The industry size itself hasn’t changed much since
1988, when Haas prototyped its first VMC, the VF- 1,
which is still sold today. The BLS listed 397,000 machinists at the time, and 391,000 in 2016. Not bad considering manufacturing had more than 19 million jobs at the
time, and has dropped 35% to 12. 5. That’s more than
1% a year; machining has dropped 1.5% total.
Complacency often shadows security, so it’s not shock-
ing that machinists not facing imminent extinction would
scoff at the “X-Games sponsored by Mountain Dew”
equivalent of machining, as it has been called. What
good is speed if you sacrifice safety or wreck the part?
Haas has embraced Gilroy and his machining philosophy, not only by providing financial support for his reality
show, but also by promoting similar machining methods.
“We’re traveling in a parallel direction to what Titan
is preaching and trying to get people to understand,”
Haas, which operates the massive Haas Technical
Education Center Network, is planning to release 200
training videos this year to further that goal.
Nelson himself has made a five-part video series called
“Don’t Fear Five Axis,” something Gilroy also preaches.
Autodesk, also a big sponsor of Titans of CNC to promote
its Fusion 360 CAD/CAM software has its own “Don’t
Fear 5 Axis” video as well.
As knowledgeable as the experts in these videos are,
Gilroy’s dark past and how he overcame it (which we
cover in-depth at NewEquipment.com) speaks directly
to the disenfranchised who can also rise through the
As a transplant to the island of Maui, a middle-school
aged Gilroy learned to box to defend himself. He says
machine shops are in a similar situation, “fighting for
scraps from outsourcing.”
The scraps the once-homeless youth used were to
build go-karts or make art projects. His social path,
though, put him “on the wrong road,” ultimately lead-
ing to a bar fight he says he was trying to break up, two
severely injured brawlers he hit too hard, and a 16-year
After getting paroled after three years to pursue a boxing
career in Las Vegas, a neighbor in his apartment complex
threatened his wife. That literally forced Gilroy’s hand yet
again, which he bashed into the attacker’s cranium. This
time the police ruled the fight self-defense, but deciding vi-
olence wasn’t his chosen path, Gilroy packed up his family
and moved to California. He found work at a machine shop,
where he got to see the raw speed and power of its tools.
“Watching the cutter plow through metal, I was fascinated,” Gilroy recalls. The shop owner taught him how to
Using the right coolant is one of the many factors Gilroy leverages to achieve industry-defying speeds.
“I’m going to murder that material, I’m going to leave chips on the foor,” Gilroy says. “Then I’ll relax the
vice, come back with the perfect tool to fnish and kiss it. When that inspector looks at it, they’re going
to say, ‘Man, that looks like jewelry.’”