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Where to find Machining Info? Advice needed

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  • Where to find Machining Info? Advice needed

    Hi Everyone. New guy here that is going through a career change and training. One of the issues I'm having with my current class training is there is a wealth of information out there all the experienced people seem to know, but novice's like myself are kinda in the dark about. If I wanted to supplement my own classroom knowledge, where would I go? I have basic mill knowledge (3 classroom projects done) and am working on the lathe now. Our class textbook is....dated, so any useful links about anything machining would be worth it's weight in gold....or tool steel. ;-) Thanks!

  • #2
    Well Chris, Machining technology does not really age.
    A book written in 1944 still applies today, when you look at manual machines.
    I'm not sure if you are into CNC, in which case , you are right. CNC has come a long way in the past 40 years from when i did "Bandit" programing.
    First, "machining " is not something you learn in a few hours. Most of the fellows here, are still learning after many, many years in the trade.
    But you are interested, and that's what is important to better your skills.
    You can subscribe to the magazine that supports this forum - HOME SHOP MACHINIST.
    My two closest friends were discovered with this publication when i moved to Wisconsin 20+ years ago. One is only a block away
    You can look in your area for home shop clubs, or steam/gas engine clubs, or Live Steam groups. Both have guys who have a heavy interest in machining and many tips for starting Newbies.
    Others here will post websites I am sure and of course there is the "Army Manuals " and YouTube.
    Be aware however.. TAKE ALL YOUTUBE videos as amateur productions !
    I have seen many UNSAFE machining steps done there, and your first rule in a machine shop is ALWAYS BE SAFE.

    Good luck and welcome



    • #3
      Hi Chris -

      Welcome to the forums! If you tell us your location, there might be someone nearby who could help in a more personal way.


      • #4
        I'm over in East Dogpatch, Tennessee. I haven't hit CNC yet, that's next semester. :-) I think what's kinda frustrating me is information that I want can only gain by experience and I'm not a spring chicken anymore. Examples: Why do I use X carbide tool. What is carbide? Why am I using it it instead of HSS? What rpm should I run it at? Why those rpm's? Should I use a titanium tool? Why not? Should I put the torque of the gods on this to lock it down? Why not? What should my feed rate be on the lathe? How long should I let my aluminum cool down before measuring with calipers? It's one of those situations where the project calls for "X instructions" but I want to know *WHY* those are the instructions and what is the theory based on said instruction. I hate to walk into a machine shop and the seasoned guys think I'm a complete knucklehead.


        • #6

          turnwright machine on youtube...


          • #7
            And honestly good textbooks I still refer to more than a couple years later...
            Machine Shop Practice Vol. 1 and 2. Karl Moltrecht. (personal favorite)
            Machine Shop Training Course Vol. 1 and 2. Franklin D. Jones. (Q&A format isn't my personal favorite format, but this is another "classic" set)
            Machine Tool Operation Vol. 1 and 2. Burghardt & Axelrod. (THE textbook used in post-WWII industrial education)

            The introductory metalworking class I first took used Machine Tool Practices by Kibbe, Meyer, Neely and White. What a bummer That book doesn't have half the information any in the list above do. I'm not saying there isn't good, useful information there, but it is so cursory and limited in scope. There is a new edition just about every other year, but it still reads as horribly dated. The information doesn't change. I feel the updated editions are so students can get nervous about using the newest edition listed by the instructor--and thus pay full price I personally view Fitting and Machining by Ron Culley (Ed.) as a far superior volume. It has a universal scope and has proved to be of lasting value and reference. There are also ample illustrations that truly serve to explain items + their concepts rather than the oversize, fluff photos littering Machine Tool Practices.


            • #8
              Tom Lipton's site, very good info.


              Chris, it seems kinda strange that those basic questions haven't been answered early on in your classes. Won't your instructor go over it with you and/or the class. With manual machining, old info is gold info.

              One thing you need to get is a copy of "Machinery's Handbook", it doesn't need to be new, 20 or 30 years old or even older for most things, is still good. It has info on a lot of the speeds and feeds etc. that you want to know.
              The shortest distance between two points is a circle of infinite diameter.

              Bluewater Model Engineering Society at


              • #9
                Can't help you much, but have to say about this:

                Originally posted by Chris Farley View Post
                It's one of those situations where the project calls for "X instructions" but I want to know *WHY* those are the instructions and what is the theory based on said instruction
                You are EXACTLY the kind of person that will learn, adapt and know how to use the information, without a doubt. If one doesn't know the reason behind some decisions, then the person is just repeating something without knowing any better. Hard to put information to use in other areas if the backgrounds are unknown.

                All i can say is you gotta ask questions - lots of them, in your class, on your free time, from others. Just like you asked here. This is what I did and I'm still doing when I encounter something new or something that I'm not so sure about. And I always also ask the question why it is done so
                Amount of experience is in direct proportion to the value of broken equipment.


                • #10
                  There will always be novices a and " old timers". It's called paying your dues. The good machinists will always help improve the less skilled as long as they respect thier mentors skills and are willing to listen to advice. Bob.


                  • #11
                    It sounds like your program is emphasizing tasks and not "wasting" a lot of time on theory. Such is the nature of our society. People want schools to teach skills that can be put to work. And you can't learn everything at once. Many of those insights and theory can take years and years to develop.

                    Mentors are invaluable. Even if it is just watching someone work. Mentors can be hard to find. They may not be people you socialize with, or even talk to much. Some of them happen to be really good teachers. I cannot emphasize enough how much you can learn from watching someone work. And in a lot of cases, just getting to do that is a real privilege. You have to put yourself in situations where that is possible.

                    I think there are a lot of old timers with great experience to share, but it isn't easy to connect them with folks interested in learning. "Maker" spaces are popping up across the country, and they can be a great way for people to connect. At a lot of those places it may seem like the big deal is access to machinery, but often the connections and collaboration are just as significant. Maybe more.

                    You have a huge advantage with youtube and other online resources. In years past we didn't have any of that, so we were far more isolated. Get thee to youtube!


                    • #12
                      I have found this book to be a great book for beginners and Me. ha ha I bought a used one on Amazon for $7.35.


                      • #13
                        I am self taught in machining. I started about 50 years ago and still have much to learn. Probably at advanced novice level now.

                        The first thing I will say is that the knowledge resides in the hands as much as in the head. And you absorb it through a filter of grease and grime. And occasionally some blood is mixed in. It IS hands on learning. So dig in, make chips, and ask questions when they occur.

                        And you can read the archives here and on the other machining boards. Another good one is Practical Machinist:

                        Paul A.

                        Make it fit.
                        You can't win and there is a penalty for trying!


                        • #14
                          Everyone learns things differently. Interestingly, depending on WHAT you're learning, HOW you learn might change.

                          It's surprisingly not simple.

                          I read a lot of books before I did ANY metalwork, and got more and more intimidated.
                          Then I got a mill and went at it, and all of a sudden it wasn't too hard.
                          Then I got all worried about lathe work, bought a bunch of books-
                          and again, once I got a lathe working, it was pretty darned easy.

                          Sure, things went wrong, but once I had a real problem in metal in front of me,
                          it was easy to solve.

                          Need a profile cutter? Make one! Does it work? Yes? Problem solved! No? Do it a different way. Harden it. Anneal it. Not too hard. (heh).

                          Will HSS cut this thing? Chuck it up and try it. Oops, I burnt it up. Switch to carbide, problem solved.

                          What work speed? Cut it and see! Too fast? Oh, wow, those chips are white hot. Replace cutter, slow down, problem solved.

                          What feed speed? Cut it and see!

                          Chatter! Change setup, change cutter, change speeds, post question on BBS! Answer? varies!

                          That's how I learned. I have to do it, screw it up so I have a problem, then solve it.

                          You will be different.

                          And yes, I bought a bunch of Lindsey's books when he was in business...

                          rusting in Seattle


                          • #15
                            First, let me say THANK YOU to everyone who has so far replied to this thread. I am far too old to 1) not listen to advice of my betters or more experienced and 2) not appreciate the kindness of other people. I am amazed at the abilities of other machinists and I sit in a certain awe at peoples skills and knowledge. Again, thank you all for your direction. Sadly, I might bomb the forum in the future with tons and tons of questions.