Shed builder and workshopshed reader, Rex pointed me at a couple of interesting sites.
Little Machine shop pretty much provides everything you need to get going apart from the metal. They have spare parts, tools, digital readouts, kits for lathe upgrades, fasteners, plans, videos and books. I agree with Rex, the upgrade kits look very interesting, with bed extensions, change gear sets (for screw cutting), speed controllers, and a Tailstock Cam Lock Kit. Their website even calculates international postage based on the weight of the item selected. Unfortunately the US dollar exchange rate is not as favourable as it was but I’ll personally keep it bookmarked for both ideas and when the exchange rate (or postage) gets more favourable.
EMachineShop is a completely different type of shop. They provide parts to your design over the Internet.
- Download their software
- Design your part
- Order the part online
Parts can be formed by a wide number of processes and in a extensive range of materials from rubber to stainless steel. The initial setup price is quite high for a hobbiest (currently $150) but if you are going to make more than a few parts then it soon becomes quite economical. The price per part could end up being less than $1. Their customers include home machinists, clubs and schools. For example if you wanted to build some tank tracks then this could be an ideal way to do it, send of the design for a single link and get them to make 200 of them for you! It may for example be possible to have a part machined from solid for less than the price of a custom made casting.
The site also has an interesting design for a rotary stirling engine.