It depends on what you intend to do long-term and what your immediate
requirements are in terms of equipment etc etc.
Most of the older books published by the staff of Model Engineer and others
cater very well for the beginner, and they are available on most of the
secondhand bookshops on the internet and also as 'new' reprints.
Personally I have find the early books that were written about 1930 onwards to
be very interesting, mainly as they took you through a lot of stages and
arrangements that are probably not used today but still have applications for
small jobs and models.
Machinery also is very similar at ME level compared to what industry is using,
so the simple back-geared screw cutting lathe of modest size is very much frozen
in design since the 1930's, apart from the increases in bearing technology and
the use of better materials. The way of using them hasn't changed that much.
The Model Engineer and others also published series of articles, particularly in
the older issues, on machining and even building small items of machinery,
George Thomas is one name that springs to mind, plus 'Tubal Cain' who went under
that name for the magazine and other articles.
Don't be afraid of buying books, they are a valuable resource. Also use the
computer search engines as much as you can, for there are thousands of articles
and pictures on the web that are a mine of information.
Peter & Rita Forbes
Engine pages for preservation info:
I'm a new starter at this (well not done much since metalwork at school a
long time ago)
I would not be parted from "The Amateurs Lathe" by L.H. Sparey. Another
which I think is particularly good is "Milling a Complete Course" by Harold
The nice thing about these books is the learning tends to a project based
approach - making useful accessories as a way of learning techniques. The
other point is they specifically point out differences between an amateurs
workshop practice and a commercial workshop practice - eg:
+ A model engineer is likely to use feedrates that preserve cutter life
rather than minimise production times
+ The tool profiles appropriate for an amateurs lathe and how they vary from
the tool profile used on much heavier duty industrial machines.
I have a stack more, search "Tubal Cain" and the "Workshop Practice
Series" on Amazon.
I'm with Peter, these books provide a long term valuable resource and the
Workshop Series tends to hover around the £5 - £6 mark so the are dead cheap
for the knowledge and experience offered.
Before investing any serious money, try and find an experienced machinist
to advise or a local college course.