Top 10 Tools Every Machinist Should Have

August 14, 2018 11:54 am


Having just the right tool for the job makes all the difference in getting the job done quickly and correctly. No place is this more important than in the machine shop.

Since every machining job differs from the previous one, there is no universal set of tools for every single machinist. It is a good practice, however, to buy a few basic tools to have always on hand and build a more customized toolbox from the ground up.

In the end, no one wants to start a new machine shop or a new job as a machinist without the tools they need.

When starting your first machine shop or job in the field, our suggestion is to pick up these basics, get a quality toolbox, and buy the rest as you go.

We’ve done some research, studied what you, the practical machinists, recommended on the forum and identified the 10 most important tools that every machinist should own.


1. Hand tools

DEKOPRO 128 Pieces Tool Set

Even though more and more operations in a machine shop are now performed by machines, there is no machine shop job where hand tools are not involved. For every category of tool, there are dozens of variations in size, shape, and design, so it is easy to see why most machinists have hundreds of tools in their rollaway chests.

This 128 pieces set has all the necessary hand tools every practical machinist should have to undertake any job


2. 6″ Scale

Mitutoyo 182-105, Steel Rule, 6″ X 150mm

A simple 6” scale is probably the most used tool for every type of job. A must-have tool for every manual worker.

Here’s what we recommend.


3. Combination Square

iGaging Combination Square Set 6″ & 12″

A good combination square, properly used, is worth its weight in gold. A good 6″ or 12″ combination square does far more than just help you draw perpendicular lines.

This is what we chose to start.


4. Deburring tool

NOGA SP7700 7 Pc. Complete Deburring Tool Set in Plastic Case

Deburring tools are incredibly useful when it comes to rounding out rough edges. These tools can also be used to remove chatter marks from machining.

This complete kit is has everything you need to start deburring your parts.


5. Telescoping Gauge

Anytime Tools Bore Gauge 6 pc 5/16″-6″ 

The telescoping gauge is used to measure the internal diameter of a bore, hole or groove. They are often used when the holes and bores are too small for calipers or internal micrometers.

Here’s what we recommend.


6. Caliper

Mitutoyo 500-196-30 Advanced Onsite Sensor (AOS) Absolute Scale Digital Caliper

The Vernier caliper is an extremely precise measuring instrument; it is used to measure internal and external distances extremely accurately – the error may be as little as 0.05 mm depending on the make.

We recommend this digital model for extreme precision.


7. Dial Indicator

Mitutoyo 513-402, .0005″ X .030″ Horizontal Test Indicator, 0-15-0

Dial indicators are typically used to measure deck clearances, crankshaft thrust and straightness, lifter travel and other measurements that involve the distance between two surfaces or small amounts of component travel.  The most commonly used type of dial indicator reads in .001-inch increments over a range of 1 inch.

Here’s what we recommend.


8. Edge Finder

Mitutoyo 050103, Edge/Center Finder

 Edge finders, or wigglers, are tools used to locate the edges, the center, layout markings or a previously machined feature. They are held in a collet, end mill holder or chuck mounted in the spindle of a milling machine or drill press.

This edge finder has the basic quality to achieve good results in every job.


9. Micrometers

Mitutoyo 103-922 Outside Micrometer Set with Standards, 0-3″ Range, 0.0001″ Graduation (3 Piece Set)

This precision measuring instrument is often used to measure diameters, thickness, and length of parts or material.

This set of micrometers has different ranges (0-1”, 1-2”, and 2-3”) to cover most types of jobs.


10. Center Punch

4 Piece Nail Setter & Center Punch Set

The center punch is a simple, yet pretty common and useful tool that every job shop should have. It is commonly used to mark the center of a drilling hole in order to guide the tip of the drill.

The simple set is our choice for all drilling operations.





Full disclosure: Practical Machinist LLC is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

Our recommendations, however, come from our experience and research and are not influenced by anyone other than our editors.



  • Vernier calipers are pretty much history. I prefer dial calipers as you can see the minimum for external dimensions which eliminates Abbe errors. electronic calipers which do english, metric & fractions are nice.

  • Also a Crank Yanker for the Bridgeport.

  • Troutt’s Metal Works

    You left out one important tool. Adjustable parallels. When setting tool length it’s much easier to get close and use the parallels to gage the distance and measure with calipers. Quick and easy.

  • Aubie

    I would add inside mikes and depth gages as basics.

  • Murph

    On the end of the combination square should be a Protractor and a center finder. All can be bought as a set or individual as needed .

  • You are fairly accurate about what tools, but except for the 6″ scale and edgefinder all of the tools you recommend are not of the best quality. They will get the job done but if you are going to be using every day you might think about spending a little more money on tools that will last a lifetime and be accurate.

  • Telescoping gauges are one of the least reliable way to measure internal diameters. I’d stick with calipers until you can afford a bore gauge or internal micrometer.

    I would add a 3d sensor like a Haimer gauge, since you can use it for edge finding, tramming and aligning.

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