On this page ...
Toolmakers analyze specifications, lay out metal stock, set up and operate machine tools, and fit and assemble parts to make and repair dies, gauges, jigs, fixtures (devices that hold metal while it is shaped, stamped or drilled), gauges, and machinist's hand tools. Die makers construct metal forms (dies) to shape metal in stamping and forging operations.
- Study blueprints, sketches, models, or specifications to plan sequences of operations for fabricating tools, dies, or assemblies.
- Verify dimensions, alignments, and clearances of finished parts for conformance to specifications, using measuring instruments such as calipers, gauge blocks, micrometers, and dial indicators.
- Visualize and compute dimensions, sizes, shapes, and tolerances of assemblies, based on specifications.
- Set up and operate conventional or computer numerically controlled machine tools such as lathes, milling machines, and grinders to cut, bore, grind, or otherwise shape parts to prescribed dimensions and finishes.
- File, grind, shim, and adjust different parts to properly fit them together.
- Fit and assemble parts to make, repair, or modify dies, jigs, gauges, and tools, using machine tools and hand tools.
- Conduct test runs with completed tools or dies to ensure that parts meet specifications; make adjustments as necessary.
- Inspect finished dies for smoothness, contour conformity, and defects.
- Smooth and polish flat and contoured surfaces of parts or tools, using scrapers, abrasive stones, files, emery cloths, or power grinders.
- Lift, position, and secure machined parts on surface plates or worktables, using hoists, vises, v-blocks, or angle plates.
Toolmakers usually work in tool rooms. These areas are quieter than the production floor because there are fewer machines in use at one time. They wear protective equipment; such as, safety glasses to shield against bits of flying metal and earplugs to protect against noise. They spend much of the day on their feet and may do moderately heavy lifting.
- 5 year training program
- 10,400 hours on-the-job training
- 576 hours paid related instruction
- Possible additional hours of unpaid related instruction
- Entry requirements vary by employer
- High school diploma or equivalent
- Physically able to perform trade
- Applicants apply directly to participating employers
- Engineering and Technology- Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
- Designs- Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
- Mathematics- Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
- Mechanical- Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
- Production and Processing- Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
- Operation and Control- Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
- Operation Monitoring- Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
- Equipment Selection- Determining the kind of tools and equipment needed to do a job.
- Troubleshooting- Determining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.
- Repairing- Repairing machines or systems using the needed tools.
- Reading Comprehension- Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
- Repairing and Maintaining Mechanical Equipment- Servicing, repairing, adjusting, and testing machines, devices, moving parts, and equipment. Performing routine maintenance on equipment and determining when and what kind of maintenance is needed.
- Problem Recognition - The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
- Manual Dexterity- The ability to quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.
- Information Ordering- The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
- Near Vision- The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
- Deductive/ Inductive Reasoning- The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense. The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
- Visualization- The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
- Arm-Hand Steadiness- The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics maintains information on all occupations. For more information on the Toolmaker trade in the United States, visit:
Sources: Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards Position Descriptions,
Apprenticeship in Wisconsin Handbook