How to become a Toolmaker/Machine Setter

toolmaker/machine setter careers

What does a Toolmaker/Machine Setter do?

Toolmakers, also known as tool fitters, make tools that are used by other engineering craftspeople and operatives. These can include jigs, gauges, dies and moulds.

Working from engineering drawings, toolmakers mark out the design on the raw material (usually metal or wood), then cut it to size and shape using a combination of lathes, milling machines, grinders and precision cutting machines. Some toolmakers specialise as machinist toolmakers, others as toolmaker fitters, and some as tool repairers.

A high proportion of machine tools used in industry are now computer numerically controlled (CNC). This means that they are controlled by a computer application and their operators need to be qualified to program and operate them. Toolmakers work very closely with CNC operators, and many become machine setters. The main objective of a machine setter is to effectively set, program and maintain production on CNC machines.

For information on CNC roles see profile: CNC Machine Tool Machinist.

What's the working environment like working as a Toolmaker/Machine Setter?

Toolmakers normally work a 39-hour week, Monday to Friday. In large companies they may have to work shifts, including nights, usually on a revolving basis. Overtime and weekend work may be available.

They normally work in factories, but some may be based in smaller workshops. Overalls, protective goggles, earguards and boots are usually worn.

What does it take to become a Toolmaker/Machine Setter?

As a toolmaker or machine setter you should:

  • be able to understand engineering drawings
  • have good practical and technical skills
  • be able to work methodically and accurately
  • be a able to visualise a finished product
  • have good numeracy and computer skills
  • be able to work on your own
  • have good concentration
  • be able to use precise measuring instruments.

Toolmaker/Machine Setter Career Opportunities

Many companies now aim to train multiskilled craftspeople rather than specialists. Numbers of toolmakers have reduced due to the growth of computer-controlled machining and precision casting techniques.

With additional training, toolmakers can progress to technician level.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Toolmaker/Machine Setter that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

SEMTA (Science Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies Alliance)
14 Upton Road
WD18 0JT
Tel: 0808 100 3682

The Engineering Careers Information Service (ECIS)

Women into Science and Engineering
22 Old Queen Street
Tel: 020 7227 8421

Engineering Training Council (Northern Ireland)
20-24 York Street
BT15 1AQ
Tel: 028 9032 9878

Facts and Stats:

  • 4,076,000 people work in manufacturing in the UK, making it the nation''s top occupation
  • Brazil is the top coffee-producing country in the world, producing 1,653,020 tonnes a year
  • Chicago has more chocolate manufacturers within a small radius than any other place in the world

Courses to help you become a Toolmaker/Machine Setter