My Uncle Eddie had a very successful tool and die shop back in the 40′s,50′s and 60′s.
Their motto was “Precision is our practice, Production is the Result.”
Hmm. What exactly does that mean?
Because tool and die makers build molds, fixtures, and dies that pound out thousands of parts every day, it naturally follows that the more precise the mold, die, or fixture is, the better the parts will be that come out of it.
Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of working with and employing some great craftsmen. Yep, some of them were a real piece of work – but, boy were they ever good.
A “lead” mold maker – like me – oversaw the complete construction of all of my projects, some worth well over $100,000. Mistakes were to be avoided at all costs, as the further along you were – i.e. hundreds of hours working on one block of steel – the more costly they became. I would say that the average mistake in a tool room costs the company a minimum of about $2,000. And that’s the average. Look out for the REALLY big ones.
A “lead” guy oversees all of the work done by his apprentices, the machinists who are fabricating the mold base, and of course, the fitting-up and final assembly. Back in the day, our average mold took about 16 weeks to build.
The attributes of the best toolmakers I knew are as follows;
- Are good machinists
- Are very creative
- Are good at math
- Are extremely detail-oriented
- Can multi-task
- Can handle pressure
- Quality is more important than quantity
It’s no surprise that the trade is dying now, as the machines are much more accurate and the labor is much cheaper in Mexico and China.
But, boy…back in the day, these were some pretty smart guys.