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Cover 29th Edition Machinery's Handbook, photo (c) Jock Dempsey Industrial Press

Machinery's Handbook

Twenty-Nineth Edition - 2012

Third edition of the 21st Century

2788 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

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 nearly 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.

The above is from the review of the 28th Edition and it is still true of the 29th.

The immediately noticed superficial changes include the addition of 84 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 29th edition has 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, 28th and 29th 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 29th. As in the past two editions on-line registration is required to use the system. Also as in the previous editions there is a interactive math system that requires a live Internet connection to I found the LiveMath buggy, slow and hard to use. Formula constants and form were easy to accidentally change and difficult to restore. While it is not the optimal programming language for this type of thing it would be much more convienient to use Javascript. The necessity to have an Internet connection makes this feature useless on a laptop used in the field, the place where it would be most useful.

The highlight of this edition is the restoration of many old articles. However, due to the need to register on-line to open the CD and the tight restrictions on this process this information cannot be considered archival. If you are looking for this information it would be more economical to purchase a couple old editions

Published by: Industrial Press
989 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10018

Suggested Retail Price $94.95 USD
Large print edition $115.95
CD-ROM $94.95
ISBN 9780831129002 and ISBN 9780831129019 (large print)

Copyright © 2012