I am not a machinist, but that does not preclude me from appreciating their work and the skills required to create weapon systems. To further my appreciation, Rifleshooter.com has posted up an excellent pictorial tutorial on machining your own AR-15/M16 barrel from a blank.
There are a few specialized parts (not to mention knowledge) required, but in the end they have an excellent barrel after only “a few hours on the lathe.” Assuming you have the machines or easy access to a machine shop, the parts and tools used for this tutorial come out to about $500. The blanks themselves are only about $160.
TFB machinists: did the tutorial miss anything or did they cover everything?