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Every home machinist’s tool list is as diverse as every job they undertake. Experienced machinists will suggest that when you start a project, you just buy the tools needed to complete it. Your tool supplies will grow organically, and eventually, you’ll always have what you need on hand. There isn’t one “right” set of tools everyone must-have, but there are useful machine shop tools for home machinists you should have from the start.

Grinding Wheel

A grinding wheel is a must-have for any home shop. Grinding wheels come bonded with cutting materials, such as diamond or CBN, to cut hard materials. Wheels with different grit sizes make rougher or finer cutting passes depending on the need. Using the wrong wheel for the job can lead to multiple problems, so make sure you get the right one.

Deburring Wheel

A deburring wheel looks like a grinder with different wheels on it. Its job is to smooth out any scratch marks left from cutting or sanding to give your piece a nicer finish. The wheel is also designed to take down sharp corners and excess bits of metal leftover from a poor cut.

Belt Sander

The belt sander is the first tool any workpiece will touch to start the creation process. The sander will round sharp and jagged edges and smooth every rough surface. Belt sanders are used in the preliminary stages to aggressively remove material. If the project is a restoration, belt sanders are good for removing old paint or rust to get down to the bare metal.


A lathe is a machine tool that spins a workpiece around on an axis to cut material from it. Lathes can be used for sanding, cutting, facing, turning, and drilling. Tools are applied to the spinning workpiece to remove material and create the desired object. Objects like baseball bats and crankshafts are usually made with a lathe.

Milling Machine

Unlike a lathe, the workpiece is stationary in milling, and the tool is what moves around the piece to do the work. Milling removes material from the piece by performing several small cuts to achieve the final product. Most milling machines can move on three axis and can create complex, precision parts on a large scale.

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Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for Patch.com, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.