Many Tormach customers start out by designing and building homemade CNC devices. Whether they’re retrofitting a manual mill or piecing together components to make a lathe. This week, we stumbled onto a metal lathe made out of concrete on Instructables. In fact, one of our founders, Greg Jackson, had a thesis in college that focused on adding concrete to drill press columns and cataloging the rigidity changes. While concrete can provide some similar properties to casting – some commercial machines even use a polymer concrete cast frame – it can fall short in a number of ways. Concrete has a tendency to heat up during the mixing and pouring process, which leads to cooling and shrinking as the material dries.
Also, while some concrete sets up fairly quickly, the material continues to dry over a long period of time, sometimes for decades. These characteristics lead to challenges when working to build a machine tool with any sort of precision. Regardless, it’s pretty cool to see fabrication enthusiasts building their own tools. And, while this Instructables author started with this lathe as a manual tool, he plans to add CNC capabilities. Of course at that point, we would recommend turning to a real CNC lathe, like our 15L Slant-PRO.