Home Built Machinery

I thought Id start a topic for all to show there ingenuity here.

Building a gasifier can be quite challenging with out the proper equipment. Those that are capable of building these devises may also be able to build the machinery required to build more complex machines. So I thought Id create a place to show this stuff off.

When I started I had a cheap 200 dollar welder, and a grinder. I built quite a few machines out of existing tanks and parts. Mainly the portable air tanks you can get at Tractor Supply and Harbor Freight. These were the cheapest tanks I could find at the time and I could get them brand new. So prepping them for welding wasn’t to difficult. As I learned more and built more machines the builds started getting more and more complex. Along with this was need for the equipment to build these machines. They do not give this equipment away, and at least for me most of it is out of reach of my budget or I just simply refuse to pay the high price.

I have built quite few different devices in my shop that are used on a daily basis. One is the small roller I built, I built this roller about a year ago and it has been used just about every day since. We roll all of our cones and cans with it with the exception of larger cans like the hoppers. Now that the machines are getting bigger other parts are needed and outsourcing this is putting a strain on our production.

So I have built a 48" rolling machine. I will have pics of this machine soon, however, I am reworking it a bit. I have built the rollers out of 1 1/2" black iron pipe. Im using a set of gears that have a 2" pitch diameter. This combo is almost perfect for the 14 and 16 ga steel we use. This machine also has gear reduction. But I ran into some issues with my rollers deflecting, I was afraid this was going to happen, but I wanted to give it a shot with out reinforcing the roller. So I now have this machine back apart and will be installing a core inside each roller to eliminate the deflection. I had to do the same thing with my smaller roller, so Ill get it worked out.

Another machine that we have desperately been in need of is a large shear. I’ve looked around and I just cant find a 60" or larger machine that fits my 300 dollar budget. LOL We have outsourced our rough shearing and this adds to our cost. We have a small shear to cut down the pieces to there final dimensions.

So I put together a CAD model and ordered the materials to build it myself. I have just a little more than 300 into this machine and I put 10 hrs labor into it today. It is just about complete. I still need to install the guides for the upper blade, install the cam actuator and build a table to align the sheet metal. For my blades I just got a stick of 1/2 x 4 CRS and will case harden it tomorrow. I wanted high carbon but it had to be ordered and i don’t have time. So I will order replacement steel later for the blades. The case hardening should hold up for a little while we may need to do some periodic sharpening. But if you build something like this you need tool steel for your blades and you will need to heat treat and quench the steel to harden it. But this is not rocket science look at a paper shear, this is really just one of those on steroids.


Thats a pretty flash looking guillotine man

I’ve built me alot of tooling like rollers, benders/folders and presses… but they all took alot more than 10 or so hours to make altho almost all of them were trying to do a ferrari on a lada budget …i’d love to be able to use CAD to design all the tools/toys that i have in mind to build…however at 32 i think i’m the youngest computer illiterate tradesman in the country…my computer skills are stretched with the on/off button.

CNC machining would be nice to learn…but here i’m too old to be taught…if you don’t get taught as an apprentice then you can forget about it LOL

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Your never to old to learn, been in and out of college for 20 years. But I hear you, it is very hard working full time, dealing with kids and then full time school and all those stupid essays they make you write.

As for the CAD I been around this since I was in HS and much has changed. You do not need to go to school learn this. Here is my advice with learning CAD. Stay away from free software unless it is parametric software, 2D software, and boot leg software. Now that I know what I know it learning 3D and then 2D is the way to go. Believe it or not the 2D software is harder to learn than the 3D modeling software.

There are some free software packages out there like Google sketch up. This stuff is junk and very limited and frustrating to operate. Parametric 3D CAD software is the industry standard. Solid Works, Inventor, Ideas, Catia, Unigraphics, etc are all high end parametric type CAD packages and are very expensive to obtain. Boot leg copies do not work right, If the software can not communicate with its manufactures server, it will stop working correctly.

There is one company that offers a 200 dollar parametric package and has excellent customer service along with online tutorials. I have their professional suite, this is basically a copy of solid works, minus a few bells and whistles. I paid a lot more than 200 for my version and it is well worth the money. You will save your self a lot of time and money building it first on CAD before you build. I built that shear five times before I built it for real. Figuring out how to cam the blade was all figured out in CAD. The 200 that you pay for this will pay for it self in no time once the software is learned. Building out of your head takes a lot of time and money esesially when things dont work out on a build.

But here is a link to Alibre if any one is interested.


Hey CallumH.
Let me chime in on CNC learning for the aged.
I learned this as a collapsing logging industry refugee then working for a large Japanese Chemical Co electronics Fab manufacturer. They needed practical productive people to operate their four axis diamond wheel cutting, grinding and polishing machines. Just a bunch of “Y”, “X”, “Z” and Theta axis work. Pilots need to know these same motions whether air or marine and just use words for these motions rather than Greek. Pitch, roll, yaw and spin? Ain’t no big deal really. After a couple of weeks of on hands training on one machine then we were given responsibility of three simultaneously and then kept employed past 90 days if you could keep them up and running productive. Then they ramped this up to six machines per operator. And later tried even tried eight machines per operator. Year after year it proved the best were ex-fry cooks, waitresses, cannery workers and former “pain-in-the-ass”, aways complained about, “You are doing too much making me/us look bad” in thier former trades willing to hustle this on a 24/7/365 12 hour shift basis.

Ha! Ha! I learned personal PC “stuff” like this (poorly) years later.
Careful what you wish for man. Running between production CNC machines to keep them 85% up, running, and productive is real hard on the knees, and hips. Audible alarms very nerve jangling. And the red/yellow/green machine operation status light bar poles can be seem by management types a LONG ways away. Why we slowly eveolved into a 85% female department. They were accustomed to these demands from children and demanding families.

You are never too old to learn good enough to get a practical job done.

Steve Unruh

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hey Matt the problem with case hardening is that you will almost have to do it after you sharped the blade as the carbon only penetrates the metal a little… further sharpening will just take the hardened layer off. hopefully you can get done what ya need until you get some good carbon steel … just my two cents and you probably already know it… just pointing it out so others do too

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Matt have you looked at snow plow cutting edges

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I have not but that is an excellent idea.

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For simple drawings and something to get your feet wet Turbocad is pretty user friendly. If your interested in it look on Ebay and get the highest version you can for 10-20 dollars. Much easier to start on than Autocad.

Nice work on the shear.

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Hi Guys,

Well I must admit defeat on this shear, it takes a lot of metal to shear metal. I was able to shear with the device just not consistently. So still desperately needing a way to shear our steel I ended up cutting the machine back apart and built it into a plasma shear. This has been a thought but that rough edge it leaves is not desirable. However, after completing this thing I am quite surprised at how well it ended up cutting. It does leave the slag on the edges, but the machines ability to be consistent in speed and distance from the metal leaves a smooth cut. The slag practically falls of with the tap of a hammer.

Tomorrow will be the test I have lots of work to put on this machine. Even though it is not complete it will do for now. Eventually I will build a bed for it with a way to square up the steel. If this works for us I may later build a CNC version of this with an X and Y axis.

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Matt This is just a thought. I see you live in MI. You might want to look around some of the wood veneer mills there, most of them have old veneer clippers laying around that can be had for scrap price. The knife
must be reground for steel but will work on light sheet metal.

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See lot # 20


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The machine did ok today, but it is a bit slow and the cut is not the cleanest. But this is nothing a grinder cant clean up and will do for now.

I think Im going to look into getting a higher end plasma cutter the high end machines are much faster and the cuts are pretty clean. Another machine we could really use is a CNC plasma cutter. So if I got a better machine I would have half of it. Then later we could get a CNC table for it. :slight_smile:

I will look into to the veneer mills as well. Might be the way to go if I can get them cheap enough.

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I think I will be acquiring one these very soon. I could build a simple table for it and be done with it. There are others out there but from what I gather this is the saw to get.

The Makita would be my next choice.

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Found these plans for a 22" slip roller. Im going to build a version of this with the current piece I have from my current project. I used 1.5" pipe and was tryig to build a 48" roller, but ended up with too much deflection. So Im going to cut it down to a 24" roller and use this design.

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OK moving on, I built a new machine for cutting our steel. I gave one of the metal cutting blades a try and they cut really well. So I built a simple tube frame and made a track for the saw to slide. It cuts straight as an arrow. I still want the track saw, the Makita has variable speed so you can adjust the speed down a bit. most of these circular saws run at 5500 rpms this is a little high for these metal blades. But so far its been working great.

So now I will get back to the roller.

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Thought you might be interested in this welder I built in my younger days. I was especially pleased with the centrifugal governor I put together.


Trying to figure your governor out from those pictures. Is that pulley and jack shaft by the radiator part of it?

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That’s the belt driven governor. the bits of metal on the near side is just a shield.

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Good to see some post on this thread. I was looking at some of my old and just have to laugh. Here is how we have evolved since I built those last cutting machines. I ended up building my own CNC Plasma machine. I bought a 3 axis kit on ebay and built the table. Took about a week to build it, one week to wire and debug and about 2 weeks to learn how to use it. lol. Youtube is a great thing when learning Mach 3 and Sheet CAM.

This video is from last June, we have since bought a Harbor Freight Plasma machine in 220 volt. We can now run much faster than in the video. We are now considering launching another company producing these machines.


Ok, so I’m trying out posting a link from photobucket to save storage room here.

This is another welder I put together. this one was an old electric motor generator type, I removed the motor part and belted it to the gas engine.