Basic Millwright Tools


Millwrights have a history that spans 800 years, as the profession is the predecessor of mechanical engineering. The field has broadened over the years, as modern-day millwrights work with heavy-duty machinery for manufacturing plants, construction sites and mining operations — an occupation that often requires some college and a four- to five-year apprenticeship. The tools used by these workers can help them translate the manufacturer’s blueprint into fully functional machinery.

Precision Measurement Tools

  • A millwright is often responsible for unassembled machinery when it arrives at the factory site, and precision tools can help ensure the machinery meets the manufacturer's exact specifications. Whether manual or digital, calipers are micrometer tools that can help assess the exact distance between two inward- or outward-facing points. Sometimes this tools have lasers or ultrasonic measuring capabilities for reading distance and alignment. Other precision tools include squares, round heads and protractors, all of which are drawing tools that can help accurately draft distance between two points.


  • A handheld tool used to hold items firmly, pliers can aid a millwright in cutting, bending and compressing objects. Tongue and groove pliers, also known as water pump pliers, have an “L”-shaped head and long handles and are used to grip irregular-shaped objects. Self-adjusting, locking-jaw pliers can automatically adjust to the thickness of the object and clamp down on it. Diagonally cutting pliers, another useful tool, can help cut wires or wire casings.


  • Wrenches are used to fasten bolts using a rotary motion. The common models used by millwrights include combination and socket wrenches. The combination wrench has an open-ended wrench on one side and a ringed wrench on the other; it comes in standard sizes ranging from 1/4 to 2 inches. Socket wrenches are a slightly different tool made of individual heads that attach to a rotating handle, making it easier to reach bolts in tight or hard-to-reach places. This wrench also comes in standard wrench sizes and with a short or long head.

Powered Tools

  • Lathes, welding guns and riveting tools are common in the millwright’s line of work — especially when creating new metal components for existing machinery. The lathe, a common tool for metalwork, rotates the piece the millwright is adjusting or creating on an axis. The millwright then applies handheld tools to the surface of the spinning object to sand, cut or transform it. Millwrights also use a plethora of standard handheld power tools to work on the job site. These tools often include welding tools, soldering guns, torches and drills.

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  • “The Miller's, Millwright's and Engineer's Guide”; Henry Pallett; 2008
  • “The Millwright and Engineer's Pocket Companion; William Templeton; 2008
  • “Occupational Outlook Handbook, 1994-1995”; DIANE Publishing Company; 1994
  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images
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