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TM reader Essie forwarded this ~10 minute video to me, and it made my day. As HD video equipment gets cheaper and cheaper, we’re seeing a total glut of video content that’s pretty much the same as print content. Then, every now and then, you get something like this — the story of a guy (like a lot of guys) that I think a lot of Toolmongers will recognize.

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If you’ve got 10 minutes, give it a watch. If you’ve ever made your living with your hands — or been related (blood or otherwise) to someone who does — I’ll be really surprised if it doesn’t stir a little something in you.

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PROFESSIONal [Vimeo, via]

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19 Responses to The PROFESSIONal

  1. Simon says:

    All I can say is wow.

  2. John says:

    sounds like something my father and grandfathers would say.

  3. BigEdJr says:

    Thank you for sharing this. It is just a regular guy doing a regular job, but it made think about how much cool, helpful, necessary knowledge has been lost because of technology.

    I’m the son of former tool and die maker, who was eventually replaced by computer operated machines. I went to a machinist trade show with him about 15 years ago, after he had retired from that line if work. He was really excited to get his hands on some machine again, but when we got there it was all the new CAD stuff. He was interested but kind of disappointed.

    I ended up being a “computer guy”, the exact opposite of what I always wanted to be. There is a very important sense of satisfaction that comes with building and creating something, even if it is the same thing 100 times. You have something to show for your day’s work. As a computer guy what can I show…? A bunch of electronic 1’s and 0’s, not very fulfilling.

    I think that is why I am drawn to woodworking and tinkering etc. It’s nice to have something to show for your effort, even if it is a crooked bookcase or wobbly chair. It is still something that I built and maybe someday one of my grandkids will remember grampa’s old rickety chair. I know I still remember my grandad’s workshop.

    So, if I was 20 year younger, I would search this guy out and ask for a job. He might not be rich, he might not have a super fancy car, but you can see in his face and his workplace that he has earned a good life.
    Thanks again for the great site.

  4. Steve says:

    I really enjoyed the video, thanks for sharing. I noticed “Salt Lake” on his shop sign and wonder if he is local to me.

    I’d like to share a similar flavor of video. This is a friend of mine and his story about a VW bus restoration…

    http://shopngarage.com/2011/09/restored-1965-vw-bus/

  5. Brau says:

    “If you cant buy a part, you make one”

    This basic concept seems to be getting lost today. The shops doing custom machining are flat out gone from my woods. If they can’t “buy something and adapt it” or “fab one up using CAD”, they often say it can’t be done. Few want to get dirty, lean over a lathe, or do manual labor.

    Thanks for posting the vid.

  6. Shopmonger says:

    I agree that this was awesome, Nothing like using your hands to MAKE…

    BigEd i would disagree that we lost any skills, we still have to know how to make a tool, or die…we still need to know how the machine will cut the steal … and what tools will do it the way we need…we simply now let the machine be our arms. But there is still a lot of hands on and of course human knowledge.

    ShopMonger

  7. axxman says:

    This tells the story of America. How beautiful. Who’s learning these skills? You can’t allocate this knowledge to just a couple of other countries, because there’ll be a time those countries may not be willing to provide the work.

  8. Eric R says:

    That’s the kind of guy who built this country. It’s a shame more and more of them are retiring or dieing and the craftsmanship he possess is going the way of the dinosaur.
    Great video. Thanks Essie.

  9. Frank Hicinbothem says:

    Given the comments, I really wanted to see this. But I’m hearing impaired, and whoever made it didn’t bother to caption it. That’s a pity.

  10. browndog77 says:

    Touching video & story. My father had a small fabrication shop, but sadly he passed when I was an infant. Many of his projects exist today in the small town we lived in. I have always wondered, “what if”. I worked in a sheet metal shop for a couple of years when I was younger, but eventually settled on carpentry. I hope this gentleman’s family does carry the torch, or someone else he would be willing to pass it to!

  11. Jim says:

    I also have a friend that has a fabrication shop in southern California. I would hate to see his knowledge pass away. I hope the younger generations don’t lose sight that a good career isn’t neccessarily working in an office and not getting your hands dirty. Looking back at the end of the day and saying “Hey I did good on that project” is aften more satisfying than a simple paycheck.

  12. Essie says:

    In our tiny independent fab/vintage European moto shop, my mentor could be quoted daily, speaking to every concept in this film. He’s 50 yrs into his expertise and I still hear guys putting him down for being ‘just a mechanic,’ or using that evil word: JUST as in: “Can’t you just…” That word is the first indicator of disrespect and/or ignorance of a process wrought by Tradesmen.

    We make our own tools and parts when it’s required or when we can do it better, or, when we have a moment to ourselves in the middle of the night. I’ve never seen a stock part made to spec that we ordered come without the pitfalls of international trade agreements being apparent in their fit.

    I really think there’s a certain audacity one must have to insist on being an independent shop and making things by hand nowadays because the world as a whole is telling you, in flashy multi-media, that it’s so cool to weld a joint or buy an ax: good for 1 unit of lifestyle cred at the dinner party on the roofdeck in NYC, but not worth it as a living. Almost anything can be bought & hustled into good enough tolerances; also verboten in the shop. “Good enough” is a sign that the mind is tempting us to not do our best, or, in the case of past many-figured IT jobs, a demand from the bosses to hack it together just so no one will notice. Yes, but handwork and handfit is not work for an audience’s sake–its integrity is directly expressed by the fabricator’s choice to exceed good enough. The dime doesn’t always win. The real loss that is the void eroded into the fabric of a population who collectively forgot how to make things, is this opportunity to learn what this integrity feels like.

    Making things takes a lot of unpaid time and a lot of pushing through failure. When it’s your bread & butter, you’re wise and experienced, you’re among the most dedicated because every job is packaged in that moral imperative to complete it with some degree of integrity. The mentality today that mistakes are too costly to make because time is $ and we’re all about the $$$, is actually costing us dearly. Every day when one of the old guard dies, taking with them all of their experience of their trade, we are one less teacher. Even if it is quantifiably true that we have not lost our engineering and forging and measuring skills, I would argue that we are losing much more when we lose the wisdom of an experienced Tradesman (or in my case, woman).

    It’s really nice to read the sincerity in all of these comments. I wrote this earlier after a long frustrating day learning how to fix a what was yesterday a completed job. It’s too long, I know, but I came here & am just so darn happy that this film is on Toolmonger. Thanks, Chuck!

  13. Kevin says:

    some powerful stuff right there

  14. ysw says:

    I realize the video is edited, but in 10 minutes this man expressed more wisdom than most people do all year.

  15. John Ramella says:

    What an awesome video. This guy *is* the working class hero.

  16. Brad Justinen says:

    thanks for posting!

  17. Manny says:

    Theirs a man, who is the epitome of an American. I love him for what he does, and for what he is; the early morning riser, who greets each day with an expection of a job that he will finish.

    Manny

  18. Clint says:

    I run a small fab shop and have been doing metal work off and on for quite a few years. This guy hit it right on. I love working on different things. Every day is a challenge. Every project is beautiful. Every tool we touch makes our work better. Its an amazing trade, and I will die still learning.

  19. Mike says:

    I push bits for a living, but make swarf as a hobby. I’m not particularly good at it, and my tools have a pretty small envelope. I started messing with it the week before my father died. He ran a number of job shops over 20 years or so, and the smell takes me back 30 years. I’ve said similar things before “If it exists, buy it, it’s cheaper in time and money but if it doesn’t, make it.”

    But I’ve also said:
    “Some folks will just never know the satisfaction of taking $3000 in tools, and $2 in scrap and making a $7 part that can be bought for $1.50″

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