OT - Basic Skills in Today's World

Robert Sturgeon wrote:


In many cases those factors are changing. You may have the money to hire someone, but it is becoming increasingly difficult in some areas to find someone to hire who will actually do the job correctly. In more and more cases I'm finding I have to do a job myself to get it done right.
In once case I had an auto repair done several times by several different dealers (some under warranty) that all failed again in short order. I finally got fed up and did the job myself, found evidence of how incompetent they were while tearing into it myself and have not had a recurrence of the problem since I fixed it correctly myself.
Pete C.
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Robert Sturgeon wrote:

I've built 3 houses including one 3 storey one of 5400 sq ft. That taught me not to build houses. Unfortunately I found a lovely piece of land on waterfront. I could afford the land and some building materials. I couldn't afford to pay for labour unless I sold one of my other properties, which I wasn't going to do. So, I built another house. At least I knew exactly what I was getting myself into. Finished the house then started on the shop (I built a small temporary shop first, of course).
I did contract out the slab for the big workshop, tho. There's 20 cubic metres of concrete in the slab on top of the 16 cubic metres in the footings. The rest I'm doing myself.
People like us *can* do it if we have to or want to. Others - can't. I've gotten a great deal of amusement watching the architect g/f of a friend of mine realise just how limited her knowledge base was when it came to actually building a place. She & he have managed to build a 24' x 20' shed in the same time I built a house. I had to lend them some tools, teach them how to use others and explain why, sometimes, 'near enough' is ok if 'perfect' is going to take 10X as long.
Also that hand sanding boards with 400 wet & dry isn't a real productive activity :-) Better to go 80 grit, 120, 180 etc. And use a power sander, or better still, paint it & forget it. It was only a facia board after all....
My 3 kids have no real interest in the skills I have, and I've never barred them from the workshop. Rather play computer games. Of my siblings, I was the only one to have an interest in this sort of stuff. Lots of tools about. Shrug. I forsee an interesting retirement fixing stuff for my daughters in the years to come, assuming that their eventual partners turn oout as useless as the majority these days.
If they can find me when they need me, that is.
PDW
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I lived in Alaska for 3 years and noted that lots of people build their own up there. They usually had no loans on the materials and built as they could - living in 5th wheelers or, when finished, their basements.

That's the way I feel about gardening. My parents were outside all weekend, every weekend (weather permitting). I paid no attention. Like you, I sure wish I had. Sue
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| It has always concerned me when the young amoung us are not taugh basic | skills such as how to change a tire, how to use a saw, how to...well | you get the idea...there are basic skills that one needs to deal with | the world we live in. Well this article shows what that lack of | training, due to whatever reason, means as they get older. | | When I drive through a neighborhood, it is a rare garage that has | anything like a workshop within it anymore....a reflection of the lack | of interest or knowledge of the homeowner to work with their hands? | | Do your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, the generation who | is succeeding us, have the basic skills that are needed in the world | today? | | TMT
The first thing that came to my mind was: You usually don't have to.
That brings us to my second point: If you don't have to, you'll never learn how. If you have to a lot, you'll even get good at it.
When I took driver's ed back in the 80's (okay, that puts me squarely in the middle of most of my peers nowadays, its seems) we had actual cutaway car components in the classroom. I had grown up sort of out in the country, so doing mechanical things weren't out of the ordinary for me, but my dad never taught me much, or not at least actual instruction that I recall. I think he was satisfied with me taking all kinds of stuff apart and figuring out how it worked, and even getting lucky in getting it back together again. If it worked afterwards, that was always a bonus. I think I just had the knack for things like that, and eventually wound up working on electronics in the service, where I had some problems with a used car I had. Took it to a mechanic, since I had no tools or skills, and got my own spark plugs back for ten bucks, in a car that only ran slightly better. That made me mad, so I got a manual and started collecting tools. Eventually solved the problem myself. That kinda told me that I could do whatever I set my mind to. Nowadays I have a small fleet of cars for my family and little time, or money, to maintain them all properly. If I would have had newer vehicles, I likely wouldn't have had to work on them as much, so whether that would have been better for me financially or not still remains to be seen. Folks used to ask me if I liked working on cars. "Only when I don't have to." is my usual response. Once my family and financial situation settled down, I got my piece of the American dream and bought a home. I used to be a whole lot better at this kind of thing, and could do a good job, but recently have started to try and balance what I can do, what I could do, what I'll really do, and it's really something I could do better. Having a major unfinished, unscheduled major home repair (rotted kitchen subfloor. Overhauled the cabinets since replacing them with equivalent quality was cost prohibitive, laid down new sub floor and underlay, but have temporary vinyl tile on the floor and counters now) I'm to the point where I have to come to grips with my abilities versus my time, and the cost of the two. I think many people are in that sort of situation, but for some, money is easier to throw at a situation, and for some, money is the thing they have the least, so they have to do it themselves, albeit poorly. I used to have a job that didn't stimulate me much mentally, so there was plenty of time to ponder things I wanted to do and so on. I have a very cool new job that sends me home wiped out mentally, so I rarely feel inclined to deal with that list of things to do. Haven't touched it in weeks. Gotta figure out where I can find the round tuits now that I used to have. I'm starting to have some sympathy with those folks, and I don't really have a single thing to blame it on. Sort of how things have turned out.
We sort of went through this awhile back. Americans existed happily on the east coast, crowded into cramped cities, when the US government started offering free land west of the Mississippi. I'm sure each family that headed out had a book or two that explained how to make a living in the middle of nowhere with little more than what you could have carried with you in a wagon. Likely even explained what to bring in the wagon, too.
Sort of got me thinking about a series of how-to books for stuff, but most of that is on the web now, since that's the first place most folks go for information, even if it's really generic and useless to the rest of us. Perhaps what needs to be out there is a non-condescending tome about how to find/acquire the core skills that most of us take for granted when we tackle a new task, such as righty tighty, doing a visual, gathering information first, and so on. That bit is missing from every book I've ever read on how to do stuff, but how to approach such a subject is actually a whole lot harder than it sounds.
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Ron Moore wrote:

I know -- what kind of person can actually park a car in their garage without moving at least one piece of heavy equipment? It's just not right, I tells ya'! It's important for me to have a shop, and I'm looking forward to teaching my kids how to make stuff.

I agree. I think it's sad that fewer people make stuff with thier own hands. Not that it's required to get by anymore... you can buy a lot of stuff so cheaply that there isn't a big reason to make your own stuff any more. And a lot of stuff has gotten so complex that it's far cheaper to replace it, or take it to a specialist if it breaks.

Well, I'd have to say that yes, they do. The world is changing. People who can fix things are still needed, but not to the degree they were before. There just isn't the same demand for, say, a room full of machinists when they can be replaced by a CNC machine or two. There is a demand for people who can do a good job designing things, though.
Most people can figure out how to make the stuff they deal with work well enough to get by... Maybe it's not perfect, but it's good enough.
Personally, I wish they had more shop classes in school. I think the most useful class I took in high school was metal shop. It was fun, and I Learned a whole lot about how to make things work. But my personal desires don't have much to do with the current economic reality of off-shoring manufacturing and competition with China.
It's disapointing that in the four or so years that I've had a shop in my garage, not one kid has asked me anything about it.
Jeff Polaski
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I hadn't thought of that. My neighbors always pop in to see what is going on (65+), but never a kid from the neighborhood. I can remember as a child, going to the garage that was making the most noise. Grinding sparks could draw me blocks! I always wanted to weld, but didn't try it until I was over 40. Damn I was missing some fun.
I also spent MANY summer days watching the construction of the homes in my area. I am sure I bugged the crap out of the guys, but there is not a construction project I won't take on because of inability. I have done everything for a large addition. Including digging for the footings by hand!
Ok, to prevent some of the backlash--- I was in no hurry, and I could only get something that was 3 feet wide in the backyard, so I dug it by hand. And for the rest of you--- my community allows homeowners that can show competency the option of pulling a "homeowner" permit for all phases. So I had to do that for footing/stem wall, rough framing, rough plumbing, rough electrical, final plumbing, and final electrical. Damn expensive for all those permits, but I did it legal.
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Kudos for going the legal route....As a remodeling contractor, I have to play by the rules as well. However, I am curious as to how you felt when all was done. Did you get your moneys worth for all those permits??? Were the inspectors helpful or a PITA ???
I have seen em all ranging from the electrical inspector who spent more time finding a place for the Passed Sticker than he did looking at the wiring (he was there about 15 sec.)
Had another one walk thru the door and ask "who's gonna take the heat....??" I think he was kinda pissed afterwards when he found nothing wrong.....
I'll bet these two guys have no tools in their garages...
I have also worked with plenty of inspectors who know their stuff AND are nice and helpful with any questions. These are the guys who don't have the Power Trip Ego thing goin....Cause they don't need to prove themselves when the knowledge is apparent.
Anyone else care to comment ???
Jeff
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The foundation and rough framing was very uneventful. I may not have even been around? Electrical was a FAST run by. Slap the pass sticker on, and out of the house. Never looked at the connections back to the breaker box, never checked the wire runs in the attic (that was ok).
The plumbing was completely different. I go to the offices to show my plans and prove I know plumbing. (Golden Rule-- shit don't run uphill), and for him to approve my plans. I wait as he reams out a contractor. I actually thought the guy might cry. Holy crap he worked him over. So......next up is little ol' me. Show him my plans, talk about what and how I plan to do this.....blah, blah. In no time at all he is redrawing my plans and showing me a cheaper and easier way to do the DWV. What I had was text book, but what he showed me was legal and much easier. Guess what.....I did it his way. The plumbing inspector ended up becoming a customer of mine (Banker in real life) long after the job was over.
The long and short of it is.....show me someone who is logical, creative and has good common sense, and I will hire that SOB right out from underneath you!!
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Interesting that the electrical inspections seem to be the most lax since bad wiring can burn the place down !!! In their defense however, I heard it explained that if things look good at first glance (as opposed to a spagetti mess) then the rest is likely OK as well. I am sure there is some truth to this, but you would think they could apply a little more effort.

This also is similar to my experiences....Plumbing Inspectors almost always are quite hardnosed, though I'll bet the contractor that got the reaming was trying to dick him around. At least he was willing to share his knowledge with you, which I don't see very often. Mostly they get pissed if you don't already know everything.

Which brings us back to the topic of this whole thread.....These types are going to be harder and harder to find, already are in fact.
Jeff
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A good relationship with a good inspector is one of the best helps a contractor can have.
When I held my electrician license, Old Al, one of the county inspectors I dealt with, often suggested different approaches to jobs than my proposed plans. He was seldom wrong and always very conscientious. If he did find something wrong, he'd make sure to mark it or reference it clearly so I could find and fix it easily.
It's a lot easier to correct a problem when the inspector leaves a note like: "3rd receptacle from door on the sink side no ground. Fix it and call me. I'll pass the job so you can get paid."
He'd better never go back and find you hadn't fixed it, though. No way you'd ever do another job in that county in one try thereafter. He got out his microscope then and would even measure staple placement on a rough-in or exactly how much ground rod was sticking out of the dirt. Couple of fellows found that out the hard way.:)
--
Bring back, Oh bring back
Oh, bring back that old continuity.
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Blew your credibility with that statement. Work at a desk, don't you?
> There just isn't the same demand for, say, a room full of

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Huh?
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.
--

Dan

Scopulus est usquequaque nefas
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I have been doing machine work (toolmaking, production machining, custom work, manual and CNC) for twenty years. Machinists are in higher demand than any occupation that I know of. I am currently the foreman of a shop that does machining, stamping and forming for government and the aerospace industry. Part of my job is routing jobs to the appropriate machine/process. There are many jobs that would be done more cost effectively and faster on manual machnes rather than CNCs but, unless I want to do it myself (no time for that) it goes on the CNC as we have a severe shortage of qualified machinists. The advantage of the automation only comes at the end of the line. After the jobs have gone through the planer, the programmer and the setup man, the machine can often be run by a semi-skilled operator and they are even hard to find. CNCs haven't put anybody out of work. They have enabled companies to fill the demand using the available personnel. Want a job? If you are qualified, I can guarantee you a good job within hours. I had someone call me up with a job offer just last week based on a resume that I had given him six years ago. A few years ago, I made the mistake of putting a resume up on Monster. Within a day, I was receiving calls from professional head hunters trying to fill positions from here (Seattle) to the east coast. The calls started to subside after a time and I never made that mistake again.

all
could
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True enough. Which is why there are now newsgroups dedicated to hobby guys with shops full of Hardinge lathes and such. Bridgeports in home hobby shops? Common as dirt now days.
Crank turning is almost a dying art. And those rooms filled with 30 guys making stuff on Bridgports are gone now.
Gunner http://home.lightspeed.net/~gunner/myshop
"If I'm going to reach out to the the Democrats then I need a third hand.There's no way I'm letting go of my wallet or my gun while they're around."
"Democrat. In the dictionary it's right after demobilize and right before demode` (out of fashion). -Buddy Jordan 2001
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A voice of reason.
But just think about how much tasty iron went to the scrap heap. One day at a shop where I worked, I look out the window and the shop next door (stamping shop) is dragging all of their manual machines from the tool room outside. Later, on a break, I went over and asked about maybe buying some stuff. Nope! Not for sale!
I watched them cut up and beat the machines with sledgehammers over the next couple of days. Then they were carted off to the scrap yard. Monarchs, Bridgeports, you name it. All in good working order up until they went to CNC.
Turns out the guy that owned the company got his start by buying two old machines his employer was getting rid of. Fast forward 25 years and he owns a huge multi million dollar company and he put his former employer out of business along the way. Nothing left his place in repairable condition. Ever.
--

Dan

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CW wrote:

I wrote some software for a roll grinding machine once. I pointed out that I 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.
--
It's turtles, all the way down

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that I

was
an
Happens all the time. Automation is not replacing people, it is taking up were there are no people to do the job. The need for this will only increase in coming years as the largest segment of society (the baby boomers) start to retire and there are no replacements for them. I have seen a few local shops go out of business because they could not find qualified help to keep going.

rolling
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I think a lot of people today have too much money at their disposal. Before you jump on that statement, remember necessity is the mother of invention. If the pipes leaked and you couldn't afford a plumber,you would probably find a way to repair the leak. However some fools would rather drown.....
Gary
On 5 Aug 2006 07:27:58 -0700, "Too_Many_Tools"

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wrote:

BTDT, used the T-shirt to stuff the holes shut. Have been blessed to not have had to do that for a while. When people to reach the point you describe, the most resourceful figure out how to adapt and fix things.

... and then have their survivors wail about how the government was so uncaring to let them drown.
[Just a little gasoline for the fire ;-) ]

+--------------------------------------------------------------------------------+ If you're gonna be dumb, you better be tough +--------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
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