Make: Projects

$150, 12″ Swing, Metal Lathe, Mill, and Drill

Almost-free metal lathe, drill and milling machines. Accurate and scalable to any size. Technology used has been proven for almost 100 years. Easily made from scrap, steel bar and concrete. Built with common hand tools, a drill and a few small welds.

  • By
  • Time Required: 2 months because concrete needs time to "season." Quick-setting concrete would make things faster.
  • Difficulty: Difficult
$150, 12″ Swing, Metal Lathe, Mill, and Drill

The Lucien Yeomans “secret” that was almost lost.

Your developing world school needs almost-free machine tools?

Your developing world factory needs unavailable spare parts?

You need a complex part that is too expensive to have made?

Need to bootstrap a factory but only have a few bucks?

No problem!

You just need a metal lathe. Metalworking lathes are necessary to the production of almost everything but are very expensive. In 1915, special lathes made from concrete were developed to quickly and cheaply produce millions of cannon shells needed for World War I. Lucien Yeomans, the inventor, won the nation’s highest engineering award for it but sadly the technique was almost forgotten after the war. We re-discovered it as a way to quickly make inexpensive but accurate machine tools for use in developing countries and in trade schools and shops everywhere. We made modern construction practical by replacing the original poured, non shrinking metal with cement grout.


Design by Pat Delany, [email protected]

Drawings by Tyler Disney,

Research by Shannon DeWolfe and David LeVine. Shannon found Yeomans after I had searched for years.

Dimensioned drawings and support at:…

Many supporting files are at:…

The best machine tool reference site in the world is at:


  • Pat Delany

    Totally agree!


    Work is real pooja (pray)

  • Thank you Mr. Delany for all your research and work on this project! I am going to give this design a try and will document my build as much as possible.

    I would love to see examples of working lathes of this design, but I’m not finding any through web searches. Can you please share if you know of any?

    • @ Philip. I would love to see some of your build log. I too am thinking this would make a nice project but want to find some examples?

  • Matt

    would it be okay if I uploaded your skp file to grabcad, I would also be giving all rights and credit to you pat

  • I may need to make this a goal for my workshop this year!