I have a dream / goal of building up a fully capable workshop / laboratory from scratch using recycled materials and utilizing the best engineering and scientific principles to make it truly capable. I'd like to document the process as I go, perhaps making videos and writeups for my website. I'd like to go from nothing but dirt and rocks, a few recycled materials and some energy input, all the way to bio- or nanotechnology.
I recently bought some books on the topic of building a metalworking shop by casting the components in a charcoal foundry, and using hand tools to finish it and put it together. At stages of the development process, the lathe, in particular, assists in its own creation. The series of books is a set of seven small paperbacks by the late Dave Gingery on making shop equipment using a homemade charcoal foundry. It looks great. I have done some blacksmithing in the past; I made a forge from an old hibachi grill. I'm gonna do the same sort of thing again.
In addition to metalworking, I'm interested in building all parts, including electronics, to achieve a degree of self-replication, similar to the goals of the Fab lab project at MIT.
One other thing I'd like to test is how hot a hotspot I can create using low tech but large-area reflectors and the sun's rays. If this became useful, I could maybe use a big collector as a heat source for a furnace. Maybe I could melt small amounts of glass or metal.