Tag Archives: Unimat

You can stand under my umbrella …

OK, so I told you that I got a Unimat … so, what do I do with it?

Well … the first thing is to fix my patio umbrella. Last year the (cheap) umbrella that I got failed. The rope broke. This was due to the wheel at the top that the rope turns on … it broke and fell out (into the post), so the rope was rubbing on the metal and well it didn’t like that.

I used a makeshift coat hanger hook to keep the umbrella open for the summer.

Now that I have the Unimat I could make a new wheel.

I got some new tool bits (Taig set from Lee Valley), an 1″ diameter acrylic rod, and new cord line rope (you can actually find “patio umbrella rope” on Amazon).

DSC00724It’s been about 35 years since I used a lathe so it took me a long time (machinist time) to replicate the broken wheel … I had to “learn” how to use such a small lathe with thick material.

… anyway, I think it turned (hmm, sounds like a pun there) out very well … though there was a lot of mess since the wheel was only about 1/2″ in diameter. One thing I noticed about the original wheel was the sides are cut through with a slot … this is actually the part that failed first. When I made the new wheel I did not slot it first before I fitted it into the umbrella … I am not sure why they did that, as the wheel spins freely.

Oh, and when you use the vac to clean up the workspace make sure to keep important things away from the area … I almost “lost” an important hex screw that secured the tool post.

Now one thing I will say about repairing a patio umbrella … it’s a pain in the ass if you haven’t done it before.

I should have stated at the beginning … when you take apart the crank, make sure you document. In my case I should have taken off the cover on the other side of the handle and really looked at the latching mechanism … make sure to document what place everything is, otherwise you end up scratching your head and cursing for half an hour … and possibly (like me) end up with some extra washers. Also, melt the ends of the rope to a nice point as you may have to thread them though some small holes.

The Universal Machine

Back in my youth I made a hammer entirely of metal. This was in grade 9 machine shop course.  I have kept the memory of machines ability to shape material (metal and also wood) … so when a friend of mine offered me his old metal lathe, I jumped on it.



Now, I will have to say that my friend is a skilled metal/wood worker … and he also does have a metal lathe like that (I even helped moving it out of the basement of his house when he moved … he had to use a block/tackle to get it down there and assembled). When I told my wife our friend was giving me a lathe she wondered how it was going to fit in the car … but that is not what he was offering me.

So here is the primer …

Maier & Company in Austria introduced a machine in 1953, called the Unimat. This was a multi-purpose device aimed at hobbyists making small things. Some of their first ads were presented in model train magazines. The advertisement states it is 8 tools in 1 – lathe, drill press, table saw, surface grinder, mill sander, screw cutter, portable drill. It was also known as the Emco Unimat, though I am not sure where the Emco name came from.

It was made with die-cast ZAMAK and offered all the mechanisms that you would expect from a metal lathe, including the ability to change the layout to do other jobs, but was made on a scale so small it would fit in a small box. The wood box with all the accessories packed in it.

Sometime after 1956 Simpson-Sears Ltd. started distributing it in Canada. This Unimat, I suspect, came from the original owner to his son (who was another friend of mine) and was given to my machinist friend as he had no use for it. He was using it for very small metal work, but he needed to upgrade for his clock repair … so now it has been passed down to me.

This is the Unimat DB 200 … light ZAMAK with the green tone, made sometime after 1965.

It still had some of the accessories to change it up like for milling, table saw, and also had the auto feed … but no original box. It needed a cleaning, new belts, and bearings (Doug has parts) … also it was missing the pinion lever. Since replaced the headstock bearings, we took parts of it off … and so we forgot to put the tailstock back on before I brought it home.

Did I mention it is small ?


To give you a better idea of scale vs. my Dremel drill press.


… and vs. a Canon AE-1


Now I have to figure out what to make with it … hmm, off to watch youTube videos.

You will find that the Unimat lathe is still sold new … this is not the same as the early models … the Unimat 1 is considered a “toy” lathe.