When you watch a TV show like Build or Bust, you see a lot of parts coming off the shelf and being bolted together. Sure, they do some metal shaping and welding but there’s a lot of buying going on, too. American Chopper is another place where there is always some crisis when a part doesn’t arrive on time. Ditto, the hot rod shows. OK, suppose you just make it yourself, from scratch, everything, period. Hmm…
When you think like a tech guy, these stream of consciousness ideas get a bit crazy. If you need a wheel, machine the wheel. No lathe? Build a lathe. No parts to build the lathe? Cast your own parts. No furnace to melt metal… you get the idea. Need to know how? There are a lot of guys out there doing it, learn from them. There are some famous old books, too.
Update: Melt metal in your microwave!
Still trying to figure out what to do about the tires.
Update 2: Virginia Postrel has a few words about doing it yourself.
Making stuff yourself can be fun and satisfying, but it can also be time-consuming and frustrating. The theoretical question is who has the scarce knowledge. User innovation taps unique or unarticulated desires, but specialization allows expertise and gains from trade.