|Welcome to A Higher Plane.
My name is Bill Quayle. I was born and raised in a small mining town in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
|As I was growing up Dad had a wood shop where he spent a lot of his time tinkering and creating a wide variety of beautiful things. He didn’t have a big shop, but that didn’t stop him from building about anything he set his mind to. He build an alter and pulpit for a church, secretary desks, hutches, kitchen cabinets, and literally hundreds of turned candlesticks – most given as a remembrance for the baptism of a child at our church. He loved to turn on his lathe, a 1948 vintage Atlas Model 7121 (http://www.lathes.co.uk/atlaswood/), which I now have in my shop, along with his jointer, drill press (Atlas 1060), and an assortment of well-cared-for hand tools. My Grandfather on my Mom’s side was also a carpenter by trade, and lived across the street from us. He didn’t do the cabinet work that my Dad did, but had a wide variety of tools befitting a carpenter of the early 20th century – a full assortment of wooden molding planes, chisels, hammers, braces, bits, hand saws,etc…, along with the sea trunk tool chest belonging to his father, decorated with his name and rosemåling. These are also a prized part of my shop.|
|I was raised in Dad’s shop, so creating things out of raw materials comes very natural to me. (My first “project”, created when I was about three years old, hangs on the wall of my current shop.) Our high school, being part of a mining town, had a very complete and comprehensive Industrial Arts program. By the time I graduated high school, I knew how to weld, braze, do mechanical and architectural drafting, operate metal lathes, shapers, milling machines, and, of course, create nearly anything I could imagine in the wood shop. In recognition of my training, I was the recipient of the “Seaborg Award for Excellence in the Industrial Arts” in 1976. Glenn Seaborg, Nobel Prize recipient for his work in Nuclear Physics, was also from my home town (and a “distant relative” I was told…). But I digress…|
|Over the next few years, I found myself working in a fabrication plant in Elk Grove Village, Illinois. The company that I worked for, Amcut Corporation, was a small “Mom & Pops” shop that employed a dozen or so people, but the owner was a visionary and an entrepreneur. Amcut designed, manufactured, and marketed a “flame shape cutting tool” – a device that would use an optical tracing head and cutting torches to cut shapes out of steel plate. Working in the shop, I was one of four employees responsible for construction of the machines. We did essentially all of the machining, welding, fabricating, and painting of the machines, producing about one machine per month. Their “drafting department” consisted of a single person working part time while attending school. When that person moved on, I stepped up and started doing their drafting work, thanks to my four years of high school drafting classes. As draftsman, I created orthographic projection machine parts drawings, wiring diagrams, isometric and exploded isometric assembly diagrams, and schematics. This is a drawing I did for an advertising brochure Amcut put out for their “Type-R” ….|
|The year was 1978, just prior to the emergence of Computer Numerical Control – “CNC”. In early 1979, the “engineering group” (a staff of two) responsible for the design of the machine electronics, determined they could retrofit a numerical control unit to the machine to replace the optical control head. In very short order, I learned to program machine parts using “G-Code”- the numerical control language, and we had what was probably the first numerically controlled flame shape cutting machine in the world in that little shop. I programmed parts using a TeleType machine that would produce paper tape encoded with the code. The tape was then read in by a “Burny” numerical control unit carried onboard the machine. In the shop, we had a unit that we used to create the parts that were used to produce the machine – so typical of many manufacturing processes. The unit used either Oxy-Acetylene torches, or could cut using a massive Hypertherm Plasma torch. The Hypertherm unit, again, cutting edge technology at that time, was powered by 880V, and used a water shield to perform flawless cuts in mild steel up to 6″ thick. Amazing times, and a job that prodded me to return to school to earn my engineering degree.|
|Now, many years later, I’ve spent my life building a career as a technologist. I am a Linux Systems Engineer, and have worked many years developing my career in the TechFin market in Chicago’s financial district. While concentrating on my career over those years, I put my roots and passion for woodworking and electro-mechanical engineering on hold. Only recently did I discover the advances that have put CNC into the home shop, which dovetailed perfectly into an opportunity to finally create a shop that fit my needs.|
|Another page, and another challenge for us all. Returning home to the UP comes as the Covid-19 pandemic took over our lives. Our move put everything into storage, as we have not been able to locate a new place that will accommodate our needs, and certainly nothing with a shop. The ability to build is crippled by skyrocketing materials costs. We all work from home, and are very thankful for having employment that allows that, and a home that is warm, and though very “compact”, provides us with what we need to survive. This dystopian reality we now live in has caused us all to re-evaluate needs versus wants, and shuffle priorities to bubble basic needs to the top of the stack. This is a world I never imagined would come to pass, but am extremely grateful we got back to the UP, among family and friends, to weather out this storm. We will move forward, always seeking out…|
|A Higher Plane.|