What is a Tool and Die Maker?

Tool and Die Makers work with computer controlled machinery and mechanic equipment to cut, shape and finish tools, instruments and metal parts to precision levels.

Tool and Die Makers:

  • Read blueprints, sketches, specifications, or Computer Aided Design (CAD) or Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) files for making tools and dies
  • Compute and verify dimensions, sizes, shapes, and tolerances of work pieces
  • Set up, operate, and disassemble conventional, manual, and computer-numeric controlled (CNC) machine tools
  • File, grind, and adjust parts so they fit together properly
  • Test completed tools and dies to ensure they meet specifications
  • Smooth and polish the surfaces of tools and dies

Related: Tool & Die Maker Program Outline


A long-term career with a good salary, job advancement opportunities and the chance to work with your hands and cutting-edge technology.

Become a tool and die maker through AJAC’s apprenticeship program. Get paid while learning on the job and attend classes only one night a week! To find out how you can become an apprentice and launch your career in aerospace or manufacturing, visit AJAC’s Get Started Section.

On-the-Job Training Competencies:


OJT Competency

Approximate OJT Hours

Bench Work


Milling Machine


Engine Lathe


Grinder (Surface Tool)


Heat Treatment


Electric Discharge Machine Operation (EDM)


Tool Layout & Design


CNC Programming & Operations


Jig Bore & Grinding


Drilling Machines


Shop Maintenance & Review


Tool Steel Welding




Tool & Die Apprentices Take the Following Classes:

  • Precision Machining I & II – Manual machining skills and knowledge, Lean manufacturing principles, milling machining/drill press and lathe
  • Engineering Drawings, GD & T and Precision Fits – Technical drawings, geometric dimensioning, theory and application of standard tolerances
  • Shop Algebra, Applied Geometry and Trigonometry – Perimeters, areas, volume, trigonometric ratios, algebraic processes relating to manufacturing
  • CNC Operation and Setup – G&M programing, reading G&M code, XYZ coordinates, establishing tool length offsets (TLO), calculating changed data capture (CDC) and cutter radius compensation (CRC)
  • CNC Programming Mill & Lathe – Write command and basic programs for mills and lathes using G&M codes
  • Materials, Processes and References – Comprehensive understanding of outside processes and the properties of materials that are governed by industry standards
  • Inspection– Measuring and inspection of size, position, form, surface finish and orientation
  • Advanced Machining Technologies – Exploration of new, emerging and advancing technologies, including properties and machining of composites
  • Jigs and Fixtures – Design jigs, fixtures, and gauges for a variety of manufacturing applications
  • Die Design – Design dies for power presses that pierce, blank, and form materials
  • Mold Making and Design – Exploration of the materials, processes, and mold design principles for injection molding, compression molding, transfer molding, and die casting