3 months by cncdivi

I’m an habitual book purchaser and further study into topics of interest is a knack of mine, in case you haven’t caught onto that yet. Should a book catch my eye, not only will I acquire it, but I’ll also make the effort to thoroughly read it. I have a distinct weakness for two particular types of books:

–  Tips and Techniques or Projects:  These kinds of books have bite-sized chapters or sections of chapters.  You can read them by skipping around to what looks interested or going cover to cover, whichever you prefer.  They’re the snack foods of my reading world.

–  Great Tutorials:  These are the books that crack open a whole new subject area in a way that’s approachable.  They give you the basics you need to go forth and learn more easily.  All too often there isn’t one available for some area you’re trying to get into, so when I see one, I grab it even if I don’t think I’ll be interested in the new area for some time.

These four books I recommend every new machinist should start with fit those two categories to a tee.  I’ve got one Great Tutorial and 3 Tips and Techniques books that taken together amount to a Great Tutorial on the practice of machining in general.


CNC Programming Handbook, Third Edition

Peter Smid’s tomes are the best books available for learning to program in GCode.  They’re very Fanuc-focused, which is fine, it’s one of the most popular controls out there and most other dialects share a lot of the basics with Fanuc.  It’s a textbook, so it can be a trifle dry.  I recommend combining it with our own Free G-Code Tutorial.   Read a section of our tutorial, and then go read the corresponding section in Smid’s book.  Seeing the material presented in two different ways will make sure it sinks in good.  By the time you finish both, you’ll have a solid background in programming CNC machines.



Machine Shop Trade Secrets by James Harvey

This is a great book and was the first good Tips and Techniques book I came across for machinists.  I was shocked to come across this book in the book store–they almost never had anything to satisfy my esoteric non-fiction interests, but it didn’t take me long thumbing through it to decide I needed a copy.  I’m sure Harvey has done very well with it because not only is there a revised edition with even more information but there is also a separate CNC book called, “CNC Trade Secrets.”  I have both editions of Machine Shop Trade Secrets as well as the CNC Trade Secrets.  I have to say, I’m not nearly as fond of CNC Trade Secrets.  It is a much thinner book and I don’t feel like it has the depth of insights as the bigger book.  Try to have a look at it to see if it will be of interest to you before investing in one.


Metalworking Sink or Swim by Tom Lipton

If you were cruel enough to make me select just one book from this mini-smorgasbord, I would probably choose this one.  It’s just so beefy with good information.  It seems like it covers a little broader scope, with welding and fabrication coming into play.  It also seems like it gives you a little better feel for working in the trade.  These are all great books though, so go with what takes your fancy.


Metalworking Doing It Better by Tom Lipton

Lipton says this book is a better choice for beginners and hobbyists of his two.  Maybe that’s why I felt like the first one gave a better feel for working in the trade.  Having seen and read both books, I’d want to own both of them.  Beginners and Hobbyists will take away a wealth of information from any of these 4 books too.



If everyone starting off to learn the art of machining could read and master the material in all 4 of these books, they’d have a substantial leg up.  I’ve been at it for many years and I still enjoy thumbing through them.  There’s always some little tidbit that I had forgotten or never really learned.  Just hearing another’s perspectives on things is often helpful.  I found things here and there to disagree with, particularly on the CNC side in the 3 Tips and Techniques books, but nothing really major.  I’m sure every professional will feel the same.  It’s normal that everyone doesn’t do things exactly the same way as their colleagues would and there’s always something new to learn from another.



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