Images representing different hobbies

Model Engineering

Ever since I was a boy, I was in awe of the working mechanical models to be seen in the pages of Model Engineer magazine or on television programmes like Bob Symes' Model World. In 1999 I managed to acquire both a daughter and a lathe, and against all the odds started my journey in model engineering.

You can buy my books including the Mini-Lathe, Norden: Building a Victoirian Steam Engine and The Home Workshop Dictionary using the links below:

Hardback and Paperback Books



Ebooks and Kindle


This is a model of the Mars rover, Curiosity, made up from 3D printed parts produced on my Prusa i3.

I obtained the STL files from NASA's collection of printable 3D models. This is the smaller, less detailed version of the Curuiosity Rover, but it still looks great. I have afeeling i won't be able to resist printing teh larger, more detailed and accurate version!

NASA Curiosity Rover £D model with Mars terrain


Do you find that 0.004" / ~0.1mm isn't quite as fine a feed as you would like on your mini lathe?

When you want a really superb finish, use a pair of 100T change wheels instead of 80T with your 20T gears to get a fine feed of 0.0025" per revolution on an imperial mini lathe or 0.06mm on a metric one.

100T 1 mod Mini Lathe Changewheel

Download this STL file for 3D printing. It is a 100-tooth 1-mod gear , 8mm thick with a 12mm bore and a 1.5mm deep by 3mm wide keyway. Print two and you now have access to a really fine feed.

Fans of cult Canadian science fiction movie 'The Cube' can now live out the experience of escaping from a three-dimensional maze in their own living rooms!


This Cube is a 27 'room' maze with a 15mm ball bearing trapped inside. The' exits' are on opposite faces, one in a corner, the other in the middle so you can tell which is which. How long will it take you to move the ball from one exit to the other? Of course the catch is that the ball is permanently trapped, dropped in during the print process.

You can download the STL file of the cube and print your own.

As a 'clue' here's what the Cube looks like inside, credit to Moduleworks' free, simple and really handy STLview program.

Inside Cube

The example Cube was printed using the 'standard' setting of a Dremel 3D40 Idea Builder printer. Advice for printing your own is:

  • Don't use any supports - they will block the maze!
  • Make sure your printer settings can cope with bridges up to about 17mm long, this should be OK on most printers if you have the right settings.
  • Ideally use a 15mm ball bearing or a marble. One down to 1/2" or 13mm should not to come out of the holes, but any much larger than 15mm may get jammed. That said, bigger ball bearings make a more satisfying clunk as they move around the maze.
  • You can use a smaller ball bearing, but it won't remain trapped inside, which is half the fun of the object - something you can't take apart without destroying it!
  • The best time to put the bearing in the print is while the second or third layer is being built - pause the print and drop the ball through any hole that links to the layer below out of the way of the print head. If you can't pause then you will have to judge a moment when the print head is occupied elsewhere!
  • If you use a solid colour rather than a translucent one, the cube will be even harder to solve!

Finally if you print your own Cube, please post a pic online and share this page!

Well not quite golden... this one is mostly brass witha bit of anodised aluminium. lightly antiqued and sprayed in celulose laquer to keep it shiny.

The snitch is the crucial element of the game Quidditch in the Harry Potter books and movie, but also plays a critical role at the end of the series 'I Open at the Close'.

The feather/wings are sheet brass, etched both sides with a freehand feather texture and a silver soldered 'stalk'. The base is from a long-gone 'executive toy' abacus!

Full size golden snitch model


Another view of the full size snitch model

I'll confess, this is pure vanity! These are covers of Model Engineer and Model Engineers' Workshop that have featured one of my models of tools as the central theme.

To my mind they give me comfort that I may be a proper model engineer after all!


Norden vertical mill engine


Norden, a vertical mill engine in 1:12 scale.




Southam, Hudswell Clarke diesel shunter number D604 in 3 1/2" gauge.

Handwheel Dial


Parts for a  lathe saddle handwheel dial to Graham Meek's design.

Compact Dividing Head


A Miniature dividing head made using parts from a 'Westbury' dividing attachment.