The Thickness Sander
A lack of finances kept my dream of owning a machine to "thickness" guitar woods to very thin and accurate tolerances just a dream. (After all a good "abrasive planer" in 1982 cost about $10,000.) It also cost me about $45/hr. just to rent time on one from a local cabinet shop. So despite lacking any real metal working experience I set out to make my own. I found out that my local vocational school had an extension course where for about $115 I could get 100+ hrs of evenings in their machine shop. No class time, just an instructor to answer questions and all these machines just waiting for me to try out!
I basically did my best to copy (with some redesign) an existing sander made by a company called "Timesaver" setting on the floor of my local machinery outlet. I think they thought I was nuts as I showed up many a day with a caliper and tape rule measuring and sketching. In retrospect, I consider it one of my most valuable learning experiences as I was forced to seek answers, learn skills, and overcome setbacks until it was actually finished!