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Hi, Toolmaker / CNC Programmer. Merseyside


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Karl Challis12/04/2019 14:09:05
8 forum posts

Hi All.

My name is Karl, I'm 26 from Merseyside.

Myself and my younger Brother 20 are apprentice trained toolmaker and CNC Programmers. We have a passion for old school machinery and techniques, and would love our own company at some point.

We have just purchased, cleaned and restored a Marlow Model 5a Milling machine and Myford Super 7 lathe. I must say were very impressed with the capabilities of both machines especially considering they're age. I basically spend all day every day machining and I love it.

I'm sure it will be nice to chat to some of you and of course soak up some of the wealth of knowledge floating around.


David George 112/04/2019 16:22:21
1189 forum posts
405 photos

Hi Karl welcome to the forum. Nice to see younger toolmakers on here as an ex- apprentice toolmaker myself when CNC was never heard of and auto lathes were the latest thing. I have seen many changes like we had to file a shape to a couple of thou for RR turbine blade dies by hand and checked on a shadow graph. Now three years into retirement I hope you have as varied a time with engineering as I have had.


Karl Challis12/04/2019 18:14:28
8 forum posts

Thanks David, not quite filing to tight tolerances however i have had experience grinding tool steel and using a shadowgraph as measurement, haven't seen one since my early apprenticeship. Glad to still have access to the likes of radial arms as they also seem to be disappearing. I was so lucky to make my start using dial machining and no readout, no 3d clocks, simple edge finders and well placed rolling papers for 10micron shim. It certainly put me in a great position to learn the newer techniques. I can only imagine some of the projects you have taken on in the past. Thanks for the welcome. Karl

Ian Johnson 112/04/2019 21:22:24
248 forum posts
77 photos

Hi Karl I'm in Cheshire so not too far from you, and it's great to see the next generation of engineering talent appreciating the old skills. When I did my apprenticeship NC/CNC were just becoming more common in engineering workshops (in ours anyway!).

It's a great time to start an engineering company, STEM training in schools is really being promoted, ensuring a pool of workers. Grants and loans are available for start ups especially in the advanced manufacturing in the Liverpool region. There are loads of specialist CNC machining and engineering companies in the area such as Maxton in Frodsham doing very well in motorbike racing suspension. Go for it!


Karl Challis12/04/2019 22:18:50
8 forum posts

Thanks for the positive words Ian.

And the advice is appreciated. We have always been advised to pick a market/industry and excell in one rather than provide an okay service in multiple industries. I must admit the unpredictability of a general machine shop keeps the work more exciting.

Do you still machine?


Ian Johnson 112/04/2019 23:08:28
248 forum posts
77 photos

I still do machining Karl, although it's small hobby stuff now in my garage with small lathe and mill, with a CNC mill all bench top. I've had some career changes but when I was on the tools it was all big heavy chemical plant machining, pump shafts, railway loco wheels, heat ex-changers, pump casings, relief valves, etc, in every conceivable material you can think of. We machined everything really. Probably very much like you want to do.


Chris Evans 613/04/2019 08:59:48
1626 forum posts

The "jobbing " or general machine shops certainly give you a variety of work. I spent 50 years as a toolmaker in the injection mould and pressure die industry. Now retired with a 14"x40" lathe and Bridgeport mill in the garage for motorcycle projects. I get a lot of challenges on how to make/repair stuff. I did have the good fortune to operate CNC machines in my time but never got on a CNC lathe or mill, my experience was on solid sink EDM and wire cut machines. Enjoy your job.

Karl Challis13/04/2019 10:21:09
8 forum posts

I'm currently in the plastic moulding industry myself at the moment, having come from a background in aerospace and pharmaceutical.

I just truly dont see the challenge / fun in having software simply generate a program for you. It really seems like automation is the way to go, which is a shame.

Again thanks for the welcome guys.

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