Making, Crafting, Creating... aka Whatcha workin' on?

I just started getting serious about metalworking with a lathe and mill. My mentor has set me up with old but rugged machines, and only the minimum of tooling. But the incredibly cool thing about this learning method is that the current project is always to use everything you have learned or made thus far to build a new piece of tooling, which will be essential to go on to the next step. But the whole process involves pretty challenging thinking, and I am really having fun.


What kind of wood is that?

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The last three, going up from the bottom, are spalted acacia, huon pine and camphor laurel. I can’t remember what the first two were.


Camphor laurel, huh? I bet you could make a nice chest out of some.

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The only problem with camphor laurel is that the fumes get a bit eye-watering while you’re working it.

Otherwise: lovely soft wood with nice visual features. And because it’s an invasive weed over here, easy to acquire in bulk quantity at no cost.


I made stress testing machine for biomechanics about two years ago, but it’s still in use regularly, and quite interesting how cheaply it was made.

I’ve originally posted it here:

I, and a colleague once needed a stress testing machine with 1-2 micrometer positioning accuracy and capable of measuring forces as low as 100 micro Newtons for our PhD theses (we were testing mechanical properties of tissues for pharmacologic experiments). In the lab we only have large machines in 100 kN - 6000 kN range. When I said that we could assemble one for about 1k$, no one really believed, but we got small grant for it.
The machine had a large subwoofer speaker as an actuator, controlled in closed loop (with linear encoder) using modified audio amplifier and CNC controller. To isolate it from external vibration we embedded a bicycle tube in machine table. We assembled the machine in my flat, and when we proved that it works correctly, suddenly there was a lot interest in it :slight_smile:

Here’s the machine:

The the subwoofer inside it:

And a crossection showing a bicycle tube inside:

The stepper motor on machine does absolutely nothing :slight_smile:


I made this lathe part today, it is pictured with part of the broken original.

I have only recently been getting serious about machining, and this was a pretty complicated part for me to make.


Playing with the lathe again:

Spalted pistachio wood, from my Dad’s yard. Bugs/fungi killed the tree (henced the spalted-ness), so we’ve got a whole tree’s worth of it.


Nice work, lathe masters!

I made specialized trim molding on the 1959 table saw. Turns out you can cut coves by running 45 degree fences, and I inherited one of those fancy schmancy molding cutter heads from my Dad.

And I split and stacked a cord of wood or thereabouts.


My music box Pi project has been on hold because it’s been too cold for spray paint, plus it’s working so taking it apart to finish it hasn’t been appealing.

Meanwhile, I’ve started a Pi crate case for another Pi2. Starting with a $2 plywood 4" crate. Initially the plan was to mount the Pi and display together with the ports sticking out the side of the crate, but it proved too tricky to get the ports and display right while holding the Pi securely. I mounted the Pi to the crate, and I’ll run extender cables to the display, mounted on a foamcore backplate.

For paint, I’m thinking gloss black, with brass on the corners. (Because those are the paints that I have, as well as radioactive green.) A dremel tool with a cutting wheel would have been perfect for the port hole in the back, but what I had was a drill and a keyhole saw. It’s a bit raggedy, but I’ll glue some bits back on and smooth before putting the paint on.


Display mounted with wire harness. Ugh, that’s going to take some hot melt glue to hold the pins in the display socket, and the foamcore needs a bit of velcro behind it. (No, I am not posting this from the Pi Crate.)

Eventually it’ll get a foamcore frontplate to hold the keytops for the switches.


Another acacia bowl:

Previous pistachio dish used for scale; I didn’t have a banana…


I have been working on fixing up a lathe that had been scrapped and stripped of anything that would come off. Most of the parts I used were also scrap from various sources, or manufactured by myself. But it runs now, and I should be able to use it to make the remaining required parts.

This is a big step up from my old lathe. And it was more or less free.


Impressive machine! And that vehicle in the background looks pretty sharp too ;).

Mine’s been paused a while, too. I’m using piCorePlayer; you?

Mopidy, because the amount of plug-ins is hard to beat. Getting it to share the sound output with other apps (speaking the weather, schedule items, etc) was a pain, but I have the proper ALSA incantation now.

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More woodturning; camphor laurel pot.

Still no bananas, so again with the ashtray-sized pistachio bowl for scale.


I am working on primitive bow #s 13 and 14. #13, shown here is a hickory recurve, #14 will be a cherry longbow.

Actually, I think #13 may well join its 12 siblings in the hall of shame- the material of the upper limb is behaving very oddly. Perhaps a period of seasoning at elevated temperature will convince it to be reasonable, but I’m not optimistic.

I’m sure that #14 will beautiful…


Hickory’s super tough, but unpredictably variably elastic, isn’t it?

Your tools are all much nicer than mine. I like the shaving horse, does the seat slide?


That is a beauty! Have you thought about retro-fitting motion control to it to make it a CNC lathe? Motion control for a lathe does not have to be integrated with the machine’s core electronics, cranks and dials. You could manually get everything set up and rotating. But then the machine axis controls the knife. That way you would get 100% consistent results. Or, swing the motion control parts away and run the lathe manually.

A friend of mine has retrofitted lots of mills with “optional” motion control. He also has a couple with integrated motion control. I have not personally seen an old lathe with it, but know it could be done. I’m sure there are YouTubes.


I haven’t worked enough with the hickory to say for sure. Previous efforts seemed predictable, or at least the failure modes of those bows were not related to the elasticity of the wood. It is super tough and is absolutely murder on tools. I had to re-hone my drawknife twice while chasing the back of that bow, and it seems like the card scrapers need a new edge every 20 minutes. Even my farrier’s rasp is starting to look dull.

I’ve been building the shop for twenty years, give or take a bit. I started out with some low quality hand-me-downs and have been replacing them with better stuff as finances permit. I’m still missing a jointer and a planer, and I’d dearly love to trade in my contractor’s saw for a nice cabinet model, though how I’ll get that into the basement I don’t know.

The shaving horse is based off a design I found online. My version is less refined than the original (Fine Woodworking I think, and solid maple), but a whole lot cheaper. The work-rest ratchets to accommodate different material sizes and the seat is movable. If you’re interested, I can dig up the information.