I must admit: as much as I value the Internet and online resources, I still like books for a lot of things too.  Accordingly, I have a large library on CNC and Machining topics that I use to help me research a lot of what I write for CNCCookbook.  I thought you might like to know what some of my best picks from my library are.  I have my own ideas, but I wanted to balance those with the opinions of a broader audience.  So, I made up a list of my favorites, then I pared those back to a subset that were highly rated on Amazon.  To get onto this list, you had to pass the following:

  • Be one of my own personal favorites
  • Be highly rated on Amazon by at least 40 or so reviewers

I think the results of this will speak for themselves as these are excellent books that would be at home in the library of many a CNC’er.  Some are CNC Textbooks suitable for classes but they’re all excellent works.

CNC Programming Handbook by Peter Smid


$55.24 on Amazon

Review Score: 4.6 out of 5.  83 reviews.

This book is the Bible of GCode Programming, and is probably the best textbook there is on GCode.  We do offer an excellent free G-Code Course, and if you added Smid’s book on top of that it’s hard to see how you wouldn’t have all the information  you could ever need about G-Code.

Metalworking: Sink or Swim by Tom Lipton


$43.54 on Amazon

Review Score: 4.5 out off 5.  67 reviews.

I love tips and tricks books.  They’re filled with bite-sized nuggets of information so you can get something of value by reading a short article rather than going cover to cover.  Machine Shop Trade Secrets was the first one of this kind I came across.  It’s a great book, but I like Lipton’s book better.  The tips just seem better and somehow there’s more value to take away.  At least that was my experience.  Ideally, buy both.  But if you have to choose, start with Lipton.

Ultimate GD&T Pocket Guide by Alex Krulikowski


$19 on Amazon

Review Score 4.3 out of 5.  74 reviews.

Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing?  Ugh!  For many, it’s a painful subject.  But once you learn how to deal with it, GD&T is not only useful, but critical for the professional CNC’er at some level.  There are whole textbooks available on the subject, but I like this little pocket guide.  Best of all, while it normally goes for much more, there seems to be a copy going for $19 on Amazon if you check carefully.

Machinery’s Handbook by Erik Oberg


$68.38 on Amazon for the 29th Edition`

Review Score 4.2 out of 5. 205 reviews.

If you’ve been a CNC’er or Machinist for any length of time, you’ve already got a copy of Machiner’s Handbook.  If you’re a beginner, you need to get one now and stick it in your toolbox.  In some ways, I hate the think.  It is so dense I just about get a headache every time I need to pry some nugget of information out of it.  On the other hand, that same density means you hold a wealthy horde of the information in the palm of your hand.  Over time, I have minimized a lot of the stuff I was going back for the most often by moving it into G-Wizard’s reference data tabs, but there’s no way I’ll ever move everything out of Machinery’s Handbook and into our software.  So get one of these and keep it on hand as needed.

I am going to do one cheesy cheapskate thing and suggest you buy one edition older than the latest.  That’d be the 29th edition instead of the 30th.  Why?  Because you’ll save a bunch of money.  Most CNC’ers don’t buy the new ones every year.

Home Machinist’s Handbook by Doug Briney


$16.89 on Amazon

Review Score 3.2 out of 5.  100 reviews.

I get asked a lot to recommend books for folks that are rank beginners.  This is the book I like to put forward.  If you’ve run a lathe or mill, you won’t get much out of it.  But if you never have, it’ll help you put all the pieces together and get oriented.  Check it out!

Metal Lathe for Home Machinists by Harold Hall


$10.62 on Amazon

Review Score 4.1 out of 5.  52 reviews.

Same story as Briney’s Book–not that helpful if you’ve run a lathe, but wonderful if you haven’t.  Between these two books, you’ll have a very decent starting foundation as a Home Shop Machinist.

Metalworking: Doing It Better by Tom Lipton


$33.20 on Amazon

Review Score: 4 out of 5.  45 reviews.

Did I mention I like Tom Lipton’s writing?  Here’s more of it, and I’m so glad it made the list by virtue of enough reviews of sufficient quality on Amazon.

What are your favorite books for CNC’ers and Machinists?  Tell us below in the comments.


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