Funding for Machine Tools

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Help a disabled, low-income individual with big ideas to MAKE COOL THINGS.
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John Pfeiffer
Small Business
Middlebury, Vermont
United States
1 Team Member

My Goal

My goal is to raise the money I need for the tools that aren't reasonably within my grasp; namely a metalworking lathe, a milling machine, tooling and accessories for each, equipment for part-finishing processes, as well as some working capital for stock materials and consumables.  In short, what I need to be able to MAKE COOL THINGS, and finally make a business out of my desire to design and make things!

This campaign is set to end on January 27th, 2012, my 31st birthday.  I can think of no better gift than to be able to start making cool things, so let's give it a go!

To learn about these 'big ideas' I have, and the details of the available perks, stay tuned to the Updates tab!

Minimum Funding Goals

The minimum goal right now, is to raise around $1,250 so that I can purchase the lathe and essential tooling.  Without that, I'm limited to making things I can print out (Like the mechanical drawings) or things made of metal plate, which I can reasonably fabricate with the basic hand tools I already have.  Having a lathe opens up whole worlds of possibilities, and I think it should be enough to get me started.

My Story

The short version is that I suffer from acute social phobia and agoraphobia, and am prone to crippling anxiety attacks when faced with the outside world.  You can read about how I got that way in my profile. 

I've all but given up on having a 'normal life', or any of the day-to-day experiences and simple joys that go with it, and honestly I'm okay with that; Because all I want is to make things.  There is so much I could be doing, so much I want to be doing, so many ideas. I just don't have the means to carry them out.  After living expenses, I only have a meager $30 of disposable income left from my disability checks each month...

I've been trying for years now to make things work.  There was a time when I could pool my resources with my father, who has similar if not identical goals, but every time we'd get close to being able to do something, some emergency would blow away all our savings.  Now he's retired and living on an equally-inadequate fixed income. (In fact, we can only afford to live together.)  I even tried talking to a business plan counselor from a local micro-business development program.  It took months to work up the nerve to do it.  In our email conversations she showed great enthusiasm for my ideas, but upon meeting face to face, she simply told me to "Get a job."  She didn't even want to see my business plan.  This, and similar experiences, are why I don't hold out hope for conventional funding sources.

A Business, For $5,000?

Okay, so you know I'm trying to raise money for tools, but $5,000 seems pretty light even for Micro-Business loans, what gives?  How does this form a business?

Well, it's about reaching a tipping point. It's about a game-changer. With a set of machine tools, I can manually make the parts needed to convert both the mill and the lathe to Computer-Numeric-Control (CNC), and with the tools converted to CNC, they can machine anything I can design on the computer.

With the use of a CNC mill and lathe, I can quickly manufacture any additional tools I may need. For instance, I can make the parts for an extrusion-based 3D printer, like a RepRap or Makerbot, as well as the moving parts assemblies needed to make something like a laser cutter/engraver. And just like that, my fabrication capabilities have expanded exponentially.

That's when things get really fun. There's a point at which the hard part becomes designing and planning. And never having been able to actually move on to the fabrication and execution stage, the designing and planning stage is something I have had the time and opportunities to become very good at.  Not to mention the fact that I have a huge backlog of ideas and designs that have amazing potential.

So, basically, we're talking about $5,000 to put me in a position where I can pursue my own ideas, as well as offer services for rapid prototyping, fabrication, and machining of very nearly anything.  It will also allow me to share my learning experiences along the way with others and help grow the DIY/Maker community in my own way.

You can read the mission statement for my business here on my blog.

Be The Change

This isn't just about helping me finally get a fair chance at becoming a productive member of society and starting my business. My father would benefit greatly from having an outlet for his creativity as well.  I would also be able to help my younger sister, who handcrafts sterling silver jewelry, by making stamps, dies, and other tooling for her to use.  And I'm sure there are even some local businesses that could benefit from my skillset, when I'm ready.

As someone who talks incessantly about things that interest him, I plan to blog the entirety of my hands-on learning experience with the tools. Eventually making guides for other beginning machinists, giving others the benefit of what I've learned, complete with instructional YouTube videos.

If this succeeds, who knows?  If what goes around truly does come around, maybe I'll actually be in a position to help fund other peoples' endeavors some day, thus beginning an endless recursion, and just like that, you've changed the WORLD.  Wouldn't that be something?  How can you afford NOT to?

The way I figure, ten dollars here, twenty dollars there, the occasional fifty... There's plenty of people to whom those amounts don't make much of a difference, but to someone in my position, they make ALL the difference. 

What's in it for you?

Well, besides the satisfaction you might get from drastically changing someone's life for the better and helping them become productive, I have devised a couple ways to show my appreciation to those who contribute.

Among which is an exceptionally pragmatic idea I had:  If I want to get a handle on my new tools I'm going to have to practice making things-- simple things --over and over again, until I've got it all down, right?  So maybe, instead of concentrating on things -I- want or need to make, not all of which are going to make for good practice, I could hone my skills by making various small doodads, thingamajobbers, odds, ends, bits, bobs, and whoziwhatzits...maybe even a widget or two.

I'm thinking things like paperweights, little containers with screw-on lids, small hand-tools, flashlight bodies, maybe even things like pencils/leadholders or pen bodies for use with ink refills.  All machined from materials like billet aluminium and stainless steel.  Who can say no to that?  Honestly, if you have something specific in mind, ask me and I'll see how feasible it is!

Come one, come all! Bring the whole family! Tell your friends!

It's been said that word of mouth is the best advertising money can't buy.  So, by all means; tweet, blog, facebook, scream from the rooftops! If you feel this is a worthy cause, and you find me engaging and entertaining, tell everyone you know! Heck, tell total strangers! Write the URL on the walls of bathroom stalls if you want! (Okay, maybe not that last one...) But please, get the word out, so I can make things!


Don't forget to check the 'Updates' tab for further details regarding the perks, and any other interesting things I might have to say!

$1,050USD
raised by 20 people in 3 months
21% funded
0 time left
$5,000 USD goal
Flexible Funding This campaign has ended and will receive all funds raised.
Campaign Closed
This campaign ended on January 27, 2012
Select a Perk
  • $1USD
    Every Dollar Counts!

    For people who would like to help but can't afford any of the other perks. Even a single dollar can help make a difference, and I'm grateful for each and every one!

    0 claimed

  • $5USD
    Mechanical Drawing - Digital

    A PDF or PNG of a mechanical drawing for one of my designs. Over the course of the campaign, I will assemble a gallery of my designs for you to choose from.

    2 claimed

  • $10USD
    Mechanical Drawing - Letter

    An 8.5x11" print of a mechanical drawing for one of my designs. Over the course of the campaign, I will assemble a gallery of my designs for you to choose from.

    1 claimed

  • $20USD
    Mechanical Drawing - 13x19"

    A 13x19 inch print of a mechanical drawing for one of my designs. Over the course of the campaign, I will assemble a gallery of my designs for you to choose from.

    3 claimed

  • $25USD
    One Small/Simple Workpiece

    One of the small workpieces I plan to make for practice. I will assemble a gallery of the practice pieces as they are designed, for you to choose from. Examples of 'Small/Simple' pieces include things like lathe-turned steel or aluminium rings or other trinkets, or single screw-on lidded containers and the like. NOTE: Fulfillment of these perks will be delayed until after at least some equipment purchases are made.

    3 out of 20 claimed

  • $50USD
    One Larger/Complex Workpiece

    One of the larger or more complex workpieces I plan to make for practice. I will assemble a gallery of the practice pieces as they are designed, for you to choose from. Examples of 'Larger/Complex' pieces include things like the 'Steampunk Pendant', custom pen bodies, or a set of nesting containers. NOTE: Fulfillment of these perks will be delayed until after at least some equipment purchases are made.

    3 out of 10 claimed

  • $100USD
    Puzzle Piece Paperweight Set

    A set of 5 of the 'Puzzle Piece Paperweight', and a custom wooden gift box. You will be able to choose different finishes for all five pieces. I hope to offer colored powder coat finishes, as well as brushed/polished steel for you to choose from. (Read my updates for more details!)

    1 out of 5 claimed

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