What Are the Different Types of Machinist Projects?

Dan Cavallari

Machinist projects can vary in complexity and design based on the company for which a machinist works and the tools the home machinist has acquired. New machinists will generally start with simpler machinist projects that can be completed with fewer skills and less knowledge; creating simple parts that require less cutting, for example, may be an appropriate project for the beginner. More advanced users may create complex parts for engines, machinery, or other specialty equipment. A machinist with experience using CNC machines can create even more complex projects that are repetitive to create several products with the same tolerances.

A CNC machine used by a machinist.
A CNC machine used by a machinist.

Beginner machinist projects often focus on developing plans for creating parts or otherwise altering existing parts. The machinist must create a plan, figure out measurements and tolerances, and properly execute that plan. An example of such machinist projects involve a nut threaded onto a bolt with heads on either end. The task requires the new machinist to remove the nut without damaging the overall unit. In this case, the project involves developing a plan for using various metalworking machines such as lathes, routers, or mills to dismantle the unit. This can be done by cutting the bolt, removing the nut, and creating a smaller thread within the larger shaft of the bolt, then re-threading the bolt together.

A CNC machine operator must know how to program the CNC software to achieve the desired result.
A CNC machine operator must know how to program the CNC software to achieve the desired result.

Intermediate users may want to begin creating parts for specific purposes. If this is the case, machinist projects can focus on building working engines or simple machinery. A machinist can, for example, try to create a working pulley system complete with pulley wheels, axles, blocks, and hooks. Each component of the system will require different machining knowledge that will help the new machinist develop important skills. If the machinist intends to work for a specific type of company after he or she develops skills, he or she may want to focus on creating parts relevant to that field.

Of course, if a machinist is taking part in an apprenticeship at a company, he or she will likely be assigned specific machinist projects that are relevant to the company's products. An apprentice works with a more experienced machinist who will teach new skills relevant to the industry. The apprentice may end up doing projects that will be used as part of the company's regular output; his or her finished products will be examined carefully to ensure they are made properly, but otherwise, they will be the same products any other machinist is creating.

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