About PJ's Mini Pages

I've started this site for 2 reasons.  First is to pay homage to the myriad of others out there on the web who have who have put forward resources and information for all of us to learn about Mini Lathes and how to use and to maintain and improve them.  I have learned so much and had so much fun from these folks and their efforts to share, that I wanted to show my gratitude and hopefully help others in turn.  Thank you all for sharing your experience, wisdom and skills and especially for the great journey I have had in this last year because of your efforts and willingness to share.

Second, is to share projects, improvements, insights and my enthusiasm for things one can do with these great little tools.

For now the format will be somewhere between a blog and a website.  Some of it will be story with some detail describing various tips and tricks as well as some of the useful or fun things that can be done with the Mini.  Please keep in mind that what you find here is just my opinion (which may be wrong) and above all "Always Practice Safety" while operating these Mini's.  They are in fact very powerful "Power Tools" and if you don't pay attention...they can and will bite you.  Always wear safety glasses and short sleeves.  The new-fangled Nitrile gloves are also great for generally keeping skin on and don't interfere too much with "Feel".

An interesting story from my past about safety involved a shop teacher I had back in early High School.  He was a tough but good teacher and was a Terror about safety in the shop.  He had a big "Safety Rules" poster right where you came in the class, in big bold print you could read from anywhere in the shop...and we were tested on them almost daily.  I remember having to run laps all period because my shirt wasn't tucked in one day while working on a band saw.  I also remember more severe reprimands for other students who forgot to put on their safety glasses.  I really respected him by the end of the class for what he taught us and his vigilance with a bunch of hormonal scatterbrained teenage males and trying his best to keep us safe with all our fingers, toes, and eyes intact for our later years. 

A number of years later my brother came through his class.  He came home from school and was telling us about his class with him and brought to our attention that this teacher had lost an eye a few years earlier...because he went over to help a student and forgot his glasses. 
I was shocked and appalled to learn about this bizarre story.  Kind of a strange Karma/Dharma considering that since my class with him I have always worn glasses and adhered to his "Safety Rules"! 

As I think back now what he really taught us was "It only takes Once"...
and I would bet a $100 that 80% of his students still remember him and use his Safety Rules.  So...Please, Always Be Safe!

About Me...

As I think about writing this and the six or so blocks I've been around, I still find it a bit daunting to write some succinct bio about myself...so please be wary or patient or just skip this part.

Basically a few years ago I came up with a quip for people to get a feel for who I am.  The short version is: I am an Engineer by trade and an Alchemist at heart.  For the last few years since I left the corporate world I have been doing a lot of graphic work, Enjoying my 2 grown kids and grandkids, started and ended a business, invented a couple of new products and devices, piddled in my shop to keep my mind straight, and loving my wife more than I ever thought possible. 

Prior to that I spent about 25 years doing engineering of all kinds but mainly electro-mechanical and a lot of R&D.  The last 7 were as a manufacturing engineering manager.  A couple of my most fun and exacerbating projects were designing and building two - 35' long, fully automated drilling machines and a 70' long, 100hp, 36,000 CFM wind tunnel to AMCA standards.  Over that time I helped develop and bring about 40 products to market, mainly in the industrial markets.  It was mostly a fun ride and a wonderful journey.  Also sometime during all of this I spent about 4 years teaching electronics/computers, engineering drafting and CAD, sometimes in night classes and some full time in Private Post Secondary.   I think I learned more teaching than I ever did in school and loved it...but they were looong days back then.

Earlier I had spent 7 years in retail and another 7 as a journeyman mechanic.  Both of those taught me a lot and put food on the table...what's interesting is the 7 year cycles throughout my life.  I guess I get bored, injured, pissed off, or just see some other twinkly light that captures my attention.

I have to say that most of my life I have been interested in Science of any kind, but particularly Physics and things electro-mechanical.  I like to think that I have some natural ability in these and seeing how to do something more simply and elegantly...but the truth of it is that my father was foundational and an ongoing inspiration, even today a few years after his passing.

He always had a shop of one kind or another; I remember doing a valve job on a 56" Olds when I was about 8.  We even made a valve spring compressor because he didn't want to have to buy one and thought we could make a better one...and we did! Finally when I was about 14 he let me drive the bus and would hand "me" tools...once in a while...but for years he ribbed me mercilessly about how "difficult it was to raise an engineer".  He taught me so much over the years but two things stick out the most.  The first is about him being a perfectionist and in later years changing it to "Precisionist".  The second is that it's not done until you feel you can put your name on it.  These principles have followed and served me well throughout my engineering career, ensuring designs have a "Simple Elegance" to them.  A testament to these and my father's teaching is that my drill machines are still functioning perfectly 8 years after their design life time...Thank You, Dad.

Recently I have had the great pleasure of handing my Son tools while helping him restore the front end and various things on his classic 65' Malibu SS.  His attention to detail in working with all the parts and assembly is also a testament to Grandpa and he can definitely put his name on that!  I guess I was more fortunate than my dad in "raising an engineer" because he was much easier than me...for sure, and to see the amazing things he is engineering in the Biomedical Industry is astonishing.  Everything I have seen that he has done is truly Simple and Elegant!  And to top it all off, he loves my Mini too, and gave me a 4" chuck for Fathers Day.

It's been a grand journey thus far and I have grand thoughts of a myriad of things to do with my Mini in the future.