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Machinists on Film: What You Should be Watching

Updated: Oct 14, 2020

There’s something inherently compelling about watching the art and science of the machining craft in vivid, dynamic action, for professionals and avid machine tool fans alike. Fortunately for folks hooked on this stuff, for entertainment and edification both, there’s no shortage of videos on the internet offering an opportunity for such diversion.

Here are some of the best.

The Machinist and Toolmaker, 1942

“The machines used by the machinist are called machine tools,” the narrator in this wartime vocational guidance film patiently explains. It’s a hokey short that’s part of the “Your Life Work Series” aimed at elucidating kids’ understanding of the machining world, but it stands today as a fascinating view into manufacturing’s past.

Tiny Steam Engine

Here, you can watch a small steam engine come to life based on the plans for Elmer Verburg’s “Tiny” engine. This version depicts an elegant project, featuring a unique boiler and burner that allow it to run on steam instead of compressed air, which most model steam engines use for safety reasons. It was built by Jeroen Jonkman, and you can find his free plans for it online.

Sharpening Twist Drills by Hand

This is the first of two videos offering tips on hand-sharpening a drill bit using a bench or pedestal grinder. Specifically, a machining instructor at Bates Technical College in Tacoma, WA, demonstrates how a drill gage is used and shows examples of some poorly sharpened drills.

Manual Machining Time Lapse

Here’s a must-watch time-lapse of a technician adding holes and slots to two G10 parts that were waterjet-cut on a manual machine. If nothing else, viewers will come away from this one with a fresh appreciation for the difference CNCs have made in manufacturing.

Making iPhone Docks

Filmed at Treske Machine in the Portland area on a five-spindle Makino cell, the standout feature of this video is the GoPro mount on the CAT40 tool holder that lets it go deep into the cell for coolio shots. Operators also milled a couple of mounts for the spindle and an articulated arm to go on one of the tombstones to capture shots that travel through the pallet system.

Machining Magic: Rotate Your Part with G68

This video offers pure learning for folks curious about the particular efforts behind perfectly orienting your part program in the machine. This is a “tip of the day” video from Haas Automation, Inc. that explains how to use the company’s Wireless Intuitive Probing System and a G68 command to rotate an existing program to the correct angle automatically.

High-Speed Video of Machining with ¾” Milling Cutter

This video makes the list purely for its aesthetic value. In it, you can see various profiling, pocketing, and helical plunging operations with a ¾” end mill at 3500 RPM and a feed rate of 30-40 IPM. What sets this visual indulgence apart is its super-slow motion, which highlights the dramatic flights of individual metal chips.

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