Sometimes is great to get away from the computer and the soldering iron for a while and do something “old school”. A while back a few of us here at Nerd Towers took up painting models again, to see if we could still do it (after 20 years, the eyesight isn’t quite so keen, but the results were ok-ish) some have gone back to really old-tech stuff and even trying reading books!

If there’s one book everyone should have on their bookshelves at home – and yes, Kindle-loving-cool-kids, one of those things made of paper with pages that you actually turn over and not just flip with one finger on the screen – it’s the Machinery’s Handbook.

This one was actually printed in 1982 but it was first published in about 1914. It’s an awesome read! Lots of it is just tables – logarithmic tables, sine, cosine and tangent look-up tables and the like – but it’s full of loads of really useful, and interesting, bits of information.

If you want to know how to lay out 11 holes in a circular formation, the answer’s right here. Or want to know the ratio between two tangents to a circle, or a tangent and a line bisecting the radius… loads of really cool tips and short-cuts are not only useful to have under your belt when making stuff, but lots of it is just quite interesting; even if you never use most of it yourself, it’s just a really good read!

Anyone interesting in getting hold of one of these classic books can just search Google or Amazon for Machinery’s Handbook but get ready to shell out about £30-£40, even for a second-hand copy. But if you can afford it, it’ll repay that many times over, just keeping you entertained during those enforced hours of “downtime”.