Business of Machining

John Grimsmo of Grimsmo Knives and John Saunders of NYC CNC discuss their success, struggles, goals and more as machinists, business owners and entrepreneurs.
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Business of Machining



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Now displaying: 2019
Mar 22, 2019

Let the podcast go on!

Saunders may have lost his voice, but that’s not stopping these two from putting out another episode.

Get ready, goal set, go!

Grimsmo is hitting lots of goals lately. The team averaged their ideal daily production number for the ENTIRE month of March!

Grimsmo is also on his final steps of purchasing a Swiss Lathe! Learn more about its specs and the steps Grimsmo is taking to prepare for his Swiss in this episode.

Upcoming goals in the Grimsmo shop:

  • Get a new shop!
  • 5-Axis, baby

How to Negotiate

It’s not all about getting a lower price! There’s lots of valuable add-ons or conveniences that you can push for. If you’re the customer, you’re in a position of power! Grimsmo talks about what he negotiated for when shopping for his Swiss, and shares some strategies.

Note: Building relationships with distributors HELPS!


Customer service isn’t everything, but it’s the company’s first impression

“They just make it so easy to buy from them, and their product is quality, so why not!” - Grimsmo

Saunders makes a point for the distributor model

“Sales forces are a relic of the past” - Saunders

What to expect when you’re expecting a Swiss Lathe

Grimsmo researches necessary tooling, and preparations he has to make for his new Swiss Lathe. Watch out for a video on Grimsmo’s YouTube channel where he goes into this more!

Lapping machine vs. a great end mill in a great machine?

Grimsmo talks about tools for getting that perfect mirror finish that the Grimsmo team is quickly becoming known for. 

“That is the full-Grimsmo machine!” - Grimsmo

BOM goes international!

Saunders is visiting some machine shops around Europe, and Grimsmo tags along to check out the Kern Factory in Germany, and Tornos in Switzerland. While they’re at it, they plan on taping a BOM episode in Germany.

Mar 15, 2019

Word of the day:


In other words, Saunders has his 5-axis Haas machine, and he’s spending some time lately getting to know it and CAMplete. He talks about his 5-axis starter kit, and moving up to technology that seemed almost unreachable before.

AND it’s helping Grimsmo thaw to the idea of learning more about 5-axis machines himself.

Becoming Swissish ROUND 2!

Grimsmo talks about his trip to Elliott Matsuura to check out some Swiss Lathes (one of which might just be purchased by the next podcast episode)

It's all about design, baby 

The Johns discuss which design programs they use for their machines, and which ones to use with Swiss Lathes.

Bonus at Matsuura:

THEY HAD A ROUGHNESS TESTER! While Grimsmo visits, he gets to check out the roughness of his blades and handles. In this episode he lets us know the EXACT measurements.

Grimsmo bought an Ultrasonic Cleaner, and Skye approves.

“I wash the parts with water afterwards, and they’re cleaner than I could have gotten them before [having the Ultrasonic]” - Skye

Want to learn more about different kinds of cleaners? Saunders mentions this Wikipedia article as a great resource:

Ultrasonic Cleaning

The Johns finish off this episode with talk of other cleaning supplies, cleaning methods, and a couple more notes on Swiss Lathes. Stay tuned.

Mar 8, 2019

A Stone's Throw Away
The parallels in the lives of Grimsmo and Saunders are uncanny to say the least. Both get the chance to clear their heads--one on Lake Ontario and the other on Lake Erie.

Full Steam Ahead
During one of the most emotional weeks of his life, Saunders watches on Instagram as the UMC-750 and TM3 are delivered in his absence--and that's a beautiful thing. With a team he can rely on, he's been able to focus his attention on who needs it most: with his wife! We're happy to say Evonne's made it through surgery and on the road to recovery!

Grimsmo gives an occupational talk at a local school. By taking
a hands-on approach, he's creating memorable experiences that resonate with the younger generation.

Grimsmo knows exactly which part the Swiss lathe will play in shop production. In addition to tool holders, drill holders, and inserts, he plans to purchase a 60,000 rpm (not a typo) electric spindle to mill the torx pattern on the screws!

In last week's episode, Saunders suggested that Grimsmo try ramping down to solve a recurring tool problem. Did it work?

Phil asks a thought-provoking question about whether or not to alternate between OP1 and OP2 on a 5-axis machine tool with 10 pallets. Short answer: It depends.


Higbee Threads? Tell me more!
With the SAGA having threaded parts, this clearly the way to go FULL GRIMSMO!

Mar 1, 2019

When high production is vital to your business, planning ahead for down time when employees are down for the count could make or break.

Although Skye thought he escaped the illness that overpowered his co-workers...he spoke too soon.  Angelo steps up to the plate.


After Saunders tours Superb Industries, Inc., the Moore Jig Grinder poses a challenging question. How can you incorporate skilled labor into a process sheet?

Patty Cake, Patty Cake, Baker's Man....How Many Backups Should You Have on Hand?

Having doubles of EVERYTHING is not feasible so that means careful decisions about which replacement items you keep. Lead time, cost, and cash flow are just a few!


Big Kaiser goes haywire, causing SMW to begrudgingly scrap an expensive part. While troubleshooting, Saunders has his finger on it but is none the wiser.


Grimsmo arrives to a flashing red light and a broken 1/8" flat 4-flute end mill--and this isn't the first time.  When it comes to machining the tabs off of SAGA clips, this tool isn't cutting it (pun intended).

Kyocera Insert Update: 

After blowing close to one insert per part, the problem is solved. Now, GK can get 200 + parts out of one insert!


From Swissish thoughts to full Swishish, Grimsmo's zeroing in on the machine GK needs.

In addition to the UMC-750, Saunders makes another purchase that will be a game changer.

Feb 22, 2019

Maximizing use of the Mill

Grimsmo’s mill was STILL running when he came in this morning! That is one. Great. First.

On top of that, last week was the highest week ever for production at the Grimsmo shop.

“You keep saying that!” - Saunders

Apparently record breaking is the new norm, and Grimsmo is still trying to produce even more.

Saunders’ reminder

  • Reminders can increase production! Sometimes it’s just a small forgotten step in a process that got in the way of producing more. Pro Tip: Set a reminder for that step  
  • While you’re at it, set reminders for yourself so you stay on track with who you’re trying to become


“Your spindle is only ever down for a pallet change” - Grimsmo

Book Recommendation!

Do you love history and machining? Freedom’s Forge could be a great pick for you! It dives deep into the history of WWII, while also taking technology and available machines into the equation. Plus, Saunders highly recommends it.

Check it out here.

The ULTIMATE machine buying guide

Check out the NYC CNC website for important information and tips on financing your machine, and how to find the right one for your needs.

“Most people don’t mind paying for something, they just don’t want to pay for it if someone else didn’t pay for it or got a better deal” - Saunders

Pro tip:

“It only matters what goes into the loan documents in the end” - Saunders

Tidying Up, Saunders Style

Saunders doesn’t regret purging the workshop of unnecessary stuff for one second.

Are YOU ready to binge shop tours?

  • Superb Industries Shop Tour Coming Soon! While you’re waiting, check out @adam_the_machinist on Instagram.
  • Also check out the Fabrisonic video tour on Saunders’ Youtube channel
  • And look out for shop tour videos based on the 2 week binge of tours Saunders will be doing in the next couple weeks.


The time has come for the Saga Sign-Up List to go LIVE! Grimsmo launched it this past weekend as a link on his Instagram bio. More information about the pen will go up on the website soon. For now, you can learn more about the Grimsmo custom pen by checking out the Saga Saturday videos

So, real talk. When is the swiss lathe coming?

Grimsmo and Saunders discuss the need for a swiss lathe in the Grimsmo shop now that producing pens consistently is becoming more imminent.

“I just don’t want to spend a ton of money on bells and whistles I don’t need” - Grimsmo

And it’s also a matter of the machine fitting in the shop. But that's a question for another time. 

Feb 15, 2019

Proud Machining Moments Hit Home
Sometimes you only need an upward glance to find comfort and strength. 

Click Image Below to See the IG Post:


#Throwback #NeverForget

An epic Lakeshore order is a testament to how far you've come but the past is never too distant.
The Taig ER-16 spindle and some cheap double-sided end mills conjure up fond memories of the early days.


Saunders discusses the emotional impact of a "major curve ball."
This health concern causes terror and confusion, but one thing is clear: it puts life into perspective.

"It's not a sprint. It's a marathon."


Although entrepreneurs are driven by behavioral economics such as fear, convictions and outside interactions, at the end of the day, it's decision time. The Johns discuss how their ideas and plans have evolved.


Freedom's Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in WWII

Big Mistakes: The Best Investors and Their Worst Investments

The Perfectionists: How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World


CASH CRUNCH: How cash flow management can affect your business decisions.

Goals are easy to declare BUT they ignore the actions between.


Feb 8, 2019

The Pen and Knife Balance

With limited machines, Grimsmo is always trying to balance knife and pen production. Sometimes he has to get creative.

Saunders and Grimsmo talk tools, and creative solutions to achieve Grimsmo’s high standards.

“That would work, but it wouldn’t be the finish I want” - Grimsmo

Sometimes the solutions are simple.

“We both figured out at the same time that the live tool needed to go’s just one of those little things that takes forever to figure out” - Grimsmo

SMW Bought a 5 - Axis!

It’s a Haas UMC-750, and Saunders signed the paper work for it last week. It should be delivered in about 2 - 3 weeks (so soon!). Look out for the video on Saunders’ YouTube channel.  To make space, they would also move the other machines around a little.

“You’ve got your high-end cell, and your training cell” - Grimsmo

Pro-tip: You don’t want too big of a machine because it makes it very difficult to get to a small part, so you have to solve that by lifting the part up high off the table.

Interested in getting trained in 5-Axis machining? Keep following Saunders for updates on potential classes.

“I’ve always been more interested in showing what you can do with a machine, rather than showing what you can’t do with a machine” - Saunders

Grimsmo’s Future 5 - Axis

“I would get a palletized version...Rob Lockwood sold me on the idea” - Grimsmo.

Listen to the episode with Rob Lockwood as a guest! It’s episode 93 of this podcast.

“I try to push the boundaries for accuracy, not so much for power” - Grimsmo

Failed Lean "Fixes"

Collaborative video between Grimsmo, Saunders, and Jay Pierson. 

Where have YOU tried to go lean, and it just didn’t work out?

3D Printing without heat...Can it be done?

Saunders tours a revolutionary 3D Printing company called Fabri Sonic.

“You can put electronics in your 3D printed part!” - Saunders


  • The Snippet Tool on every windows computer. It’s so small, but helps SO much.
  • Creating a keyboard shortcut in your phone to fill out your hashtags automatically.

At the end, Grimsmo and Saunders get into measurement techniques, and solving problems by probing. Saunders mentions that he learned a great technique from Edge Precision’s YouTube channel!

Feb 1, 2019

It's cold. It's winter. Who cares? Moving on.

This episode is a hodgepodge of entrepreneurial and philosophical gold nuggets.
From Maslow's Hierarchy to epoxy floors, the Johns cover it all.

Even IF we are in a doesn't matter!

Machinist's Philosophies
After watching the Joe Rogan podcast episode featuring David Goggins, Saunders is particularly fired up!

Joe Rogan + David Goggins Podcast Episodes


Rollercoaster of Entrepreneurial Love
It's normal to get down but maybe you have to get down to get back up. Without overcoming struggle, you can't get a sense of accomplishment.

Jan 25, 2019

Getting Social In 2019, and sharing reality!

Grimsmo starts to post Instagram stories daily. Bonus: We get more info on the upcoming Saga Pen!

BUT Saunders and Grimsmo agree that they don’t need to stay up-to-date on everything all the time.

“Use Instagram the way that works for you...we’re not just going for clicks and views, we’re trying to build a community of people who care, and want to see what we’re doing” - Grimsmo

Example of a Reality Check: In Grimsmo’s latest video, Jo mentions that we’re using the old tumbler a little more than the new tumbler lately. And that’s just a reality.

Saunders guest stars in another podcast! It’s called The Edge with Bantam Tools

This company is now owned by Bre Pettis, one of the owners of NYC Resistor, and the 3D printer company, MakerBot. 

Growing Pains = Long Term Gains

To think about hiring, you’ve gotta think about firing

Saunders and Grimsmo talk about the difficulties of being an entrepreneur.

“I hired too quickly, and I fired too slowly. The problem with having a bottom performer on your team is that he/she gets all the attention, when the second worst performer flies under the radar” - An inspiring entrepreneur Saunders is quoting

“Being an entrepreneur is something I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy, yet all of my best friends are entrepreneurs” - Grimsmo

Great example from The Eagles Biopic on Netflix

What did it feel like when the band broke up? “It was a terrible relief” - Don Henley

Even when there’s no specific problems with the team, as an entrepreneur, it’s still necessary to constantly be thinking about the future (which includes the future of employees).

Saunders and the Mobile Desk

Saunders gets a backup battery for his computer, and sets everything up to be movable. Now he can move his office, into a quieter space.

Let’s talk about finance! Growth eats cash for breakfast!

“I haven’t yet felt the benefits of running a profitable business” - Grimsmo

Saunders and Grimsmo discuss how to regard the finances as accurately as possible.

“Most businesses fail not because of lack of profitability, but because of cash flow”

The Saga: Almost a Year in the Making

The Grimsmo Shop seizes every chance they get to make pen parts when the lathe isn’t making knife parts.

Grimsmo talks about Angelo’s strategies to tighten those tolerances on the super small parts of the pen.

The pens will be sold through the Maker’s Choice list, but it’s not live yet. Subscribe to Grimsmo’s Instagram and YouTube for updates on this.

Lathe is running well, and Grimsmo adjusted the SFM! What is SFM? There’s a video for that.

Saunders has a question for the audience!

The big fan is great for cooling the air, but we want a better climate control system for the summer.

“I wanna buy a beer for an HVAC guy!” - Saunders

ALARM! Wrong tool in spindle

Grimsmo had two pallets alarm out at one custom code that he had put in. It helps protect his tools and his parts with one warning called “wrong tool in spindle”

Jan 18, 2019

Spoke Too Soon. 

Last week's episode featured Great Mood Grimsmo. He was in high spirits only to find Norseman fixture alignment issues that would plague the team for the remainder of the week. He and Angelo wade through the GD&T lake to find the variance and formulate a possible solution that involves changing the probe tip from 6mm to 2mm. 

Click the Photo to View Post!


For Saunders, Monday morning bestows some thorn-in-your-side gifts. A letter from the bank creates strained relations, a Fusion 360 glitch causes Manual NC to malfunction, and an RFQ response from a vendor that results in a purchase, except they left out one TINY detail.


As more machinists open their shops to viewers via social media and YouTube, big name companies recognize the potential benefits. The landscape of the machining industry is evolving.  While proprietary information is still kept confidential, more businesses are warming up to visitors and sharing. To boot, long gone are the days when the idea of having 2 Renishaw probes on the same machine seemed cray-cray.

What makes the BEST WEEK EVER? Hint: It includes the National Tooling and Machining Association and ZEISS.

Processing Post Processing
If you want to get started on Post Processing, check out the videos on the NYC CNC page HERE.

Spooky Sounds and Stethoscopes: Solved.
The strange noise emitted from the VF-2SS in episode 100 has disappeared. Was it a major issue or a simple fix?

You know what really GRINDS my gears? Quality Control.
Quality and lead time issues with outside vendors provoke questions. Saunders has reservations about bringing a particular process in-house but keeps an open mind to solutions.
Don'tcha wish you had a Bourdelais around the corner?

Jan 11, 2019

This episode is a good mix of strategic philosophy and technical discussions. Stay tuned for talks about how to stay motivated AND motivate your team at the same time! Such is the life of an entrepreneur. The Johns will also talk troubleshooting, and favorite tools.

Pass it on

Grimsmo fixed the pass link on the Maker’s Choice “Congrats” e-mail, and now people can pass the purchase link along quickly if they don’t want it. Without that link working, it takes 24 hours for turnover!

What do you want in a knife?

Grimsmo adds a short survey to the Maker’s Choice system so people on the list can answer a few questions and help the Grimsmo team tailor knives to the market.

But this raises the question “how do you differentiate between valuable and non-valuable feedback?”

Grimsmo’s systems may be improved, but he’s not finished yet! Saunders and Grimsmo discuss how to integrate knife customization back into the Grimsmo business model.

“Don’t paint the future with the past. You have a lot more maturity now when it comes to your ability to run product through the shop” - Saunders

The Saga Continues…

The Grimsmo pen is still in the works, and getting prettier by the day. But at 32 rockwell, is the new material for the button and slider too soft? Skye gets assigned the task of clicking the pen all day to find out.

What’s your favorite tool?

Saunders: ¼ inch end mills FTW! There are so many reasons why they’re great!

A well versed fellow from Helical Solutions visits the SMW shop and breaks down just how unique end mills really are. Saunders also toured Helical Solutions’ shop! Check it out on Youtube!

Grimsmo’s favorite tool? The Leica Microscope. It’s used all day every day at the Grimsmo Shop, and knives just couldn’t be made the same without it.

For those of you who are going to ask about Grimsmo’s Lathe Insert Tool that he mentioned:

VBMT 110302PSF AH725

Slow and steady does not always win the race (if you’re a machinist)

“That’s a classic example of how you think you’re gonna be safer and smarter by going slower and easier, but it doesn’t always mean that” - Saunders

How much is too much lifestyle creep?

“I know there’s life style creep, but I just don’t feel bad about it” - Saunders’ friend

There’s a difference between treating yourself, and spoiling yourself. 

Crush it! 

Jan 4, 2019

Happy 2019!
The guys elaborate on the first time they met in person at the 2015 Tormach Open House.
Did Grimsmo inadvertently set a precedent when he purchased his first vertical machining center before having a shop to fit it?

The guys get caught up in festivities, family, and friends. This time of year reminds us to cherish time with our loved ones, to reflect, and to ring in the new year with a zest for life.

Tom Lipton's sobering words hit home and leave Grimsmo with goosebumps. Check out the post HERE

The Saunders family takes off to D.C. for an impromptu vacation. While visiting museums, he finds himself in awe!

Preventative Maintenance Talks
Be a good machinist by taking care of your machines!

10 Things YOU Can Improve for 2019

Spooky Sounds and Stethoscopes
The VF2 is making a weird noise, so it's time to get to the bottom of it. Could it be a rotary union coupler issue?

Knife Parts Stocked? 


Sayonara, Kyocera Inserts?
Previously, the SAGA clips decimated insert after insert BUT WHY!?
Angelo and Grimsmo pour through the code to find the place where
old habits die hard. They are pumped to see if adjusting the SFM will solve the problem! Stay tuned for an update!

Find out which machine Grimsmo's got his eye AND a quote on!