Machinery's Handbook is not an easy book to review. Machinery's Handbook has long been considered the "bible" of the metalworking trades and it is easy to see why. Within the 2700 pages of the latest edition are more facts, figures, tables and formulas than one will ever use, in fact it is easier to say what Machinery's Handbook is not than what it is. Machinery's Handbook is not a manual of metalworking, but a book that makes metalworking easier. The question isn't how any machine shop could get by without MH, but how any person on this earth can get by without it.
In the past I have used Machinery's Handbook for:
In short I have used it for most every question I have when planning, designing or machining a project. I also use it frequently when answering questions from customers, most of whom do not have a copy themselves, which points out why I think you should get a copy for your use! The latest edition has the "thumb index" which allows quick reference of sections most used, the "Threading" tab on my older 25th edition is almost black from grease. I have several editions myself, from a 13th edition, to a 22nd, 25th and now the 27th. The older editions have some information that the newer ones leave out, either because they are of an "obsolete" nature or because the ubiquity of the scientific calculator has made their inclusion unnecessary.
Although the latest edition is somewhat expensive, you can pick up older editions for very little. Search Amazon.com (use the "search" button for a title search for the word "machinery's handbook") or Ebay for older editions. For most modern shops I would recommend at least a 22nd edition, but if you only use manual machines and essentially have a 1950's era shop environment then by all means get one of the older editions. If you are a book nut you will probably want one for the shop and another for your home library. If you are serious about machining, then there is no reason not to acquire a copy.
I was lucky enough to also get the CD-ROM version of Machinery's Handbook as well. The CD is basically a large copy protected .PDF file of the 27th edition with many of the old chapters from previous editions included (blacksmithing, sine tables, logarithms, etc). It is handy as you can print out pages for reference, photocopying Machinery's Handbook is difficult due to it's thickness. I dislike the copy-protection (you can only use it on one computer and not share on a network) but having read of people illegally downloading the book, I understand why. The CD would be very useful for shop instructors or for larger shops that need to hand out particular information. You can also click on links in the CD that go to web pages where problems can be solved interactively.
Machinery's Handbook is available from the Industrial Press and Amazon.com
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