Being a machinist takes a lot of time and effort. It’s a trade you learn over decades of learning and experience. Most masters of the craft take up machining in their late teenage years and hone it until retirement. It’s for people who like to use their hands. People who like to build. Whether done for a hobby or work, it’s a fulfilling activity that encourages creation. If you want to be the very best, you need some very specific qualities. It’s not going to be easy, and you’ll need to sweat for it. Focus A machinist is only as good as their focus. If they can’t pay attention to what they’re doing, their work will be useless. Sloppy and uneven work does not make for a good machinist. Quite the opposite in fact. You need to have laser-pointed focus. You can’t let yourself get distracted from any task you set out to do. If you have to cut a hinge out of a sheet of metal, you better be completely on point. If even a single corner of it doesn’t fit, it’s a wasted part. Image credit Knowledge Machining skill can be based on how well people know how things fit together. When you create parts that have to become one, you need to know at least the basics. A good machinist is taught or tutored into the skill they have. Some people are naturals, but natural talent only goes so far without honing it. Machining courses are a mainstay of many vocational schools. Strong industrial areas will always be looking to continue the chain of an industry by producing machinists, and the education system reflects that. Tools You can’t do it all with your hands. Arguably you can’t do it all with commercial tools either. Machining works on scales of complexity. The tools required fit into that narrative too. Without a Bosch GWS9115, for example, you’d never be able to grind down the angle on a piece of metalwork. A machinist is not only as good as their tools. They are however limited in their ability by the tools available or not available to them. Teamwork Industrial work like machining is not a job for just one person. One person alone does not keep a production line ticking over. It is a chain of people, of which you are likely near the bottom. It is your duty to keep up with what the rest of the line is producing. That is in terms of both time and quality. Failure to do so could be letting the rest of the crew down. You don’t want that to happen. Being the weak link in a chain is not nice. To be the best you can be you need to realise that people rely on you. Slacking off or not caring about your work is making you a liability. Not only will you be out of a job, but it’s likely you’ll get a negative reputation. A good machinist is skilled, but a great machinist knows how important it is that they get things right. If you want to be the best, you have to prove it.