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MachinistBlog.com

Plans, projects and how-to's for home machinists

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  • Forum 

    January 11, 2009, 06:18

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  • Clubs 

    September 7, 2009, 11:50

    This is a list of machining and metalworking clubs located in the US and Canada.   We'd like to expand the list to include other countries and live steam…

  • About 

    January 4, 2009, 07:14

    I started this web site because I missed running one.  I ran a computer BBS and then a web site about general aviation in New York State for about twelve…

  • Table of Contents 

    April 26, 2010, 22:17

    This page contains the site table of contents. Use it to quickly find content on this website.


Blog Posts

  • Category: Other  (12)
    • Wrench/Hammer Combination Tool for Mini Mill by: rleete

      December 2, 2012, 10:19

      By Roger Leete This tool was made for my Grizzly G8689, but it can be adapted to almost any mill.  Just choose the right sized socket for your particular…

    • Update by: Rob

      October 15, 2012, 14:51

      I feel like I have three full-time jobs. In addition to my day job and I’m working another 20 to 30 hours a week trying to get a nonprofit makerspace started…

    • There just aren't enough hours in the day by: Rob

      May 4, 2012, 10:58

      I know I haven’t added much content to MachinistBlog lately. I haven’t lost interest or permanently abandoned my self-imposed goal of trying to add at…

    • A New Netbook With An SSD by: Rob

      April 13, 2012, 10:40

      I haven't added much to this blog lately because I've spent an enormous amount of my spare time in the last two weeks researching, buying, setting up and…

    • We were down for about 16 hours because of Dreamhost by: Rob

      January 29, 2012, 22:18

      Update: Dreamhost is still having problems, although not as bad as yesterday.  So I just signed up for CloudFlare.  Once the nameserver changes get…

    • We got hacked (and I could use a little advice) by: Rob

      July 11, 2011, 11:08

      We got hacked Sunday morning.  Malicious code was added to our index files, Javascripts were replaced and file permissions were changed.  I noticed it almost…

    • MachinistBlog.com is 2 years old by: Rob

      January 11, 2011, 09:00

      January 6th was the second anniversary of MachinistBlog.com.  I'm not usually one to brag but I am proud of this achievement.  Almost everyone who starts…

    • I've had an itch to spend more time in my workshop by: Rob

      October 12, 2010, 10:06

      Yes, I know.  I haven't added much new material to MachinistBlog.com lately.  If it weren't for Mike and Nate this web site would be as stale as 3-week old…

    • Denmark to become the fourth nation to launch a man into space? by: Rob

      August 30, 2010, 12:09

      MachinistBlog.com is pleased to announce our support for Copenhagen Suborbitals, a small non-profit suborbital space endeavor led by two guys with big brass…

    • Akin's Laws of Spacecraft Design by: Rob

      February 16, 2010, 13:40

      I'm not exactly sure who Dave Akin is, but he's obviously a wise man.  He wrote these 33 Laws of Spacecraft Design that are full of astute insights and…

    • South Bend Lathes Sold, Drilling Square Holes & Decimal Points  by: Rob

      October 24, 2009, 22:20

      I try to post at least one new article each week, but I've been bogged down on some long articles that just aren't ready yet.  So, I thought I'd try writing a…

    • Harbor Freight POI File by: Rob

      October 3, 2009, 21:14

      Have you always wanted to visit a Harbor Freight store but don't have one near your home?  This "Points of Interest" (POI) file contains 274 store locations…

  • Category: Reviews  (4)
    • Harbor Freight 1x30 Belt Sander Review by: Rob

      March 20, 2011, 17:40

      This is a review of the Harbor Freight 1x30 belt sander, model #2485.  I noticed it was on sale and remembered Mikey telling me that a belt sander is a better…

    • Review: Drill Doctor 750 by: Rob

      August 3, 2009, 19:59

      This is a review of the Drill Doctor 750 drill bit sharpener. You may find it useful if you are considering the newer 750X or 500X.

    • Harbor Freight Digital Caliper Discussion by: Rob

      February 11, 2009, 21:26

      Toolmonger is having an interesting discussion about the quality of Harbor Freight's inexpensive digital calipers.  They aren't too impressed but everyone…

    • Book Review: Machine Shop Essentials by: Rob

      January 10, 2009, 23:06

      Machine Shop Essentials by Frank Marlow, PE This is one of the best and most useful books in my library of machine shop and metalworking books. It clearly…

  • Category: Projects & Ideas  (17)
    • Wrench/Hammer Combination Tool for Mini Mill by: rleete

      December 2, 2012, 10:19

      By Roger Leete This tool was made for my Grizzly G8689, but it can be adapted to almost any mill.  Just choose the right sized socket for your particular…

    • CNC Machined Tape Dispenser by: Rob

      February 27, 2012, 22:29

      This tape dispenser was made by the Advanced CNC class at Laney College in Oakland CA.  It's made from a pound of 6061 aluminum and every part was made using…

    • Retractable pen made from 30-06 bullet casings by: Rob

      January 6, 2012, 13:20

      I think this is a cool project and the video may teach you some new machining or fabrication methods even if you don't want to make a retractable pen out of…

    • My First Attempt at Making Machinable Wax by: Rob

      August 24, 2011, 19:48

      I tried making some machinable wax last night.  It's supposed to be harder than plain wax and mine wasn't, or at least not noticeably.  But I believe I can…

    • Casting Lots of Small Parts by: RobertG

      August 1, 2011, 10:43

      I spend about half of my time writing CAM software, and the other half doing product development for a bunch of companies.  Usually my prototypes are one-off,…

    • Video: Making a tailstock dial indicator stop by: Rob

      July 20, 2011, 11:27

      This short video shows you how to make a dial indicator stop for a Grizzly G0602 lathe that can be easily adapted to other lathes.  The stop is used with a…

    • Heroic Mop Sacrifices Self to Save Grill on Memorial Day by: OneBike2Ride

      May 31, 2011, 07:59

      Reporting by Blabbermouth Bobblehead DP - (Disassociated Press - No News At 11) While pictures of the heroic rescue and salvage operation were…

    • Bracket for towing a lawn roller by: Rob

      May 4, 2011, 11:10

      This is the bracket I made last weekend so I can tow my ancient hand-pulled lawn roller behind my riding lawn mower.  I usually don’t roll my lawn…

    • Snub's ball turning tool by: Rob

      October 30, 2010, 09:56

      I think this is a brilliant idea.  "Snub" made a ball turning tool and used a 4-jaw chuck as the base.  He says it works perfectly and leaves an almost…

    • Jan Ridders' Updated Flame Eater and "Scuderi" 4-stroke Engine Plans by: NateD

      July 1, 2010, 00:30

      Jan Ridders has updated plans on his web site for two of his favorite engines: a 2-cylinder flame eater and a Scuderi Split Cylinder internal combustion…

    • David Morrow's Web Site by: Rob

      May 5, 2010, 07:32

      If you would like to see some cool projects made with a small CNC mill then take a look at David Morrow's web site.  It may inspire you to try CNC or give…

    • Plans: HMEM's EZ Build Engine by: Rob

      April 20, 2010, 13:12

      You won't need a mill to make this nice looking steam engine that was designed to be an easy-to-make project to teach basic machining skills to beginners. …

    • Make or Buy a Power Feed for your Mini-Mill by: Rob

      April 15, 2009, 06:46

      I took a couple of machine shop classes and got spoiled by the X-axis power feeds on the Bridgeport mills.  Ever since then I have thought about adding…

    • Gadget Builder's Optical Punch by: Rob

      March 3, 2009, 17:11

      A few days ago I posted a story about Harlan's homemade optical punch.  I forgot that I also had a link to John Moran's web site, where he describes with…

    • A Tool for Shortening Screws by: Rob

      February 24, 2009, 21:40

      I like to use socket head cap screws.  Rather than keeping an expensive assortment of different lengths on hand, I usually stock a smaller selection and…

    • Tap Holder Uses Old Drill Chuck by: Rob

      February 22, 2009, 07:48

      There are lots of designs floating around for tap holders for lathes.  This one uses an old drill chuck and  looks easy to make.  In addition to ensuring…

    • Machining Pens and Pencils by: Rob

      February 10, 2009, 20:27

      Here is a short pictorial about how this machinist/craftsman makes high quality artist pens and pencils out of stainless steel rods salvaged from a copier.

  • Category: Videos  (23)
    • How To Square Up Stock On A Mill by: Rob

      March 4, 2012, 22:28

      This is the best video I've ever seen on squaring up a piece of stock on a mill.  You'll also see how a pro deburrs edges and see how quickly and smoothly…

    • Made by Hand No 2 - The Knife Maker by: Rob

      February 6, 2012, 13:41

      Click the space above if you don't see the video.  It's there but for some reason it doesn't show up on some computers/browsers. This well made video is…

    • The Making of a Soulcraft by: Rob

      December 6, 2011, 11:14

      Here's another video I really like because it shows a skilled craftsman doing machining, metal fabrication and welding.  Those are skills that I'm trying to…

    • Shop Light Upgrade & T12 Phase Out by: Rob

      November 7, 2011, 07:00

      I have about a dozen 4-foot fluorescent shop lights in my basement and garage.  They're all hanging from chains and plugged into ceiling-mounted electrical…

    • Art Dick, Machinist by: Rob

      November 1, 2011, 13:08

      I really liked the video about Neil Youngberg that I posted a little while ago and I think many of you did too.  This one about Art Dick is similar because…

    • Video: Making a tailstock dial indicator stop by: Rob

      July 20, 2011, 11:27

      This short video shows you how to make a dial indicator stop for a Grizzly G0602 lathe that can be easily adapted to other lathes.  The stop is used with a…

    • A Southbend movie about single-point cutting tools by: Rob

      June 30, 2011, 07:00

      I'm posting this video for a couple of reasons.  First, I often enjoy watching movies from this era and I thought some of you might too.  More importantly,…

    • Neil Youngberg "PROFESSIONal" by: Rob

      June 1, 2011, 07:30

      I’m not going to try to describe what this video is about except to say you may enjoy it if you like working with metal or tools.  I recommend watching it…

    • Video: Centering a 4-jaw chuck by: Rob

      May 19, 2011, 08:00

      This is probably the best video I've ever seen showing how to center a piece of round stock in a 4-jaw lathe chuck.  I am wondering about one thing…

    • HSS Indexable Inserts by: Rob

      May 17, 2011, 08:00

      It's not obvious at first but this video is about the Arthur R. Warner Company's HSS indexable inserts.  After seeing it I've decided that I would really…

    • 5-axis machining by: Rob

      May 16, 2011, 14:07

      I wonder if we'll be able to buy an affordable hobbyist version of one of these machines in 10 years?

    • CAM program D2NC's new features by: Rob

      May 5, 2011, 17:31

      This is a very quick introduction to D2NC, the CAM program I use to convert DXF files into G-code for my mini-mill.  It also does conversational CNC…

    • CNC: Automatically find edges, hole centers and more with Mach 3 by: Rob

      December 17, 2010, 21:32

      This article describes how you can use Mach 3, the popular CNC controller software, to automatically Find the edges of your work piece (and therefore the…

    • Inexpensive and easy-to-make CNC scanner for duplicating parts by: Rob

      November 1, 2010, 07:00

      This is a very cool and extremely easy-to-make accessory that can turn a a CNC mill into a scanner which can be used to duplicate parts.  It uses an…

    • Wire Rack Attack! by: Rob

      September 16, 2010, 12:55

      This short video shows a simple low-cost method for organizing small reels of wire.  I found it on Makezine.com's blog, which recently featured a…

    • Tubalcain's Lathe Bit Grinding Videos by: Rob

      August 5, 2010, 10:49

      Even though YouTube seems to have umpteen million videos about machining I've found very few that will you show how to grind HSS bits for a metal lathe. …

    • Jan Ridders' Flame Eater "Marc" by: Rob

      May 7, 2010, 10:09

      Jan Ridders recently updated his plans for a vertical flame eater engine that he originally made in 2003 as a birthday present for his son Marc.  He made a…

    • Bernie Vinther, blind machinist by: NateD

      April 25, 2010, 00:04

      Entering into machining as a hobby can be a bit intimidating for the uninitiated, but Bernie Vinther had no fear. The 65-year old former electrician took…

    • Free Plans: Ball Turning Tool Post for the 7x Mini-lathe by: Rob

      February 27, 2010, 16:27

      I want to tell you about Ralph Patterson's free plans for a ball turning tool post that will fit a 7-by-whatever mini-lathe, and show you how he used it to…

    • CNC Pencil Sharpener by: Rob

      May 25, 2009, 10:59

      I hope that I'm not the only one who thinks this is funny.

    • MIT TechTV Machine Shop Videos by: Rob

      April 24, 2009, 22:56

      Here is a great resource for new machinists that almost seems like a secret because I have never seen it mentioned on any of the discussion groups or forums I…

    • A Neat Trick for Squaring Up Parts in the Lathe by: Rob

      February 9, 2009, 12:59

      Here's a neat trick for squaring up parts that are too thin to self-align in a lathe chuck.

    • Jan Ridders' Engines by: Rob

      February 1, 2009, 00:18

      Jan Ridders is a talented machinist and prolific designer of model Stirling, flame-eater and internal combustion engines. As you can see from the…

  • Category: Tips & Tricks  (12)
    • Dial Indicator Helps Set Z-axis Height by: Rob

      March 15, 2011, 13:36

      I bought an old Federal dial indicator from a retired machinist that had a big flat donut-shaped magnet glued on its back.  I almost passed it up because it…

    • How I tram my mini-mill by: Rob

      December 22, 2010, 06:00

      This is how I tram my mini-mill.  I think the method I use is fairly common, although I may use slightly different equipment than others.  There are…

    • Wire Rack Attack! by: Rob

      September 16, 2010, 12:55

      This short video shows a simple low-cost method for organizing small reels of wire.  I found it on Makezine.com's blog, which recently featured a…

    • Installing a Drill Press Chuck by: Mikey

      September 13, 2010, 14:11

      Properly installing a drill chuck on your drill press requires you to pay attention to a few simple details.  Done well, your chuck will be accurate and will…

    • How to Grind and Use the 'Contrary Finishing Tool' by: Bick

      May 12, 2010, 14:47

      This excellent article was written by Bob Bickerton, a new contributor to Machinistblog.com. It was originally published to the files section of the Yahoo…

    • Cutting Glass on the Mini-Lathe by: Rob

      August 31, 2009, 22:05

      I needed to cut a piece of glass tube to a certain length and this is how I did it using my mini-lathe, an inexpensive diamond blade, some masking tape and…

    • How a rookie makes a flywheel  by: Rob

      June 10, 2009, 22:43

      I ran across this on the Home Model Engine Machinist forum.  I think it is an ingenious, easy and almost fool-proof way to make a spoked flywheel with just a…

    • Use Friction Turning to Make Thin Disks and Flywheels on the Lathe by: Rob

      May 18, 2009, 18:33

      This article describes how I made two round disks on my lathe out of sheet metal too thin to be held in a lathe chuck.  I also could not use a mandrel…

    • Clamping Thin Work on the Mill - Two Methods by: Rob

      March 6, 2009, 14:41

      I recently needed to mill down the thickness of  a 7-inch long piece of steel from .25-inches to .20-inches.  As the metal became thinner I started getting…

    • Hand Stamping Tips by: Rob

      February 26, 2009, 20:43

      I couldn't resist buying a steel letter/number stamping set from Harbor Freight.  They are not very expensive to begin with and I think I bought a set on…

    • A Tool for Shortening Screws by: Rob

      February 24, 2009, 21:40

      I like to use socket head cap screws.  Rather than keeping an expensive assortment of different lengths on hand, I usually stock a smaller selection and…

    • A Neat Trick for Squaring Up Parts in the Lathe by: Rob

      February 9, 2009, 12:59

      Here's a neat trick for squaring up parts that are too thin to self-align in a lathe chuck.

  • Category: Software  (5)
    • StickFont - Free software for engraving by: Rob

      April 23, 2011, 09:47

      StickFont v1.1 is a free Windows program you can use to create single-stroke text for engraving.  It's very similar to another free program we've written…

    • DeskEngrave by: Rob

      May 25, 2010, 11:48

      DeskEngrave is a free Windows program that makes it easy to add engraving to your parts if you have a CNC mill, router or similar machine.  It will create…

    • Review: DeltaCAD by: Rob

      April 17, 2010, 11:15

      This is a quick review of DeltaCAD, an inexpensive and easy-to-use 2D CAD program with a short learning curve.  I highly recommend it, unless you need to…

    • Metal Weight Calculators by: Rob

      August 29, 2009, 16:18

      Here are a couple of calculators that you can use to determine the weight of a piece of metal.  You just have to tell them the kind of metal, its shape…

    • Software - Model Engineers' Utilities by: Rob

      February 20, 2009, 20:07

      Model Engineers' Utilities is a free, easy-to-use Windows program that has a very useful suite of calculators for machinists and engineers. There is too…

  • Category: Workshops  (7)
    • Heart Valves, Digital Levels and Happy Holidays.  by: Rob

      December 19, 2011, 13:49

      The worry level is pretty high at my house right now because my 30-year old stepdaughter is getting a heart valve replaced tomorrow.  We knew she had a…

    • Shop Light Upgrade & T12 Phase Out by: Rob

      November 7, 2011, 07:00

      I have about a dozen 4-foot fluorescent shop lights in my basement and garage.  They're all hanging from chains and plugged into ceiling-mounted electrical…

    • A "fortuitous" keyboard and mouse podium for my CNC mill by: Rob

      October 15, 2010, 15:40

      This is the "fortuitous" keyboard and mouse podium I made for my CNC mini-mill.  The previous owner kept the keyboard and monitor on top of the cabinet and…

    • Making Particle Board Workbench Tops by: Rob

      October 10, 2010, 14:16

      This article describes how I make workbench tops using particle board.  I've been using this method for about 20 years with good results.  Although the next…

    • Wire Rack Attack! by: Rob

      September 16, 2010, 12:55

      This short video shows a simple low-cost method for organizing small reels of wire.  I found it on Makezine.com's blog, which recently featured a…

    • I'm thinking about moving south, to the basement by: Rob

      February 14, 2010, 20:31

      My workshop is in the back of small, detached and mostly uninsulated garage.  I have an assortment of kerosene, propane and electric heaters that can make…

    • Jeff Duntemann's Shop Tips by: Rob

      April 3, 2009, 17:07

      Jeff Duntemeann's workshop is setup for working on electronics, but he has some good suggestions and ideas that would be useful for a small home machine shop.

  • Category: Instructional  (15)
    • How To Square Up Stock On A Mill by: Rob

      March 4, 2012, 22:28

      This is the best video I've ever seen on squaring up a piece of stock on a mill.  You'll also see how a pro deburrs edges and see how quickly and smoothly…

    • Grinding Lathe Tools on a Belt Sander - Part 3 by: Mikey

      October 3, 2011, 06:00

      This is the last article in Mikey's series about grinding lathe tool bits.  In part 1 he discussed his experiences with grinding bits, why he uses a belt…

    • Grinding Lathe Tools on a Belt Sander - Part 2 by: Mikey

      August 30, 2011, 08:22

      Using tip geometry Here is a table that presents the table angles we need to set when we grind standard lathe tools.  Note that the headings at the top of…

    • Grinding Lathe Tools on a Belt Sander - For the New Guy by: Mikey

      August 15, 2011, 11:37

      I’m a believer.  As a new guy I totally sucked at grinding lathe tools.  It’s almost painful to admit how many stubby, misshapen, multi-faceted,…

    • A Southbend movie about single-point cutting tools by: Rob

      June 30, 2011, 07:00

      I'm posting this video for a couple of reasons.  First, I often enjoy watching movies from this era and I thought some of you might too.  More importantly,…

    • Make Your Own Machinable Wax by: JamesS

      May 19, 2011, 09:30

      Make Your Own Machinable Wax For those of you who aren’t familiar with or don’t want to pay for machinable wax, this article on what it is and how you…

    • Video: Centering a 4-jaw chuck by: Rob

      May 19, 2011, 08:00

      This is probably the best video I've ever seen showing how to center a piece of round stock in a 4-jaw lathe chuck.  I am wondering about one thing…

    • Tubalcain's Lathe Bit Grinding Videos by: Rob

      August 5, 2010, 10:49

      Even though YouTube seems to have umpteen million videos about machining I've found very few that will you show how to grind HSS bits for a metal lathe. …

    • Plans: HMEM's EZ Build Engine by: Rob

      April 20, 2010, 13:12

      You won't need a mill to make this nice looking steam engine that was designed to be an easy-to-make project to teach basic machining skills to beginners. …

    • Bogstandard’s “Paddleduck” Engine Plans by: Rob

      November 30, 2009, 19:25

      This is not just a set of free plans for a working model steam engine.  It's a well-written, well-organized, profusely illustrated 113-page tutorial about…

    • Cutting Glass on the Mini-Lathe by: Rob

      August 31, 2009, 22:05

      I needed to cut a piece of glass tube to a certain length and this is how I did it using my mini-lathe, an inexpensive diamond blade, some masking tape and…

    • How to Build a High Current Power Supply by: Rob

      July 15, 2009, 22:41

      Darren over at MadModder.com wrote a nice tutorial that will teach you how to build a high current variable power supply suitable for a CNC conversion or a…

    • How to Read a Micrometer by: Rob

      July 15, 2009, 17:00

      I want to tell you about an excellent tutorial that will teach you how to read a micrometer and give you some practice so you can be sure you are doing it…

    • Use Friction Turning to Make Thin Disks and Flywheels on the Lathe by: Rob

      May 18, 2009, 18:33

      This article describes how I made two round disks on my lathe out of sheet metal too thin to be held in a lathe chuck.  I also could not use a mandrel…

    • MIT TechTV Machine Shop Videos by: Rob

      April 24, 2009, 22:56

      Here is a great resource for new machinists that almost seems like a secret because I have never seen it mentioned on any of the discussion groups or forums I…

  • Category: Resources  (3)
    • MachinistVideos.com  by: Rob

      September 1, 2011, 16:43

      I’ve created a new web site called MachinistVideos.com that has the best videos we can find about machining, CNC, welding and metal fabrication (and model…

    • Download: Advanced Gunsmithing Book (PDF)  by: Rob

      November 14, 2009, 16:34

      Here's a book about gunsmithing that you can download as a 40MB PDF file.  It's Advanced Gunsmithing by W. F. Vicery and it was published in 1940. It's an…

    • Forums and Discussion Groups for Machinists by: Rob

      April 27, 2009, 21:03

      The problem with being an amateur/home/hobbyist machinist is that you may be self-taught.  There are some good web sites, videos and books that you can learn…

  • Category: Plans  (21)
    • Rear-mounted Parting Tool Holder for Sherline Lathe by: Mikey

      March 15, 2012, 12:47

      This is the rear-mounted parting tool holder for my Sherline lathe.  It's based on a design that's been around for decades and I made it about 12 years ago,…

    • Free Plans: Jeroen Jonkman's "Stirling 60" by: Rob

      November 27, 2011, 07:00

      Jeroen Jonkman built this Gamma type Stirling engine for his father's 60th birthday.  He also drew a nice set of plans for it and is very generously sharing…

    • Free Plans: David Kerzel's C02 Engine by: Rob

      July 21, 2011, 14:22

      Here's another set of free plans and construction notes by David Kerzel.  These are for a CO2 engine which is much smaller than his very beautiful hit &…

    • Free Plans: David Kerzel's Hit & Miss Engine by: Rob

      May 18, 2011, 08:00

      David Kerzel has free plans for this beautiful hit & miss engine he designed.  It may look like it's made from castings but it's actually made from bar…

    • Free Plans: Jingle Bell Steam Engine by: Rob

      September 2, 2010, 21:01

      This is a short 3-minute video by "rbandes1" that shows and explains the operation of the "Jingle Bell Steam Engine" he made.  It was built from free plans…

    • Free Plans: Model of a Watt type Steam Governor by: NateD

      August 31, 2010, 23:54

      On his blog featuring model engineering projects, Adam Richard Cooper has intricately detailed plans for making a Model Watt governor--the part that…

    • Jan Ridders' Updated Flame Eater and "Scuderi" 4-stroke Engine Plans by: NateD

      July 1, 2010, 00:30

      Jan Ridders has updated plans on his web site for two of his favorite engines: a 2-cylinder flame eater and a Scuderi Split Cylinder internal combustion…

    • Free plans: Tapping/drilling block by: Rob

      June 30, 2010, 22:22

      Pete Stanaitis has designed a really nice drilling and tapping block and you can find the plans for it on his web site.  A tapping block is a simple but very…

    • Jan Ridders' Flame Eater "Marc" by: Rob

      May 7, 2010, 10:09

      Jan Ridders recently updated his plans for a vertical flame eater engine that he originally made in 2003 as a birthday present for his son Marc.  He made a…

    • David Morrow's Web Site by: Rob

      May 5, 2010, 07:32

      If you would like to see some cool projects made with a small CNC mill then take a look at David Morrow's web site.  It may inspire you to try CNC or give…

    • Plans: Laundry Drying Rack by: Rob

      April 23, 2010, 18:17

      I know, you would probably rather make something more interesting than a laundry rack.  But have you ever considered that someone you know might want one? …

    • Plans: HMEM's EZ Build Engine by: Rob

      April 20, 2010, 13:12

      You won't need a mill to make this nice looking steam engine that was designed to be an easy-to-make project to teach basic machining skills to beginners. …

    • Free Plans: Zero Fog Mister by: Rob

      April 6, 2010, 20:23

      These are Karl Townsend's plans and construction notes for a zero fog mister.  Even though they've been floating around the net since at least 2002 they…

    • Free Plans: Ball Turning Tool Post for the 7x Mini-lathe by: Rob

      February 27, 2010, 16:27

      I want to tell you about Ralph Patterson's free plans for a ball turning tool post that will fit a 7-by-whatever mini-lathe, and show you how he used it to…

    • Free Plans: Finger Engine by: Rob

      January 26, 2010, 11:41

      Ken Gracey built this Christmas gift for his dad from plans for the NAMES finger engine.  The engine was originally intended to be made on a manual lathe…

    • Free Plans: Quick-Release Lathe Mounted Dial Indicator Holder by: Rob

      September 18, 2009, 22:19

      SwarfRat Enterprises has a set of free plans for a quick-release dial indicator holder that mounts on the front of a mini-lathe.   The holder is made from a…

    • Jan Ridders' New LTD Stirling Engine by: Rob

      July 19, 2009, 10:42

      I am a big fan and admirer of Jan Ridders.  He is a talented and prolific designer of Stirling, flame-eater and internal combustion engines that are both…

    • Free Plans: Webster Engine Work's 4-Cycle Gas Engine by: Rob

      May 30, 2009, 16:46

      Would you like free plans for a gas-powered 4-cycle engine that is a proven and easy-to-build design? Joe Webster designed this engine to be quick,…

    • Plans: Machinist Clamp by: Rob

      April 29, 2009, 17:15

      Purdue University's Mechanical Engineering Machine Shop has plans and instructions for building a machinist clamp.  The drawings are in PDF files and the…

    • Professor McCabe's Free Plans by: Rob

      April 21, 2009, 22:18

      Free machinist plans. Mostly easy to build steam engines and a few other projects, like a pin vise.

    • Jan Ridders' Engines by: Rob

      February 1, 2009, 00:18

      Jan Ridders is a talented machinist and prolific designer of model Stirling, flame-eater and internal combustion engines. As you can see from the…

  • Category: Good Deals  (6)
  • Category: People  (9)
    • Made by Hand No 2 - The Knife Maker by: Rob

      February 6, 2012, 13:41

      Click the space above if you don't see the video.  It's there but for some reason it doesn't show up on some computers/browsers. This well made video is…

    • Wayne Grenning by: NateD

      January 31, 2012, 07:32

      When the Daimler Chrysler Corporation decided to make a reproduction of its first engine, one that was a pioneer in automobiles and the model for the modern…

    • Art Dick, Machinist by: Rob

      November 1, 2011, 13:08

      I really liked the video about Neil Youngberg that I posted a little while ago and I think many of you did too.  This one about Art Dick is similar because…

    • Neil Youngberg "PROFESSIONal" by: Rob

      June 1, 2011, 07:30

      I’m not going to try to describe what this video is about except to say you may enjoy it if you like working with metal or tools.  I recommend watching it…

    • Machining trade insight--Nial McCabe by: NateD

      April 15, 2011, 08:47

      Nial McCabe's machining workshop at the County College of Morris campus is a good example of where the American economy could be headed in the next decade.…

    • Bernie Vinther, blind machinist by: NateD

      April 25, 2010, 00:04

      Entering into machining as a hobby can be a bit intimidating for the uninitiated, but Bernie Vinther had no fear. The 65-year old former electrician took…

    • Akin's Laws of Spacecraft Design by: Rob

      February 16, 2010, 13:40

      I'm not exactly sure who Dave Akin is, but he's obviously a wise man.  He wrote these 33 Laws of Spacecraft Design that are full of astute insights and…

    • LittleMachineShop.com founder Chris Wood by: NateD

      December 8, 2009, 12:01

      When Chris Wood started LittleMachineShop.com, it was only supposed to be a test. Wood and a partner were writing manuals for a Japanese printer company and…

    • People: Fred Schleipman by: Rob

      September 2, 2009, 08:37

      I found something very unusual on a web site about machining and metalworking -- a people story.  You see, web sites about this hobby are almost always about…

  • Category: CNC  (17)
    • CNC Machined Tape Dispenser by: Rob

      February 27, 2012, 22:29

      This tape dispenser was made by the Advanced CNC class at Laney College in Oakland CA.  It's made from a pound of 6061 aluminum and every part was made using…

    • Update on my CNC router build by: Rob

      October 16, 2011, 20:10

      I took a week of vacation time just to work on my Solsylva CNC router.  My goal was to spend at least 10 hours a day on it and try to get it finished.  I…

    • Stepper Motors & Drivers for My CNC Router by: Rob

      September 25, 2011, 21:22

      I've been away on vacation which is why MachinistBlog.com has been so stale.  We only went away for one week this year but I always seem to spend the week…

    • CNC Router Build - The Stand by: Rob

      August 2, 2011, 16:49

      Building the stand for my Solsylva 25x25 CNC router was pretty simple.  The hardest part was attaching the hinged support.  I also had some trouble finding…

    • Casting Lots of Small Parts by: RobertG

      August 1, 2011, 10:43

      I spend about half of my time writing CAM software, and the other half doing product development for a bunch of companies.  Usually my prototypes are one-off,…

    • Solsylva 25x25 CNC Router Build by: Rob

      July 17, 2011, 23:02

        I've started building a CNC router from plans.  It's something I've wanted to do for a long time now but I couldn't decide how big a router to…

    • 5-axis machining by: Rob

      May 16, 2011, 14:07

      I wonder if we'll be able to buy an affordable hobbyist version of one of these machines in 10 years?

    • CAM program D2NC's new features by: Rob

      May 5, 2011, 17:31

      This is a very quick introduction to D2NC, the CAM program I use to convert DXF files into G-code for my mini-mill.  It also does conversational CNC…

    • StickFont - Free software for engraving by: Rob

      April 23, 2011, 09:47

      StickFont v1.1 is a free Windows program you can use to create single-stroke text for engraving.  It's very similar to another free program we've written…

    • CNC Fusion Z-axis Modification by: Rob

      December 29, 2010, 11:00

      Here's a modification I made to the Z-axis ball screw mounting bracket on my Sieg X2 (Harbor Freight) mini-mill.  My CNC conversion kit was made by CNC…

    • CNC: Automatically find edges, hole centers and more with Mach 3 by: Rob

      December 17, 2010, 21:32

      This article describes how you can use Mach 3, the popular CNC controller software, to automatically Find the edges of your work piece (and therefore the…

    • Inexpensive and easy-to-make CNC scanner for duplicating parts by: Rob

      November 1, 2010, 07:00

      This is a very cool and extremely easy-to-make accessory that can turn a a CNC mill into a scanner which can be used to duplicate parts.  It uses an…

    • Does the world need another CNC tutorial? by: Rob

      June 9, 2010, 11:53

      I thought I'd try writing a more personal post and see if anyone is interested in what I have to say.  I also wanted to see if it would be any easier to…

    • DeskEngrave by: Rob

      May 25, 2010, 11:48

      DeskEngrave is a free Windows program that makes it easy to add engraving to your parts if you have a CNC mill, router or similar machine.  It will create…

    • David Morrow's Web Site by: Rob

      May 5, 2010, 07:32

      If you would like to see some cool projects made with a small CNC mill then take a look at David Morrow's web site.  It may inspire you to try CNC or give…

    • Free Plans: Finger Engine by: Rob

      January 26, 2010, 11:41

      Ken Gracey built this Christmas gift for his dad from plans for the NAMES finger engine.  The engine was originally intended to be made on a manual lathe…

    • CAD & CAM Software by: Rob

      November 18, 2009, 21:57

      I unexpectedly bought a CNC mini-mill a couple of weeks ago and since then I've been trying to learn about CAD and CAM software.  It came with the very…

  • Category: CAD/CAM  (7)
    • Casting Lots of Small Parts by: RobertG

      August 1, 2011, 10:43

      I spend about half of my time writing CAM software, and the other half doing product development for a bunch of companies.  Usually my prototypes are one-off,…

    • CAM program D2NC's new features by: Rob

      May 5, 2011, 17:31

      This is a very quick introduction to D2NC, the CAM program I use to convert DXF files into G-code for my mini-mill.  It also does conversational CNC…

    • StickFont - Free software for engraving by: Rob

      April 23, 2011, 09:47

      StickFont v1.1 is a free Windows program you can use to create single-stroke text for engraving.  It's very similar to another free program we've written…

    • DeskEngrave by: Rob

      May 25, 2010, 11:48

      DeskEngrave is a free Windows program that makes it easy to add engraving to your parts if you have a CNC mill, router or similar machine.  It will create…

    • Review: DeltaCAD by: Rob

      April 17, 2010, 11:15

      This is a quick review of DeltaCAD, an inexpensive and easy-to-use 2D CAD program with a short learning curve.  I highly recommend it, unless you need to…

    • Free Plans: Finger Engine by: Rob

      January 26, 2010, 11:41

      Ken Gracey built this Christmas gift for his dad from plans for the NAMES finger engine.  The engine was originally intended to be made on a manual lathe…

    • CAD & CAM Software by: Rob

      November 18, 2009, 21:57

      I unexpectedly bought a CNC mini-mill a couple of weeks ago and since then I've been trying to learn about CAD and CAM software.  It came with the very…

  • Category: How-To  (18)
    • How To Square Up Stock On A Mill by: Rob

      March 4, 2012, 22:28

      This is the best video I've ever seen on squaring up a piece of stock on a mill.  You'll also see how a pro deburrs edges and see how quickly and smoothly…

    • Grinding Lathe Tools on a Belt Sander - Part 3 by: Mikey

      October 3, 2011, 06:00

      This is the last article in Mikey's series about grinding lathe tool bits.  In part 1 he discussed his experiences with grinding bits, why he uses a belt…

    • Grinding Lathe Tools on a Belt Sander - Part 2 by: Mikey

      August 30, 2011, 08:22

      Using tip geometry Here is a table that presents the table angles we need to set when we grind standard lathe tools.  Note that the headings at the top of…

    • How to build a flat work surface by: Rob

      August 22, 2011, 14:35

      I needed a large and very flat work surface to build my CNC router table on.   I didn't have a big enough workbench and I didn't want to take the time or…

    • Grinding Lathe Tools on a Belt Sander - For the New Guy by: Mikey

      August 15, 2011, 11:37

      I’m a believer.  As a new guy I totally sucked at grinding lathe tools.  It’s almost painful to admit how many stubby, misshapen, multi-faceted,…

    • Pamper Your Tools by: John Hill

      July 25, 2011, 12:10

      I saw this on MadModder.com and thought it was a brilliant idea.  So I asked John Hill, also known as The Artful Bodger, for permission to republish it…

    • Video: Centering a 4-jaw chuck by: Rob

      May 19, 2011, 08:00

      This is probably the best video I've ever seen showing how to center a piece of round stock in a 4-jaw lathe chuck.  I am wondering about one thing…

    • CNC Fusion Z-axis Modification by: Rob

      December 29, 2010, 11:00

      Here's a modification I made to the Z-axis ball screw mounting bracket on my Sieg X2 (Harbor Freight) mini-mill.  My CNC conversion kit was made by CNC…

    • How I tram my mini-mill by: Rob

      December 22, 2010, 06:00

      This is how I tram my mini-mill.  I think the method I use is fairly common, although I may use slightly different equipment than others.  There are…

    • CNC: Automatically find edges, hole centers and more with Mach 3 by: Rob

      December 17, 2010, 21:32

      This article describes how you can use Mach 3, the popular CNC controller software, to automatically Find the edges of your work piece (and therefore the…

    • How to use a digital caliper (and more) by: Rob

      December 8, 2010, 11:36

          Shortly after I started MachinistBlog I wrote about a couple of good web sites that can teach you how to read a micrometer.  That post…

    • Making Particle Board Workbench Tops by: Rob

      October 10, 2010, 14:16

      This article describes how I make workbench tops using particle board.  I've been using this method for about 20 years with good results.  Although the next…

    • Installing a Drill Press Chuck by: Mikey

      September 13, 2010, 14:11

      Properly installing a drill chuck on your drill press requires you to pay attention to a few simple details.  Done well, your chuck will be accurate and will…

    • Restoring a Craftsman 15″ Drill Press by: Mikey

      September 7, 2010, 23:03

      This is another excellent article by Mikey, a frequent contributor to MachinistBlog.com and winner of our “Machining Metal as a Hobby” contest. …

    • How-to: Install a belt-drive on a mini-mill by: Rob

      June 20, 2010, 21:51

      I decided to write this article to show you how quick and easy it is to install a belt-drive on a mini-mill, discuss the advantages of using a belt drive, tell…

    • How to Grind and Use the 'Contrary Finishing Tool' by: Bick

      May 12, 2010, 14:47

      This excellent article was written by Bob Bickerton, a new contributor to Machinistblog.com. It was originally published to the files section of the Yahoo…

    • Bogstandard’s “Paddleduck” Engine Plans by: Rob

      November 30, 2009, 19:25

      This is not just a set of free plans for a working model steam engine.  It's a well-written, well-organized, profusely illustrated 113-page tutorial about…

    • Rebuilding an Albrecht Drill Chuck by: Mikey

      November 24, 2009, 14:48

      Here's another excellent article by Mikey.  It will show you how to take a worn or abused Albrecht keyless chuck and rebuild it to be like new. -  Rob…

  • Category: Web Sites  (4)
    • Dean William's Web Site by: Rob

      March 6, 2011, 12:53

      I recently added Dean William's web site to our list of "Featured Websites," which you can find on the right sidebar.  It's a short, somewhat exclusive list,…

    • Jorgensen Steam by: patj

      December 2, 2010, 14:29

      Pat Jorgensen recently posted a comment and I noticed that he had an interesting web site about steam engines.  So I invited Pat to be a guest blogger…

    • David Morrow's Web Site by: Rob

      May 5, 2010, 07:32

      If you would like to see some cool projects made with a small CNC mill then take a look at David Morrow's web site.  It may inspire you to try CNC or give…

    • Good Web Site: Start Model Engineering by: Rob

      January 26, 2010, 23:02

      Start Model Engineering is a very impressive web site about model engineering. The site's author, John Somers, didn't buy his first mini-lathe and build…

  • Category: Contests  (2)
  • Category: Shows & Events  (6)
    • Canandaigua Pageant of Steam by: Rob

      February 22, 2011, 15:50

      Last August I attended the New York Steam Engine Association's Pageant of Steam.  Their annual show is a huge four-day event held on 100 acres in Canandaigua…

    • What I saw at Cabin Fever 2011 by: Rob

      January 24, 2011, 06:00

      Something new this year was the big pile of dirt the show's organizers brought in for a huge model of a dragline excavator that was kept busy filling up…

    • "Cabin Fever" Model Engineering Expo - January 15 & 16, 2011 by: Rob

      December 12, 2010, 11:05

      This picture shows just a small part of the steam engine exhibit area at the annual Cabin Fever Model Engineering Expo in York, PA. The show is huge and…

    • 2010 N.E.M.E.S Model Engineering Show by: Rob

      March 18, 2010, 15:46

      I enjoyed Cabin Fever so much that I made a trip last month to the Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation in Waltham, Massachusetts, to attend…

    • Digital Machinist CNC Workshop - June 22-25 in Ann Arbor, MI by: Rob

      March 13, 2010, 13:00

      I just found out about an inexpensive CNC Workshop for hobbyists that is going to be held in Ann Arbor, Michigan from June 22 to 25, 2010.  I'd really like to…

    • 2010 Cabin Fever Model Engineering Show  by: Rob

      January 23, 2010, 09:45

      Last weekend I attended my first model engineering show, the 14th Annual Cabin Fever Expo in York PA.  It's a three-day event but I was only there on…

  • Category: Welding & Metal Fab  (2)
    • I’m learning how to TIG weld by: Rob

      October 22, 2011, 20:07

      I started taking a 10-night, 30-hour TIG welding course this week at a welding supply company.  I enrolled partly because I enjoy learning new skills and…

    • Inexpensive Plasma Cutters by: Rob

      October 16, 2010, 15:54

      I think you'll find this short video interesting if you've never seen a plasma cutter in operation.  I found it while helping a friend look for a plasma…

  • Category: Tools  (24)
  • Category: Mods  (20)
  • Category: Engines  (18)
    • Wayne Grenning by: NateD

      January 31, 2012, 07:32

      When the Daimler Chrysler Corporation decided to make a reproduction of its first engine, one that was a pioneer in automobiles and the model for the modern…

    • Free Plans: Jeroen Jonkman's "Stirling 60" by: Rob

      November 27, 2011, 07:00

      Jeroen Jonkman built this Gamma type Stirling engine for his father's 60th birthday.  He also drew a nice set of plans for it and is very generously sharing…

    • Free Plans: David Kerzel's C02 Engine by: Rob

      July 21, 2011, 14:22

      Here's another set of free plans and construction notes by David Kerzel.  These are for a CO2 engine which is much smaller than his very beautiful hit &…

    • Category: Steam Engines  (4)
      • Jorgensen Steam by: patj

        December 2, 2010, 14:29

        Pat Jorgensen recently posted a comment and I noticed that he had an interesting web site about steam engines.  So I invited Pat to be a guest blogger…

      • Plans: HMEM's EZ Build Engine by: Rob

        April 20, 2010, 13:12

        You won't need a mill to make this nice looking steam engine that was designed to be an easy-to-make project to teach basic machining skills to beginners. …

      • Bogstandard’s “Paddleduck” Engine Plans by: Rob

        November 30, 2009, 19:25

        This is not just a set of free plans for a working model steam engine.  It's a well-written, well-organized, profusely illustrated 113-page tutorial about…

      • A Beautiful Steam Engine with Construction Details  by: Rob

        February 23, 2009, 12:00

        John Bentley made this beautiful half-scale vertical steam engine.  He also did a great job of documenting most of the process on his construction page.  I…

    • Category: Stirling Engines  (9)
      • Free Plans: Jeroen Jonkman's "Stirling 60" by: Rob

        November 27, 2011, 07:00

        Jeroen Jonkman built this Gamma type Stirling engine for his father's 60th birthday.  He also drew a nice set of plans for it and is very generously sharing…

      • Simple Coke Can Stirling Engine by: Rob

        January 8, 2011, 19:25

        This Stirling engine can be built without machine tools or machinist skills.  It uses inexpensive and easy-to-find materials and it looks like it is…

      • The smallest Stirling engine? by: Rob

        November 17, 2010, 20:47

        This is a follow-up to my last post about small Stirling engines. This video shows one that might be the world's smallest.  It was made by Günter Bettinger,…

      • A couple of "micro" Stirlings by: Rob

        November 16, 2010, 12:05

        This is Jan Ridders' newest Stirling engine.  It's so small it uses a 1 Euro coin for the flywheel and a couple of 5 Euro cent pieces for the top and…

      • Jan Ridders' Flame Eater "Marc" by: Rob

        May 7, 2010, 10:09

        Jan Ridders recently updated his plans for a vertical flame eater engine that he originally made in 2003 as a birthday present for his son Marc.  He made a…

      • Flywheel Hub Construction by: Rob

        August 29, 2009, 22:26

        Here's how I made the hub for Jan Ridders' New Simpler LTD Stirling Engine.  I started with a piece of 1.25-inch diameter aluminum and turned down a…

      • Materials List for Jan Ridders' Simple LTD Stirling Engine by: Rob

        August 11, 2009, 14:49

        Here is a list of the materials you will need to build Jan Ridders' new simple low temperature differential Stirling Engine. You can download the plans here…

      • Jan Ridders' New LTD Stirling Engine by: Rob

        July 19, 2009, 10:42

        I am a big fan and admirer of Jan Ridders.  He is a talented and prolific designer of Stirling, flame-eater and internal combustion engines that are both…

      • Jan Ridders' Engines by: Rob

        February 1, 2009, 00:18

        Jan Ridders is a talented machinist and prolific designer of model Stirling, flame-eater and internal combustion engines. As you can see from the…

    • Category: Jan Ridders  (5)
      • A couple of "micro" Stirlings by: Rob

        November 16, 2010, 12:05

        This is Jan Ridders' newest Stirling engine.  It's so small it uses a 1 Euro coin for the flywheel and a couple of 5 Euro cent pieces for the top and…

      • Jan Ridders' Updated Flame Eater and "Scuderi" 4-stroke Engine Plans by: NateD

        July 1, 2010, 00:30

        Jan Ridders has updated plans on his web site for two of his favorite engines: a 2-cylinder flame eater and a Scuderi Split Cylinder internal combustion…

      • Jan Ridders' Flame Eater "Marc" by: Rob

        May 7, 2010, 10:09

        Jan Ridders recently updated his plans for a vertical flame eater engine that he originally made in 2003 as a birthday present for his son Marc.  He made a…

      • Materials List for Jan Ridders' Simple LTD Stirling Engine by: Rob

        August 11, 2009, 14:49

        Here is a list of the materials you will need to build Jan Ridders' new simple low temperature differential Stirling Engine. You can download the plans here…

      • Jan Ridders' Engines by: Rob

        February 1, 2009, 00:18

        Jan Ridders is a talented machinist and prolific designer of model Stirling, flame-eater and internal combustion engines. As you can see from the…

    • Category: Stirling Construction  (3)
      • Cutting Glass on the Mini-Lathe by: Rob

        August 31, 2009, 22:05

        I needed to cut a piece of glass tube to a certain length and this is how I did it using my mini-lathe, an inexpensive diamond blade, some masking tape and…

      • A Screwed Up Part and Some Ramblings about Using and Buying Drill Rod by: Rob

        August 30, 2009, 21:38

        My last post described how I made the flywheel hub for Jan Ridders' simple LTD Stirling engine.  It was pretty easy to make, which is good because I screwed…

      • Flywheel Hub Construction by: Rob

        August 29, 2009, 22:26

        Here's how I made the hub for Jan Ridders' New Simpler LTD Stirling Engine.  I started with a piece of 1.25-inch diameter aluminum and turned down a…

  • Category: 3D Printing  (1)
    • My Lulzbot Mini by: Rob

      September 7, 2015, 20:03

      My Lulzbot Mini with LED strip lights that I added. The object on the bed is half of an exhaust adapter for a laser cutter. I started the Rochester…


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