Five Books That Will Help You Master Your Lathe

July 15, 2019 9:16 am

If you want to become successful at something, the best way to do it is by practicing.

A famous theory, repeatedly mentioned by Malcom Gladwell in his famous book “Outliers: The Story of Success”, states that the key to achieving world-class expertise in any skill is to practice it for a total of around 10,000 hours.

Machining is not an exception. That’s why on-site training and apprenticeships programs typically last a few years, and that’s where you should start if you want to become a professional machinist.

Books, however, are a necessary “supplement” during your professional journey. They are a great way to deepen or extend your knowledge, and they are great resource to keep handy when you need to refresh your memory about a specific topic.

In some of our past posts, we talked about the importance of having a relevant library in your machine shop and recommended some books that we consider to be must-haves.

In this article, we’ll focus our recommendations on a specific aspect of a machinist’s job: lathe operations.


As we previously mentioned, the first thing you should read when you start working with a lathe, or any other machine, is the machine manual. No other book will get more specific than that manual.

Reading through the book that came with your machine tool while the cycle is running is a great way to understand the features that set your machine apart from machines that you may have operated and programmed in the past.

If you feel you still need some more resources to feel confident when running your lathe, then these are the reads we recommend:


How to Run a Lathe: The Care and Operation of a Screw Cutting Lathe


This is the lathe manual that Dave Gingery raves about. From setting up and leveling lathes to taking accurate measurements, this book covers all the basics of lathe tools and their applications.


Manual of Lathe Operations and Machinists Tables


Another must-have book. Often recommended as the first book to get when approaching lathe operations.


CNC Programming Handbook


Used in hundreds of educational institutions around the world as the primary text for CNC courses, and used daily by many in-field CNC programmers and machine operators, this book literally defines CNC programming.


CNC Lathe G-Code & M-Code Illustrative Handbook


This handbook is a practical source for understanding G-Codes and M-Codes in CNC lathe programming. It covers CNC lathe programming codes for everyday use by related industrial users such as managers, supervisors, engineers, machinists, or even college students.


An Apprentices Guide to CNC Lathes


Despite the pretty evident typo on the cover, this book provides plenty of useful information for beginners. It covers a variety of important topics, from program language and structure to charts and formulas.



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