What’s the best way to find answers to machine shop questions? Today, people use the Internet for just about everything. Although there are other search engines, Google is the go-to for many searches. Google is easy-to-use, but that doesn’t mean you’ll find what you’re looking for. Even in our digital age, there’s a reason that the Machinery’s Handbook is still called the “Machinist’s Bible”.

Google Searches vs. Machinery’s Handbook

About a year ago, I had questions about two projects that were in the shop. First, I needed calculations so that I could determine the developed length for a bending job. Winn Manufacturing doesn’t have its own bending equipment, so I planned to send out the work. Second, I needed the dimensions for the V-groove on a B-size pulley so that I could order the correct replacement.

Like many people who use Google, I looked for answers on-line. Very quickly, however, I realized that I wasn’t going to find what I needed right away. The bending formulas were available, but the format wasn’t the way that I remembered it from trade school. Even worse, there’s almost nothing on-line that explains how to measure a V-groove on a pulley.

It was about this time that I saw my copy of the 20th edition of the Machinery’s Handbook. This “Machinist’s Bible” has a copyright date of 1975 (I bought it new) but the book was sitting on the corner of my desk. Within about 10 minutes, I had the bending formulas that I needed. I was also able to find the standard method of measurement for the pitch diameter of the V-groove for a B-size pulley groove.

Machine Shop Q&A and Your Desktop

Thanks to my “Machinist’s Bible”, I solved both problems within minutes by picking up a 42-year old reference book. The 20th edition of the Machinery’s Handbook spans 2482 pages because it contains the special metric thread section. I also have the 23rd and 26th editions of this very valuable reference. Here at Winn Manufacturing, I use all three of them.

Today, many people hear the word “desktop” and think about where to find the icons that run applications like web browsers. With a computer right in front of you, it’s easy to click the icon for Google Chrome whenever you have machine shop questions. Yet I would never use the Internet to research, say, the pitch diameter of a thread or for a keyway depth. My handbook just opens to these pages when I pick it up.

We may live in a digital age, but the “Machinist’s Bible” doesn’t go out of style. Over the years, there haven’t been many times that I couldn’t find the information I needed. Maybe I need to use it as my starting point for every machine shop question – just like I did 42 years ago. It’s not on my computer, of course, but that doesn’t mean it’s not on my desktop.