Getting Smarter: Machining and Metalworking

My first knurled knob – a replacement for a broken knob on my mill

I’m relatively new at metalworking. I bought my metal lathe and my mill a little over a year ago. Certainly I’m far more experienced at woodworking. But sometimes I think the perspective of a beginner is the most helpful to other beginners. We haven’t yet forgotten what was hard or mysterious.

With that in mind, I thought I’d post the first of what might become a series of posts about resources in various disciplines. A focus on the “get smarter” part of “get smarter and make things”, if you will. And, so: machining.

YouTube

Blondihacks

By far my biggest source of information on all things metalworking is YouTube. There are quite a few excellent channels out there. But for the beginner, I have to go with Blondihacks. Quinn is knowledgeable, funny, and has a great screen presence, so I always enjoy her videos. But her intro series for the lathe and the mill were absolutely the best things I found for getting me started. She even has a section on how to purchase metal, which was something I had absolutely no idea about.

This Old Tony

Of course no listing of YouTube metalworking all-stars would be complete without mention of This Old Tony. Tony is absolutely, laugh-out-loud hilarious, with ridiculously high production values on his videos. And despite being chock full of humor, the videos also manage to be fairly good from an instructional standpoint. Perhaps not tutorial, but hey this is a hobby for most of us, and having fun is an important part of it. Watching Tony made me think, “That looks like a ton of fun,” before I’d bought a single metalworking tool.

Clough42

James Clough’s Clough42 channel is my latest favorite; I have been binge-watching my way through all of his videos. I think I like him because he’s what I aspire to be, a hobbyist working to a high degree of discipline, but who isn’t afraid to admit his mistakes. Plus, his videos are first-rate, with excellent sound and multiple camera angles all edited together in a polished way. When I get around to making videos I hope mine are half as good as his.

mrpete222

For absolute encyclopedic coverage of machining tools and techniques, it is hard to beat mrpete222. He has literally hundreds of videos covering everything from tapping to milling. As a retired shop teacher, his pedagogic technique is excellent as well. I stopped watching after binging more than a hundred of his videos because something shiny distracted, but I have every intention of going back and watching all of them.

Joe Pi

Joe Pieczynski is a working machinist. His videos are filled with what seem (to this beginner) to be tons of hard-won, practical experience. I often feel like the things he’s teaching are stuff that exists nowhere else on the internet. Maybe that’s not true, but it feels like that sort of I’ve-been-doing-this-for-twenty-years wisdom, without any of the arrogance that sometimes goes along with that. He spends a fair amount of time at the whiteboard in many videos before going to to the shop to demonstrate, and his ability to explain complex topics is top notch.


I think that’s a good start. I could go on and list more channels, but those are really the cream of the crop. I had intended to describe other sources I’ve used to learn, but I think I’ll leave it at that for now. At some point I’ll collect all of these into a resources page or set of pages, too.

Do you have any sources you found particularly valuable when you were learning machining or metalworking? Think any of my assessments are off-base? Leave a comment down below and help me get smarter about making things!

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