Ep. 39 – Jay Sauder on CNC Machining Parts for the Amish

By Noah Graff

On today’s podcast we interviewed Jay Sauder, owner of Sauder Machine in Plymouth, Ohio.

One of Sauder’s specialties is making hydraulic wheel cylinders for Amish horse-drawn buggies using sophisticated CNC equipment. Sauder and his 10 employees are all members of the Mennonite church. Earlier in his life, Jay himself drove a horse and buggy, but today he chooses to drive a pickup truck. However, all of his employees ride bicycles to work.

Jay told me that the company buys used equipment almost exclusively and seldom buys a machine for a specific job. He purchases equipment when he considers it a good value and fit for his company’s expertise. The company also is unafraid to use a variety of brands and controls, such as DMG, Traub, Haas, INDEX, Mazak, Matsuura, and Hurco because his workers are not bothered switching from one control to another. He enjoyed telling me about two 1988 CNC Traub TNA 480 Turn-Milling Centers that the company is currently refurbishing in-house.

Question: What is the most unusual job you’ve had?

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4 thoughts on “Ep. 39 – Jay Sauder on CNC Machining Parts for the Amish

  1. Paul Huber

    Selling some Bechler Swiss cam automatics to a Mennonite owned shop producing parts for builders of horse drawn buggies, farm equipment and other manufacturers.
    I am amazed what they achieve, on a daily basis, without electricity and telephone connections. All of their equipment is driven by hydraulic motors powered from a central diesel engine driven hydraulic power unit.
    Also, sitting down at their dinner table with light streaming down from a shaft thru the roof with mirrors aligned to catch the last sun ray’s in the evening . Ingenious !

    Life is good, learn something every day!

    Paul Huber

  2. r in nyc

    Back in college, my Professor was working with an eye doctor at a huge reputable hospital here in New York. This was before laser vision correction. So I built a prototype rotating eyeball grinder. The concept was to reshape the cornea for vision correction. We were working with frozen mink eyeballs – cool. The Lasik thing took off shortly thereafter and that was the end of that…

    But I received an “A” in the class!

  3. Michael Gammache

    The amish article tickled me about the frequent buggy that pulled into my plant years back. Our shop had Brownies at the time and we made lantern parts , mechanical candles , and various buggy brakes. Now we are in Lancaster Penna. and its a very large and established old Amish community. Levi had started this business relationship with my father and it continued for many years. He would mail us a order with a part in it and when it was completed he would arrive in his buggy and pay us cash for the parts.Well we decided to get out of cam screw machine business in 79 and the building next to us was vacant. It was decided to have a auction and guess who came with a wad of money. Yup Levi and son. They bought all our brownies we ran their parts on , the milling machines, drill presses and even the 2 small punch presses. All were converted to the hydraulic motor drive as you mentioned. They were all excited about the old leather belt driven OG,s and No.2 . They made sure they purchased the leather belt lacing manual press. Levi was interested in our machines making watch parts for Hamilton. You can only guess what he was thinking.
    When you come too Lancaster now he has a place of business called The Leacock Coleman Center. outside of Intercourse Penna. Funny thing years go by and his cousin shows up , his name is Moses’s and he wants to by my old Hardinge Superslant 3 axis lathes. We had hired some amish boys for the summerwork thus the word was out about are unused old cncs. Yup he had a wad of dollar bills and was driving a black Trans Am. New order vs old order oncet!


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