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ENEMY : Perfection

Katie Upton #2While reading John Maxwells 15 invaluable laws of growth, several concepts have piqued my interest and I intend on posting on these topics. The next one that I will be exploring is the perfection Gap. This is the 5 th reason Maxwell gives for people not growing. They may want to start but just can’t seem to get over several humps. This is one that I have struggled with. I don’t think of myself as a perfectionist but the Perfection Gap has certainly affected my growth process. Remember, I’m just a lowly machinist/ welder. What do I know? There are so many above me, what could I offer the world? All these questions have pledged me. It reminds me of a story an art teacher I had in College told me.
I was taking a drawing class at the Santa Barbara City College in the mid 90′s. Katie Upton is her name. is her site, check her out. She is well known for huge, larger than life drawings and paintings of horses. She told us once about a time early in her career when she purchased a large sheet of paper. It was quite expensive. She went into great detail describing the beauty of the raw paper. It was very special, and probably difficult to acquire. Her tools were laid out ready for her to begin. She walked around the paper looking at it from all angles. She just couldn’t start. The fear of making a mistake and ruining this large investment was too much to bear. After a long time struggling with this invisible foe, she accidentally spilled her coffee all over the sheet! It was ruined. Or so she thought. Stunned, Katie just looked at the mess. Black coffee splattered over a pristine and enormous sheet of expensive paper. It was then that the perfection lost hold of her, and she begun.
I love this story for so many reasons. It depicts one of the artists most deceptive enemies, resistance. She overcame it. And another enemy, her perfectionism. She was so terrified of hurting this beautiful slate, her perfectionism held her captive. What an empowering thought, that when we get stuck, perhaps all we need is to make a mess so we can begin to clean it up. Much like the saying that you can only steer a moving ship. In my business, metal work, I have adopted the saying that “we can fix anything”. Meaning, lets just make some progress, move forward and from there, we can clean up any messes. 
When I purchased my mill for my new shop, Levi, my son and I trailered it all the way from Santa Clara. Once we got it to the shop, it had to be unloaded so we could return the rental trailer. We pulled up to the shop, rolled up the door, empty slate. Wide open shop space. Nothing was in the shop yet. I could unload the machine anywhere though I understood that where you place the heavy equipment dictates the flow of ,the shop. It’s a big decision. It’s not just where I install the machine, this decision I may regret for years, not to mention all the voices I heard of future employees asking why I the world would someone put the mill in this location….  Needless to say, the mill sat on the trailer for a while. I walked around, looked at the different views of the shop. Levi moaned ,”are we going home soon?”. THATS IT”, I said. We unloaded the mill, put it in the location it is now and went home. My new shop had begun.
As I lean into leadership training and personal growth, I am so thankful for knowing this concept. Just do it. Push through the resistance. It won’t be perfect but remember, you can’t steer a motionless ship. Go ahead and break it, spill coffee on it, you can fix anything.
What are you afraid of ruining or failing at? What if you just did it?


Face Milling




Law of the Rubber Band – and Metal Machine Cutting Theory.

Growth stops when you lose tension between where you are and where you could be, John Maxwell. Oddly enough, I have witnessed this concept for years in the world of metal cutting or machining. Obviously the term, “machining” is used for the Mechanical cutting of metal. In the theory, a harder metal, alloy combination or more currently, a powdered metal composite (carbide) is used to cut or shape a softer metal. This can be on a drill press, lathe, milling machine, shaper, band saw, etc. The “cutter” needs only three conditioned in order to cut;

1) tool geometry

   Sharpness, cutting angle, rake angle, clearance relief angle

metal cutting

2) motion

     Rotating cutter, like a drill, or a stationary cutter with the material moving, like on a lathe or planer or combination, like on a milling machine where the cutter is rotating and the material is moving


3) pressure – load

     The cutting pressure, chip load, force necessary to engage the cutter into the work material.

Of course many more options can improve the cut; coolant, machine rigidity, proper work holding techniques, improved cutter geometry and material including high tech coatings etc. the list goes on but because this is not a machining post but a leadership concept, we’ll leave it at that. The point is that those three critical elements are absolutely necessary for any material cutting.  Where Maxwell says that we need that tension in our lives for growth, I see it as pressure, the number three element or condition for effective cutting. Here is the concept as I and every other machinist has noticed; I’ll use an example from my past.

I was on a large plate machining job. When I say large plate, I mean around 10″ thick 1018-1020 steel. This one was 60″ square. Used as a base plate for a large drop testing machine in the electronic testing market. The plate must be machined to a flatness of +/-0.010″ over the entire surface. We normally achieved much tighter tolerance than that. My machine passed its face cutter (a wheel that holds many carbide cutters and spins around 300-500 rpm via a 20 hp motor) over the plate in over 20 stripes or overlapping passes, back and forth removing small amounts of metal with each pass. Pete, my boss at the time let me in on a great secret. I was cutting material necessary to achieve the flatness spec and at this point I was just allowing the tool to remove a modest amount of material (perhaps .015” – .025”) because I didn’t want to overload the machine. In essence, only the very sharp tips of the cutters were engaging in the metal. What this does is for the first few passes, the cut looks amazing. The tool marks left on the plate are mirror like. The super sharp tips are smoothly cutting the material leaving a beautiful finish. The problem is that as the cutter travels across the plate, in time, because just the tips are in the metal, they wear and can chip easily. The issue here is not that the carbide is the wrong class, the plate is not the wrong material, the speeds and feed rates of the machine are not the issue, it’s the way the cutter is being used. Its condition # 3! You must understand that cutting tool design is much like the Law of the Rubber Band, and much like our lives. Here is the fix; go deeper, push harder, and engage the tooth! As the cutter makes a deeper cut, you might think that it would wear out sooner but the opposite is true. The tip of the cutter is tapered down to a fine point, the deeper the tooth is cutting, the thicker the profile of the tooth is. The deeper the tooth, the more pressure is needed, but the more support for the tip of the sharp cutter is in use and the tip stays sharp for longer. Think of it this way. My family has 4 girls; we go through packs of toilet paper like crazy. When my daughter goes to rip open a new pack of rolls, she may start with a sharp finger nail to cut through the thin layer of plastic, right? Maybe she makes a couple unsuccessful passes, then out of frustration, she jabs her whole finger into the package. Her freshly painted fingernail actually pierced through but not without the strength and support of her finger. She could scratch all day at that thin plastic but until she adds the appropriate (or even over abundance of) pressure, all she is doing is wearing out her pretty fingernail. Maybe a poor example but the concept is similar to me. John Maxwell thinks of it as tension, I think of it as load or pressure. I’ve seen it many times, the machinist is unaware, fearful or unmotivated so he adds the slightest amount of cutting pressure, the cutter just slips along the top of the surface, wearing out the sharpest points. There is zero load on the cutter so the machine is basically freewheeling. The part gets nowhere and the tool becomes dull and chipped. The answer is to lean in, push down, burry the cutter into the material. You will hear the load on the machine, the RMPs go down a bit while the load pulls the motor slower. The beautiful result is the cutter tooth is deep, pushing metal up the face of the cutter where it’s thicker, heavy and able to pull the metal chip up off the plate and fling it through the air revealing a fresh shiny machined cut.

I know in times of my life when I was just skipping along on the surface, not much cutting engagement, some level of comfort but in the grand scheme of things, was going nowhere. We cannot be afraid of the tension, the load. According to Maxwell, that’s where the growth happens. In Machining, that’s where effective cuts take place. I believe we were created to develop under load, to grow under load and to innovate under load. Obviously more effort is required to be effective. It’s my mission to see this load or tension as a desired state, not something to run from. I know I am hard wired to avoid any discomfort but I have seen time and time again, that’s not necessarily where I need to be.


Where do you lean into this load or pressure in your life?

Where do you avoid it?

What would be possible if you did decide to take on the tension, or load?


2015-06-05 16.43.57

Well, after a long several months of being a bit of a nomad, I have opened the Trueform Design & MFG PROTOTYPE SHOP! My business plan has always been to utilize the smallest footprint possible while offering superb service to my clients. By opening this shop, I believe my service capabilities have greatly increased while reducing lead-times. This also allows a great meeting place for clients and I to discus production plans and brainstorming. As I move forward to a Grand Opening, I will update you on new capabilities as they are implemented.

The shop is at 3200 Dutton Ave, unit #220 in Santa Rosa, 95407. All of my other contact info will remain the same. As soon I WiFi is accessible at the shop, I will move my office there. Until then, I will continue office operations from my home office. That puts me at the new shop mostly in the afternoons for now. The shop is 1000sq ft with a small bathroom, roll up door and plenty of 3 phase power. The previous tenants, (medicinal growers) left plenty of electrical outlets and ceiling vents for me too! I still have a long list of To-Dos for the shop but at this point, at least its functional.

The plan is to have a prototype mill, Lathe, welding area along with a stocked assembly work area at the shop. A huge 4′ x 10′ workbench will double as a conference table when needed. As I am a big believer in the “stand up desk” movement, you will probably not find any chairs at the shop, however, shop stools will always be there to take a load off. Of course the coffee and espresso machines were the first installed. And of course the mini fridge will hold the celebratory beverages.

Please stop by sometime and check it out. I will post about the open house well in advance so hopefully you can make it!


Leadership Ahead

Personal Growth Toolbox.

Recently my Pastor has begun a leadership training initiative in our church. About 20 business owners entrepreneurs and people in leadership were invited to join a monthly training for leadership. Several things came out of the first meeting for me; the first of which is that good leaders are readers. Whether reading a paper or e-book or listening to a book on audio the lessons learned in the most popular leadership books are paramount in our personal growth. At least they are for me. One of the finest and most interesting aspects of engaging in this discussion of leadership with Pastor Dan Boyd (twitter- @PastorPD) is finding out all of the books we have both read, our favorite authors, podcasts and leadership thought leaders. As it turns out, we have several in common and I’m eager to learn about new sources I’ve never heard of. Another big takeaway for me is the simple idea that we keep what we give away. Meaning that when we have a new skill or talent that we have learned in a way that we can teach it to others, we really have achieved the step of actually learning the new talent or skill. As we practice this new skill by teaching others how to execute, we are in turn burning these lessons into our consciousness so that we don’t forget them. In many ways it’s easy to burn through a stack of books especially audibly and then not implement any of the items that we’ve learned. By teaching instead of just reading we really force ourselves to achieve the new skill. One of the ways to teach is through writing. For me, blogging is a great way for me to express the things I’m learning. It’s helpful to write this stuff down in order to help me remember it all.

For this reason, I have committed to my first leadership post. I want to share my personal growth plan. John Maxwell insists that in order to grow, we must have a growth plan. When I was first asked if I had a plan in our leadership lunch, I assumed the answer was no. That’s why I came to the event right? But after some thought, I really do have a plan, I just need to define it a bit more. My Growth plan includes a new leadership book at lease every month. This month is John Maxwell’s, 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth. Along with reading a good book is daily podcasts, Bible reading, an accountability meeting every week, my newest commitment of blogging weekly and annual goal setting. Here is a short list of the weekly growth exercises I do.

Monday through Saturday
-Up at 5:30 for 30 min workout

-During workout, listen to “entrepreneur on fire” podcast
(I listen at 1.5 speed so I can get through faster.)

-After a shower and breakfast (and coffee) I read the verse of the day from you version and send it as a text to my family with an encouragement. After that I try to read a chapter of the bible. We are going through Acts now.

-I will also “read” leadership and business books. I actually listen to audio books 95% of the time. This fits in with my driving time (especially when I had an hour commute) and while I do remedial tasks during the day.

-Every Wednesday morning (for about the last 18 years) I meet with my friend Eddie. We discus our struggles, challenges, work through tough decisions, pray for each other and our families etc… Pretty much solve all of earth’s problems. It’s probably the most powerful thing I do for my own personal growth. It’s a powerful touchstone weekly that keeps Eddie and I focused and moving forward.

-My newest tool as I have mentioned already is to blog once a week in reference to what I’m leading through books I’m listening to or podcasts. This is my new commitment so we’ll see how it goes…
-That brings us to Sunday when we go to church as a family and celebrate with our friends and family. I am always challenged there and use it for a great reset for the week.

-I also have year-end goal setting, now a monthly leadership learning lunch and several retreats throughout the year that keep me sharp. This is really when and where the Growth Plan is outlined, planed and reviewed.

I can go into more detail with those monthly and annual events later. My main focus I this post is to outline my weekly personal growth plan. This may or may not be helpful to you, but it’s been hugely helpful to me by writing this out. Now that it’s written, it’s real… Right?

What’s your growth plan?

Here is a list of the books on my “shelf” (audible app)

The Compound Effect, Darren Hardy
The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, John Maxwell
The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey
One Simple Idea, Stephen Key
Art of the Start, Guy Kawasaki
Thou Shall Prosper, Rabi Daniel Lapin
Tribes, Seth Godin
The power of Habit, Charles Duhig
George Washington Carver Biography, Geoff Benge
Do the Work, Steven Pressfield
QBQ, John Miller
Street Smarts, Bo Burlingham
Necessary Endings, Henry Cloud
The 4 hour work week, Tim Ferris
Boundaries, Henry Cloud
The Barbarian Way, Erwin McManus
Endurance, Alfred Lansing
Start with Why, Simon Sinek
David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell
The War of Art, Steven Pressfield
The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
Entreleadership, Dave Ramsey
Platform, Michael Hyatt
The Icarus Deception, Seth Godin
The E myth Revisited, Michael Gerber

Here is a list of my favorite podcasts;
Entrepreneur on Fire, John Dumas
This is your life, Michael Hyatt
EntreLeadership, Ramsey Team
Chris LoCurto
Dave Ramsey Show
48 Days, Dan Miller
Start up School, Seth Godin (must listen- short 15 episodes)
Beyond the to do list
And just for fun, (guilty pleasure) Armstrong and Getty Radio Show


2015-03-11 13.41.13

Custom door handles look great on the front of your business! Let me incorporate your Logo or a shape that complements your company Identity right into your door handles. That way, the first thing that your customers touch is already customized to them. This type of impressions go far in retail and restaurant settings. Any commercial door can be made into a custom door simply by dropping me a line. Wood, powder-coated steel, Aluminum, Stainless Steel can all be used to achieve the desired look, feel and colors that set your business apart from the rest.

Here are the steps I take to ensure you receive the right custom job;
○ I collect logo, design constraints, door info and usage info

○My designer imports the concept design into a CAD program for the client to OK and manufacturing to create programs for.

○We work with our clients to tweak and refine the design until everyone is happy. < After all the design work and planning is complete, an estimate of cost and lead-time is provided and after a deposit is received, production starts!

○Then we ship! The whole process can take hours until production. Installation can be discussed as well.



I hope I can help you soon!

Waterjet cutting….FAQs’

waterjet parts

Most frequently asked questions for waterjet cutting.

Water jet cutting is the most effective way to cut shapes in metal for the majority of jobs. I guess I’m bias as a water jet cutting provider. Though the water jet cutting machine industry is becoming ever refined, the acceptance of water jet cutting is still growing. We have new customers all the time. They usually have a bundle of questions. Here are just the first five questions we usually get when a customer starts cutting with us.

1). How does water cut metal?

The water is really just the vehicle for the cutting media. Abrasive garnet is mixed with the high pressure water to make the cut.

2). How many pounds of pressure will the machine generate?

The early water jet machines would pump at 30,000 psi. The most common is 60,000 psi but 90K and 120k models are coming out now.

3). How thick can you cut?

The great thing about water jet cutting is that you can cut any thickness. However, the thicker you cut, the slower the machine travels. While it may take one minute to cut a part out in 1/4″ steel, it may take an hour to cut the same part in 3″ steel. For each part, there is a thickness that hits diminishing returns. Often times parts thicker than 1.5″ can be flame cut and machined for the same cost as water jetting.

4). What materials can you cut?

About any material can be cut with water jet cutting. The harder the material is, the better, as long as it’s not brittle. Plastics can do well but if the material is laminated, I don not recommend waterjet cutting. The stream of water will break through the first layer but then while entering the second, the blast will rip the layers apart, delaminating the material. It will end up looking like bad plywood left out in the rain for a year. Sometimes, a trick to eliminate this is to add a long “lead-in”. The lead-in is the cut between the initial pierce of the waterjet and the start of the actual cutting of the feature. A lead-in is used to eliminate any distortion from the pierce and enhance the tolerance of the cut feature. The lead-in is always left in the scrap drop, or the parent plate, not in the part.
Any metal, stone or solid plastic arterial is a fine candidate for waterjet cutting.

5). How fast will the machine travel?
This is a function of three things; the material being cut, the thickness of that material and the quality of kerf quality desired.
The less dense the material, the faster the travel speed is. Aluminum is about 2-3 times faster cutting than steel. Stainless is about 5%-10% slower than steel in the same thickness. If the part will be machined to size and final shape later, then a faster cutting speed can be used, reducing cost. Many times the final part finish remains the waterjet cut shape, so a slower travel speed is used to enhance the cut surface.

I will update with the next set of FAQs’ regarding waterjet cutting soon. I hope this is helpful and I really hope I can bring waterjet cutting into your workflow. Contact me any time for more info or a quote.


trueform fam2014

I want to with you the best Christmas season and the happiest new year. I am so proud of the last year at Trueform. Together with all my partners, we have had great success. I’m eager to release some exciting new devices, and products in the new year. Keep tuned into Trueform by signing up to our subscription page. I promise I wont spam you.

Merry Christmas!

Waterjet cutting, Part 1. The WHY


Water jet cutting is a huge part of my business. I rely on this technology for several reasons. I will attempt to outline these over the next few post. While I use water jet cutting for my products, I also offer water jet cutting services for your parts. While in the right situation, laser or flame cutting may be the solution, it seems that water jet cutting works for the majority of quick turn around projects. In the following posts, I’ll explain the concept of modern water jet cutting and answer some commonly asked questions. If you need any water jet cutting, don’t hesitate to contact me directly. I can turn parts around very quickly and supply materials and any CAD needed. Even a napkin sketch will do most of the time. Please subscribe to the Trueform mailing list located at the top of this page and we will keep you up to date on the up coming posts.


Custom adjustable speaker mounts.

Audio speaker mounts
Custom Speaker Mount




I have been attending Hoe Chapel for about 18 years. That entire time I have been looking at the homemade brackets holding up the Church speakers. Whoever made them had a challenge. Our church meets in an old renovated yellow barn. The walls in this building are far from plumb. Picture the shape of a pentagon, that’s the basic section view of our building. The walls in the sanctuary are around 60 degrees. Roughly  30 degrees out of square from the floor. This actually works out well for the acoustics in the building but wreaks havoc on wall mount speakers. When Chad, the music leader secured new speakers to replace the old blown set we used, new mounts were needed. Chad gave me a few constraints for mount design; first, the speakers were already purchased so I could just measure them up. The new speakers are much taller and heavier. Chad also wanted to be able to adjust the direction of the speakers, left to right. This is not too much of a challenge as the new speakers have female sockets on the top and bottom for mounting but still allowing rotation. The tough one is that Chad wanted them to tilt as well. The old mounts did not have this option but when it was time to install them, whoever did the work, just mounted them at an angle. This worked but in all my years, it really bugged me. Obviously they were not designed to tilt so they just screwed them to the angled wall crooked so that it always looked like the speakers were about to roll right off the mounts. I was so happy when Chad asked me to help him with the new system. I could finally wright this engineering wrong. Of course another constraint is that the speakers needed to be removable, easily. The last challenge was of course the odd angle of the wall that the mounts hang from.

A great friend and contractor, Andy, volunteered to help measure and install the finished product. Once Andy and I measured the speakers and deciphered the angle of the wall, we also verified the location of the studs. These new speakers weigh a ton so we needed to be sure that the new mounts would secure into solid framing. At this point, it was time to make some sketches of a design that would encompass all the given constraints while still remaining under $100,000.

The finished product employs everything that Chad hoped for as well as the Hope Chapel logo subtlety cut into the bracing of the mount. One hand screw secured the speakers in place while a rubberized finish keeps the speakers from rotating or vibrating. Another hand screw tightens agents the bracket to allow for tilt adjustment. I am completely satisfied how they came out. One of the best complements I received is that someone didn’t even notice them holding the new speakers. They tend to blend into the background. This is the type of custom job that Trueform excels at. Give us as many constraints as necessary, a budget and any other pertinent information and my team will knock it out of the park.



Stainless Steel trailer vent guard.
Stainless Steel trailer vent guard.


Little League is a large part of our family these days. Levi, my youngest plays at Westside Little League in Santa Rosa and has for several years. West side does a great job with the kids on the field. My daughters’ favorite part is the snack bar however. At the beginning of the 2014 season, as the snack bar was being stocked, it was broken into. Christine is the snack bar boss. When the last break in was through the top vents in the snack bar trailer, she decided we needed vent guards. Kids were ripping off the vents, lowering themselves into the trailer and opening the door for others. They would trash the place and take all the candy and food.  Christine figured that if I could make some type of vent cover, which would keep the little buggers out. I designed the covers to fit over the standard trailer vents to allow them to open but still be secure enough to keep visitors out. These guards will be perfect for protecting fragile vents from branches as well. ¼” bolts go through the roof so waterproofing is necessary at install. The bolts back to a secure ring inside so that the guard is very solid. Stainless steel or powder coated steel models will last forever. For the snack bar, I used 3/16” stainless steel plate cut on the waterjet machine. The plates fit together with notches to create one solid frame that is then welded to a base. This design can be altered to fit any size or shape. Perhaps I could build a security guard for an air conditioning unit, for example.   Please feel free to contact me for your custom set of guards or to come up with a design for your idea.