Best of Swarfcast: The Self-Taught Machinist, With John Saunders of NYC CNC

By Noah Graff

In Throwback Thursday fashion, Lloyd and Noah are out of town this week, so we’re sharing one of our favorite podcasts from the past. Be sure to listen in and weigh in on the new question below.

In December, we interviewed John Saunders, founder of Saunders Machine Works and the creator of the NYC CNC YouTube channel. John is an innovative entrepreneur who lives and breathes CNC machining. When he was 24 he had an idea to sell an automatically resetting steel target for practicing firearms, but he had no engineering background, no CAD experience and no machining experience. After working on a prototype with a contracted engineer he decided that before he would pursue production of his product he wanted to fully understand the production process.

Scroll down to listen to the podcast.

He bought a Taig CNC milling machine and put it in his one-bedroom New York City apartment. He quickly realized he was passionate about CNC machining and taught himself to use his machine on nights and weekends for two years. Using resources on the Web, instructional DVDs and New York’s MakerSpace NYC community he eventually gained the skills to machine a prototype of his automatically resetting target by himself. Since his first time experimenting with his Taig until today he has religiously documented his machining projects on YouTube and now NYC CNC has acquired over 273,000 subscribers.

Today Saunders with a staff of six employees, runs a machine shop in his hometown of Zanesville, OH. His company runs an intensive training course on machining and welding, and it uploads at least one YouTube video a week about machining. He also cohosts a weekly podcast where he discusses his challenges running a small machining business.

Question: Is the machining business too capital intensive for most entrepreneurs?

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One thought on “Best of Swarfcast: The Self-Taught Machinist, With John Saunders of NYC CNC

  1. r in nyc

    “Everything is theoretically impossible, until it is done.” – Robert A. Heinlein
    (OBTW, one of my favorite authors)

    when you waste years on a useless major, and rack up a lifetime of student debt – yes it is impossible.

    Remember Apple!

    Apple co-founder Steve Jobs left Reed College in Portland, OR, after a single semester.

    He was just 21 and Wozniak 26 when they founded Apple Computer in the garage of Jobs’s family home in 1976.

    He said:
    “Have the Courage to Follow Your Heart and Intuition”

    “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life,” Jobs told a Stanford University class in a 2005 commencement speech.

    “Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice,” he advised. “And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. Everything else is secondary.”

    I say you have to have the ambition AND get your hands dirty!!!


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