In Summary - Toolmaker
Toolmakers typically work in the following Career Sectors:
Videos & Interviews
Phelim Reilly, Process Engineer / Toolmaker
Phelim began his career as a toolmaker apprentice and progressed on to working as a Process Engineer with Belurgen Precision Engineering Ltd. Phelim gives an overview of the different apprenticeship phases and the importance of learning from working with others who have already gone through the process.
Videos on the Web
- Toolmaker- from: Youtube Search
- Toolmaker - from: N.C.S. [UK]
The Work - Toolmaker
Toolmakers work to high specifications and quality requirements to produce machine tools used in manufacturing. Manufacturing industries use the tools to make a very diverse range of parts and products, from dashboards to pen tops, to central heating boilers. Toolmakers also make moulds to form shapes, jigs to guide cutters or hold a part in place, and dies, which are shaped blocks that are used to cut, stamp or press materials.
At the beginning of their work, toolmakers may use technical drawings to learn about the product. Next, they operate a range of specialist engineering machines such as lathes, Computer Numerical Controlled (CNC) machines, and grinding, milling and boring machines.
Toolmakers use hand tools like files, and small machines like grinding and polishing machines to smooth and finish a tool. When they are satisfied with the tool, the toolmaker fits it onto the production machine and supervises a test run.
They normally wear safety clothing such as overalls, and hearing and eye protectors when necessary.
Most commonly reported Work Tasks
- Verify dimensions, alignments, and clearances of finished parts for conformance to specifications, using measuring instruments such as calipers, gauge blocks, micrometers, and dial indicators.
- Study blueprints, sketches, models, or specifications to plan sequences of operations for fabricating tools, dies, or assemblies.
- 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.
- Visualize and compute dimensions, sizes, shapes, and tolerances of assemblies, based on specifications.
- Inspect finished dies for smoothness, contour conformity, and defects.
- 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, making adjustments as necessary.
- Select metals to be used from a range of metals and alloys, based on properties such as hardness and heat tolerance.
- File, grind, shim, and adjust different parts to properly fit them together.
- Lift, position, and secure machined parts on surface plates or worktables, using hoists, vises, v-blocks, or angle plates.
Most commonly reported Work Activities
- Controlling Machines and Processes Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
- Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Processing Information Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
- Drafting, Laying Out, and Specifying Technical Devices, Parts, and Equipment Providing documentation, detailed instructions, drawings, or specifications to tell others about how devices, parts, equipment, or structures are to be fabricated, constructed, assembled, modified, maintained, or used.
- Repairing and Maintaining Mechanical Equipment Servicing, repairing, adjusting, and testing machines, devices, moving parts, and equipment that operate primarily on the basis of mechanical (not electronic) principles.
- Thinking Creatively Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Interests - Toolmaker
This occupation is typically suited for people with the following Career Interests:
Realists are usually interested in 'things' - such as buildings, mechanics, equipment, tools, electronics etc. Their primary focus is dealing with these - as in building, fixing, operating or designing them. Involvement in these areas leads to high manual skills, or a fine aptitude for practical design - as found in the various forms of engineering.
Realists like to find practical solutions to problems using tools, technology and skilled work. Realists usually prefer to be active in their work environment, often do most of their work alone, and enjoy taking decisive action with a minimum amount of discussion and paperwork.
The Investigative person will usually find a particular area of science to be of interest. They are inclined toward intellectual and analytical activities and enjoy observation and theory. They may prefer thought to action, and enjoy the challenge of solving problems with sophiscticated technology. These types prefer mentally stimulating environments and often pay close attention to developments in their chosen field.
Administrative people are interested in work that offers security and a sense of being part of a larger process. They may be at their most productive under supervisors who give clear guidelines and while performing routine tasks in a methodical and reliable way.
They tend to enjoy clerical and most forms of office work, where they perform essential administrative duties. They often form the backbone of large and small organisations alike. They may enjoy being in charge of office filing systems, and using computers and other office equipment to keep things running smoothly. They usually like routine work hours and prefer comfortable indoor workplaces.
Producing high levels of accuracy demands patience and concentration. You need to be able to read, understand and analyse engineering drawings. Good number skills are important to make precise measurements and calculations.
A practical approach to problem-solving is necessary. You need to work logically and plan your work.
Co-ordination and hand skills are important for using a wide range of machine tools, hand tools and other equipment. Many toolmakers work alone, so you may need to work effectively without supervision.
Toolmakers spend much of their time on their feet and need to be fairly fit and active.
Entry Requirements - Toolmaker
The official entry route for a Toolmaker is through undertaking an apprenticeship.
Pay & Salary - Toolmaker
Salary Range (thousands per year)* 18k - 43k
Last Updated: March, 2017
* The lower figures typically reflect starting salaries. Higher salaries are awarded to those with greater experience and responsibility. Positions in Dublin sometimes command higher salaries.
Labour Market Updates - Toolmaker
Employers have indicated a difficulty in sourcing skills in this area across numerous manufacturing sub-sectors. Despite increased supply, demand continues in niche areas e.g. high tech manufacturing.
National Skills Bulletin 2018