Our mission here at Tormach is to empower people who make things, and what better way to do that by sharing the stories of the Tormaker Community - people just like you.
Q: What Tormach machine do you use?
A: Tormach 1100M Mill - I’ve owned it for 3 years now.
Q: Tell us more about your craft and what it is that you make?
A: We mostly make parts to support automated testing of electronic circuit board assemblies. We make things like guide pins for automated circuit board testers. Occasionally we’ll create what’s called a ‘bed of nails’ fixture and drill about a thousand holes. When we’re not running that we make gifts and whatever else we can find to do for the local community - nothing too fancy.
Q: What has been your biggest success with your Tormach this year?
A: Learning how to run it - I'm not a machinist, I’m an embedded systems engineer. There isn’t anybody locally here that really has a machine like this so between the videos on Tormach and the YouTube community, we somehow managed to get the thing making parts without destroying anything. So, I would definitely say that the biggest success is just learning how to run CNC. It took about a year to get used to using it. Thank goodness most of the stuff we make is plastic so you can’t do too much damage.
Q: And with all the good there is some bad...what's been your biggest failure in your shop?
A: Yikes, there have been a few fabulous disasters. The biggest would have to be the first time I hit the cycle start button on our 1100M. I screwed up the Z reference and when I hit cycle start, the cutter went right through the work pieces and kept right on going until the collet holder hit the top of the material. I thought it would go right through my Saunders Machine Works fixture plate which was also brand new and never been used. Fortunately, the collet landed and no hard was done - no machines were damaged in the process. That was a spectacular opportunity for some continuing education.
Q: How would you describe your Tormach in 3 words?
A: Best Toy Ever.
Q: What would you say has been your best creation to date?
A: Believe it or not it's just an ashtray - Tormach even shared an image of it on Instagram. I made about a hundred of them as gifts for family and friends with scrap materials from leftover drafts and stuff.
Q: What's one piece of advice you'd given to someone starting out with a Tormach machine?
A: Learn the math and the basic machinist skills - speeds and feeds with cutter selections. There are some resources out there, but I found that reading the Machinery's Handbook to be really helpful in figuring out what cut or how fast to run it.
Q: How would you rate Tormach out of 5 stars?
A: I'm going to give it 4.5 - I love the machine, I really do. I would definitely buy another, but it does come with some challenges being an entry level machine. Every once in a while, there are some productivity challenges to overcome - spindle speed and accuracy namely. If we want to do something sub-thousand of an inch accurate and repeatable I found it challenging to hit that. Maybe the machine will do it and I just don’t know how to do it.