The Milling Machine’s Altar

Berkeley has a Student Machine Shop, and my scientific experiments would never get off the group without it. I’ve lost track of the number of times that I’ve needed a part that has never before been made–I can only imagine in my mind what I need. I make some preliminary drawings, and I head up to the shop to machine this fantasy part from aluminum or, more rarely, steel. To see that form from my imagination slowly becoming reality is one of the most exciting experiences I’ve ever had. (It’s probably worth noting that I started as a sculptor before transitioning to photography.)

This particular photograph is of a milling machine, used to make planes, grooves, and holes in metal. In many ways, it’s a lot more flexible than a lathe (the other ubiquitous machine shop tool), but also a bit more threatening looking.

The Milling Machine's Altar