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Looking for a fun project

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  • Looking for a fun project

    I'm a senior in college and have been working in the machine shop there for the past 3 years. Since it's my last year, and probably will be a long time before I have my own equipment or access to another shop, I wanted to make something memorable. I'd consider myself at a medium skill but can't seem to find to many interesting projects out there that I think I could complete in less than 6 months time. What do you all think?

  • #2
    Six months is enough time to make a small CNC lathe. I would post a picture of some that were made by engineering students at Harvey Mudd College but the telco here is having problems from the extreme weather recently and my server is cut off. Maybe later.
    Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here


    • #3
      How about a low temperature differential Stirling engine? Some will run on your hand heat, over a cup of coffee or something similar. Good gadget to show friends. Small steam (or compressed air) engines can be quite simple and quick. This one took my son and I about 6 hours or so:

      About a year ago we toured Dartmouth's engineering school and shops and the students had small Stirling engines lined up. I think they ran on a small alcohol lamp.

      Lots of projects are within specific areas of interest like robotics (tons of work, both manual and cnc), astronomy (telescope optical mounts, gadgets, accessories), automotive (custom work, racing work, welding, machining, painting, etc.).

      If you're into CNC, how about a stainless steel and brass (with gold plating) chess set

      Lots of fun stuff out there besides the old hammer or screwdriver project. Do a Google or Google images on machine projects.



      • #4
        Here is the pic of the lathes built at HMC. It may or may not show up, my server has been off much of the day because the Telus routers are hooped.

        Last edited by Evan; 12-19-2006, 08:42 PM.
        Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here


        • #5
          One memorable and fun project I did a while ago was the Tinker tool & cutter grinding fixture:

          It might just come in handy once you have your own shop set up, too.

          Guy Lautard has the plans and castings available:


          Frank Ford


          • #6
            Evan, It looks like HMC pulled those project pictures. Too bad because it is a good recruiting tool for kids whose old men are HSM'ers or otherwise into mechanical engineering and machine tools. I pulled copies of the high res movies a while ago just in case. Should have done the other images as well. Den


            • #7
              Yeah, they did pull the lathe project. I have the pics and the full set of drawings in PDF and Solidworks format.
              Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here


              • #8
                When I was at the university I had to take a machine shop lab course
                as part of my major (mechanical engineering); since I'd taken shop in
                high school I finished the assigned projects in a few weeks. I then built
                a small oscillating steam engine designed mostly to sit on my desk...

                This engine has started countless discussions, and has been fiddled
                with by many, many people.

                So: built something interesting and build it of of something that will
                cope with lots of handling....

                - Bart
                Bart Smaalders


                • #9
                  Jerry Howell's "Miser" engine is interesting to build. See
                  Even if you can't get it to run from the heat of your hand, you ought to be able to get it to run on a cup of hot coffee.
                  Try to make a living, not a killing. -- Utah Phillips
                  Don't believe everything you know. -- Bumper sticker
                  Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects. -- Will Rogers
                  There are lots of people who mistake their imagination for their memory. - Josh Billings
                  Law of Logical Argument - Anything is possible if you don't know what you are talking about.
                  Don't own anything you have to feed or paint. - Hood River Blackie


                  • #10
                    Fun Project

                    I think of a couple that you might try.

                    The first is a Knurling tool.


                    The second would be a tool to turn round knobs.

                    You will have to use Google on this one.

                    Hey you may have time to build both.

                    Congratulations on your finishing up your class.



                    • #11
                      Build a Quorn T&C grinder, from scratch rather than using a casting kit.
                      That should keep you busy!


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Magic9r
                        Build a Quorn T&C grinder, from scratch rather than using a casting kit.
                        That should keep you busy!
                        I second this idea.
                        -Dan S.


                        • #13
                          Project ideas

                          I saw a CNC bender that an engineering student built for a project that would be neat to build and like the CNC lathes Evan showed would give you a usefull tool when done. I think if you do a search on this site and on the practical machinist site you will find the bender. I will look and if I find it I will post a link.


                          • #14
                            This is the link to the hydraulic bender project that gundog spoke of:



                            • #15
                              That is the one thanks DirtDobber I could not find it. I am going to save the link someday if I get real motivated I may try and build one.