One of the lessons Lyndon Miller has learned as the owner of Millers Artistic Steel is patience. He fashions metal signs out of 4’x8’ steel panels using a sophisticated machine to cut out the design. Patience, he says, is the key to completing the job to the customer’s and his own satisfaction.
It has been one of the lessons he’s learned from starting up his own business in November of 2020. He makes metal signs, nameplates, fire pits, flower-pot holders, ornaments, and decorative items for individual customers, other artists and wholesalers. He assists with the designs of pieces and runs the one-man shop after working on the production line at a local factory.
“I enjoy doing signs and designs,” Miller says. “I like to see what I can come up with.”
Initially Miller was planning to join his father and brother in the business, but time commitments and farming obligations made it difficult for his father and brother to take on the added responsibility. Miller decided to go it alone. It has been a learning process, and he upgraded his original plasma cutter to a larger model in April of 2021.
“I didn’t have any experience or training, but I had the time and the room to do this,” he says.
Plasma cutting technology is like laser cutting, but uses electrically conductive, ionized gas to cut through steel. The design is transmitted to the cutter, and the machine follows the lines and pattern to create the sign. An arc is created during operation that is transmitted into a beam, which is the cutting mechanism. The beam follows the computer cutting lines to reproduce the design in steel.
“If you are not patient, there is a lot that can go wrong in a short period of time,” Miller says.
Once the design is in place, plasma cutting is not a long process. Miller says many of the signs he makes are completed in five to 10 minutes. It is the design process that takes longer.
Customers often submit their own designs and images, or Miller can craft a design for them. Sometimes he uses the customer’s design as a base and adds more details to that design. The customer then sees the proof and approves it before it is cut out on the plasma cutter.
“I try to match the customer’s design as much as possible,” Miller says. “It is interesting to add more details to the design too, especially for custom work.”
Miller has access to more than 20 different styles of lettering available to interface with the cutter, using computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing software. He cuts signs out of 14-gauge steel, and can cut parts out of half-inch mild steel, stainless steel or aluminum. He also knows how to weld, if needed in product design.
Miller and his wife Christina have three daughters ranging in age from 1 to 5. His shop is near the family home outside of Shipshewana. He grew up about six miles south.
The business provides for his family, and gives Miller satisfaction.
“Working with steel is something I enjoy – seeing what I can design and come up with,” he says.
Reflecting on his choice to pursue this business on his own, Miller says he thought he had what he needed to accomplish his goals. He thought he was a patient person but soon realized that it took more than what he had.
“It took a lot of time and effort to start up a business,” Miller says.
He enjoys seeing the expressions of his customers when they come to pick up their pieces. For Miller, this is the true measure of his work – seeing the customer satisfied with the result.
Millers Artistic Steel is located at 7400 West 650 North in Shipshewana. Call 260-585-7725 to set up an appointment or for more information.