Let me start off by saying that I am not a professional. There is nothing even remotely professional about anything I do, save for my actual, well, profession. I build what I build and do it how I do it to entertain me, not to impress anyone. I don't care if I don't do it like the pros do it. If I did, then this wouldn't be merely a hobby.
I took metal shop for 3 or 4 years in high school, and concentrated mainly on welding. I taught myself how to oxyfuel weld when I was about 12. My dad brought home a torch rig he bought from a friend, and neither one of us knew how to use it. I set out to find out how, and after a number of mishaps and burns, I figured it out. From there I bought a small stick welder and learned how to use it. By the time I reached high school, I was a decent welder but knew nothing of machine work using a milling machine or lathe. I got into metal shop and learned the finer arts of MIG and TIG welding, and for the first time in my life, got to use a milling machine and a lathe. We had several Bridgeport knee mills, and a few 12"x36" tool room lathes, a few 16"x72" lathes, all the way up to a 36"x120" monster of a lathe. I never saw the big one running, and don't have the slightest clue what they had it for. I never knew how good I had it while in that shop.....
Fast forward about 10 years, and I had amassed quite a few tools, a couple of MIG welders, a plasma cutter, a huge sheetmetal brake, sliproller, and sheetmetal shear. I had also built my own cnc plasma cutter. I was in the market for a lathe for a while when I was contacted by someone who needed help building a cnc wood router. I made a 3 hour one-way trek to his house to help him with a few odds and ends on his cnc router. While I was there, this guy asked if I wanted a lathe. I went around to his tool shed where he had the old lathe. He had gotten it second or third hand and had used it to make furniture pieces but really had no use for it anymore. I was the new recipient of a late 40's vintage Montgomery Wards PowerKraft (Logan) lathe. For some reason, someone had put a Atlas lathe headstock on it.
I turned a number of parts on it, and used the heck out of it. Somewhere down the line, I sold the lathe to a friend, as I was moving into an apartment and had nowhere else to put it. I moved into a house about 6 months ago, and got the lathe back from my friend who had done literally nothing with it.
Around tax time, I found a Rong Fu model 31 mill/drill on Craigslist for 500 bucks. A friend of mine picked it up for me and delivered it to me.
I had kept most of my other tools from my previous endeavors, so I was set in that department.
So, I have the main two components for building just about anything I desire. Well, within reason.
Next up, I will start to detail the build of my .50 cal rifle. Yes, that was my first gun to build, but the design is simplistic enough I haven't had too many problems in the build. Yet.