They're coming to my town, a friend has been recruited to help steer
them toward some interesting collectors. Yeah, while maybe they used to
just drive around cold, these days it appears they try to get things set
up in advance...
Might get a chance to meet them, be interesting to see what they're like
in real life. Just so long as they don't show up at my place and try any
I'm sure they are making money, and now there is a line of goods available.
How long will it be hot? I see that Deadliest Catch guys are advertising on
Geico. At least they have moved on from that f'ing gecko thing.
The pickers are a couple of regular guys, and that comes through in their
show. The slice of Americana also comes through. But they do drive a
Mercedes all over the country, have a warehouse and overhead, have an
employee, and they both have to clear about ten thousand a month to live a
Try doing that in side work.
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A friend of mine was a free-lance custom machinist that worked out of his
home shop. He passed away about a year ago, unfortunately.
His secret was that he got hooked up with some orthopedic surgeons.
There's all sorts of FDA headaches if you make hardware that goes INTO
and STAYS in the body, but they need tools to precisely cut ends of bone,
drill holes, etc. It's all stainless steel, and they pay big bucks for
custom made stuff. They would tell him "we need a tool that does THIS",
and he'd work with them on a design and fabricate them. Heck, one of his
big money makers was just an array of stainless steel hammers in
different weights. He also made stainless steel "nails". They were used
to hold drilling & cutting jigs onto the ends of broken bones. This was
in Boston, and presumably these were doctors from a research hospital
developing new techniques. I suspect he got additional customers when
the word got around about the tools he helped develop.
Not sure how he got linked up with them, but he'd barely make a nickle on
a lot of his simple repair jobs for folks in town. Any time his bank
account was running low, he'd crank out a batch of hammers for the
orthopedic crowd. It certainly didn't hurt that the guy was a real
artist. He used to teach silversmithing at one of the local art museums.
The hammers were works of art themselves, with a bead blast finish, and
knurled oval tubular handles. I assumed he knurled them & then
"ovalized" them in a press before welding them onto the heads.
Making money in a home shop with any sort of production work is probably
really tough unless you have CNC. His trick was doing custom work that
big shops won't touch, and the design aspect made it a lot more
interesting. Having customers with deep pockets helps too. Most folks
can't afford to pay a decent wage for high quality custom work.
There are also a lot of customs gunsmiths around the country, but there
are legal hassles involved, and a lot of it requires specialized
knowledge above & beyond just running a mill & lathe.
A similar story for you. An orthopedic surgeon I know always used
something called Knowles pins when he did fracture work. The company
that supplied these was the sole manufacturer and they decided to end
production. He showed them to me and I took a sample to friend who
has a tool and die shop as a potential business line. He made up a
dozen of them without difficulty and I gave them to the surgeon. When
the original manufacturer found out that a local shop made some, they
quickly reinstituted production of Knowles pins. I have no idea why
they decided to stop production in the first place; I was told that
they were a popular item among the orthopedic surgeons who had trained
at Temple Univ in Philly, so it wasn't like the local surgeon was the
--I've found the 'hard part' to be not so much getting customers
in the door as getting customers who spread the word to generate *more*
customers. I've got one repeat customer I do work for on occasion but one
ain't enough to pay the bills.
--OTOH I get to spend 'down time' working on my own projects and
posting progress on various social sites at least makes it known to a wider
audience what my shop can do. Slow going tho...
"Steamboat Ed" Haas : A human without a critter
Hacking the Trailing Edge! : is incomplete..
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