Craftsmanship Museum – Carlsbad, California - Atlas Obscura

Craftsmanship Museum

This large collection of tiny things revels in the art of fine machinery well made. 


Established in 2006, the Craftsmanship Museum is both a workshop and display gallery for miniature working engines, machines, and the singular custom tools required to make them.

There is a whole subculture of machining enthusiasts who craft replicas of machines and motors, all in fully working order, that could fit in the palm of your hand. Tiny little combustion engines, boat motors, guns, and even ship riggings are created in perfect exacting detail and will click to life with satisfyingly precise efficiency. Most of the creations are made by single craftsmen laboring at their little works for months or more. The bite-size machines often have pieces so small that no tool exists with which to work them, so the craftsmen need to even create their own down-sized tools, unique to each project such as a near microscopic wrench used to build a little steam engine.

The museum itself began as a website that displayed the disparate miniature projects, however now a brick and mortar location has been opened in Carlsbad, California which has brought together over 1000 of the little wonders. Cars, guns, boats, exposed engines, and even an elaborate contraption called the Do Nothing Machine that will click whir to life, accomplishing nothing more than looking really cool, are all on display, each with its own little plaque detailing the story of its creation.

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