Joseph H. Martin
1934 - 2014
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Martin, Joseph H. 12/02/1934 ~ 02/12/2014 OCEANSIDE -- Joe Martin was born in Providence, RI and graduated from Cranston High School. He joined the construction trades and worked on the east coast as an asbestos wrapper. He moved to the bay area near San Francisco and worked in construction there in the 1960's while pursuing his favorite hobby of building and flying radio controlled aircraft. After moving to Southern California, he started a small business in Upland, CA building connectors for radio control equipment. His company was eventually purchased by radio control equipment manufacturer Kraft Systems and he worked with that company for several years as a product developer. He and several friends also founded the sport of Formula 1 radio controlled pylon racing, and he was one of its early champions. When Kraft Systems was sold, Joe contracted with the Sherline tool company in Australia to be an importer for their small precision machine tools to be sold to Sears Roebuck under the Craftsman name. Joe eventually purchased the rights to manufacture the Sherline tool line here in the USA and began production in San Marcos in 1974. Joe built the business from a single rented industrial space with machine tools rescued from the junk yard into a multi-million dollar enterprise now housed in a modern 66,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Vista, CA that employs 35 people. Despite a lack of formal training, he was a genius when it came to repairing tools, designing and manufacturing new products and setting up a world-wide dealer network to market them. He is the holder of two patents and has invented other products as varied as a computerized business timekeeping system, a line of hydraulic weight scales and a racecar alignment system. Joe was the founder of the non-profit, Joe Martin Foundation for Exceptional Craftsmanship. He always felt that craftsmen were not honored in proportion to the value of their contribution to our daily lives compared to the adoration given to sports and movie stars. Since 1997, the foundation has honored the work of machinists and other metalworking craftsmen through monetary awards and a web site at: with emphasis on work at the miniature end of the size scale. He also contributed several million dollars to build a new museum that displays the work of outstanding craftsmen for all to enjoy. It is now housed in a 16,000 square foot building in Carlsbad, CA. Joe Martin is survived by his companion of many years, Dee Ruffin; and his brother, Charles Martin of Shalimar, FL. At a later date, his ashes will be scattered at sea in a private ceremony.

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Published in San Diego Union-Tribune on Feb. 16, 2014.
Memories & Condolences
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24 entries
August 20, 2014
We never met but experienced his passion via Sherline lathes across the oceans in India. Condolences to the family and a bow to the departed.
Gaurav Jain
July 5, 2014
First met Joe in the mid 60's. He purchased a mill from Mindrum Precision of Cucamonga where I worked. He completely rebuilt and used it make the molds for a line of miniature servos used in the radio control industry. I have missed his emails these last few months. A good friend. I'm glad to have known him.
Bill Butek
June 19, 2014
Farewell my friend
Farewell to one of my dearest friend Joe Martin, my old Dock Mate.
Frank Moulton
May 18, 2014
Joe was the real thing. Joe was my cousin and from my youth, I can still recall Joe tinkering in his basement. Joe, you will be missed.
Richard Miale
May 18, 2014
My sincerely condolences to all Mr Martin relatives and all Sherline company personnel.
I always admire his commitment to deliver a good tool to his customers. Since I was a kid and saw for the first time its lathe on a radio control airplane magazine, it became a dream to have one. I bought one a couple of years and love it. Mr Martin will be always remembered by his customers not only because the tools, but because you guys at Sherline deliver much more than a machine, you deliver a part of each one of you.
Thank you for all care and love you put on your work, because we can feel it.
Felipe Fernandez
April 23, 2014
I appreciated Joe for sharing his love of metalworking tools, and the innate ability to express himself by the wonderful books and literature that accompanies the Sherline tools. It was great that jobs were created by producing an American made product line. I will always remember the couple of times I met Joe at the Vista plant, and took time out of his busy schedule to show a potential customer around. Joe was probably one of the warmest
and sincerest persons I have ever met.
My sincerest condolences to his family and co-workers.
Ronald Morris
March 18, 2014
We never met in person, but exchanged several e mails over the years, your Mills and Lathes started my hobby into bench top machining. I learned a lot from our emails. Thanks for all the will be missed.

Ron/ Ramhobbies
Ron Caliendo
March 18, 2014
In keeping with Joe's mission giving credence to the craftsman, Joe also pioneered the hobbyist space in CNC machining as we rapidly approach the age of robots. His work resonates in the world of the apprentice and student. In remembrance of you and your service towards embedding accessible training in machining and CNC, rest in peace.
Todd Watson
March 17, 2014
I never met you in person Joe but I feel a connection anyway. As Ive learned to use the tools you made possible I HAVE to say that I often marvelled at your ability to make such wonderful tools that I could afford to buy. I used your tools to design a slingshot and broadband that I used to take a Canadian moose with a 56" rack.
Well done for a life well lived.
Cliff Martin, South Dakota
March 17, 2014
We never met in person, but your lathes started my hobby and a small business, machining benchtop lathe/mill accessories. Thanks for the inspiration.
February 22, 2014
thanks for everything for hobby and life of our are legend for us in turkey and much loves to your big and big world.
February 21, 2014
Thank you for those amazing machines!
Dennis Yacowatz
February 20, 2014
I'm still adjusting to you passing dear friend. Although you were usually right about most things, I hope you were wrong about our seeing one another in the after life. I already miss you very much.
Mike Sheehy
February 19, 2014
Sad to see you leave this world. I am very much influenced by your devotion in Sherline. I love everything you have contributed. Love to read your book Tabletop Machining over and over again. Always looking upon you like my grandfather. I miss you, from Malaysia
Jerry Phang
February 19, 2014
You will be missed Joe. Thank you for all that you have done.
Ron W.
Ron Wilkinson
February 18, 2014
Joe demanded the best of himself in work and play. From radio control aircraft pylon racing to racing sailboats and sports cars to building machine tools, he put 100% into every effort. Thanks to his leadership, he built a business that will continue to allow his family of employees to support their own families making a product in the USA that we can all be proud of. His non-profit foundation to support craftsmanship lives on in his name. Those of us who worked with you thank you. Few are those who give far more than they take, but you were one.
Craig Libuse
Pit crew, windsurfing partner, employee and friend of 40 years
Craig Libuse
February 18, 2014
God bless you Mr. Martin. Thank you for all that you have given metal working and all else.
Rest in peace.

Rick Dracikiewicz
February 18, 2014
I will always remember you Joe, you were kind and wonderful as well as extremely knowledgeble. I cannot say thanks enough for all the messages from you. You were an inspiration to all modelmakers and toolmakers. I sincerely hope your museum will be an inspiration for all modelmakers/toolmakers to follow.
Rest in peace.

Frank Hoffman
Heflin Alabama
February 17, 2014
Enjoyed our visit and Lunch with the old R/C gang at your museum last year. We had a lot of good times over the many years...your frankness will be missed!! A
TRUE craftsman and nice guy..
Larry Leonard
February 17, 2014
Rest in Peace, Joe.
I was touched by your genius.
You have given much pleasure and meaning to craftsmen and women over the entire world.
To me, you live forever in my heart and mind.
Jerry G (Glickstein)
Jerry Glickstein
February 16, 2014
Your memory lives on Joe, with appreciation for all you have done for others.
Bob and Evelyn Rabourne Oceanside, Ca.
February 16, 2014
Your tools introduced me to metal working MANY years ago. Thank you for the happy introduction.
frank Snyder
February 16, 2014
Rest in peace, Joe. Your spirit lives on. Those in the model engineering arena have lost a great champion. We will miss you. Lou and June Chenot, Carl Junction, MO
February 15, 2014
Happy Chips forever Joe!!
Dan Horn Schaumburg, IL.
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