Drilled holes are far from boring

This happened today, and I’m thinking of submitting it as a story. My worry is that there might be a bit too much set up/exposition. What do you all think?


I work in a small engineering office as a Design Engineer. I’ve just returned to my desk with a mug of tea to be greeted by one of the machinists who has a copy of a drawing. He had been chatting to my two co-workers (also design engineers), who were the only others in the office.

Machinist: “I need you to check this drawing, Stephen. There is a difference between the computer drawing and the printed copy. The holes are 6.8 millimetres, but the text says it is 6.0 millimetres”

I look at the drawing. It was one I recently up-issued, as I had added some tapped holes. I also load up the electronic copy.

Me: “That’s odd. 6.8 millimetres is the diameter of an M8 tapping drill, and my change was adding M6 tapped holes”

Machinist: “It’s not that that’s wrong; it’s the holes marked A”

I look at the drawing again. This is for a large plate with a LOT of different holes drilled into it. It is also several years old, and the method used back then was to put a different letter for each set of holes. A key by the side of the drawing view would list what each hole was. In this instance, there were 4 different sets of holes, labelled A to D.

Machinist: “If you check the drawing view, you can see it’s 6.8mm”

Me: “So I see. I don’t know when that mistake happened, as I only added the tapped holes. I didn’t touch the A holes. NO, WAIT, I DIDN’T MEAN…”

But it was too late. The machinist and my co-workers burst out laughing. Mind you, so did I.

Whilst the laughter settled down, I quickly checked previous versions.

Me: “The mistake is on all of them. It’s only a clearance hole for access, so I’m not bothered what size it is. Could you please check your machining program? Let me know what size it is and I’ll change the drawing accordingly.”

Machinist: “Sure, I’ll check your A-holes for you”

As he left, I picked up my mug so I could finally get caffinated.

Me: “It’s a shame [Technical Manager] isn’t here, as he loves a good innuendo”

Coworker #1: “Maybe you should give him a ring?”

Did you know it is extremely hard to keep tea in the mug when you’re laughing uncontrollably? I do!

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Yeah, I think this could be more punchy. I would get rid of mentions of the specific size and just say the computer shows a different size hole than the printed copy.
Then say you recently made a change to this drawing, but you don’t see an issue with the holes you added.

This whole bit could be eliminated without losing important context:

…It is also several years old, and the method used back then was to put a different letter for each set of holes. A key by the side of the drawing view would list what each hole was. In this instance, there were 4 different sets of holes, labelled A to D.

Machinist: “If you check the drawing view, you can see it’s 6.8mm”

This bit is fine, but imo, it makes a neater ending to skip it and go straight to the keeping your tea in your mug line:

As he left, I picked up my mug so I could finally get caffinated.

Me: “It’s a shame [Technical Manager] isn’t here, as he loves a good innuendo”

Coworker #1: “Maybe you should give him a ring?”

Keep in mind, this is just my opinion on how to tighten it up a bit. I don’t think it’s hard to follow as-is.

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I appreciate your thoughts… how about this?


I work in a small engineering office as a Design Engineer. I’ve just returned to my desk with a mug of tea to be greeted by one of the machinists who has a copy of a drawing. He had been chatting to my two co-workers (also design engineers), who were the only others in the office.

Machinist: “I need you to check this drawing, Stephen. There is a difference between the computer drawing and the printed copy. The holes are one size, but the text says something different”

I look at the drawing. It was one I recently up-issued, as I had added some tapped holes. I also load up the electronic copy.

Me: “That’s odd. The bit I added looks fine on the printed drawing and the electronic version”

Machinist: “It’s not that that’s wrong; it’s the holes marked A”

I look at the drawing again. This is for a large plate with a LOT of different holes drilled into it. The holes have different letters marked against them, and a key by the side of the drawing gives a list of the hole sizes, labelled A to D.

Machinist: “If you check the drawing view, you can see it’s not the size that’s in the key.”

Me: “So I see. I don’t know when that mistake happened, as I only added the tapped holes. I didn’t touch the A holes. NO, WAIT, I DIDN’T MEAN…”

But it was too late. The machinist and my co-workers burst out laughing. Mind you, so did I.

Whilst the laughter settled down, I quickly checked previous versions.

Me: “The mistake is on all of them. It’s only a clearance hole for access, so I’m not bothered what size it is. Could you please check your machining program? Let me know what size it is and I’ll change the drawing accordingly.”

Machinist: “Sure, I’ll check your A-holes for you”

As he left, I picked up my mug so I could finally get caffinated.

Me: “It’s a shame [Technical Manager] isn’t here, as he loves a good innuendo”

Coworker #1: “Maybe you should give him a ring?”

Once I’d finally stopped shaking with laughter, my mug had a lot less tea!


I have tweaked the final line to give it a bit more of a punchy ending. One line I am NOT going to remove is this:

Coworker #1: “Maybe you should give him a ring?

…as that line was the whole (hole?) reason I was laughing uncontrollably :wink:

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Ah, I had missed one of the plays on words, which happens to me more than I’d care to admit.

I think it reads well and is pretty streamlined.

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The story has been submitted, so we might see it at some time in the next few months.

I did see if i could edit it to point out that this was originally drawn before i started working from the company by someone whose inaccuracies were legendary, but it didn’t add to the story and just came over as an excuse.

Back when it was drawn, the machinists would work directly from the paper copy, and do all their programming from that. So a mistake of the circle drawn at one size and the key stating another wouldn’t have been spotted. And as we’ve made dozens of this machine and no issues have arisen (these are access holes so you can push an Allen key through them to get to the bolts underneath without dismantling the machine), the discrepancy was never spotted.

But we’ve since had a new machining manager, and he has been upgrading all our systems so they can read the CAD drawings and models. They still have paper copies, but it’s the electronic version they work to. The paper copy shows the tolerances, which is why they need both.

I’m not a fan of the key method of dimensioning, as typos happen. It’s better to have the CAD software state what’s there, so discrepancies like this don’t happen.

Oh, i still find plenty of other ways to make mistakes, but not the way I’ve described above, and that’s the key!

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and that’s the key!

You just couldn’t resist, could you? :wink:

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You know the drill…

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