Saturday , November 22 2014
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Home > Lathe Projects > New Project: Plans for a Collapsible Nested Scribe

New Project: Plans for a Collapsible Nested Scribe

Here’s one of those beginner projects that I just love. I’m all about making my own tools, even if they can be purchased for a fraction of what it costs me to make them in terms of man-hours. Why? Because I get a renewed sense of satisfaction every time I reach for a tool that I’ve made. My handmade tools are a constant reminder of how satisfying this hobby can be.

Mike White from the Franklin Technology Center in Joplin Missouri sent in this set of plans for a nifty collapsible scribe. What’s neat about this particular scribe is it’s ability to collapse down and nest inside itself. It reminds me of those hammer/screwdriver combos where the screwdrivers are nested inside the handle of the hammer. However, like many combination tools the ham-driver was never a good hammer or a good screwdriver. It was a mediocre combination of both. But I digress …

This scribe design solves the problem I have with my current $5 scribe – it protects me from getting jabbed with the point when not in use. Sure my $5 scribe came with a protective rubber tip. But I lost it within a few days somewhere in a pile of swarf. With this setup I’ll be able to slip my scribe into my bib overall pocket next to my scale and never poke myself!

My only question for Mike is what method do you recommend to harden the scribe? Keep in mind that people making the scribe may have no experience whatsoever in hardening. So an explanation of the cheapest/easiest/safest technique would probably be best.

Mike also shared plans for a machinists hammer (ball peen style) which I’ll post in a few weeks. Thanks for sharing your plans with us Mike!

If you’re an instructor like Mike and you’d like to share your student plans with the site, please feel free to submit them using the “Submit Your Plans” tab at the top of the page. I’ll provide a link (and thus free publicity) back to your school or website. Every submission helps this site grow. Thank you for your support!

  Scribe_Plans_from_Mike_at_Franklin_Tech.jpg (169.4 KiB, 2,369 downloads)
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About Tyler

Tyler is a hobby machinist and 3D printing aficionado. He teaches computer programming and web development at Highline College near Seattle. Tyler founded Projects In Metal in 2008 because he was frustrated by the lack of free plans available for hobby machinists.


  1. Sorry, I wasn't envisioning the taper when I wrote my approach above, I was thinking more along the lines of a punch, not a scribe.

    But for a scribe the process could be accomplished in essentially the same way. Since you'd have a hard time using a steady rest (due to the taper) go ahead and turn the first half inch or so at a taper until the tip comes close to a sharp point. Then pull the part another half inch out of the chuck, keep the taper angle the same, and turn the part until your second taper matches the first. Now you have a 1″ taper. Keep going until it's long enough.


  2. All right. When you make the actual scribe piece, cut it at 0° from the shoulder to maybe 3/4″ out and taper the rest at 2-3° except for the very tip. Cut this at around 30°. I also made my piece a little heftier to avoid too much bending. But go ahead and let it bend some. Just wear your safety glasses and don’t over-do it. Run it really fast at 1000-2000. When it bends too much for your liking, slow it way down between 200-500 and finish with a rough file. Then use a fine file until sharp. Then feel free to polish with Emory paper and buff. :)

  3. So you got yours done then? Excellent. Picture?

  4. So you got yours done then? Excellent. Picture?

    I would but I don’t know how to post them. I already tried to copy/paste. They aren’t anywhere ion line either so I can’t add URL either.

  5. There's a link in my “signature” below that talks about posting pictures. There are written instructions as well as a video walkthrough (for those of us who are visual learners). 

    You can't copy/paste the images (as you've already found out). You need to upload them to the site's using the insert image button. But the FAQ will walk you through that. It's easy once you get the hang of it.