Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
6/13/22 12:33 p.m.

Four installments in, and we’ve come a very long way from our old ways of making stuff. Gone are the angle grinder and Sharpie, replaced by computer-aided design, 3D-printed prototypes and CNC-machined aluminum

If you’re like us, you’re probably shocked at how much we’ve accomplished with such a minimal investment. We’ve done everything to date with a total …

This content is available for GRM+ members and Grassroots Motorsports magazine subscribers only.

You can read it for free in 139 days or subscribe to GRM+ to read right now.

Subscribe now

Already a member?

Login to read

Read the rest of the story

f1carguy New Reader
6/13/22 1:19 p.m.

What is the street address of the lathe? I need some parts made!

CrustyRedXpress GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
6/13/22 1:29 p.m.

I have no idea if this series is popular or compelling to advertisers but it's probably been one of my favorites in a long time.

There is lots of great content about lathes or 3d printing all over the web, but this the first and only where the focus is fabrication for cars and at the DIY level, and that makes all the difference in the world.

jimgood Reader
6/13/22 1:42 p.m.

I could have used a lathe a few weeks ago when all I wanted was to face off an 1/8" from a chunk of round bar for a spacer. Instead I paid a local machinist to do it.  $$$

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
6/13/22 4:38 p.m.
f1carguy said:

What is the street address of the lathe? I need some parts made!

Hah! I've already learned how many people will line up for favors once you start dragging home machinery. I need to find more free time. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
6/13/22 4:41 p.m.
CrustyRedXpress said:

I have no idea if this series is popular or compelling to advertisers but it's probably been one of my favorites in a long time.

There is lots of great content about lathes or 3d printing all over the web, but this the first and only where the focus is fabrication for cars and at the DIY level, and that makes all the difference in the world.

Thanks, I'm glad you're enjoying it! 

I'm not sure if any advertisers care, either, but that's one of the things I like about this place. We do interesting stuff, then write about it, and while we do have to stay in business, not everything needs to have a focus group and a sponsor before we give it the green light. 

That said, if anybody owns a company that makes small CNC mills and is looking for people to sponsor....

f1carguy New Reader
6/13/22 5:26 p.m.

Local independent machine shops are just about gone. Central Florida and the rest of the US depend on military contracts and the shops will not even talk to you if can't spent $1000 - $5000+.

This goes for non- mil spec printed circuit boards as well. Anything consumer grade is impossible to get built in the US and small companies are forced to go overseas where the likelihood of getting your design ripped off is very high.

The US has plenty of college grads but is totally lacking in tradesmen and tradeswomen! 

Even with great contacts - I could not get a local shop to even give me a quote for my small sheet metal boxes. I found a shop near Atlanta that laser cut some but I had to bend them myself!

Even startup companies at the Embry-Riddle business park have the same problem. Prototype and small runs are impossible to source.

I HATE to send my business overseas!     

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
6/13/22 5:38 p.m.

In reply to f1carguy :

Shoot me an email at tom@ this website with some details on what you're building and how many of them you need. I might be able to point you in the right direction. 

Slippery GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
6/13/22 6:19 p.m.

In reply to f1carguy :

I can point you to a couple of excellent sheet metal/machine shops in south Florida that do excellent work. 

Dogboy New Reader
6/13/22 8:34 p.m.

Jet is a good brand. I got myself a 920 a few years ago.

Matched with my small Bench Made mill.

Great fun if you are safety conscious, no loose clothes/hair/jewelry.


Randy_Forbes New Reader
6/14/22 10:32 a.m.

I too have been following, and love this series, good job!  

I told my wife that I wanted a mill and a lathe when I grow up; in large part thanks to her, I now have both (Jet 9x20 & Rong Fu benchtop).  However, she's still waiting on me to grow up...

Armed with both, plus assorted welding & cutting machines, there are practically NO OBSTACLES that you can't overcome during a project.  Come across some fastener you can't access, and twenty minutes later you've made (or modified) a tool to do the job.  Break some obscure part at 5:00 PM on a Friday (the oil jet nozzle on a Vortech centrifugal supercharger comes to mind) and while taking longer than the aforementioned 20-minutes, you're back in business well before you could even order one, much less receive it!

I was also able to tailor the replacement to better fit the application, by making it a bit taller to clear the compressor volute, reducing strain on the oil supply line.

Definitely look for good bargains on the machine tools (though nearly all of mine were bought new) as you'll be spending a lot more on the various end-mills, lathe-bits and accessories than you expected.  I buy solid carbide in most cases, and in the beginning, you're going to crash a lot of bits, so buying the Chinese import "sets" is highly recommended.  I still look for "sale"" and "clearance items" from supply houses like MSC (my "go to" supplier) Enco, and Travers Tool.  Once you get on their mailing lists, they'll send you a sales flyer about once a month, and you'll be able to build up your selection as budget allows.

Now go make some chips!

h2000wt New Reader
6/14/22 11:25 a.m.

Note on the cheap china made bench top lathes.  Some really are not too bad.  I needed something better than my 20 year old Harbor Freight lathe mill combo so I began by looking around for a nice used lathe like in the article.  I kept missing them or the prices were too close to the cost new.  I found a good one new with great reviews and price but it was out of stock and months away.  So I bought a cheap 8 x 22 for about $1300 with shipping.  It does pretty well and will serve for about 90% of my lathe needs.  Lots of info on line about how to make this version more accurate and frankly, the things you do are pretty much what you need to do for any lathe you buy and move to your shop. And that one I wanted?  In stock now but double the price.  I may eventually get a nicer lathe used but for now, this cheap one is doing fine.  

You do need a decent mill though.  Lots of things you can do with that.  And yes, the lathe and mill do compliment each other but the true uses are often very different.  To use a trite little expression, it takes two to tango.  I lucked into a lightly used square column NC brand one with lots of extras.  It seems like mill are easier to find than the lathes. 


jimbbski SuperDork
6/14/22 12:57 p.m.

I've been doing home machining with my Logan lathe for over 20 years.  I do help out fellow racers when I can by making parts or modifying some.

I don't what I have in my set up since I've added to it over the years with mics. tooling, etc.

I know that I will keep it until I can no longer run it.



snowrx New Reader
7/24/22 5:35 p.m.

I love my 16"x31" mill/drill combo, which I got from Harbor Freight back when they would truck ship you a 700# tool for free. I think Grizzly now sells it as a G9729.  It's not a precision machine, but it fits in my cramped garage, which a "real" lathe or mill would not, much less both. I threw on a 8" chuck to handle larger pieces, which adds quite a bit of flywheel effect to assist the marginal motor.


kb58 SuperDork
7/24/22 7:05 p.m.

I first bought a used 13x36 Grizzly lathe in the late 1990s that proved indispensable when building Kimini, my mid-engine "Mini." Later I wanted something more robust and capable, both to help out with Midlana, my mid-engine "Lotus 7", but also for use in retirement. I sold the Grizzly for $1200, the same price that I'd paid for it 21 years before. After a lot of research and searching, I found a used 14x30 Webb/Takisawa TSL-800 located very close to home. The trick is finding a machine shop that's closing or moving, and this was the last of their manual lathes, with them moving on to CNC equipment. I ended up paying $1500 for it, and while thrilled to have a real lathe, was the realization that real lathes are really heavy, around 2,500 lbs or so, and getting it home was an education.

The first heavy equipment mover wanted $800 to move it three miles - um, no. Then I realized that since the shop was moving, they were already using an equipment mover. I talked to them and they agreed to move it to my garage for $300. Done.  Later I learned about renting heavy equipment trailers;  they're great because they're both heavy duty and because the bed lowers down to ground level, something that's a requirement when moving such heavy stuff.

Once it was in the garage, the big clean-up began, and in addition to being really dirty, it also had a coolant sump and pump. To clean out the sump, which had apparently never happened in its 39-yr life was... well... imagine being handed gloves and paper towels and told to clean out a PortaPotty. Yes, that's what it was like, and the grossest thing of all was when reaching in and grabbing the next "load", the consistency of the stuff was exactly like what you're imagining. I would actually  look the other way because my imagination was doing a number on me. I like to share...

So the point is that if you have space for a slightly bigger machine (this one actually fits in the same space as the Grizzly), you can get really good deals on them because most people don't have the space or the need, and shops are getting rid of them due to switching to CNC, so the prices are good. I wanted a manual machine because nearly everything I make is a one-off, so doing a CAD design and then getting a CNC machine set up would take longer than just doing it manually. The 5hp 3-phase motor is run by a VFD, and later, an electronic leadscrew was added. Very pleased with it and it's more accurate than I am. If you're looking for one, consider one with a bed shorter than 36". In all the time I used it, I never needed any more than maybe 18", but that was for my application, and your's may differ.

Noddaz GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
8/8/22 2:40 p.m.

Great.  Now I have lathe envy.


I just need to use the one I have.  And I need to start at part 1.

TXRX7 New Reader
8/8/22 6:09 p.m.

This is a subject near and dear to my heart. I bought a lathe 25 years ago to support my racing habit. Now the last race car has departed, and I have a shop full of machine tools.  I have been restoring old iron like some people build cars,  some 3 dozen lathes so far.   

 Every shop needs a good lathe, and it doesn't have to be a big one as long as it's rigid.  Those old Jet/Enco/Grizzly 10" and up lathes were made in Taiwan and were stout. I've never seen one with a worn bed, and parts are still available.    

I've intended to write a lengthy "Machine Tools For Motorsports" article.   Maybe I will.  But first I need a race car. Strictly for illustrative purposes, of course.

Good article, thanks!

RonB001 GRM+ Memberand New Reader
8/8/22 10:31 p.m.

In reply to f1carguy :

Actually, there is a company in Colorado/Oregon that specializes in hobby-scale printed circuit boards.  In the overall scheme of things, they are cheap and quick ($80 for 3 boards in a week).  The downside is that you have to create the PCB in their software, instead of standard Gerber files.  Search for Express PCB if you want to know more.

I've used them for several years, and have not yet received a bad board.

There is also a company in Minnesota that specializes in 3d prints.  Their main business is printers and supplies, but they also do prints.  Not as cheap as DIY, but somewhat reasonable. StrataSys.

clshore Reader
11/11/22 1:23 p.m.

Everbody needs a Lathe in their garage, to put next to your Interoscitor.

(See MST3K 'This Island Earth' episode)

rssmithiq New Reader
2/3/24 3:04 p.m.

I don't even know how lucky I am. I tinkered with cars from the time I was 6 and I had a neighbor who retired from owning a large hobby shop. He had a great home machine shop and loved showing me the two stroke engines he made from scratch for model planes. When he died, much to my surprise, he left instructions that I had first dibs on any of his tools. For a couple hundred bucks I got a 12" Atlas lathe with tons of tooling, a shaper, drill press, power hack saw and grinder with everything on stands and ready to go. I've been making parts with them since I was 12 and they all still work great 60 years later.  Interestingly, I stopped by a professional machine shop about 10 years after I got my lathe and the owner had 6 or so of the exact same lathe sitting in a row.  Said they were his favorite and he ran them every day.  I've made many a car part with those tools, and you're right, aside from the drill press, I use the lathe the most by far.


You'll need to log in to post.

Our Preferred Partners