Video: A Visit to the Machine Shop, 1942

If you’re going to produce automobiles, you’re going to need machinists and machine tools. Join us for an entertaining and educational visit to the machine shops of 1942. 



Machine tools and machinists are essential to the car industry. Truly, if you’re going to engineer and produce automobiles, you’re going to need a machine shop. Indeed, the histories of the automobile and of machine tools have been completely intertwined for more than 125 years now. So when we discovered this wonderful old vocational film exploring the machine trades as they were in 1942, we were entranced. If you’re an experienced machinist, you’ll be greatly entertained by this video, waves of nostalgia washing over you. If you’ve never set foot in a machine shop, you’ll receive a wonderful 10-minute tutorial.

While contemporary machine tools grow ever more sophisticated, the basic operations haven’t really changed since 1942, or for centuries for that matter. The same three essential machining processes are still involved: turning, drilling, and milling. (In this film, the key operations are expanded to five, to include planing and grinding.) Of course, today’s digitally controlled machining centers can often combine multiple operations in one job, but the operations themselves are much the same. Meanwhile, many of the job titles described here also continue to this day, including diemaker, toolmaker, and general machinist. We hope you enjoy the video as much as we did.


4 thoughts on “Video: A Visit to the Machine Shop, 1942

  1. I grew up in the family tool and die shop and learned all the machines before I was out of high school. Thanks for this wonderful vocational movie.

  2. Ever wonder how many of these apprentices had a college degree and yet made a very good living working with their hands…?

  3. Just as an aside. Is there any real work for a planer these days that cannot be done with a mill?
    Like many I have basic knowledge to use a lathe and milling machine. I have seen planers in use but all they really seem to do is the same work as a mill. And probably a little less accuratley.

Comments are closed.