this series of talks it is hoped to present to the young
mechanics some points pertaining to the tools with which they
come in daily contact and about which they are often unable to
obtain all the information necessary in order that they may use
these tools correctly and efficiently.
Before starting our topic a few words of a
general character may not be out of place.
The correct manipulation of metal working tools
comes perfectly natural to many of our young mechanics, and they
easily become expert in their use.
It seems to be born in
them, and they make good workmen no matter how poor the tools
with which they work and how bad the instruction they receive;
but where one such man is found there will be a dozen others who
can acquire the necessary skill to be called good machinists,
only after careful study and close application of the most
The time required to accomplish this will depend
entirely on the man and the condition under which he works. Under favorable circumstances two to six years will be required.
The more the apprentice reads and thinks the more quickly will
he master his trade. Every apprentice should be a regular
subscriber to at least one good paper treating on the subject
and should read it.
He should never fail to look over the
advertising pages of each issue, as these pages constitute a
perfect index of progress along the line of his chosen
occupation. The reading create thought, will broaden the
ideas and put the young man in a better position to appreciate
what he sees and hears.
The young machinist must keep constantly before
him the two requisites of a good mechanic-accuracy and rapidity. The first he must acquire, and if he would succeed in these days
of close competition, he must couple with it the ability to
product such work quickly.
He should, above all things, train
his judgment, having it continually with him, and should learn
as quickly as possible the strength of the materials with which
he is to deal. This will come more by experience than by
calculation and let good judgment and common sense aid in making
the experience bill low.
“Observation is a great teacher.”
Therefore we should learn to observe, noting carefully the ways
in which the skilled mechanic performs his work. His
thoughts must be kept continually on the work in hand, studying
better and quicker ways to do it.
He can gain the
confidence of his employer in no better way than by strict
attention to his work, careful observance of all regulations
pertaining to the management of the plant, and a sincere
disposition to do at all times his very best. He should be
perfectly free to ask questions; sensible ones, as the other
kind will injure his cause. He must be cautious about
making suggestions as they are usually not thankfully received.
When the foreman gives precise instructions as
to how to perform a piece of work, the instructions must be
followed to the letter, even though he thinks he can do it in a
better way. He is probably wrong, but if not the
opportunity to do it his way will come soon, and in such a way
as to please rather than provoke, by providing the better
He must learn to take a hint, as the foreman may
at times suggest rather than tell him that it would be best to
do the other way; and above all things he must not have to be
told a second time. It is bad to duplicate accidents to tools or
mistakes on work, and especially so when preciously cautioned on
these points. He cannot be too neat and orderly, not only with
his tools and work, but in his personal appearance.
The young mechanic should never lose an
opportunity to visit other shops, as he will be sure to get some
good ideas from them. More can often be learned in some poorly
equipped, illy-managed concern than in a shop running under the
most perfect system, as we are often more forcibly impressed
with the how not to do it, than with the how.
A careful perusal
of the trade catalogues issued by all of the leading machine and
small tool builders cannot fail to be of value, as in those
catalogues will be found many excellent cuts, with description
of tools, and often valuable hints on their manufacture and
The hammer and cold chisel are a noisy pair with
which the apprentice becomes acquainted early in his shop
experience, and his aching arms and battered knuckles tell of
The machinist hammer, as generally used, weighs
from three-fourths to one and one-half pounds, exclusive of
handle. It is made of high-grade steel, carefully tempered on
head and pene (also: pein, peen, machinist's hammer)) and usually of the form shown in Fig. 1.