Manual machinists are skilled workers who use machine tools in manufacturing plants to cut, shave, slice, drill, and otherwise manipulate a variety of hard surfaces, from wood to glass to metals. While the name implies the hands-on use of these tools, the reality is that many of the lathes, drills, saws, and other implements now have computer controls to assist the manual machinist. Because modern appliances and other components that will use the pieces created by manual machinists can require precise specifications (down to .001 of an inch), even with computers involved, this is a position requiring substantial skill and attention to detail.
Manual machinists typically specialize in just one or two types of machine. This is important, because the machinist will be expected to be able to tell during a typical shift if their machine — be it a lathe, a grinder, or a drill press — has come out of calibration even minutely. The machinist must monitor the completion of work performed at his or her station and typically makes constant adjustments to account for how repeat use affects the machine tools and the materials worked on.
In some cases, manual machinists develop a suite of skills working on a variety of machine tools, but in this case, typically it is the material — metals, glass, alloys — that the machinist specializes in. In these cases, the material used determines the effects of frequent machining on an assembly line.
Manual machinists typically do not need to have university degrees. Instead, most seek vocational or technical school training after completing a high school diploma or equivalent, and then work in apprentice and assistant jobs in manufacturing to gain practical experience. While some plants require machinists only during regular business hours, many work alternative shifts.
Manual Machinist Tasks
Use a variety of milling tools such as Engine Lathe, Vertical Boring Mill, Horizontal Boring Mill, Bridgeports, Band Saws, Radial Arm Drills, Calipers, Micrometers, and Scales.
Read blue prints and other CAD design documents.
Perform a variety of manual milling operations such as lathing, milling, cutting, drilling, turning, taping, sawing, grinding and boring.
Design and fabricate custom tools.