Shop Talk Podcast Episode 8: John Saunders of NYCCNC on Starting a Shop from Scratch

Muna Idriss Muna Idriss February 2, 2024

2 min read

Welcome to Shop Talk, a podcast where we catch up with designers and makers live from their workshops. In this episode, engineer and machinist, and Autodesker Marti Deans speaks with John Saunders.

If you’re a part of the machining community online, you know John. He’s a self-taught machinist, educator, business owner, and key member of the Fusion community. In this episode of Shop Talk, he sits down with Marti to share his thoughts on entrepreneurship, Fusion, and getting started in manufacturing.

Below is a short excerpt from the conversation to give you a taste of what to expect. You can also listen to the full episode below:

This excerpt is edited for brevity and clarity.

On Shop Talk, each host has a unique question that we ask our guests at the end. Mine is: knowing what know now, if you had to set up a new shop from scratch, where would you start? You can answer in any way you want, but I’m specifically interested in what machine you would buy first.

A year or two ago, I thought about whether I wanted to rebuild a new shop and start over, taking everything I’ve learned into account. Interestingly, as anyone knows, construction costs have gone through the roof, making the juice not worth the squeeze. The benefits would include quality-of-life improvements such as radiant loop flooring. Although, you gotta be careful not to drill through one of the PEX lines when setting the machine. Other improvements would include thicker concrete and so forth.

But, it’s about playing the cards you’re dealt with, and our shop is great. So, I really can’t complain about that. We’re in the process of this right now, I suppose. Some of the details I’ve shared publicly on our podcast, some of it people we’ll see soon. We’ve come to realize that it’s easy to become comfortable with what you have and what you know. As the business owner and founder, it’s challenging to detach yourself and realize hey, this isn’t the right machine for us anymore, or we need to do something different. We’re making those changes now. We’re trying
to reshuffle some things, sell some machines, and buy some new ones, now that we understand what to do.

The way I think about it, as someone who loves making parts, is that if and when I retire and have a small side shop, I’d like to have a small 5-axis machine like the Haas UMC. We actually bought a 350, but they’re changing that machine, which is a bummer. A small five-axis machine is really all you need; you don’t need a three-axis vertical. If you have a five-axis, that’s one. Then there’s the Willemin, which is just amazing for all other tasks. That would be my ideal small shop—just two machines.

Stay tuned for the next episode of Shop Talk. Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel, catch up on any episodes you missed, and get your audio-only fix on Spotify.

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