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Which books

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Derek Lane10/08/2018 12:26:35
720 forum posts
165 photos

Not yet having any machines except my woodworking ones, I thought I would start by just having a read up on working with metals and the different techniques.

Which books are at the top of your list for a beginner to collect and read. As well as books that will always be useful. This includes reference books.

I already have Model Engineering a Foundation Course" by Peter Wright as well as a Zeus booklet which I used a lot in the plant mechanics roll.

Brian G10/08/2018 12:36:30
837 forum posts
37 photos

I have two copies of Tubal Cain's "Model Engineers Handbook", one by my desk, one in the workshop, so I guess it would be my first recommendation


Neil Wyatt10/08/2018 12:37:30
18992 forum posts
734 photos
80 articles

Peter Wright's book was my starting point.

Many classic books on lathework are very good but obviously leave out a huge amount relevant to modern practice.

Naturally, though, I'd suggest a subscription to Model Engineers' Workshop


Edited By Neil Wyatt on 10/08/2018 12:37:51

SillyOldDuffer10/08/2018 13:28:33
8492 forum posts
1896 photos

Neil is too modest to recommend his own 'The Mini-lathe' so I will. I'd also recommend 'The Amateur's Lathe' by Sparey.

For reference, Tubal Cain's 'Model Engineer's Handbook' is succinct. Machinery's Handbook covers much more!

Although the books above answer many questions, they also open the door to many more. Much depends on where your interests take you - Sheet Metal, Castings, Clocks, Welding... Fortunately there are plenty of good books available.

Not all are equally on target, but I find the Workshop Practice Series good for specific subjects.

Also have a look at the Camden Website - they stock a very wide range of engineering related books. Most are in the Engineering Practice and Skills section, but Technical Steam, Horology, Electrical, Foundry, Hot Air Engines and other sections also have gems.


Thor 🇳🇴10/08/2018 13:29:36
1603 forum posts
45 photos

Hi Derek,

Have a look at some of the books in the Workshop Practice series, they should cover the most for now. If you don't want to buy the ones you are interested in, may be your local library can help.


Howard Lewis10/08/2018 14:08:10
6024 forum posts
14 photos

+ 1 for Tubal Cain's book.

Although written when the Myford ML7 was the most populous lathe, Sparey's "The Amateur's Lathe" is a good starting point, followed by Bradley's "The Amateur's Workshop". "The Myford Series 7 Manual" is specific, but contains information that is useful elsewhere. After that you are into books from the "Workshop Practice Series", for more specific activities, such as Soldering and Brazing, Taps and Dies, Workshop Hints and Tips, Making Small Workshop Tools, Screwcuttiing in the Lathe, and when you are more experienced and confident; Milling, or Gearcutting.

The books by Neil Wyatt and Dave Fenner deal with the mini lathe, but the techniques and principles, if not the specifics, can be read across onto other machines.

If you want to get into screwcutting, Brian Wood's "Gearing of Lathes for Screwcutting" can be a good source of information, so that you grasp the principles involved.

Plus, you will always have a crowd of folk on here who will be happy to give advice, and even practical help.


Mick B110/08/2018 14:26:23
2161 forum posts
119 photos

Chapman's 'Workshop Technology' has been with me for 43 years, and seems to me to provide a complete basis - although some modern techniques are of course absent.

Lambton10/08/2018 14:47:30
694 forum posts
2 photos

The first book I bought (many years ago now) and found very useful was Using The Small Lathe by L C Mason. It takes the new lathe owner through all the turning methods likely to be needed. Very readable and superbly informative.

Also +1 for 'The Amateur's Lathe' by L h Sparey especially f you intend buying a Myford lathe.

.As you gain experience try The Model Engineer's Workshop Manual by G H Thomas.

Good luck


Carl Wilson 410/08/2018 16:43:10
670 forum posts
53 photos
LH Sparey's book is very good. Most of what he talks about in the book is done on Drummonds, so seems like a good book for the smaller lathe.

Lathework, a Complete Course, by Harold Hall is also very good. It's a Workshop Practice series title. I too have Chapman, from over 30 years ago in training and still excellent.

I'm going to suggest something else that is not a book. Machining is inherently practical. Watch some of the you tube machining channels.

In my opinion the best one is a guy called Doubleboost. He is British and he is very down to earth and does some interesting projects. His channel is Sunday Night Night Cap. Puts out a new video every Sunday. The old ones are all archived. Highly recommend - equal worth to reading several books.
Derek Lane10/08/2018 17:09:44
720 forum posts
165 photos

Thank you all Tubal Cain's book seems to be the fist one to get as well as the workshop series books as needed. Still got plenty to read in the one I have so will order some soon so as to have one ready for when I finish this one.

larry phelan 110/08/2018 19:18:50
1172 forum posts
15 photos

L.C Mason and Sparey and you can,t go too far wrong. If you can get through both of those,you,re well on the way !

Be warned , This is infectious !!! There is no known cure for it.

richardandtracy10/08/2018 21:32:08
943 forum posts
10 photos

To gain an appreciation of what can be done at home with very little, I'd recommend the David Gingery series 'Build your own Metalworking Shop from Scrap' here: **LINK**

You don't need to make any of the machines, just learn the thought processes and get a feel for it all. It's a complete industrial revolution in one bound volume.



merlin11/08/2018 23:10:19
141 forum posts
1 photos

Derek Lane 2, I am never going to extract any more from my 1948 edition of Sparey's The Amateur's Lathe so I will give it to you if you pay the postage.

I live in North Norfolk - is this anywhere near you?

How do we do this i.e. please explain how you and I exchange details privately.

Michael Gilligan12/08/2018 07:48:49
20091 forum posts
1042 photos

Posted by merlin on 11/08/2018 23:10:19:

How do we do this i.e. please explain how you and I exchange details privately.


One of you needs to start by sending a personal message to the other

[assuming that you are logged-in] You will see a 'Message member' link at the bottom-left of any previous post.


robjon4412/08/2018 08:03:00
149 forum posts

Hi all, +1 for Chapmans Workshop Technology, pretty comprehensive in every way, only yesterday I was wrestling with a problem that someone had asked for help with, 10 minutes with the textbook provided the precise answer, slam dunk!

Bob H.

Ady112/08/2018 11:19:32
5067 forum posts
734 photos

'The Amateur's Lathe' by Sparey.


Was the bible for me starting out

Bob Stevenson12/08/2018 14:05:56
579 forum posts
7 photos

Yes, 'Sparey' is a great book which is quite inexpensive now and has helped legions of lathe users over many years.......

Someone could do the machining world a great favour and re-edit 'Sparey' by taking out the chapter on fitting a treadle and replacing it with another on Chinese lathes and QCTP's along with some modern electric motor info and good old 'Sparey' would be good to go for another several generations......

Nick Clarke 312/08/2018 21:20:34
1394 forum posts
61 photos

Returning to model engineering after a gap of nearly 45 years has really brought home to me the need fir an up to date readable book on modern techniques. Reading through the posts I suspect I am not alone in this.

Topics that I think need to be in an updated book, even since I modelled in the 1970s, could include:

Metrification, DROs, 3D printing, tig and mig welding, the ready availability of machines, not so Myford focussed as in the past, invertors, no blowlamps or air/towngas, disappearance of one-off foundries, new materials like plastics, laser cutting and changes to boiler codes and soldering materials.

And I have no doubt many more could be added!

Apart from books about model engineering, Tubal Cain’s reference book is essential as a source of information, but I have to admit it is not really a bedtime read!

Edited By Nick Clarke 3 on 12/08/2018 21:29:30

Andrew Johnston12/08/2018 21:43:21
6575 forum posts
701 photos
Posted by Nick Clarke 3 on 12/08/2018 21:20:34:

Topics that I think need to be in an updated book, even since I modelled in the 1970s, could include:


Wot? No CNC? Must be a step too far! smile


Nick Clarke 312/08/2018 21:51:57
1394 forum posts
61 photos

Posted by Andrew Johnston on 12/08/2018 21:43:21:

Posted by Nick Clarke 3 on 12/08/2018 21:20:34:


Topics that I think need to be in an updated book, even since I modelled in the 1970s, could include:


Wot? No CNC? Must be a step too far! smile


I quite agree Andrew - originally I included it but lost my post through operator error before I uploaded it and missed it when reposting.

Incidentally I used to work with a teacher of technical drawing who claimed to teach from resources in a filing cabinet, none newer than 25 years old. At least with CNC & CAD that is unlikely to happen!

Edited By Nick Clarke 3 on 12/08/2018 22:01:22

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