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Machinist and Metrology Reference Books

A great many reference books, manuals and useful "how-to" guides are available to assist the student, novice and professional machinist alike. Some of these are exhaustive text books and others self-published companion works.

It doesn't hurt to have some of these on hand, even if it is for vacation reading. Not kidding, we have done that ourselves.

A nice beach in the Bahamas or el Condado and a good book on taking accurate measurements of a bore diameter—add a thermos of chilled Margaritas—and you are all set.

We don't claim to have read all of these and can't pass judgment but you might want to check them out. Some of the quotes are taken from actual readers' reviews.

Maybe you will find exactly what you are looking for. If you haven't decided on your next beach vacation spot yet, consider coming to Long Island next summer. We really do have some of the best!

Here's our read of the month:

Man on beach reading

The Story Of Measurement by Andrew Robinson

The first fully illustrated guide to the human passion for measurement:of our experiences, our surroundings, and the universe.

This lively survey covers an astonishing array of subjects, from the earliest currency to the birth of the meter, from the force of hurricanes to body mass index, from air pressure, earthquakes, and pollen counts to happiness, blood types, and intelligence. Each measuring method is put into its proper historical context and explained in detail.


We are also fascinated by Andrew Robinson's book The Scientists and have read it repeatedly. (Unfortunately hard to find)

A fresh interpretation of the life of Galileo Galilei, one of history’s greatest and most fascinating scientists, that sheds new light on his discoveries and how he was challenged by science deniers. “We really need this story now, because we’re living through the next chapter of science denial” (Bill McKibben).

"In The Alchemy of Us, scientist and science writer Ainissa Ramirez examines eight inventions―clocks, steel rails, copper communication cables, photographic film, light bulbs, hard disks, scientific labware, and silicon chips―and reveals how they shaped the human experience." [publisher]

"Developed as a practical reference for metrology and calibration professionals, The Metrology Handbook provides a foundation for understanding basic metrology and calibration principles and practices, and is appropriate for those with intermediate or advanced experience seeking to increase their knowledge. This book is a collection of valuable information compiled by experts in the field to serve as a single resource for metrology and calibration professionals." [publisher]

Click on any of the following titles to read reviews, check price and availability:

Machinists' Ready Reference 10th Edition 352 pages of reference material which provides the essential procedures, charts, tables (including expanded trig tables), and formulas used by machinists, toolmakers, mechanical engineers, and designers. Handy 4-1/4” x 6” book is spiral bound to lie flat when open.

A Measure of All Things (Ian Whitelaw) is a well-researched page-turning, illustrated look at the way things concrete and theoretical are and have been measured. It ranges from the history of measurement systems (from the earliest times to the present) to the different classes of measurements (length, area, volume, mass, time, temparature, speed, power, energy, pressure and everyday, unscientific measurements). A Measure of All Things covers the origins of the various units of measurement, the ways in which they developed and changed over time, and the many connections between them.

Rust: The Longest War by Jonathan Waldman The bane of every manufacturer, rust will ruin spare parts, gage blocks and valuable tools. Who knew that a book could be written about it? It has been called “the great destroyer” and “the evil.” The Pentagon refers to it as “the pervasive menace.” It destroys cars, fells bridges, sinks ships, sparks house fires, and nearly brought down the Statue of Liberty. Rust costs America more than $400 billion per year—more than all other natural disasters combined.

Fundamentals of Dimensional Metrology by Connie Dotson. Reflecting the latest changes in standards and technology, this new edition "combines hands-on applications with authoritative, comprehensive coverage of the principles, techniques, and devices used within today's dimensional metrology field."

Machine Shop Trade Secrets by James Harvey. The things they didn't teach you in school.

The New American Machinist's Handbook by Rupert Le Grand (1572 pages) Serious, heavy and expensive but you can find used versions. Will require a very long vacation.

Machinery's Handbook 29th Edition by Erik Oberg, considered the "Bible" of the machining trade for over 100 years. It is continually being updated, has 90 additonal pages and is finally printed on better quality paper.

Machining Fundamentals by John R. Walker is a favorite textbook for the beginning machinist, student or apprentice; used in many classrooms wherever machining is taught.

Whatever Happened to the Metric System? by John Bemelmans Marciano. Stuck in the yin-yang of inches vs. millimeters? In this history of measurements, learn why the United States has kept inching along with the Imperial system. Guaranteed to start conversations at the captain's table, on the Lido Deck or any place you choose to make yourself conspicuous. Looks professional on your office shelf as well. This book comes recommended by Science News.


Caution if buying from Amazon: their product images sometimes do not match the product description. Read carefully!

Companion Reference Guide for Test Indicators
$19.50 Now available at

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