So at some point I decided I needed to set up a machine shop…

I’ve been making more and more things with the Form 2 printer, and I find making things quite addictive. I’ve worked some more on some gear design software for the Macintosh, and now I’m finding to make the thing I’d like to ultimately make, I need some odd-shaped parts that don’t quite fit in the printer or would be better made from other materials. (Simply buying 2mm by 100mm pins isn’t working out as well as I’d like, simply because sometimes I need different lengths or I need different shapes for the gears to properly rotate or to be properly moved or set.)

I’m not giving up on the 3D printed parts, of course, but being able to build custom cut arbors using metal for the 3d printed wheels (gears) to rotate on would be extremely helpful. And eventually doing all of this in brass and steel using the 3d printed parts as prototype shapes would be very cool.

So I ordered my first shop tool.

And it’s not what you’d expect.

I didn’t order a mini-lathe, though that is first on my list of things I want to buy. (And to be honest I’m on the fence as to if I buy a micro-lathe or something larger first. The advantage of the former: I’d be able to shape the small arbors and custom screws that I need to make my gadget with ease. The advantage of the latter: I’d be able to shape a full range of parts, including some larger components I’ll eventually want to build, including those brass gears. Eventually, of course, I’d want both.)

I didn’t order a mini-mill. (This would allow me to make many of the brackets and holders and supports my gadget will eventually need, though for the time being I can 3D print many of them.)

I didn’t even order a bandsaw, though I intend to order one when I order whatever lathe I intend to eventually get.

No, I bought one of these.

Now I’m sure you’re asking yourself “why the hell did you order a shop crane?”


Did you see the shipping weight on some of the other gadgets that will eventually need to be positioned on my workbenches?

The HiTorque 8.5 x 20 Bench Lathe for example, has a shipping weight of 281 pounds; the machine itself is 220 pounds. Mills are worse: the Grizzly G0463 Mill/Drill has a crated weight of 445 pounds.

So the question becomes “how do you swing a 500 pound object and place it and attach it to a workbench” (rated at 3,000 pounds so we’re good there)?


Of course I’m relying on Home Depot to have the straps and hydraulic fluid which are necessary to run this crane.

One thing I plan to use this for–while I’m not using it to swing machines around the garage, of course–is to help hold stock metal in place for cutting in the bandsaw. Sure, it may be overkill for this use, but remember: a 3 inch diameter brass rod that is 48 inches long weighs 105 pounds. And frankly I’d rather swing that in place with a crane than lift it by hand. I’m not a young man anymore.

Leave a Reply