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Learn Mechanical Engineering at Home Series – 1

written by: Ricky • edited by: Lamar Stonecypher • updated: 9/15/2008

Have you ever wondered what mechanical engineering is all about? I cannot make you a certified mechanical engineer but certainly you can learn a lot about mechanical engineering by reading this Learn from Home series on mechanical engineering.

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    Mechanical engineering is very wide and versatile field of engineering and has several branches as you can read in a previous article by clicking here. Obviously it requires several years of formal study at a good institute to be a certified mechanical engineer. Yet you can also learn a lot of concepts about mechanical engineering if you are interested just from the comfort of you home. This series is intended exactly for this purpose and will teach you the basics of mechanical engineering. The level of the subject matter discussed would rise as the series progresses but certainly not to a degree level. So just enjoy and learn as much as you can.

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    The Basics

    If you want to know about what is mechanical engineering you can read an article written by Haresh (Managing Editor of this Channel) by clicking here, as I will not go into those details again just to avoid repetition. Neither will I bore you with lots of theoretical stuff, but will take you straight to the Temple of a mechanical engineer which is the workshop. As you must be aware a workshop is a place where the basic engineering processes are carried out with the help of tools and machines. As this is just the starting I will start from the very basic tools of a mechanical engineer and here you go.

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    Hand Tools

    If you are just a beginner in this learning process about mechanical engineering (which you probably are, since you are reading this article till this stage), then you might think what the section of hand tools is doing here? For many of us, engineering is about sophisticated tools, automated machines, processes and so forth. But let me clear your myth that the hand tools play an equally important role in the life of a mechanical engineer as the highly sophisticated and automated machines used in hi-tech industrial processes. So it is always necessary and useful to equip oneself with the knowledge and uses of such hand tools.


    A spanner refers to a handheld tool which is used for various purposes such as tightening and loosening of nuts and bolts and so forth. Since the tightening or loosening of nuts and bolts requires lot of effort, they need to be strong enough to withstand such forces. Hence spanners are made up of hard tough steel. The picture in figure 1 below shows one such spanner which is technically known as double ended spanner as it has got two ends of different sizes. I mean there is not requirement that they have to be different size ends but normally it is so. The three main types of spanners are

    • Single ended spanners
    • Double ended spanners
    • Prong ended spanners

    Each of these has their own specific use and there are other types of spanners too such as box spanners. We will learn more about this topic in the next article of the series.

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    Figure 1: Double Ended Spanner