10 Timeless Books Every Machinist Should Have

October 4, 2018 10:08 am

In machining, as in any other field, knowledge is power.

No matter how intuitive technology becomes, the ability to manufacture a good part lies in the expertise of the machine operator and his understanding of how the machine, the tools, and the material work.

Although expertise comes from practice and hours spent making chips in the machine shop, a good level of basic knowledge is required to get started in any trade, and there’s no better way of learning the basics than digging into an old-fashioned book.

There is certainly no lack of machining books in the market.

From generic publications to machine-specific manuals, the choice is nearly endless and selecting a good book can be tricky.

We decided to ease up your selection by putting together a list of what we think are the best machining-related publications available, a collection of manuals, books, and textbooks that should be found in any machine shop.

As always, to compile our list, we based our research on the various feedback that we collected and we combined them with the recommendations that we found in several different threads that we found in the forum.

Here are the top 10 books that every machinist should have, and read.


Machining Fundamentals

The machinist Bible. This textbook provides an introduction to all the different machine operations, setups, and procedures. If you don’t have it already, this is definitely the first book you will want to get.

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Machinery’s Handbook

For more than 100 years, Machinery’s Handbook has been the most popular reference work in metalworking, design, engineering and manufacturing facilities, and technical schools and colleges throughout the world.

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The Machinist’s Bedside Reader

The machinist’s bedside reader is a trilogy of books published with the aim of providing technical information to machinists in a more relaxed style. The first volume contains hints, tips, and anecdotes about the trade.

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The Machinist’s Second Bedside Reader and the Bullseye Mixture

Like the first book, the second volume of the trilogy is filled with hints, tips, and projects. Among the various topics: Cutting Multiple Start Threads, How to Make a Square Hole Sleeve, How to Design Self-Holding and Self-Releasing Tapers and much more.

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Machinist’s Third Bedside Reader

The last volume of the trilogy contains even more pages, photographs, and technical how-to info.

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CNC Machining

A book that focuses more on the modern side of metalworking. One of the most used textbooks in technical schools. It extensively covers topics related to CNC milling machines, lathes, and electrical discharge machines.

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Machining for Hobbyists: Getting Started

Although this book might be more for hobbyists and beginners, the amount of information, illustrations photographs, and tables make it a great read also for more experienced machinist.

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Machine Tool Practices

A richly illustrated collection of the best practices related to machine tool technology, measurement, reading drawings, computer numerical control and much more.

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Modern Metalworking

Modern Metalworking provides a comprehensive introduction to the various tools, machines, and materials involved in metalworking. The text covers both traditional and modern metalworking technologies.

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CNC Programming Handbook

One of the best-selling readings covering CNC programming at all levels. Used daily by CNC programmers and machine operators, and adopted as a textbook in CNC classes all over the world.

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  • zachary says:

    moore’s foundations of mechanical accuracy

  • MechEngr07 says:

    I discovered an interesting book while thumbing through a Grizzly catalog. “Machine Shop Know-How; The tips & techniques of Master Machinists” by Frank Marlow, PE

    Even after teaching Took & Die at the college level for 40 years, I was quite impressed with the book.

  • None says:

    No Peter Smid
    Custom Macros for Fanuc
    BOO BEST book ever if you want to learn Macro programming

  • CeeGee says:

    Some good books here, but prices are obscene(here in the UK at least- can’t comment on elsewhere!)

  • Turnaround007 says:

    A lot of libraries will order an otherwise “too expensive” book for you.

  • louosten says:

    South Bend’s “How To Run a Lathe”, and the Henry Ford Trade School’s “Shop Theory” are two well worn classics…

  • pgsaltydog says:

    Some fine choices, but respectfully suggest addition of Wayne R. Moore’s “Foundations of Mechanical Accuracy”

  • Paul A. says:

    Thanks for an interesting and informative list. I am going to keep it and try to purchase at least some of them as I can.
    Two interesting things that I see about it: the inclusion of a book that, by it’s very title, is aimed at amateurs is a bit strange on a site where amateurs are discouraged to participate. I do not believe that it should not be on the list. In fact I am a great believer in keeping the basics in mind. I just find it a bit strange.
    My second observation is that the list might have been a bit more convincing if those “Order Now” links were not present. They all seem to point to Amazon.com and shout that this is just a disguised sales ad with the entries dictated by payments from the sellers.

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