Charley Nelson, Aluminum Door Fabricator/SBZ Programmer
Aluminum door fabricator - copy router or CNC, reversible drill, various drill bits thread tap set and counter sink bits, variable speed reversible screw gun, channel lock pliers, needle nose pliers, Allen wrench set, open end/box combo wrench set, screwdriver set, vise, grinder wheel, band saw, file med. rasp flat, file med. rasp rat-tail [round], riv-nuts with applier tool, 16ft measuring tape, pencil, adjustable combination square, the understanding of fractions of an inch to maximum 1/32nd, and safety glasses for sure
Learning in this trade never ends. Building codes are ever changing, as are aluminum extrusions, and the hardware that makes a door functional. Basic understanding of industry standards requires at least 3 yrs. with a manufacturer or installer before attempting building a functional door that meets the required codes where it will be installed. I don’t do installations, so I am virtually useless at that end of it.
It was accidental; a job search brought me in, but being good at it has kept me in this field.
General math skills and door function principle understanding are required
There is no trade education per se, learning is however on going, and at times I learn from a mistake I made.
No special skills needed accept the ability to read a tape measure.
I only remember I started out doing very repetitive tasks, to familiarize myself with the work for the first few weeks.
I arrive at a warehouse building at 7:30 a.m. First thing I program an SBZ which is an automated tooling machine that is operated by someone else. Using a software program designed for that machine I create custom task lists that tells the SBZ to drill, mill, and countersink aluminum parts in set locations for hardware to be applied at another station. After lunch [about half way through the day] I put on my required protection equipment that includes steel toe boots, safety glasses, hard hat, and cut resistant gloves. I then report to the fabrication shop in the same warehouse and begin assembly, and packaging of doors and doorframes. I generally leave for the day at 4:00 p.m., unless the work load requires overtime. This occurs between 15 to 50% of the time.
Dimensions, dimensions, dimensions, double and triple check sizes, spaces, and locations.
The pay will not earn you a Porsche, and aluminum splinters get into everything [kinda dirty]. If you like measuring, building, and assembling this field can be satisfying and put food on the table.
Once in a blue moon a customer will call back and ask customer service to relay a well done or ‘atta’ boy to the fab crew. I like pulling new hardware out of the boxes and figuring out how to apply it, and then build it and see it work.