In the latest edition of our Meet the Maker series, we meet YouTuber and Axminster customer, James Bruton. James has one of the most diverse channels, covering everything from welding and CNC machining to 3D printing and woodwork. He has over 800,000 subscribers with some of his videos having over 60 million views! Here he tells us how he got started, what tools he uses, and his plans for the future.
What we asked…
When did you start making?
I started making things when I was a child. There are some pictures of me when I was about 10 of me with a robot I made from chattering teeth, some bits of Meccano screwed to plywood and an egg box. Obviously, there was no internet in the ’80s, so it was books from the library to learn and finding household stuff to make things from. I remember my parents having to ration the Sellotape as it was pretty expensive back then!
When did you start out as a YouTuber?
I’ve had a YouTube account since 2007 where I just put up some robotics stuff. I had a full-time job at the time and I wasn’t very serious about it. Then I started building Iron Man suits, which was a four-year project and I occasionally did videos that pulled in a lot of subscribers. It actually brought in my first 50,000 which brought me some money in from Adsense. I was earning about £2 per day! I remember saying to my girlfriend at the time, I earned another £2 yesterday, someday I’m going to be a YouTuber full-time and here we are!
What were you doing before you were a YouTuber?
I worked in I.T for 20 years prior to being a YouTuber full time. But, I’d always kept my hand in by building robots and other bits and pieces in my spare time.
How often do you post videos?
I pretty much make things on a weekly basis and I release a video every Tuesday at 7am UK time. I’ve done this for over five years now.
What Axminster tool do you use most?
It has to be my Axminster C1 Micro lathe. I initially got it to turn down the aluminium backs on brushless motors on my Open Dog project. They are drone motors that are intended to push and pull rotors, but the mount on the back was 1mm too big in the radius to fit the encoders. So I got the lathe to turn them down accurately. It’s something I’ll use more and more in the future.
What are you working on at the moment?
Currently, my main project is performance robots. It’s essentially an ongoing reliable, transportable, and robust robot project I can tour Universities and shows and talk about stem education. Or just to exhibitions where people can just enjoy them.
How do you gain your subscribers?
In the past, I built a lot more movie props. I built an Iron Man suit, which is where most of my subscribers came from. Then I built an Iron Man Hulkbuster suit. I built Ultron from the Marvel series. I also built quite a lot of Star Wars droids. So, a lot of those subscribers came from all of those videos. In fact, my top viewed videos are of my four-year project to build the Iron Man suit that I compressed into four minutes! It still gets around 500,000 views a month even though it’s a few years old now. In total it’s had over 60 million views! So most of my subscribers come from those videos. The rest is made up of the core robotics and educational stuff I do. Although not as popular it’s very positive. I’m funded by Patreon. These are super fans that give me around $1 per video. They are quite a committed bunch who like to see the more in-depth stuff I do.
What is the plan for the future?
I think for me to engage with subscribers more I need to do the whole thing again with the Pop Culture but add the technology bits in also, something for everyone. There’s a new Terminator movie, so there’s a good excuse to make robots that will catch people’s imagination. Plus, I’ll carry on making for my performance robots to show and talk about. One of those will be a ball balancing robot, a robot balancing on a ball that can show messages and graphics. It will also be a YouTube series in its own right.