the smoke. Not good advice. Get a fume extractor. 😀

My lathe ran quite well out of the box. I didn't really do anything to it at first. As you get better at machining, you start to run into the flaws, so I did more tweaking later. I didn't even align/level it for the first year, because my skill level wasn't high enough to notice it needed it.

[–]resc 4 points5 points  (1 child)

With an un-conditioned shop, do you have problems with condensation on the tools?

[–]blondihacksBlondihacks[S] 3 points4 points  (0 children)

I live in a dry area, so that's not too much of a problem. Keep things oiled though, that's the main thing. I also use Boeshield T-9 rust inhibitor on a lot of things.

[–][deleted] 2 points3 points  (3 children)

Hey Quinn, love the channel, what should a new budding Machinist buy first for the shop, lathe, mill or combo.... I'm really wanting a lathe as it appears more flexible as I could use a vertical attachment.

[–]blondihacksBlondihacks[S] 6 points7 points  (2 children)

A lathe is definitely the place to start. It's the most fundamental and most useful machine tool. You can make anything on a lathe- all other machine tools are optimizations of things lathes can do. 😀 Cheap lathes are also a lot better for the money than cheap mills. There aren't really any good hobby milling machines- just a bunch of "okay" ones. You can get good hobby lathes, though.

[–][deleted] 2 points3 points  (1 child)

Thanks Quinn, I'm about to hit buy on a Taiwanese 960B, I have 0.05% 0f your skills🙄 I'm 43 and find machining fascinating. I've built a CNC mill in the shop that can also do plasma cutting, after watching your channel I can't believe I've managed all this time without a lathe, btw you're are a great teacher with a great learning pace, I look forward to your future projects while I drink out of my new mug 😉

[–]blondihacksBlondihacks[S] 6 points7 points  (0 children)

Thank you very much! I appreciate the support and the kind words. The Patrons and the mug-purchasers are what keep this whole thing going.

[–]mcdanlj 2 points3 points  (5 children)

Do you do any form of a written plan of operations other than prints before you start working a project?

[–]blondihacksBlondihacks[S] 7 points8 points  (4 children)

I always do a CAD model and a drawing, because I'm not very good at holding a part in my head. The drawing prevents a lot of mistakes for me. If it's a complex part, I definitely sit down and try to plan through all my work holding steps and the order of operations. I'm not great at that either, as evident from my videos. It's a skill to learn the simplest and most clever ways to order and hold things. I have much to learn here.

[–]tgwozdz 2 points3 points  (3 children)

What CAD software do you use? And on the topic of software, what’s your editing workflow look like?

[–]blondihacksBlondihacks[S] 5 points6 points  (2 children)

I use Fusion 360 and absolutely love it. It was immediately intuitive to me, and I was cranking out models and drawings in no time. It's a huge resource for hobbyists. Nearly Solid Works or Pro-Engineer level of power, basically for free (depending on your license situation, which is evolving as we speak)

My editing is all done in Final Cut Pro on a Mac. I lean heavily on the Affinity products for graphics and use Apple Motion for animations. I also have a bunch of custom Python scripts for things like generating my credits and other repetitive jobs. I started out on Hit Film Express, and it's a great free tool. Very powerful for hobbyists, though Final Cut Pro is definitely a lot smoother and faster.

[–]jakkarthHas a cool flair[🍰] 2 points3 points  (1 child)

One thing I saw in the new fusion license iteration is that they're limiting the number of 2d drawings for parts. Is that going to be a problem for your workflow? Or do you mostly go straight from the 3d version? Do you have a computer in the shop with you, or would it get full of metal dust?

[–]blondihacksBlondihacks[S] 4 points5 points  (0 children)

I have a "real" license for Fusion because Blondihacks is a real business, so the new limits on the personal license don't affect me (yet?). That said, they really aren't bad when you get into the details. The limits weren't messaged well, but all they really did was remove stuff like 5th axis tool path simulation that no hobbyist will ever need.

I do not keep any electronics in the shop except the camera, and the camera is wrapped in plastic when around grinders, and I use lens protection when spraying hot chips. My iPhone or iPad are sometimes out there with me, but I wrap them in plastic as well.

[–]MrTintop 3 points4 points  (1 child)

Hey Quin I have enjoyed every thing you have put out and look forward to seeing more. Silly question… every time you show the table on your mill it is as clean as new. Clean as I might I can never get all the t slots clean and cutting fluids make things a lot like I use a glue stick. What’s the magic?

[–]blondihacksBlondihacks[S] 8 points9 points  (0 children)

WD-40 is a great cleaner for machining surfaces, and a T-slot cleaner is a good investment. I also vacuum a lot, and I clean up "back to new" after each session or each project. Lately I'm using table and way covers more as well. I want to make them for my lathe, and I did make them for my mill.

[–]irvingstark 3 points4 points  (3 children)

Starrett or Mitutoyo?

[–]Dr_Frasier_Bane 11 points12 points  (2 children)

Are you kidding me? Mitutoyo.

[–]irvingstark 2 points3 points  (1 child)

You have chosen...wisely.

[–]Dr_Frasier_Bane 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I'm QC in fabrication. I freaking better!

[–]mechtonia 5 points6 points  (1 child)

Quinn, I love the channel and am a Patreon. I recently got into machining. Your channel's unique approach for beginners was invaluable as I acquired tools and skills.

Does your shop pay for itself? Either in terms of outside jobs or Youtube earnings? Or is it a pure labor of love?

[–]blondihacksBlondihacks[S] 7 points8 points  (0 children)

I still have my day job which covers all my expenses. Blondihacks is a labour of love, but the financial support from fans helps!

[–]EEpromChip 2 points3 points  (2 children)

If yer on here answering questions, who is in front of a camera making entertainment for me? Also, please don't ever stop creating.

[–]blondihacksBlondihacks[S] 9 points10 points  (1 child)

Sprocket is holding down the fort. The next video will be mostly about how important cats are, and tips for eating humans in their sleep. I never should have shown her how to use the camera.

[–]EEpromChip 3 points4 points  (0 children)

My dog just subscribed to your channel.

[–]adoliver 2 points3 points  (2 children)

What's the worst or most memorable DIY disaster you've had and how did youbdeal with the aftermath?

[–]blondihacksBlondihacks[S] 7 points8 points  (1 child)

For shop projects, I'd say my electric steam boiler project tops the list. It was honestly beyond my skills at the time, but I kept on with it anyway. Major things went wrong at every stage because I was in way over my head. In the end I persisted and I got it working, but I'm anxious to build another one now because I could do it so much better: https://blondihacks.com/electric-steam-boiler/ ...the first pressure test was especially memorable because it leaked in about 50 places and soaked my entire shop during the hydrostatic pressure test. That was demoralizing! Moments like that, I put down the tools, walk away, do something else for a while, and wait for my inspiration to come back. Sometimes it takes an hour, sometimes a day, sometimes a week.

Under the traditional definition of "DIY" I guess that includes all my attempts at renovations on my house. I'm terrible at that stuff and none of it looks good. I'll stick to machining and electronics. 😬

[–]adoliver 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Thank you for your content, I really enjoy the channel and you helped inspire me to get a lathe--once my list of inmediate repairs on the new house are complete. I suspect I'll have my own disasters to face soon. 😅

[–]adoliver 2 points3 points  (1 child)

What is the most unusual tool you have put to use on a project?

[–]blondihacksBlondihacks[S] 5 points6 points  (0 children)

That's a trick question, because everything in the machine shop is unusual. 😬 My previous life was building race cars, and every tool there is weird too. 😬

[–]tanginato 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Heya Quinn, do you think that its possible to just become a fulltime youtuber for your? you have around 60k subscribers, how many subscribers or views per video do you think you would need to become a fulltime creator - also if you do fulltime, do you think you'd be able to release 2 or 3 videos a week? Thank you in advance!

[–]compiled{{ flair.text }} 1 point2 points  (4 children)

When you run into a problem or a question during a build, or want to learn a new skill for an upcoming project, where do you go? Do you dig through the appendices in the Machinery's Handbook, or is there a forum where people at your skill level congregate to share information, or are there other youtubers that you watch and get inspiration from?

[–]blondihacksBlondihacks[S] 5 points6 points  (3 children)

The first place I'll go is.... wait for it... YouTube! I learn so much from other great YouTubers. I also read a lot of old machining books. I say "old" because the books from the 1930s-1960s are the most useful because they cover the same "technology" level as hobby machine tools are at. No sections on lasers, EDM, or CNC. Just long chapters about weird fixtures on your faceplate, like the old timers used to do.

If I have a specific question, Machinery's Handbook for sure, but also forums like Practical Machinist and Home Shop Machinist. I prefer the latter- the people are... well... nicer to new folks, if you catch my drift.

[–]TacTiggle 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Yeah, Practical Machinist is... well it's something.

[–]compiled{{ flair.text }} 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Love it! Thanks for taking the time to be here.

[–]mcdanlj 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Hobby-Machinist is friendly too. They understand and celebrate making do with what you have... ☺

[–]solarguy2003 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Thanks for taking on the steam engine! I'm about halfway done with mine.

[–]ieatmatches 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Your lathe series has been very helpful at teaching me both the manual lathe and some principles of machining. I manage a factory and while I don't need to know everything about every workcenter, there's no reason why I shouldn't. Looking forward to the vertical milling machine series next!

[–]xablor 0 points1 point  (0 children)

No question, but thanks for doing your videos.q

[–]D_bAg_Tr0LL 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I subscribed

[–]Charming_Bill342 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Hi Quin, after discovering Blondiehacks on You Tube I was hooked. I am an amateur machinist building Stirling engines hoping to make power producing engines. I have been far too slapdash when it comes to precision and while I have managed to make engines that run, they are not always pretty. Watching you has forced me to think about precision cleanliness

My machines include, a Porteos lathe made in the 1950s (nearly as big as your lathe but much more simple), a small Chinese mill smaller than yours and a drill press. But I get by. I am a man of 72 years and on a pension so have no money to support you as I would like, but I want to thank you for your work. I think you are brilliant and an inspiration to many people like me Thank you Quin, I look forward to the third instalment of the Big Steam Engine. All the best Mark.

[–]Old_Programmer7777 0 points1 point  (0 children)


[–]Apprehensive_Disk109 0 points1 point  (2 children)

Curious which mill you have?

[–]RoscoePSoultrain 0 points1 point  (1 child)

You're a bit late to the party here but she has a G0704/BF-20 clone, I think by Precision Matthews. Very common for home gamers (I've got one), and there are many folks who have converted them to CNC.

[–]Apprehensive_Disk109 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I’ve been looking on little machine shop the. I came across her YouTube channel, thanks for the info