Hobby Machining Manufacturing Business?

Due to underemployment I like to do challenging hobby projects at home mostly because I enjoy it, but it's nice to make something that's useful too. I like automating equipment, cnc, and that type of work. Trying to think what I'd like to be doing, I thought I'd like to design, build, and repair automated equipment and automate manual machines.

I've been thinking about putting up a small building for my home shop and start my own mini (low dollar home shop style) manufacturing business. When I come up with a project idea, such as RC varmint control, I could program the CNC machines to make the special parts needed and sell parts on the internet for others interested in similar projects. That project would need a camera to scope adapter, night vision infrared illumination, and a turret type mechanism to point at the target. When I make parts for myself, I could make a few spares and offer to sell them over the internet. If any of the parts became hot sellers, I could set up to produce more.

The work would all be done on the side as a hobby and if I didn't make a dime I wouldn't loose much since I'd be using the equipment I already have. The idea is that once I do the setup and programming, the CNC machine can make additional parts in a fraction of the time it takes to setup and make on manual equipment. So even though any HSM'ers could easily make a camera to scope adapter, they may not want to mess with it if they can buy one for $5 that I could make on my CNC lathe in 5 minutes.

Another incentive for doing this is that my son in now 10 years old and he'd be able to start running machines in a few years. He's interested in mechanics and electronics and I think it would be good experience for him. Best case, things could take off and my son could have his own business, worst case he'd have experience with manual and CNC machines, operating, programming, repairing, etc.

I know there are a lot of experienced business folk on here and thought there might be some helpful advise and or direction..



Reply to
Loading thread data ...

Find the closest office and go have a chat with these folks.

formatting link
While you may be willing to ignore a lot of things because you are unemployed at present, it is best for the long term if you pay attention to all the costs and aspects of running a business - it's not at all like having a job. If you can manage to have fun doing what you like and make money at it, that's great. If you turn a hobby you used to enjoy into a job you hate, that's not so great. If it sinks you into debt instead of making money, that really sucks.

If you don't already, you might go hang at CNCZone - lots of folks already doing the sort of thing you are contemplating (ie, making parts to make making machines easier and selling them to others making machines) - helps to know what the competition is up to.

Many folk that enjoy making things find that they hate selling them, doing paperwork required, etc. Or they fail to account for the actual cost of doing business and end up working for 25 cents an hour, or losing money outright.

Costs most people forget about include providing for heath insurance, retirement, self employment taxes, liability insurance, and business insurance on the premises - when it's not a hobby shop, homeowner's insurance will not cover you.

Check zoning and local laws before doing much at home. Get a dedicated business checking account and put all money from the business into it, and pay all costs of the business out of it - if you stick to that, you will at least have a vague idea of whether you are making money or not. Don't forget to pay taxes, or the IRS and your state tax folks will make things a lot more expensive for you. If your state has sales tax, you'll also need to pay them for any in-state transactions.

Good luck with it, but go in with your eyes wide open - most small business fail in the first 5 years.

Reply to

Roger, a lot of people seem to go the job shop route, and just take small quantity orders from local customers. Seems to be a low risk route, less risky than "developing your own product line". You already have all the equipment.

In fact, if I ever need to make something complicated, with CNC, I will contact you and will order from you if the price is right.

Reply to

It is a splendid idea, but consider whether people really want to spend much on what you'll be making. Making money in metalworking usually means making something that makes (or saves) money for your customer, not something that a consumer likes to have. There is no end of "opportunities" in goods and services that aren't made and aren't sold because few people will actually pay for them. And anything "robotic" has a high potential for this kind of impractical appeal.

The "better mousetrap" is hard to do because the old mousetrap (literally) costs near nothing to make, and can be retailed profitably for $1.

Reply to
Richard J Kinch

but what you probably COULD sell is a do it yourself 5 axis CNC machine that would handle a 4 inch cubic workpiece

Reply to
Bill Noble

Since I work full time plus overtime, I see a job shop as someone wanting a part yesterday and I'd be having to work long hours at the day job.

What I had in mind was more making things as a hobby and trying to sell the items over the internet. That way, if I'm too busy at work, and I sell out of an item, I simply put "Sold Out" on the item and make another run as soon as I get the chance. Also, since I'm relatively new to 3D CAD/CAM and CNC I would hate to take on a job for a complicated piece and then not be able to deliver what the customer wanted. I like the idea of coming up with the parts I want, figuring out how to best make the, then offer the items for sale after I have them like I want.

I have done some job shop machining in my home shop, some works out fine, others not so well. After I get going, get better tooled up, and better at CAD/CAM and CNC, then I'd be more interested in doing job shop type of work.

I wouldn't mind setting up my machines to produce parts for companies. Then maybe keep a few parts on hand to take care of the emergencies until I could run their parts.


Reply to

That's a good point. I have seen many things sold on ebay that are made with CNC equipment, such as plasma cut signs made from stainless, etc. Very cool and involves no liability issues.

Reply to

PolyTech Forum website is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.