A millwright is a craftsman or tradesman engaged with the construction and maintenance of machinery. Early millwrights were specialist carpenters who erected machines used in agriculture, food processing and processing lumber and paper. In the early part of the Industrial Revolution, their skills were pressed into service building the earliest powered textile mills.

Modern millwrights work with steel and other materials in addition to wood and must often combine the skills of several skilled trades in order to successfully fabricate industrial machinery or to assemble machines from pre-fabricated parts. The modern millwright must also be able to read blueprints and other schematics to aid him in the construction of complex systems. Millwrights are frequently unionized, although experienced millwrights often set themselves up as independent contractors.



A millwright originally was a specialized carpenter who had working knowledge of driveshafts, bearings, gearing and mechanical belts . The "mill" in millwright refers to the genesis of the trade in building flour mills, sawmills, paper mills and fulling mills powered by water or wind.

A number of prominent early-modern civil engineers originally trained as millwrights, including James Brindley, John Rennie and William Fairbairn.

The modern millwright

A millwright today is someone who maintains or constructs industrial machinery for assembly lines, pumping stations and other utilities, print shops, and other industries employing fixed heavy machinery.

General duties

Millwrights are usually responsible for the unassembled equipment when it arrives at the job site. Using hoisting and moving equipment, they position the pieces that need to be assembled. Their job requires a thorough knowledge of the load-bearing capabilities of the equipment they use as well as an understanding of blueprints and technical instructions.

Millwrights must be able to read blueprints and schematic drawings to determine work procedures, to construct foundations for and to assemble, dismantle and overhaul machinery and equipment, using hand and power tools and to direct workers engaged in such endeavors. The use of lathes, milling machines and grinders may be required to make customized parts or repairs. In the course of work, millwrights are required to move, assemble and install machinery and equipment such as shafting, precision bearings, gear boxes, motors, mechanical clutches, conveyors, and tram rails, using hoists, pulleys, dollies, rollers, and trucks. In addition, a millwright may also perform all duties of general laborer, pipefitter, carpenter, and electrician. A millwright may also perform some of the duties of a welder, such as arc welding, mig welding, tig welding and oxyacetylene cutting.

Millwrights are also involved in routine tasks, such as lubrication of machinery, bearing replacement, seal replacement, cleaning of parts during an overhaul and preventitive maintenance.

Millwrights also must have a good understanding of fluid mechanics (hydraulics and pneumatics), and all of the components involved in these processes, such as valves, cylinders, pumps and compressors.

Modern standards of practice for millwrights also require working within precise limits or standards of accuracy, at heights without fear; the use of logical step-by-step procedures in work; planning, solving problems and decision-making based on quantifiable information.

Millwrights are trained to work with a wide array of precision tools, such as vernier calipers, micrometers, dial indicators, levels, gauge blocks, and optical and laser alignment tooling.

Areas of specialty

A typical job description for an industrial maintenance mechanic (millwright) often includes the primary purposes of installing, maintaining, upgrading and fabricating machinery and equipment according to layout plans, blueprints, and other drawings in industrial establishment.

Millwrights by nature of their profession have to be extremely well versed in many aspects of construction/demobilization. They may install a conveyor system at an airport one week and the following week work at a Industrial wastewater treatment plant.

Millwrights in the power generation industry assemble, set, align and balance turbines/rotors. Millwrights also perform critical lifts involving major components to be flown level at up to and within .005” (5 thousandths of an inch). Millwrights are generally chosen to work on tasks associated with flying and setting heavy machinery.

Millwrights are also in demand as teachers for vocational programs, both at the high school level and in post-secondary institutions. Many high schools feature fabrication courses that include metal work, where the experience of a qualified millwright is valuable. Often, these millwrights are paid a premium based on their years of field experience.

A high percentage of millwrights join unions. Those with a high level of skill often start their own businesses as independent contractors.


Most millwrights are educated through apprenticeship programs where they receive a combination of classroom education along with a good deal of on-the-job training. Most programs last about four years. Apprentices are usually paid a percentage of the average millwright's wage, and this percentage increases with experience.

Training courses received by a Union Millwright:[citation needed]

See also

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Millwright — Mill wright , n. A mechanic whose occupation is to build mills, or to set up their machinery. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • millwright — (n.) late 15c., from MILL (Cf. mill) (n.1) + WRIGHT (Cf. wright) …   Etymology dictionary

  • millwright — [mil′rīt΄] n. 1. a person who designs or builds mills or installs their machinery 2. a worker who installs, aligns, maintains, and, sometimes, repairs the machinery and heavy equipment in a factory …   English World dictionary

  • millwright — noun Date: 14th century 1. a person whose occupation is planning and building mills or setting up their machinery 2. a person who maintains and cares for mechanical equipment (as of a mill or factory) …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • millwright — /mil ruyt /, n. 1. a person who erects the machinery of a mill. 2. a person who designs and erects mills and mill machinery. 3. a person who maintains and repairs machinery in a mill. [1350 1400; ME. See MILL1, WRIGHT] * * * …   Universalium

  • millwright — noun a person who designed, erected and built mills and milling machinery …   Wiktionary

  • millwright — n. one who builds or establishes mills …   English contemporary dictionary

  • millwright — noun a person who designs or builds grain mills or who maintains mill machinery …   English new terms dictionary

  • millwright — mill•wright [[t]ˈmɪlˌraɪt[/t]] n. 1) a person who erects the machinery of a mill 2) a person who designs and erects mills and mill machinery 3) mel a person who maintains and repairs machinery in a mill • Etymology: 1350–1400 …   From formal English to slang

  • millwright — /ˈmɪlraɪt/ (say milruyt) noun someone who designs, builds, or sets up mills or mill machinery …   Australian English dictionary