As we keep getting busier we are finding it harder to keep this blog up, and while we dont plan on stopping the blog we would like to make more pictures of our work available as they come. So please visit out instagram page if you are on instagram.
if you are not in instagram you can check back here on out blog.

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Custom 2 piece bushing for our lathe vari-speed

A photo posted by @imachineworks on

A photo posted by @imachineworks on

#machining #lathe #turret #turretlathe

A photo posted by @imachineworks on



by IndependentMachine on August 24, 2015

Shapers are cool. A mainstay of machine shops a hundred years ago they have largely been left in the past. They are simple, dramatic and kinda dangerous. To those that dont know how a shaper works, it is a metal cutting tool that cuts with a linear reciprocating motion, no spinning cutters at all.
We have, by odd luck, ended up with 2 shapers in the last several months. The first one is a Shape-rite 8 inch shaper. The other is a shaper attachment head that goes on the Bridgeport milling
The Bridgeport shaper head will need some work but the shape-rite has already done a couple jobs for us and worked out great. Until now we used broaches to cut internal keyways, they work well usually but its slow and on keyways that are longer than bout 2.5 inches the broach can go kinda crooked and taper out. Also, in acetal we have had some cracking or blow out at the back with broaches. Lastly, we had to regularly make bushings for broaches, or buy odd size broaches. Shaper takes care of all of these problems.

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MacIron Craftworks

by Conn on August 24, 2015

One of the great advantages of our shop location is that we have easy access to many other shops, from sand and shot blasting to galvanizing, grinding, metal stamping, woodworking and even upholstery .  And just down the way is Ian at MacIron Craftworks, a local woodworker.

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We did some maintenance on a dust collector system at Berkeley Mills woodshop. The main task was to replace 120 8 foot filter bags. After that we just had to greased all the motors and do an overall check on the system. Not our usual work but its always nice to get out of the shop, and the view from the filter house was nice too.

mark up ladder

mark up ladder best

mark in filterhouse


Whale Bracket

by IndependentMachine on July 17, 2015

In February we were asked by the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa to make a gusseted bracket for a traveling whale exhibit they had at the California Academy of Science. The bracket was designed to help stabilize a 16′ long sperm whale skull that they cantilever off one post 10 feet in the air. The bracket was actually pretty simple but climbing partially in a whales skull sure made the job noteworthy.




earthquake_shake_houseEarlier this year, we landed a great opportunity to help rectify a problem in one of the exhibits at the California Academy of Sciences.  Within the “Earthquake: Life on a Dynamic Planet” exhibit is The Shake House where visitors can experience what it was like to be in the dining room of a San Francisco Victorian house during the Loma-Prieta earthquake of 1989 and the Great San Francisco earthquake of 1906.  The room shakes, complete with books on the bookshelves shifting, plates rattling and the chandelier swinging.

Unfortunately, the chandelier was swinging too much and beat itself up as well as damaging the ceiling of the room. It had originally been designed using small vibration dampers that didn’t last long after the exhibit opened.  The Academy staff tasked with maintaining the exhibits had made a number of repairs but they haven’t lasted and maintenance was becoming too time-consuming.

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We were recently asked by Sky of Blue Cards to recreate a pair of adjustable rails for their later model Chandler and Price letterpress machine. These adjustable rails were a later addition to the classic Chandler and Price design and were only made in smaller quantities.  They were intended to replace the need to add tape or other material to the rails to raise the inking rollers  to compensate for wear.
The two rails were both broken and heavily worn so matching the original design required trial and error to make the new parts fit.



Once we had the geometry nailed down we had the basic shape cut out by a waterjet cutter leaving minimal finish machining.


sky of blue rail inside
These kind of projects can be slow and nerve wracking but it is really satisfying to help make these old machines run again!



3 Years On

by IndependentMachine on April 7, 2015

As the saying goes: “Time flies when you are having fun.”  A little over 3 years ago, we decided that we wanted to take our freshly honed machining skills and open up our own shop.  Some would (actually some did) say that we were silly to start a job shop with no experience and at a time when all markets were just recovering from the recession.  We all had enough experience to know that the only boss we wanted was our customers and enough guts to give it a go. So, we headed down the path of creating what is now Independent Machine Works.

We met in the machine shop program at Laney College, 2 of us students, 1 a teaching assistant. The notion that we had no prior experience is not entirely true.  Patrick had co-owned a machining and fabrication shop prior to opening Independent; Mark worked in manufacturing environments for the past 20 years and Conn ran his own business for nearly a decade.



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Office Desk

by IndependentMachine on November 25, 2014

We had the fun opportunity of making an office desk for an industrial design office.  In addition to cutting and welding, it also involved machining for the drawer support.
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The drawer will swivel out from beneath the (future) glass top.

This was one of the first projects that we did on our in-house built welding table.  What a difference a solid, flat surface makes.
d table

We will post some photos in a future post of the finished table with it’s top and swivel-drawers.


As a lifelong car-nut and former raceteam engineer, I always welcome doing a project related to cars, motorcycles or racing.  So when one of my former co-workers started his own business servicing and tuning dampers, we were eager to help him out.  We’ve made a few adaptors for him in the past and he recently called to get some more made. What’s notable is that these are not for a racecar or a motorcycle but for holding mountain bike shocks in his damper dyno.


Andrew Brennan is an accomplished racecar mechanic and is now the Chief Damper Whisperer at Brennan Autosport.  If you ever need damper service or trackside support for your racecar, get a hold of Andrew and let him know what you need.