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Where Rugged Vintage Style Meets Modern Design. Proudly Made in America.

05 Aug '15

Bumps in the Road

Posted by Jon Fontane

It's been a rough few weeks here at Metal Shop HQ.  I wanted to bring everyone up to speed on where we are out with out of stock and new Twist Bullet Pencil colors.

For the second production run of Twist Bullet Pencils we contracted a new machine shop.  Now this was just for the actual tube portion of the overall product.   We switched to a screw machine shop because they would have the ability to produce more units in a quarter of the time as our main shop.  The screw machines are amazing to watch work.  They stick a 20 foot long piece of round aluminum in one end and the entire process is automated and done at once.  What once took (manually) 10 to 12 minutes now takes only 3.  The new shop is great, its a family run operation and the main sales person really "understands" the Metal Shop brand.  

Things got a slow start but were chugging along and two weeks ago I picked up the first run of 900 bullet pencil tubes to take to anodizing.  Here is where I made mistake #1.  I didn't give a close enough look at the quality of the finish.  Constantly in a rush, I made the mistake of just doing a cursory look and dropping them off.  (More on mistake #1 a bit later).  So off to anodizing we go.  My regular salesman at the anodizing shop has been out with a knee injury so I met with the operations manager and gave him instructions.  Repeat of my first order, anodize them the same way, matte black and clear coat (300 each) and add two new colors, orange and navy blue.  This was round one, round two was to be dropped off a bit later in the week to do red, green and royal blue.

As I drove to the screw machine shop a few days later to pick up the remaining batch I was surprised to get a call saying my first anodizing order was complete.  So I dropped off for the red, green and royal blue and picked up my black, clear, navy and orange.  Here I made mistake #2, once again all excited and in a rush I only grabbed a couple of the orange units out since they were on top and didn't really give them a good look.  

The urge to blast out to social media is overwhelming when new product is in hand but I (for once in my life) had a bit of patience and thought, get home, take a few really good pictures, then make the announcement.  I am so glad I waited.  As I got home and really started to dive into the order I immediately noticed things were off.  The clear coat seems wrong, it was glossy, didn't have that nice silver finish.  The black seemed overly glossy as well and I noticed imperfections in many of the tubes in all four colors.

So not only was the anodizing wrong but the finish on the tubes just didn't cut it.   First thing I needed to do was check my purchase order on the anodizing.  Covered there, it called for matte finish.  Next was a trip back up to the machine shop to discuss the finish with them.  You know you have a quality partner when they immediately, without even looking at the product tell you they will get new product going.  For that, Royal Screw Machine get's a huge thank you and a A+ recommendation if you need screw machine work done.

So now the anodized bullet pencil tubes are being stripped.  Completed tubes that were not yet anodized are being re-finished and new tubes are being made.   Hopefully be the end of this week all 1,500+ will be back at the anodizing shop to get some color, done the right way.

In the end, everything will work out and Metal Shop will move forward.  Its that time in between when you know customers are waiting and you want so badly to have new exciting products to share with you all that add a few more gray hairs to my head.

Thanks for everyone's patience and continued support.