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Fairbanks Scales, Ohaus, balance, weighing, poise, calibration
Cover 30th Edition Machinery's Handbook, photo (c) Jock Dempsey Industrial Press

Machinery's


Handbook



Thirtieth Edition - March 2016

Fourth edition of the 21st Century

2896 Pages, B&W size 5 x 7-1/8 x 2-5/8 inches (127 x 181 x 67 mm) with 12 thumb tabs
REVIEW  by Jock Dempsey

In 1984, the year made most famous by George Orwell my father and I were in an engineering review meeting going over a report on critical part with our customer. Everything was moving along very business like when one of the customers engineers reading the references in the foot notes loudly exclaims, My Gosh John! The 13th Edition of Machinery's Handbook! -- It was quoting a steam flange bolting standard. And I jokingly said, The reference was the same in my 18th Edition except the page number! Laughter broke the friendly tension. . .

At the time my 18th edition of Machinery's Handbook was then 16 years old -- the current edition was the 22nd. But the fact is, that if that information is still in the 30th edition it has probably not changed, possibly since the first edition it was published in. Some things do not change.

Cover second view They say you can't tell a book by its cover. But they do give awards for cover design in some fields. However, reference book covers used to be very conservative, nothing but the author, title, publisher and sometimes a simple logo or cartouche and some border lines. Then they started putiing colorful attention getting slip covers on the books. These often had one liners from good reviews and advertisment for other books by the author or publisher. Now the cover has the art and advertising and there is no slipcover.

If you put the art on the book it becomes a target of the reviewer. . . I do not like this cover, it is hard to look at, the art disjointed and failing to flow around the book. Until I closely studied it I did not realize thar the background shapes were spur gears, reminescent of the old flywheel logo used by the publisher for many years.

The back cover is self promotion and advertising for the CD-ROM with some more disjointed art. Lets put it back on a slipcover. . .

On a book that is a TOOL, like Machinery's I would expect more of a 21st Century cover. This IS "the future" and we have the technology to build a calculator into the cover, or a searchable electronic index, both powered by solar cells like my 20 year old TI-30 calculators. . . . So here is it, a challenge, a spreadsheet equivalent to Lotus 123 ver. 1a on a chip, a 640x480 LCD screen, and powered by solar cells comprising half the cover inside and out. . . Keep it simple, no graphing or word processor. . .

Dimensions: Our book dimensions are correct as they include the squares (the extra board extending beyond the pages). The publisher's size is for the page only. The 30th edition is about 1/4" thicker than the 29th.

PREVIOUSLY  -- In a world where change is constant Machinery's Handbook has been a relative constant. While there is change in every new edition it is not so great as in the last edition. Change comes slow to such an encyclopedic reference published for over a century. New editions have been published every four years to keep up with changes in knowledge and technology. As technology changes faster books like Machinery's Handbook must change with the times. The first 80 years of the handbook showed the very gradual changes in technology but the last 20 has seen revolutionary changes due to digital computers and increasing reliance on standards.

The above is updated from the review of the 28th Edition and it is still true of the 30th.


The immediately noticed superficial changes include the addition of 108 more pages, a slight change in the thumb tabs and a reversing of the background color of the end papers which continue to have the conversion factors and physics relationships as in the previous edition.

New sections in recent editions include a detailed section on spring design, manufacturing methods including press work and bending, finishing with brushes . . . Modern welding methods are covered in depth. CNC programing G codes and tool path basics are covered. There is lots of useful new information whether you are in large or small scale manufacturing.

The handbook has always been one of my favorite references. For anyone in the mechanical trades it is an indispensable source of knowledge, facts and figures. It includes everything from volume and beam stress formulas to the periodic table and how to apply SI metric standards. Need to know the density of oak or mahogany, or how about the constituents of forging brass? Machinery's has it all!

A Repeated Error: This error was reported in the review of the 27th and 28th editions and repeated in this one as well. The first sentence of the welding section states.

Welding of metals requires that they be heated to a molten state so that they fuse together.  . . .
This completely ignores solid state welding, a process carried out in thousands of shops commercially every day. Metals CAN BE welded at room temperature in a vacuum and are commonly welded at much less than the melting point while in the plastic state. Although the blacksmith's solid state forge welding may be considered archaic as an industrial process, there were several pages on the subject in the first dozen editions of Machinery's and it was still defined as a process up through the 18th Edition. Solid state welding is still a production process in making pipe, tubing and clad metals.

This error goes back as far as the 17th edition (maybe 16th) when the article on welding was rewritten to place less emphasis on forge welding. The original welding article describes the forge welding process as occurring when the metal becomes "soft and plastic" (1st through 15th edition). This is correct.

New End Papers - Click for Enlargment For a couple decades the end papers were used as a "Ready Reference Index" or quick index. Then they reverted back to plain. The new 27th through 30th editions have handy Conversion Factors charts from Cosworth.

The front (at left) has Area and Volume conversions, the back Force, Pressure, Stress, Energy and Mass. Click for detail.

Perhaps this is a sign that the engineering world is recognizing that there may always be more than one standard of measurement and that conversions will be with us for a long time.


For the long time user of Machinery's Handbook who have had copies with the big 3/4" thumb tabs with tapered half round cuts the new small thumb tabs have been a dissapointment. Previously small squared off European Thumb Cut Indexing had been introduced. On the new edition the tabs are a fraction larger and the cuts fit the tabs, but the number of pages cut has been reduced. Their readability is better than the last edition but they are still far from the good old thumb tabs.
Thumb Tabs have been one of Machinery's constants for most regular users. You could pick up any edition and go to a familiar topic.

The 29th edition thumb tabs are the same as the reorganized 27th and 28th editions. The quality of the tabs has changed again since their reintroduction. They align better with the cuts and are the same size as the tabs.
27th through 30th Ed. Thumb Tab Topics (12)
  • Math & Mechanics
  • Properties of Materials
  • Inspection
  • Tooling
  • Machining
  • Manufacturing
  • Fasteners
  • Threading
  • Gearing
  • Machine Elements
  • Units
  • Index

CD ROM Edition

As in previous editions there is a CD version of the 30th. We did not ask for a CD to review because I'm sure the new versions have the same issuaes as the previous editions. I cannot open the previously registered 27th edition on my laptop because it insists on an Internet conection prior opening more than the index pages. Why would an engineer want a reference on his PC that he takes into the field that insists on an Internet connection????

See previous reviews for my take on the CD versions.


Published by: Industrial Press
32 Haviland Street, Suite 3
South Norwalk, CT 06854
Phone: (888) 528-7852

Suggested Retail Price $105 USD
Large print edition $125
CD-ROM $105
ISBN 9780831130916 and ISBN 9780831130923 (large print)


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