October, 2007.

I often wish that I had written down many simple tricks I learned while at work in my workshop, so they could be passed on to others.  However most of the time I wish someone else had compiled their own techniques, so I could benefit from their experience.

 .....Well, James A. Harvey has done it - he has put it all to paper in his new book, Machine Shop Trade Secrets.

He was kind enough to send me a copy to read and I am finding it to be a most worthwhile asset to my shop.

Front Cover Image

This is not some tiny pocket novel, but a serious yet easy-to-understand soft cover book, weighing in at almost two and a half pounds!  The pages are the full size of a letter sheet, which leaves lots of room for decent size typeface and large black and white pictures.  It took me a little while to realize that, in practically all of the machine pictures, the machinery is actually running!  These images are as clear as those carefully posed "still life" photo illustrations one sees in textbooks.  There is no cheating here - when you look carefully at these images, you will usually see that a workpiece or milling cutter is hard at work.

Far from being a frivolous list of gimmicks and seldom needed tricks, this book addresses hundreds of everyday operations in the machine shop.  The 311 pages of material are packed with ways to avoid re-inventing the wheel.  While based on the author's many years of experience in professional shops, I would estimate that ninety percent of the material is equally applicable to a home workshop containing the usual small lathe and mill.

The author puts emphasis on time saving and working efficiency as a means of leading to a higher quality of finished work.  Simplifying routine shop operations takes the pressure off and the result is a safer shop and a better product.   Most home shop machinists are every bit as time conscious - we are either balancing family and shop time against paying occupations, or we are retirees who can never find enough hours in the day.

You can read this volume from cover to cover, or pick it up every so often and read a few pages from anywhere between the covers.  Either way, it is bound to enhance machining skills and reduce unnecessary frustrations in the shop.

I really like this book and wish Jim every success with it - I know it will become very popular among machinists for years to come.

Machine Shop Trade Secrets by James A. Harvey, is a significant contribution to the world of machining, both amateur and pro.

    - John R. Bentley

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