Essential Precision Tools For Machinists


One size never fits everyone. That is certainly true of machine shops. Certainly a lathe and a milling machine are necessities, but what about precision tools for measuring? Needs depend on production demands, budgets, and the goals of the company. There are however, important tools most machine shops can’t do without.

Digital Caliper.

Digital Calipers are a must. I remember learning the slide-rule in high school. Yes. I’m officially old. But today a simple calculator app on my cell phone does more than the inaccurate slide-rule. A digital caliper is like a carpenter’s ruler.

Digital Micrometer.

When it comes to precision tools, a digital micrometer is the next step. Most have a ratchet spindle adjustment with gradations down to .0001 inches.

Gage Pins and Blocks.

Another need is a gage pin set to determine small hole sizes. Make sure they are inspection certified. A good set will be manufactured to a .0002 inch tolerance and arranged in .001 inch increments. A set of gage blocks is also a necessary companion.

Telescoping Gages.

A telescoping gage set is a necessary tool to measure a bore hole. It is a transfer type measuring tool so a digital micrometer is needed to take the reading from the telescoping gage.

Feeler Gages.

Feeler gages are used to measure small clearances such as valve clearances. I remember using a feeler gage in caveman days to set the gap on the points of the ancient carburetors that existed before electronic ignition. They are still used to measure gaps, especially in engine work. Ari Henning demonstrates how to use feeler gages in his video on The Motorcyclist.

Other Necessities.

A double square, a combination square, a radius and center gage set, wrenches of all sorts and a plethora of common tools are also needed for the machine shop, but once again, one size doesn’t fit all. What would your set of essentials include?