Remember that there are at least seven conflicting ways to do almost anything, so don't expect "the" answer to a lot of questions. I think that over the years most people develop their own ways of doing things that work for them, even though somebody else might think those techniques are total horse hockey.
I've found the learning curve to be pretty long. After 25+ years at this hobby, I'm still learning. So don't be in a rush.
I started out subscribing to a bunch of magazines. Over the years I've subscribed to Model Engineer, Modeltec, Engineering in Miniature, Home Shop Machinist, Projects in Metal, and a couple of others. I've bought back volumes of Model Engineer and read those. With all the magazines, I think one does well if one can pick up a couple of tips, and maybe find one article, per issue that is useful. The magazines all have to try to appeal to a wide audience, and that means there is almost bound to be content that is not of interest to me. At this point, I have at least 20 feet of shelving devoted to back issues of magazines, so I'm not buying any more. That's enough to keep me going for the rest of my life.
Books: My first book was probably South Bend's "How to Run a Lathe." Not necessarily the best, but it's a classic. I also like L.H.Sparey's "The Amateur's Lathe." I've got piles of other books that I've bought, both new and used. Used bookstores can be a great resource.
This hobby cannot be summarized in "a" book. I've got a copy of Leo J. StClair's "Design and Use of Cutting Tools." 350+ pages on single-point lathe tools. If somebody can write 350 pages about lathe toolbit design, it's pretty obvious that there is a lot one can learn about in the pursuit of knowledge of machining.
Oh -- Machinery's Handbook is practically a "must." An older edition is fine. Maybe even better than a new one. I figure the level of technology in my basement is about 1953 vintage, so a Machinery's Handbook from that era fits right in. If you're more modern than I am, you may find value in a new edition, I don't know.
Pay attention to what Carld says about the Internet, and about forums. I'm sure we all try to give the best information we can, but as my signature says, "Don't believe everything you know." Just a reminder to myself that something I believe is true may be totally wrong, as I've occasionally found out when somebody here has corrected a statement I've made.
And there is also personal experience. As a source of knowledge, there is nothing like making five of some part before getting it right.
Last edited by SGW; 12-04-2007 at 05:10 PM.
Try to make a living, not a killing. -- Utah Phillips
Don't believe everything you know. -- Bumper sticker
Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects. -- Will Rogers
Law of Logical Argument - Anything is possible if you don't know what you are talking about.