CNC Machinist Tools

There are a lot of tools that a CNC Machinist will use over the years. Some only cost a few bucks, but tools that are required to check close tolerance parts can be hundreds of dollars a piece.

Having the right tools can be knowing the difference between having good parts or bad parts. If you have cheap or faulty equipment that’s giving you inaccurate readings, you are going to lose a lot of time after you find out your parts are rejected. We’ll go over some of the basic tools that a machinist should have.

Caliper

While a caliper isn’t the greatest tool for measuring precision parts, it’s good for getting dimensions within a couple thousandths. They’re relatively cheap, easy to easy, and easy to store. Every machinist should have a dial or digital caliper in their toolbox. It can be used in Inches or Millimeters.

Micrometer

If you want a more accurate reading than a caliper, you should have a set of micrometers in your toolbox as well. They are just about as easy to use, and some of them are accurate to the tenth.

Machinist Calculator

If you’re doing a lot of set-ups, you will NEED a calculator. Even if you’re a genius at math, some equations are better left solved with a calculator. If you really want to save time, the Machinist Calc pro is money well spent if you’re doing any kind of programming, as it has built-in formulas to give you proper feeds and speeds for each material.

Gage Blocks

Gage blocks are a must, whether you’re calibrating a part, or need a precise measurement. These blocks should also be calibrated once a year so you know they are accurate. They are also useful for setting parts up, as they can be used for a reference.

Gage Pins

Have close tolerance holes? To make sure your boring bar or reamer is doing its job correctly, you will need a box of gage pins covering every size hole up to the largest you need in .001″ increments.

Thread Gages

Thread gauges should also be in your tool line-up if you are putting threads in your parts. Go-no-go gauges are popular and easy to use. Having oversize threads will get your parts rejected, so having thread gauges is cheap insurance.

Drill Size Chart

Having a drill size chart will save you a lot of time and possibly scrapped parts in the long run. A drill size chart shows all the number and size drills you use with each thread size and pitch, and can be hanging on the wall next your your machine.

CNC Machinist Training – How to Become A Machinist

CNC machining and other manufacturing jobs are in high demand in this country (U.S.), although it’s not like it used to be 30 years ago. Back then you could be an intern as journeyman and get paid a small amount while learning all the tricks of the trade. Once you were done, you more than likely had a full time job. Unfortunately, it’s not like that anymore, as many shops don’t have the time to train-in machinists.

While there are many ‘machine operator‘ positions available, most the actual Machinists positions that companies are looking for require you to have 5+ years of experience. This is done to try and “weed out” the rookies that don’t know much about the trade. Like anything else, though, you aren’t going to get rid of a lot of the newbies, and shops may even miss a “diamond in the rough” by having those requirements. I know of guys that have been in the machining industry for almost 20 years that could be out-knowledge by a 1st year semester student.

In order to get experience, you often have to start out at the bottom. There’s nothing like getting on the job experience, but you will want to get in a job that has a positive atmosphere that does things the right way, and have employees that are willing to go out of their way to help a new guy learn about machining. There’s a few different ways to get the experience needed to move up in this trade, so we’ll quickly go over them.

Tech School

Going to a Tech school for CNC machinist training is probably the number one route today. Some shops require that you have a CNC machinist diploma in order to apply. This isn’t always the case, but if you have a local technical/vocational school with a good machine trades program and are willing to go to school for it, that is probably the best choice. I went to my local Tech school for CNC machining, not knowing much of anything about it when going in, and after two years I felt like I learned so much. That’s not going to say you are going to be a lead machinist/programmer after two years of schooling, because there is just so much to learn being a machinist, and you won’t learn nearly as much until you get out on the job.

Intern

Finding an internship may be a bit harder these days, but with the increasing demand for machinists, you just may find one. It may not be a good paying job, but would be great for a younger person in high school. You will learn a lot on the job, and by the you’re done you may have a full-time job there if they like what they see. Just keep your eyes open and something may pop up near you.

Shop Helper/Deburring Parts

Unfortunately, this route is another one that probably isn’t likely for someone that has more than themselves to take care for. If you don’t have any machining experience, you can sometimes find a position at a local machine shop as a shop helper. You will probably have to de-burr parts, cut stock, and other miscellaneous chores around the shop until they feel comfortable putting you on a cnc machine. The pay won’t be the greatest, but it’s hands-on work, and you won’t have to flip any burgers. if you work hard and a manager/shop foreman likes what they see, you may end up being promoted to a higher paying position.

Those are the three most common options for becoming a machinist. The younger you are, the biggest head start you will have, as you won’t have any dependents to worry about other than yourself as far as money goes.

Be professional, work hard, try to learn as much as you can from older and more knowledgeable machinists, and you will get noticed. Experienced machinists are getting harder to find these days, so if you have the desire, I encourage you to work hard at it.

CNC – Computer Numeric Control

CNC Stands for Computer Numeric Controlled in the Machining industry. It is the only way to go, as it is the easiest and fastest way to machine parts. Manual machining is virtually extinct in the industry today, and NC is too outdated by today’s competitive standards. CNC is better because you can write and edit programs in the machine’s controller, giving you complete control of how it runs. If part of the program is wrong, just go into edit mode and change a few numbers/codes.

Instead of taking a drill press and drilling out holes in your part, a CNC program can be written to save save if you have many holes or parts, especially if they are close tolerance. Just punch in the drilling cycle code, the coordinates of the holes, and you have yourself a simple drilling program. Of course there’s more to it than that, such as machine and tool set-up, but if you have hundreds or thousands of holes to drill, you’re going to want a CNC machine.

CNC Machine Operator Training

A CNC Machine Operator is someone that runs production parts in a machine shop. They load and sort parts on a CNC machine, whether it be a milling center, turning center, or other computer-controlled machine.

There are many jobs available for cnc operators because schooling is not necessarily required. A machine operator can get trained in by the CNC Machinist or shop foreman on how to do the required tasks. Any school that has a Machine manufacturing program will teach you how to run machines, make and inspect parts, and how to do well in the industry.

CNC Machinist Jobs

CNC Machinist Jobs are in demand. Manufacturing is starting to pick up again here in the States. Don’t miss out, as there are already job openings, and many more to come, as the “baby boomers” will soon be retiring… Check your local classifieds and listings for jobs in your area. Currently, the Houston, Minneapolis, and Ohio areas in the the highest demand for CNC Machinists.

For local jobs, check out our page, “Job Listings“.

CNC Machinist Salary

CNC Machinist salaries can vary greatly, depending on what your job role is, who you’re working for, and how many hours you’re working. A lot of companies require overtime, so you may be working 50, 60, and possibly 70 hours a week at certain jobs. Not all of them are this way, but you will be making a considerably higher amount by working overtime (time and a half)

New CNC Machinists start out around 30,000-40,000 a year. While this is pretty good pay after finishing school, it can be rather difficult to support a family with just this job.

A more experienced machinist with a higher role will make more due to the fact that they know how to do more, and can often run a shift as a shop foreman. A typical experienced CNC machinist will make about 50-60,000 a year, with a possibility of more with more overtime hours.

Machinist Calc Pro – The CNC Machinists Calculator

Are you looking for the latest technology in manufacturing? Tools, parts, and machines are advancing rapidly, and the speed of things have multiply in a matter of years. The Machinist Calc Pro is a perfect addition to your tool lineup, whether you’re an engineer, programmer, or CNC Machinist.

Trigonometry Math?

Struggle with right triangle math? Basic trig is a must in the Machining industry for calculating angles and part lengths. Fortunately, the Calc Pro can solve the equations for you. Uses trig functions, and you can operate with U.S. standard and metric units, saving you time and headaches.

Speeds & Feeds

If you want to succeed in Machining, efficiency is key. And to be efficient, you must have the best possible feeds and speeds set in every part program. If you don’t, you’re either wasting time, or you’re breaking tools too often (which is also wasting time). The Machinist Calculator automatically calculates the RPM speeds, cutting speeds, feed rate, and chip load. All you have to do is plug in the material, tool, machine info.

Advanced Drill And Thread Size Tables

No more need to look for your drill and thread charts. They’re right on the calculator, saving even more time.

Bolt Pattern Layouts

Have a hard time with bolt patterns? If you need to quickly trig out a bolt circle, just punch in the start angle, diameter, offsets, and number of bolts. It gives you all the x and y coordinates you need!

If you’re programming parts and want to save time, which equates to money, this calculator should be the next thing on your list of tools to buy. It’s very affordable, and you won’t need to dig through pages and pages of the machinist handbook to find drill sizes.

Click Here To Buy The Machinist Calc Pro!

What Is A CNC Machinist?

A Machinist is versatile, is able to adapt to new things, a problem-solving, and a does hands-on work. It can be making a small part on a manual lathe or mill, to running hundreds of production parts at a time on a CNC Milling center.

Blue-print reading, inspecting parts, editing programs on a CNC controller, setting up a job in a machine, loading parts on a shuttle, and adjusting feeds/speeds for maximum efficiency are just some of the things that a Machinist job entails. If you like hands-on work, are good at math, problem-solving, a quick learner, and are motivated, Machine manufacturing may be the job for you. Check for machinist jobs near you.

CNC Machinist

Are you looking to become a CNC Machinist? This video shows you some of the many things you could be doing as a machinist. Machining requires a lot of different skills, but with training and/or schooling, finding a job in this career isn’t as hard as most, due to the high demand. Machining often involves: hands-on and physical work, math, problem-solving, program editing, and setting up machines.

Initially, CNC machining jobs are usually well paying jobs if you’re just getting out of school. However, as a career, CNC machinists are often underpaid for what knowledge they have to have. It’s not something you’re going to get rich with if you’re employed by someone, but it will definitely pay the bills, especially if you’re working long hours. There are a few different job positions at a machine shop: a machine operator, a machinist, and a programmer.

machine operator is paid the least because the least amount of experience is required. Operators are often called “button pushers”, due to the fact that they don’t do much more than load parts in the machine. If any real problem occurs, they have to call on the “Machinist”.

A Machinist is someone that has been trained and been around the job for a while. They are very good at problem solving, whether there’s something wrong with the machine, tooling, part set-up, or program. They can set-up jobs, make fixtures, know how to adjust feeds and speeds of machine for maximum efficiency, and edit programs when needed.

A Machinist may move up to the “Programming” position if the manager deems them qualified. They are paid more because they are required to program the tool-paths for the parts. They get a blueprint from the engineers and have to know which operations are required and when. They have to account for many variables, such as fixtures that could get in the way, vice jaws, machine capabilities, and many more.

Do not be intimidated, as many other careers are difficult like this. If you have the motivation, and these descriptions peak your interest, the manufacturing industry in the U.S. could use your help.