Evil Mad Scientist Lair


This is my great-uncle’s basement. If there’s any genetic component to being an evil mad scientist, this must be where mine comes from.

My dad took these pictures on a recent visit and now I get to share them with you. I highly recommend clicking on the photos to peruse the details in the full-size versions on flickr. Please bear in mind that lighting in the basement is less than ideal, which causes things to disappear in the shadows. But perhaps that is appropriate in the lair of an evil mad scientist — or in my great-uncle’s basement!

There are three drill presses in this photo, and I think there is one more somewhere else. Also visible are a television antenna box, a heavy industrial press, an outboard motor, a vise, a hacksaw, three coping saws and of course, there is the hulking band saw. Read on to see more amazing machinery and clutter.

photo credit: Marlo C. Edman

My fish hook

So why does my great-uncle have all this equipment in his basement? He made fish hooks with it. Giant, highly sought after, commercial-fishery sized hooks. Think tuna. (Not in the can, silly!)

He made or modified most of these machines to each do one part in the fish hook making process. Many of them are driven by washing machine motors. All of them are insanely complicated.


I find it charming that this machine is installed on an antique sewing table. And take a look at the counter on top. You must keep track of cycles between servicing!


Here’s a closeup of the band saw, decked out with magnifier. Extra blades are close at hand. And strawberry baskets — how convenient!


This Powr-Kraft lathe makes me swoon. However, the exposed belt may be a safety hazard. Underneath is a milk jug cut to hold stuff. On top is a styrofoam tray full of tools.


Here’s another example of reuse: this benchtop appears to be an old sign. The machine mounted on top is also equipped with a counter. In fact, most of the machines are — look in some of the other photos to find them. Under the bench are an old wheel and an empty blue spool.


A bit of a warning for any budding evil mad scientists: keep your lair cleaner than this. Stringing power cords should in front of your presses is absolutely not safe. Having lots of extra belts and a couple of oil cans handy is a good idea, though. That diamond point set looks pretty new. But why is there such a cute elephant on the shelf next to the old lunch box?

Update: Reader John Peterson writes in about the elephant: “My wife has one very similar, it’s for keeping track of rings (as in jewelry) while you’re working on something that would gunk them up. In my wife’s case she takes them off while baking, in your great uncle’s case wearing them might be a genuine hazard while working in that basement.”

Quite possible, but it may just a knick-knack. Your guess is as good as ours!


More cords inappropriately strung in front of presses. And some brooms that probably haven’t been used recently.


Check out all the fish hooks hanging from the shelf. And how about that cardboard safety shield?


If you look closely at the drill press in the back, you can see that it is a light-duty mill. I like the light twinkling off of the drill bits.


I think this press is particularly lovely. And, if you look in the background, you can see the clothes dryer and washing machine. Yes, this is a functional basement, even in a more conventional sense.

One final word of advice: no matter how clean your lair is, always wear closed toe shoes. I’m never visiting wearing sandals again.

Special thanks to my dad for taking all the pictures!

6 thoughts on “Evil Mad Scientist Lair

  1. This Powr-Kraft lathe makes me swoon. However, the exposed belt may be a safety hazard.

    That’s not an exposed belt – the hinged belt cover on the left hand side of the headstock is just currently open, so that the belt may be adjusted. Grab the belt cover and move it back into position, and the belts are covered.

  2. Wow How lovely Its like “ISPY”

    Id be getting me a dumpster and a blowtorch and some paint,

    then Ill have me a lair

  3. My lair is better than here yes It is smaller but it looks much more evil than your garbage. I need to tell you that you have good gadgets. (Note: You should tidy there up) and I’m thirteen. Hahahaaa

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