View Full Version : Library for new machinist

Flatline's Up!
09-01-2005, 07:37 PM
I've got the last Handbook and Guide as well as some older books (Love my 1942 Audels!), machine shop practice, machine shop training course...

I also subscribe to both HSM and MW as well.

I'd love to have every book on the machinists arts, but the pricing is crazy high on the new ones (double most book prices), so I'm asking for advice in spending my $ wisely.

what books helped you the most when you were starting out (or even now?)and more importantly "how" did they help? ie "X" has an excellent review of thread cutting on a lathe etc.

Thanks in advance gents (and ladies if there are any)

charlie coghill
09-01-2005, 07:42 PM
Flat I like Machine Shop Practice vol 1&2 also Machinery's Hand Book as a referance. How to run a lathe, a South Bend Lathes book, this one may be hard to find.
Good luck and happy hunting.

09-01-2005, 07:50 PM
The machinist bedside readers by Guy Lautard 1 2 and 3 are very interesting and packed with alot of info that you might not see in other books.

09-01-2005, 07:58 PM
An older edition of Machinery's Handbook is just as good, maybe better, than a new edition. (I figure my basement technology level is about 1953.)

The Argus Workshop Practice Series of books all seem to be pretty good. In particular, Ivan Law's "Gears and Gear Cutting" is excellent, if/when you get into making gears.

Lindsay Publications sells a reprint of the South Bend "How to Run a Lathe" book.

If you want THE definitive book on sharpening lathe tools, find a copy (it will have to be used) of Leo J. St.Clair's "Design and Use of Cutting Tools." One wouldn't think one could write 350+ pages about sharpening lathe toolbits, but he does. And it's good stuff.

[This message has been edited by SGW (edited 09-01-2005).]

John Garner
09-01-2005, 08:51 PM
Britt --

In my opinion, the best still-in-print machine shop book is Karl Moltrecht's 2-volume set "Machine Shop Practice", which is published by Industrial Press.

Amazingly, both volumes are available from the mail-order book sellers and the mail-order mill supply houses for about US$ 20 apiece . . . for well-printed-and-bound hardback books!

Between the two volumes, Moltrecht covers pretty much all of the machinery that would be found in a job or production shop in the 1960s -- including lathes of several types, milling machines, planers, shapers, and boring mills -- with a reasonable ovewview of inspection & metrology, and a brief nod toward numerical control.

Frankly, I can't think of anything that Moltrecht did poorly.

The only other book I would unabashedly recommend to a person looking to learn the fundamentals is another two-volume set, "Machine Tool Operation" written by Axelrod and Burghardt and published by McGraw Hill.

As I recall, the first edition of "Machine Tool Operation" was written well before World War II, and there were probably five or more revisions over the years. Any of the post-WWII editions will do you well.

The only shortcoming of "Machine Tool Operation" is that the lathe section almost assumes that the student will be learning on a South Bend lathe, and relies almost totally on South Bend Lathe for illustrations. (Of course, that overdependence is an asset if the student really is learning on a South Bend.)

If "Machine Tool Operation" was still in print, I'd consider "Machine Tool Operation" and "Machine Shop Practice" to be tied for first place. Used copies of "Machine Tool Operation" are fairly easy to come by, but still have to be searched out, and for that reason I'll suggest that you wait to track down a set for yourself after you get your hands on a new set of "Machine Shop Practice".


09-01-2005, 11:30 PM
Just whatever you do, if you order Guy Lautard's book's, which I highly reccomend, DON'T ask him when book number 4 is coming out!

09-02-2005, 06:10 AM
Ditto on the Moltrecht and Burghardt books. I have a first edition of Machine Tool Operation, 1919. The information is as good today as it was then.

Also the Henry Ford Trade School Shop Theory book, from the 30's & 40's is a good reference. There are a lot of these and the Moltrecht and Burghardt books available from that period, I think because of the enormous training effort during WW II.

The South Bend How to Run a Lathe book is good, but I think the Atlas Lathe Operation book is better.

All of these appear frequently on eBay.

09-02-2005, 01:12 PM
I'm about halfway through "Machine Shop Trade Secrets", and I think it's worthwhile for anyone who will be making chips, for pleasure or money. It covers all the things that Machine Shop Practice omits, along with a good dose of common sense.

Phil McCrackin
09-02-2005, 03:30 PM
Flat, I go to the local library and get all the titles I am interested in before I buy them. My local library can order books from all over the state so the selection is quite good. Then I go to places that sell used books like ,Half.com, with the isbn number and I can generally save some decent money and avoid buying useless books.

"I see" said the blind man, as he picked up his hammer and saw.

09-02-2005, 04:23 PM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by SGW:
An older edition of Machinery's Handbook is just as good, maybe better, than a new edition. (I figure my basement technology level is about 1953.)</font>

Mine's about the same if you average the machines together: 1946 SB9, 1977 BP Series I, and 194x Atlas horizontal. Then there are all the measurement gadgets and pre-ground lathe tools from my grandfather. He passed years before my birth, and I discovered them stuff from my Dad's estate last year. None is newer than 50 years old.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by SGW:

Lindsay Publications sells a reprint of the South Bend "How to Run a Lathe" book.

I got a copy of that one with my lathe, and it's been surprizingly helpful for such a dinky little thing. Also have an older edition of Machinery's handbook. That is a lot of info! I lost track of time reading about all the different kinds of planetary gear arrangements.

Too bad it didn't tell me how to use my edgefinders. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

09-02-2005, 07:22 PM
If you go to tokenTOOLroom.com you will find under the machinery section a downloasable book on hercus lathes. It is a copy of your old lathe but made in Au. It will cost you nothing but time and paper.
I find Joe Martins book Tabletop Machining helpful for the sort of work I do on clockmaking.
best of luck,

09-02-2005, 08:34 PM
I have everyone of the book that have been mentioned and I refer to them all. If you are a new machinist I would search for a copy
of John Walker's Machining fundementals, it is a trade school text book and is easy to understand.

Flatline's Up!
09-02-2005, 08:47 PM
Thanks for all the great help gents! I've started by getting DESIGN AND USE OF CUTTING TOOLS from Ebay for $15.00 +shipping... havn't got it yet, but am waiting with baited breath... 457 pages on just cutting tools... http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//wink.gif

I downloaded the recommended turning book as well and will look into some of these other suggestions as time and $ allow. I'm a "library" kind of guy as well and will certainly look into previewing all that I can before purchase.

Thanks again for all the great help!
Britt (FL^!)

Jack Burns
09-02-2005, 09:36 PM
Hi Flat

The best all around how-to book in my personal library is Machine Tool Practices published by Prentice Hall (ISBN 0-471-84343-1) and written by four very savvy shop instructors teaching at three different west coast colleges. The writing style is crisp, clear, to the point, thoroughly practical, and without excess verbiage typically found in so many college texts. This is the book our local J.C. uses and I picked-up my nearly-new 3rd edition at the campus bookstore for a mere 3 bucks though the latest (7th) edition goes for $79.95 new with the only difference being slightly slicker graphics in the latter. If for some reason I had to dump everything else -- except Machinery’s Handbook -- this is the book I’d keep.

Hope this helps.

Kind regards,


09-03-2005, 07:13 AM
For the basics, I too will vote for South Bend's "How to Run a Lathe", and Joe Martin's "Tabletop Machining". The latter explains a lot of "why", as well as "how". My 81 yr. old machining mentor, a career machinist since before WWII, looked it over & decided that he wanted a copy. Enough said.


Peter S
09-03-2005, 07:53 AM
I still think W A J Chapman, Workshop Technology, vol 1-3 is hard to beat.

These 3 books cover everything you are likely to do in a workshop.

We were required to have them as apprentices. They may not be in print now, but there are plenty (70 hits) on Abebooks, cheap.
Quite a few editions, the later ones (around 1980) were metric.

John Stevenson
09-03-2005, 08:39 AM
Good general books are the Moltrecht's two volume set or the Chapman books.
There is no real difference between these two authors other than Moltrecht's was required reading for US students and Chapman was required reading for the UK and colonies.
Any of these two will do for starters.

These books covers general basics for most machine tools and operations.

Getting onto more machine specic books you have how to run a lathe By Southbends or Boxfords, again US / UK versions.
Mills are well covered by either the Cincinatti, "Milling and Milling Machine" reprint by Linsey, or the 3 volume triology by Brown and Sharpe, "Practical treatise on Milling, Gearings and Formualues.

John S.