In 2007, Iqbal Ahmed of Nagpur, India built two miniature models of a Sherline 4000 lathe and a Sherline 5400 milling machine. Mr. Ahmed entered the miniature machines in the 2007 Sherline Machinist’s Challenge Contest at the North American Model Engineering Society Exposition in Toledo, Ohio. His milling machine won first place, and the lathe took second in the contest. After the competition, Mr. Ahmed was kind enough to donate the tiny lathe to Joe Martin, the late founder of both Sherline and the Miniature Engineering Craftsmanship Museum. Joe put the miniature lathe on display at the museum where it can still be seen today.

The shop that Mr. Ahmed works in is probably not typical of most model engineers, as his equipment is both very old and quite large. His family is engaged in the business of renovating old cars and appliances to get them back in service again. Iqbal’s work is a good example of why they say, “It is a poor craftsman who blames their tools.” Although he now owns a Sherline 5400 milling machine, this tiny model lathe was built solely from reference photos in the Sherline catalog.

While the Sherline machines were certainly a clever choice for the competition, they did not win solely on their appeal to Joe Martin, as it was the show-going public who voted on the winners. The tiny lathe was superbly built and equipped with different miniature accessories. In 2012, Mr. Ahmed was recognized with the Joe Martin Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award for his dedication to fine craftsmanship. Along with his Sherline machines, Iqbal has built a wide variety of miniatures and scale models, including: a functional 1886 Benz Motorwagen, a 1/4 scale 1896 Ford Quadricycle engine, three different “Victoria” steam engines, a 4-cylinder internal combustion engine, a 1/16 scale “John Fowler” road roller, a twin-cylinder Wetzel engine, multiple steam and electric locomotives, a rotary engine, an elbow engine, and a “thumbnail” steam engine weighing just 1.72 grams. In the photo below, Mr. Ahmed (right) can be seen donating his Sherline lathe to Joe Martin (left) for display at the Miniature Engineering Craftsmanship Museum.

Exhibit added: December 31, 2007 - Last modified: May 16, 2024

Presented by The Joe Martin Foundation for Exceptional Craftsmanship