View Full Version : Anybody built all the stuff in Gingery's series?

10-31-2006, 10:45 PM
Anybody gone through the 7 book Gingery series on a metal shop from scrap and actually built it all? I'd love to see pictures and read the comments.

J Tiers
10-31-2006, 10:59 PM
Not me.....

I looked at that stuff.... just for fun. It is educational, and interesting. It is a lesson on how to "bootstrap" into machines.

But, I rapidly determined that it was far better to buy the machines I needed, even in worn "kit form".

Still, it is an interesting progression. I'd consider at least reading the books through to see if there are any interesting ideas in the ones I have not seem bits of. I'd bet there are.

10-31-2006, 11:16 PM
I've got all the books, and I've also got a Smithy. I don't have a shaper or a dividing head yet, plus I'm fascinated by the idea of casting my own parts, so I thought I might build the shaper, just to see if I could do it. There's a video of the shaper running at Gingery's website, which you can get to from Lindsay Publications web site.

10-31-2006, 11:42 PM
I built the lathe and then the shaper and evetually the milling machine.
I started with the charcoal foundry but converted it to propane. I had never done any machine work before and found it to be an interesting learning experience.
I now have a craftsman 6 x 18 lathe and a 6x26 mill and am learning slowly.

Alistair Hosie
11-01-2006, 03:41 PM
The guy is very clever no doubt but the question of whether you can do these things economically even buying the materials to do them and all the work I just don't get it. I would rather buy second hand and know what I am getting works from day one. Also it is like buying cheap particle board furniture what will it be worth in ten,or twenty years time nothing .As oposed to good quality furniture made from solid wood which are the antiques of the future.very little interest will be accumulated as a result of home made machines unless you are really very clever, as oposed to a brand named well thought out resellable design.Alistair

11-01-2006, 04:04 PM
I kind of tend to agree with you Alistair. If a guy is not already in the hobby he doesn't have a well filled "scrap bin" to get the sort of good scrap that it would take to build these things "from scrap". I also find that I would have been hard pressed to give the sort of attention to important details in building a machine that I now know must go into a good one. For me, restoring one first has been the better lesson plan than perhaps building one from scratch.

On the other hand, sometimes buying your first shop equipment can be expensive...really so if you make mistakes doing it. If you treat the Gingery way as a cheap alternative to buying new, it may be. But, that is not the only alternative.

I have been really blessed as I got more interested in metalworking. After paying real money for an Ebay mill and a new Chinese lathe, I managed to end up with several good pieces of machinery that need just a little TLC, at no cost. With so much "smaller scale" and manual machinery being tossed away by industry, there are sometimes opportunities for scrap finds that could outfit one's shop. I got a shaper, surface grinder, drill press and horizontal mill this way.

Playing the other side of the argument yet again, one could argue that building a machine tool is no more wasted effort than building a little steam engine that sits on the shelf and looks pretty. It is a hobby and not everything we make will be horribly useful it seems :rolleyes:

11-01-2006, 04:25 PM
Have read some of these books,found them interesting as well as containing
good ideas.In my opinion most of his machines involve too much casting and hand scraping, this I believe would be very time consuming. I prefer to
fabricate from steel where possible. REGARDS R W.

11-01-2006, 04:26 PM
Yabbut... I think this is a case much like life in general. ...it's not so much the final destination, as it is the trip taken to get there that counts.

I can certainly understand one's heightened sense of pride of ownership of something you made yourself. ...assuming it turns out to be good for more than a boat anchor of course.. :D

I think Mr Gingery was already a pretty talented (machinist-wise) fellow before he undertook those projects. Somewhere I read a brief bio sketch about him, which described some pretty intense skills training he'd gotten at an early age.

Of course we each have different preferences which blow our skirts up. ...or kilts, as the case may be :D

I may never build any of those machines either, but the idea does appeal to me.

11-01-2006, 04:35 PM
They're aluminum castings...they wouldn't make very good boat anchors. :D

I think lynnl has the right idea though. With projects like that, I think for most people the journey would have to be more important than the end result. If you want a lathe, go buy one. Do the Gingery projects only if you want to build your own machine shop from scratch, for bragging rights.

Having chased the tail of "build this so I can build this so I can build this so I can built what I really want to build" a little bit, I've decided it's too endless a loop for the time I have.

11-01-2006, 05:09 PM
I've just bought the "dividing head and deluxe accessories" book from the series.
I've only had a quick glance through it,but i am intrigued by some of the processes.Locally,a dividing head plus tailstock,plates etc. would set you back the better part of $2500 US.So the "scrap"would have to be very expensive to equal the cost of the shop-bought item.
You guys in the US don't know how lucky you are:).

11-01-2006, 05:28 PM
The Gingery books are a good source of information and techniques, and are worth the cost for that reason even if no machines are built.

My first lathe was most of an Atlas that turned up in the neighbor's back yard. I hauled it home and set to making a useable machine out of it. The local library had the Gingery lathe book, and much worthwhile information was derived from it.

I basically had to use many of the concepts he used in building the cast lathe to manufacture what was missing from the lathe.

There is no law saying that any set of plans or directions must be followed to the letter. There was a writeup in HSM by Marsh Collins on building the Gingery shaper of steel weldments.

Alistair Hosie
11-01-2006, 05:39 PM
A good dividing head can readily be purchased for well under $2.500 don't understand that argument at all. certainly I accept once you have a lathe and a mill such a thing would be good fun to make, but to start from scratch and make a mill and a lathe seems like hard work to get where your going this argument as said many times here would have been fine just after the war 2nd world etc pre Chinese industrial invasion, but now it is a no brainer the Chinese stuff perfectly usable can be bought for the cost of homemaking materials in my humble opinion there are many good ebay bargains auction bargains to be had as our industries fail on a daily basis. Alistair

11-01-2006, 05:41 PM
I'm halfway through building the Mill and I'm starting the dividing head. It's been a very enjoyable process. I already have a 10" Logan. For me it's more of a curiosity and fascination with many process that have sort of been removed from the knowledge gene pool. I didn't get into it because I couldn't afford the tools. Some people have an easier time with gathering scrap than others. I found that I couldn't find scrap just anywhere so I needed to buy it. I've learned more than I thought possible and by the time this thing is finished I could just as well build a better one using itself!


11-01-2006, 06:09 PM
It should be remembered that the first of the Gingery books were written over 25 years ago, before the large scale importing of Chinese machines and before the general decline of American manufacturing put so much good used industrial quality equipment on the market. In that era Gingery-type machines made much more sense, especially for those with more time than money and a desire to get started in metal casting & machining. I built the lathe and made a start on the shaper, which was never finished after I found a good deal on a 7" South Bend. The lathe involved a lot of time and work, and the finished product was a marginal performer in some ways, although by the time you complete such a project you will know a lot more about metalworking than when you started. Educational value aside, if all you want is a lathe, shaper, etc. there are easier ways to get one nowdays.


Bill Pace
11-01-2006, 06:44 PM
I discovered the Gingery series in the early 80's after finding a 9" SB and thought, "what a great way to learn to use my new lathe", and the idea of casting was very appealing. I started off with the little miller, and while I wasnt overly impressed with its performance, I had a real blast building it! Went on to do the shaper, most of the accessories, and both of the Atkinson engines---loving every minute of it and picked up/learned a ton of info and techniques. I found Daves way of presenting the methods of construction as good as any I've ever used,--- even today when I take on a set of plans, I'll often wish Dave had of written them so I could figure out what was what!

Yeah, the finished "tools" are pretty lacking, but for a noobie, they can really be a big, and fun, stepping stone into this wonderful hobby.

11-01-2006, 08:58 PM
I tried the band saw. As everything was scrounged it doesn't look much like the one in the book. I didn't like all the 1/4 stove bolts so I welded everything that did not need adjusting. The structural sections are heavier because that is what was on the junk pile. The cut capacity is about 10" sq. With a 3/4-8 bimetal blade it cuts a 5" rd. quickly. The vise extends flush with the blade so no dinking around with machinist vise clamped in saw vise for short sections. The latching landing gear is great for moving saw out onto the drive for cuts on long materials.All in all a good learning experience and I use it every day in my home shop. Gingery's machine tools do not appeal to me.

11-01-2006, 11:29 PM
I think the Gingery books are very much a product of the time that they were created. Mr. Gingery's goals were to make the machines, and tell the story, an end in and of itself. His goal was not to create the "ideal" lathe, mill,etc...
Today, 20 odd years later, the situation is much different. I can remember when just about every how to magazine was just that, not the collection of adverts and safety warnings printed today. The "simple" how to, can do, knowledge has faded in the modern US society. Getting your hands dirty and solving problems while making your own version of Gingery's "design" in your own shop. I am quite sure that more Gingery books are sold than machines completed, but is that such a bad thing?

John Stevenson
11-02-2006, 04:04 AM
It should be remembered that the first of the Gingery books were written over 25 years ago, before the large scale importing of Chinese machines and before the general decline of American manufacturing put so much good used industrial quality equipment on the market. In that era Gingery-type machines made much more sense, especially for those with more time than money. Educational value aside, if all you want is a lathe, shaper, etc. there are easier ways to get one nowdays.


Good post Mike and very valid although it applies outside America as well.

I got back into this game many years ago whilst racing vintage motorcycles.
I wasn't very good at it, the term 'Horizontal Champ' springs to mind :D

So whist I was making 10 sets of new footrest pegs I was getting others saying can you make me one spare set.
Those figures should have told me something even then.

So later as I was recovering in Louth General Accident and Emergency, it suddenly occurred to me that making parts was more rewarding and less painful than riding.
At that time British manufacturing was still going strong, there were no imports to speak of and home grown prices were high.
Lathes were pretty well catered for with Myford, Boxford and Little John lathes but milling machines were like rocking horse s#~t.

About the only decent sized home mill was the Tom Senior which fetched, and still does, ridiculous prices.

Into this market can the Dore milling machine, A small mill that could be built at home from a series of kits with all the large machining done.

This was sold in 7 parts, the two main ones getting all the base finished.
The idea being you bought as you could afford or build. I bought mine as a 2 +5 set.
It was possible to miss one set out and only have direct drive.

It was a good machine in it's day doing much engine and gearbox work for the racing bikes.

MES who marked the kits went on to do other kits, a nice low profile vise that opened up to about 5", three different rotary tables, a boring head and even a small Blanchard type grinder.

I built a rotary table, boring head and vise as there was nothing on the UK market suitable.
At that time here before CNC when dividing heads were in everyday use a small 4" DH would cost about 250 UKP, about 8 weeks wages so you can see how easily they fitted into ones budget.

Things have moved on now with the imports and they are getting better all the while. MES have stopped doing the kits except for the rotary tables and these are more an exercise in making than saving money as they were first brought out to do.

So the whole exercise asks two questions:-
Do I regret making these parts? and
Would I do the same today ?

Sorry but the answer has to be no to both.
They have to be looked at in the era of when they were introduced.


kap pullen
11-02-2006, 07:32 AM
John's right.

My first mill drill from Enco cost about $1700 in 1979.
The 8" rotary table to go with it was about $250.

That was a major purchase in those days, to me anyway.

Those prices have stayed about the same over the past 25 years. Phase II's 8" rotary, and others, costing in the $250 -+ range today.

I built milling attachments, and indexers to get the job done.

These days the HF equipment, and others, is the same, or better
then the used stuff we could afford those days.

The model engineering hobby was about making models, and the tools and accesories required to do so.

George Thomas, and others, had great construction articles on all
sorts of fine tools and accesories.

Many items you could not afford, or just weren't avalible.

The prices of many things have come down or held the same.

That has cost many industrial jobs in the U.S. and G.B.

I have mixed feelings about that situation.

On one hand......On the other.....