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While small lathes are of relatively limited value in my opinion, I’ve gotta give it up to Thingiverse user cathalgarvey for designing and uploading the parts to print this motor-tool-powered, printable micro-lathe. Would love to see some video of it in operation!

More from cathalgarvey:

Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I write for MAKE, serve as Technical Editor for MAKE magazine, and develop original DIY content for Make: Projects.



  1. Stunmonkey says:

    While I give props to the idea (I do find small lathes useful!), people tend to be a little stuck on “printable” everything as a solution to every problem.

    This could have been made more quickly, cheaply, safely, sturdily, and infinitely more functional with a few standard off the shelf plumbing parts from a hardware store.

    I think printable stuff is cool, but it seems to be more of a solution looking for a problem than the other way around. Things like this project are unsuited to, and in this case very likely downright unsafe, when made from printable materials.

  2. Cathal says:

    Your wish is my command, and I have uploaded an awful quality video just now to Youtube:

    With a picture of the dowel when I was finished:

    As to the above comment from Stunmonkey, I can totally understand your reservations. I realise that this can be made using alternate means, but when one must DIY one uses the means available. If I have a 3d printer that can precisely create the shape and form I want with tight tolerances in tough plastic, why fool around with plumbing supplies?

    Besides, the point wasn’t so much the object itself as the point that 3D printing can be a self-accelerating technology, by producing tools that expand the users’ capabilities with minimal effort. Whatever objections you might raise, Microlathe worked on its first draft, which is to me a very satisfying outcome. The Second draft will be even better.

    To those interested: Microlathe will be developed further, and good ways to follow this progress are either following me on Twitter (@onetruecathal) or checking back on the Thingiverse page now and then.

    Thanks to Sean for the coverage!