CNCCookbook: Software and Information for Macihnists


CNC Books

Here is my library of machinist books along with a note or two of what I thought of the book. They're in the order I read them, which matters in some cases (see The Home Machinist's Handbook, for example).

Metalworking Sink or Swim: Tips and Tricks for Machinists, Welders, and Fabricators. Lipton.

I wish I could say this is the only book you'll ever need. It is one my favorites because it is so well written and has so many great tips.

It isn't a textbook, it is a cookbook of recipes. You'll have to read it over and over again to glean all the gems, and you will also need a context to put it into--some real machining experience, however limited.

I would consult this book before every project and plan each step carefully in advance. There are tips here that should affect your thinking about how to use the machines, as well as on what tooling to buy. Rich with value.

Machine Shop Trade Secrets. Harvey.

This another great cookbook of secrets learned by a machinist the hard way--by doing the job for years. I got my hands on MSTS a long time back and thoroughly enjoyed it. I found myself re-reading every year for about the first 3 years I owned the book and I would always pick up something new. It's probably time to read it again.

You could do a lot worse than to take this book and Lipton's as a start for your machining library.

Machine Shop Practice, Volumes 1 & 2. Moltrecht.

These are basically college level textbooks on machining technology. Lots of the basics, lots of good detail about the machines. Volume 1 is basically lathes while Volume 2 is about milling. While it's deadly dull and boring the way it's written (as any good textbook will be), I needed the solid academic grounding to give me a better understanding than the typical "Here is my list of tips and techniques with no structure" one finds on the web.

This is the book that did the best job of explaining what the various operations were on each machine, and a little bit about how fast I can cut the various metals and why.

Machinery's Handbook Okay, you can't read this cover to cover, but it is filled with useful reference information you have got to have available. I remember reading through my father's copy from his college days as a young boy and discovering all kinds of information I had no idea how to find any other way.

Machinist's Workshop Magazine.

The Home Shop Machinist Magazine.

Devour them. They speak your language as a home machinist. They show you what's possible. They walk step by step through specific operations using tools you might actually own some day. Devour them.
Enco Master Catalog. I learned a lot reading through this catalog with the other books at my side, cross referencing to see "What the heck is that for?" and "Why do I want this one versus that one?"
The Gunsmith Machinist. Acker. A great book of projects for gunsmiths. These are things I might like to do with my guns, and I can therefore really understand what he's doing. These are step by step, with good photos.
The Home Machinist's Handbook. Briney. This would be a great first book. It's simple, well organized, and assumes no foreknowledge. In my case, I had read Machine Shop Practice and many of the others above first, so it mostly filled in a few gaps and confirmed for me that I did undersand what I had read in the more advanced books.
The Machinist's Bedside Reader. Lautard. These are great stream-of-consciousness tips and techniques books. I like them because you can read a couple of short articles, put the book down, and come back to it later. They really are bedside readers! Lots of practical down to earth stuff, shortcuts, and nifty projects. There's a lot on things like heat treating and metal finishes as well, which is nifty.
Advanced Machine Work. Robert "HC" Smith. This book is from an MIT professor during the '20's and '30's. It is excellent and has all sorts of useful information that is truly the next step beyond your basic "What handwheels do what?" kind of machining textbook. What I like about it is that it actually has many of the tips you read about in places like Lautard's book (use Milk as a lubricant when cutting aluminum) and so you see that these ideas were the state of the art back near the beginning of the last century. I think it was the 5Bears fellow who said he haunts the used bookstores because these old books contain great wisdom on machining and he was absolutely right about that!
Gears and Gear Cutting. Ivan Law. Part of the "Workshop Series", this slender volume has more than you ever wanted to know about gears and gear cutting. Excellent introduction and reading for this complex subject.
Hardening, Tempering, and Heat Treatment. Tubal Cain. This book is one of the "Workshop Series", and is a fine little tome on the subject. Lots of good information here about a subject I want to try some day soon.
Southbend Lathe Manual Excellent intro to lathe operations. Its reprinted from an old original. Available on eBay and places that specialize in reprinting these old books.
Basic Workholding Techniques: Hardinge Another reprint like the Southbend lathe manual. I got this on eBay for $9. Fantastic information on 5C collets and precision workholding techniques.
CNC Programming Techniques. Peter Smid This is a sort of "volume 2" for Smid's other book. I liked it, but you really need the other book first as this elaborates on how to put the basics together to do various things.
CNC Programming Handbook. Peter Smid Best volume I've seen on g-codes and how to use a CNC machine. Absolutely essential for CNC users.
Inside Rhinoceros 3. Ron Cheng Helpful, but not a must have for Rhino owners. If you want to learn as much as possible without buying Rhino, this book will give you a good flavor for what it will be like to use the software.
Basic Benchwork. Les Oldridge. From the "Workshop Series". I like these bite-sized tomes that are easy to read by the bedside. This one is all about filing, hack sawing, and the other principles of basic benchwork you will have missed if you never took a machine shop class.
Vertical Milling in the Home Workshop. Arnold Throp. From the "Workshop Series". Not bad, but it takes a lot more to learn the ins and outs of running a mill! Very elementary material.
Spindles. Harprit Sandhu. I liked this book. Its a series of spindle projects you could built that teaches the fundamentals of how to design and make spindles that run in bearings. Could be indispensable if you like building tools.
Gunsmith Kinks, Vol 1. Bob Brownell. Lautard swears every home machinist needs the full set of these volumes, and I love Brownell's catalog, but I have not found this little tome to be all that engaging or useful. Of course it is very gun oriented, but in the end of the day I think it mostly will serve machinists as a guide to polishing, finishing, bluing, and other simple operations.
Mechanisms and Mechanical Devices Sourcebook. Neil Sclater and Nicholas Chironis This is a very expensive book, but it is filled with nifty drawings and descriptions of mechanisms to do all kinds of things. It is a sourcebook for designers of machines more than anything. There are other volumes with the same purpose. I am intrigued by these kinds of engineering books but they are not for everyone.

Be sure to check out G-Wizard!


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