A toolmaker is responsible for making precision tools (such as jigs, moulds and dies), special guides and holding devices, which are then used in the manufacturing process to make products. For example, a toolmaker might make the parts used on a car assembly line, or the part of a machine that fills a chocolate shell. They will work with a variety of materials including metals, alloys, plastics and ceramics, which are referred to as stocks or castings.
A toolmaker’s job doesn’t stop once they’ve produced the tools though; they will then monitor these tools to identify, and implement, any necessary modification or repairs. A toolmaker’s job will also involve using computer numerically controlled (CNC) machines, so a solid background in a variety of technical and IT processes is important.
Typical tasks include:
- assembling, fitting and repairing tools
- following engineering drawings to measure and mark out the design for the tool
- using hand tools such as files, hacksaws and grinders
- using machinery such as lathes, presses, milling machines and grinders to cut and shape the tools
- using 2D and 3D computer aided design and manufacturing software (CAD/CAM)
- using precision measurement instruments such as micrometers, gauges and vernier calipers to check the tool’s dimensions
- monitoring the tools used on the manufacturing line to ensure efficient run rates and identify necessary repairs or possible improvements
- attending machine breakdowns to identify the root cause and solve the problem
- assisting with tool maintenance
- compiling reports
- Food and drink companies
- Engineering companies
- Consumer goods manufacturers
- Electronic goods assembly companies
- The aviation industry
Jobs are advertised online and by careers services and specialist recruitment agencies.
A career as a toolmaker is typically pursued by school leavers via an apprenticeship. The minimum requirement to do this is maths at GCSE or Standard Grade and you’re likely to work towards a level 3 diploma in a relevant subject. Alternatively, you could go to college and study for a diploma before applying for an entry-level job. To find out more about how you can get into this career via a school leaver route (eg an apprenticeship or school leaver training programme) see the engineering section of TARGETcareers, our website aimed at school leavers.
There are a number of opportunities open to graduates in the manufacturing industry, including roles such as packaging technologist, maintenance engineer, manufacturing engineer, materials engineer and mechanical engineer.
- Good hand-to-eye co-ordination
- Attention to detail
- Good verbal and written communication skills
- The ability to work independently and as part of a team
- Excellent maths and IT skills