I’ve long been tinkering with mechanical design and fabrication, but until quite recently my workshop resources have been quite meager. As the son of a carpenter, it was only natural that everything I built in my early years was made of wood. During high school, I progressed to building things out of aluminum extrusion stock from the local home center, using the most primitive of shop tools like hacksaws, drills and files. My early interests focused primarily on robotics, and I built a lot of projects in this fashion.
Some time around 2007, a coworker showed me his CNC mill/lathe conversion in his basement, and I was blown away. I never quite shook the idea, and within a couple of years I embarked on my own journey by buying a manual milling machine and converting it to CNC. Not long after the mill conversion, I added a lathe to the shop. An interest in welding followed, and I now have a small MIG setup on long-term loan from a friend. Once I could make raw parts, I started to get interested in part finishing, and have started exploring that space by putting together a modest powder coating setup. This is all serious “introducing fire to the cave man” stuff, as I have been a life-long maker, just lacking the proper tools.
The addition to these tools to my shop has meant an acceptance of a new path of life-long learning. I can’t hope to be 1/10th the craftsman a professional machinist is, but it still means a lot to me to improve the quality of my work. Likewise, I have no formal engineering background on the mechanical side of things (I’m a software and electronics engineer), but I do have a relatively good intuitive sense for how to design and build mechanical things, and there’s always opportunity to learn more.
Featured Mechanical Projects