Gingery Lathe


Tuesday, 16 January 2007

I thought I would post some additional information here in case you find some materials hard to find, or would like to have some help with the procedure or methods of doing this sort of stuff. Email and the web is great, but sometimes we just cannot answer a question fast enough or finding something on the web can be a bit problematic, especially if you are new to it, or have not discovered the power of Google's search engine. I hope this help someone. If you see something that is missing and should be here, please let me know about it, I will be happy to add it.

I would like to extend my thanks to the Gingery Machines Group located at Yahoo for their seeming inexhaustible support and answering my unending deluge of questions. Thanks Guys!

List Servers and Groups of Interest

YAHOO Group - Gingery Machines - Builders and would-be builders can trade notes, ideas and experiences here. The primary focus is the series of machines (and engines) designed and built by Dave and Vince Gingery, but all types of home built machines are welcome here. (Taken from group description.)

YAHOO Group - Scraping - Machine tool reconditioning, scraping, tool restoration, creating precision tools. (Taken from group description.)

The Casting List has over 1800 members, from all over the world. NOTE: NEW MEMBERS ARE TEMPORARILY MODERATED TO PREVENT SPAM, so spammers, don't bother! This list covers the following topics: Scratch-building of model masters in a variety of materials, such as styrene, brass, wood, whatever. Making molds out of various materials, including RTV rubber, plaster, epoxy, etc. (anything goes) Casting of the resulting molds in plaster, polyurethane plastics, low-temperature metals, etc. The list is specifically aimed at modelers in any area (model trains, ships, aircraft, etc.), or industrial casters, who wish to create their own models or parts from scratch and duplicate them. It will cover techniques, materials, and other auxiliary topics, such as photo etching, vacuum forming, sculpture casting, suppliers, etc. A check of the archives for reference to your topic is suggested before posting, since some topics have been covered numerous times. If you're not sure if your topic is covered here, send me an e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and I'll let you know. Regards, Pat Lawless, Moderator

YAHOO Group - Hobbicast - This is the primary forum for interaction between members of the Home Foundrymen's Association. It is a general discussion forum open to both members and non-members with the purpose of sharing information and knowledge between group members and helping to solve casting problems, etc.

YAHOO Group - Casting Hobby - This group is for those wishing to share info. and learn anything about the Casting and metal Finishing Hobby. Some off-topic posts will be tolerated as long as it is a related friendly topic some where in the range of casting and finishing metals. We want a friendly environment, but no SPAM, RELIGIOUS or POLITICAL posts will be tolerated. You will need to be approved before your membership will be accepted. Have fun, keep it clean. Clint, Group Owner

YAHOO Group - E-Leadscrew - "ELS" - Electronic Lead Screw - is an alternative to full CNC for simple bench lathes - especially those lathes which do not have a "Quick Change Gear Box". For such lathes, it would be very useful to have a cheap method of synchronizing spindle speed to lead screw speed. If this can be realized electronically, then all threading can be done without the necessity of changing manual gears. Also, all saddle traverse speed ratios become possible.
The aim of this group is to develop a simple, cost-effective electronic and mechanical system for implementing ELS - which in theory would be cheaper than CNC, and which can be ported to hobby-class bench lathes.
Member John Dammeyer has led the way in these discussions. He has designed a system, which is described in a comprehensive article "Electronics Gear Control" in the magazine "Circuit Celler" - Nov/2006, Issue 196, pp 36-43.
Suggestions and fresh perspectives are welcomed. Please follow posting guidelines to maximize readability and archivability of your ideas. (Description taken from site.)

Links to personal pages

Lionel Oliver's Gingery Lathe Project - Lionel put together a great build log of his Gingery Lathe. I would encourage you to go check out his project.

John Dammeyer's Website - Automation Artisans Inc. - John has a bunch of modifications for the Gingery lathe to make it a better machine. Many of these I will replicate below with his permission. I would suggest taking a look at what he has done. This is a great source of information.

Books and Articles

*** Please note ... the articles available here for download were originally retrieved from various sources around the internet, including the Scraping Group and Gingery Machines Group

DuplexScraping.pdf - In the workshop, by 'Duplex' - No. 111 Scraping, Frosting and Figuring Flat Metal Surfaces.

FormationOfFlatSurfaces.pdf - In the workshop, by 'Duplex' - No. 5 Formation of flat Surfaces - Scraping.

ScrapingByAEU.pdf - Scraping, by A.E.U. - Get your surfaces well scraped, mottled and bedded in.

TonysScrapingPage.pdf - This is a PDF Version of someones web page on scraping. This page was originally archived and stored on the Scraping Yahoo Forum. Just like the original poster of this information, if I find out that the original author does not wish to have this information posted, I will remove it from this site. The original site as I interpret it is no longer on the Internet.

The Charcoal FoundryThe Charcoal Foundry - (From the back of the book.)

Working in metal is one of the oldest and most fascinating of the crafts. A source for castings of parts, members and working stock is difficult to find, but you can easily produce your own at home. There are no great technical obstacles to overcome and costs are surprisingly low. There is no need to go to a custom foundry or machine shop for help. The simple manuals in the "Metal Shop From Scrap" series will show you how to build and use the equipment you need to produce your own castings, parts and machines.
The main ingredient is these projects is scrap aluminum and pot metal. The only tools you need to start are ordinary home shop hand tools, many of which are probably already in your possession. Much of the remainder is found as salvage or cast-off and little expense need be involved.
Being in the lower melting range of the metals, aluminum and pot metal are delightfully easy to work with. If you are one who has attempted to weld or solder aluminum you may feel that you would encounter the same frustrations in an attempt to produce a casting, but exactly opposite is true. It melts easily, quickly and clean, it is extremely fluid and there are no deep secrets involved in handling it. Castings shake out clean and bright and you very first one is most likely to be a success.
The charcoal foundry is extremely simple to build and operate and the initial cost is so low that it can be in the reach of nearly anyone. The fundamentals of pattern-making and molding are quite easily understood and mastered. You can make great strides with simple tools and materials that are usually on hand in most home shops.
Once you have built the charcoal foundry and the lathe there is little beyond your reach by way of shop equipment. You can build as large or small as you wish and you are your own parts supply company. If you already have some machine shop equipment you will find that adding a foundry to your shop greatly expands your capacity. Being able to produce your own castings of parts for accessories and equipment is a great advantage. Design your own, make a copy or follow a plan. It's easy when you can produce your own castings. It's easy, low cost and great fun. See if casting won't open a whole new world of shop experience for you.

The Flowerpot Crucible FurnaceThe Flower pot crucible furnace - This little jewel is what got me started in metal casting. Lionel walks you through how to make a crucible furnace using plain brick mortar, a flower pot and an old popcorn tin. You may think it is unbelievable but I have more than 20 melts in this furnace without much wear on the pot or the mortar. As a matter of fact, the pain is still nice looking on the can. You can get this book through Lindsay Books or from Lionel's website at

US Navy Foundry ManualUS Navy Foundry Manual -

The LatheThe Lathe - (From The Back Of The Book)

Having been described as "the only machine that can duplicate itself or any other machine in the shop", the metal lathe is the most versatile and desirable of all metal working machine tools. It is certainly among the most expensive pieces of equipment, but there is no need to do without one in your shop because here is a lathe that can not only duplicate itself, but it can produce its own original parts from home made castings and stock materials. A fascinating project from its simple wooden patterns through finished castings and finally a complete machine. You will master many basic skills as you progress.
The basic machine described in this manual has a compound slide rest, belt powered lead screw, split nut carriage feed, adjustable gibs in sliding members and adjustable tail stock set over for taper turning. With its 7" swing and between centers capacity of 12", it provides the foundation for the complete home metal working shop. A machine you'll enjoy building and one you'll be as proud to own as any you might buy.
A later manual in the series will show you how to add change gears, a four jaw chuck, center steady rest and other very desirable and helpful accessories to your equipment. All you need to begin is the charcoal foundry and basic hand tools. The only power tool used to construct the original lathe seen in these photos was a 3/8" electric hand drill. All of the parts are machined on the lathe itself as it evolves. There is never a need to look for outside custom machine work.
How to make patterns and how to mold them, how to use basic hand tools to prepare the castings for final finishing, and how to set them up for accurate machining on the developing lathe are all covered. The original lathe was used to machine a complete set of parts for a second identical machine, and so it not only duplicated itself but actually originated itself to a large extent. A delightful metal working project that provides a very thorough educational and a sound and practical piece of shop equipment.

How to run a latheHow to run a lathe - a book by south bend lathes was published in 1942 details how to level, lubricate and run a lathe. The technology today is much newer but the theory stays the same. This is a good book. Available from Lindsay Books.

Lathe OperationsLathe Operations -

Suppliers and Other Commercial Websites

ENCO - These folks supply a lot of tools and other related items. Sometimes you can find free shipping offers from them. This is the place I bought my surface plate from.

Lindsay Books - Most everyone who experiments or builds things know of this site. Most of the books you see above are available through Lindsays. Check out their site and get yourself a catalog. There is nearly something from everyone there.

Budget Casting Supply - A source for your casting needs. They also have the 1/8" x 1/4" and 1/4" x 1/4" key stock that you will need for the lathe or other Gingery projects.

Upgrades and Enhancements

When you consider building the Gingery Lathe, you will sooner or later start asking other people their experience with the project. One thing that seems to come up often is that the lathe as designed is not as rigid as it needs to be. This section has been set aside for those people who have made modifications to the original plans to remedy some of these issues.

Additionally as you talk to these people you will find many additions and changes to the basic lathe presented by Gingery to make it a better or a more versatile machine. It is this section of the resources for the lathe that I intend on sharing what other people have told me or things I have found on the Internet. Remember, I do not endorse these changes or additions only because I am not a machinist and do not know first hand of the validity of them. I do know that many people share the same opinion and in that situation, more often than not, they are correct.

Upgrades and Enhancements by John Dammeyer

John Dammeyer has come a long way to making improvements to the Gingery Lathe. What follows are the modifications that he suggest to make the lathe more rigid and add some deluxe features to the machine such as Stepper motors for automated screw thread and taper cutting. John, if you read this and see that I err, please correct me.

In an email to the Gingery Machine Group, John gives his recommendations for a better lathe.

There are a bunch of design changes that are mandatory if you want a serviceable lathe.

1. Make the foot under the headstock as wide as the headstock.

2. use X braces inside the bed casting instead of cross braces to help combat twist.

3. Make the carriage 1.5x as wide as it is across. Same width as the apron is nice.

4. If you can do it with your foundry, make the ways (and therefore enlarge the bed casting) so it is 1.25x centre height. Obviously all subsequent patterns that mount to the ways will need to be enlarged.

5. Screw down the ways on both sides of the bed casting every 2" into the bed casting. Modify the bed casting pattern so that there's a place for those screws to bite into.

6.You are better off to pivot the counter shaft from the base rather than the bench. The locking mechanism can then create a triangle between the base, the counter shaft and the spindle. Belt and pulley variations will then not make the headstock shift back and forth relative to the ways. Therefore:

If it's a 3.5" centre height machine, the ways should be 4.375" wide. Since CRS in that size is hard to find settle for 4" wide by 1/2" thick. With a 4" wide way the carriage should be 6" wide. To compensate for the lost Z axis motion you can then extend the length of the ways from 24" to 26" since you've also correspondingly widened and cross braced the bed casting.

John points out to me in another email that the above cannot be done with the 1 quart capacity foundry that Dave instructs us to build. To make these sizes of casting possible, you would have to upgrade you current foundry or locate someone with a foundry with a larger pouring capacity. The following is an excerpt from that email.

But none of those dimensions will work for a Gingery furnace with a 1 quart or #6 crucible so alas the parts are woefully undersized. I came up with those numbers by measuring a large number of different lathes manufactured over the last 75 years.

John Dammeyer

Headstock foot pattern and castingHere is a picture of John's larger headstock end foot casting as well as his patterns for both the headstock end foot and the tail stock end foot. You can click on the image to get a larger view of this picture. Notice John has added two braces to what would be the backside of the headstock end foot casting and pattern. This is to help prevent the bed from twisting as the force of the cutting tool exerts an upward and backward pressure against the headstock.

Ugraded bed patternAnother problem that many people encounter, including myself, is that the bed tends to bow from end to end. Part of the problem as I understand it is due to the fact that Dave has the bed cast in a single pop gate in the center. The rapping of this sprue causes the bed to flex and makes the bow worse. I also think that an amount of it is caused by the stress of the solid top shrinking as it cools. In the picture you see on the right, John tells me that when you create a network of feeds from a large common carrier that the casting comes out nearly perfect with very little hand scraping compared to the original method. Keep in mind that this method will require more aluminum to be melted to make sure you fill the casting.

Mounted bed waysIn this image John shows us how he has used two rows of screws spaced on two inch centers to mount the bed ways to the casting. This, John explains, helps prevent the bed ways from twisting about.

In addition to upgrades to improve the rigidity of the machine, John has taken steps to add new features to the machine. For example, the addition of stepper motors to the carriage screw and crossfeed screw to allow tapers and threads to be cut with the lathe without the addition of gearing and setting the tail stock over. Below we take a look at where he has got with that project and some videos to boot.

To start with let's take a look at one of the modifications.

Stepper motor patterns and castingsIn this image we see the patterns and castings that John uses to mount the stepper motor to the cross slide casting. The stubs you see on the large flat plate will are to mount the stepper motor to while the other allows belt tension to be set.

Stepper motor mounted to castingsHere we see that John has finished the machining of the castings and has the stepper motor mounted to the cross slide screw. In the back casting, the one that holds the screw there is a curved slot that allows the front casting to pivot. This setup allows you to adjust the belt tension between the stepper motor and feed screw. Also note that John left a means to manually adjust the feed screw. Just a note for the curious, you can adjust the feed screw by hand with this setup, and with no power applied you will feel the steps of the motor though the handle. It is worth noting though, that when power is applied to the stepper motor, the motor tries to resist the turning of the screw. You should feel a real difference. One other thing to note is the ratio between the gear on the stepper and the gear on the screw. If this ratio is not a one to one, calculations will have to be made to compensate for it. Do you wonder how fine the feed for something like this is? Well if the screw is 20 TPI one turn of the screw will advance the cutter .050". a typical stepper motor when run in full step mode will advance the motor 1/200 of a revolution if you divide the .050" by 200 you get .00025" advance on the tool or .0005 reduction in diameter. Now that is precision!!! Way to go John!

With the steppers hooked up to the lathe John has created some videos of the machine running. The following videos are fairly large in size. If you have a slow connection it may take you a while to download them.

{flv}casting/lathe/LatheMotion{/flv} This video shows the lathe running under Mach2 Lathe and ELS (Electronic Lead screw.
ELS Slow Acceleration ELS_Slow_Acceleration1.wmv - This video shows the lathe under slow acceleration using ELS (Electronic Lead Screw) software to run the machine. (Unfortunately I cannot get this video to convert to flash.· You may download it however by clicking on the link to the left.)
{flv}casting/lathe/ELSTaper1{/flv} This video shows the lathe cutting a taper using the ELS (Electronic Lead Screw) Software.
{flv}casting/lathe/els_grinding{/flv} This video shows the lathe grinding a tool bit on a special grinding project that John done. The machine is being controlled with ELS. You can check out John's grinding attachment for the lathe at his website by going to

Part 2 - Building the cross slide

Sunday, 28 January 2007

Well, If you are here, you are probably thinking that Joe must be done with the bed assembly finally. Well, no, I am not. As a matter of fact, I am still scraping on the beast, but I had to take a break from it. I can only scrape so long and I start losing grey matter or something. It just drives me nuts. So I thought I might as well do something else as far as the lathe goes.

I am in the process of making the pattern for the cross slide. Now I have tried to make this pattern before. The first time failed because I mis-measured and the pattern was off. So much so that it was not usable. The second attempt just about caused me to soil my pants when I was cutting a dado with two pieces laminated together. During the cut the piece kind of exploded! Let's just say I was not expecting that. I jumped. The third attempt was with my CNC router, and as the router was not really finished, I broke the router clamp and ruined the pattern. This time, though, I am taking it slow, ripped some 5/8" stock from a 2x4 and so far so good. I am getting closer to having it finished but thought I would show a picture of it. That way if anyone out there is actually following my progress on this will see that I have been doing a little something here and there.

Cross slide patternHere you see the start of my pattern. I used my table saw to cut the 2x4 to 5/8" thick. The problem was that my blade was not quite perpendicular to the table leaving a flaw on one side. Another problem I ran into was the channel that is cut for the cross feed screw did not go so well for me. I used a drill bit with a set screw collar to control the depth. But on the second or third hole I drilled the collar slipped and I got a bit deeper than I planned. I adjusted the collar to fix it, but the damage had been done. Well, no matter if this pattern does not turn out, there are a couple of things I want to try. Next I used my dremel and a burr to cut the wood to form a slot and some taper. When all was close, I really gave a coating of wood filler to fill my flaws at the bottom of the screw tunnel and the top where the cross slide ways get screwed down. What you see here is a bit rough, but some sanding and a little forming should bring it back to shape.

Cross slide patternHere is a side view of the pattern so far. As you can tell, I will not be winning any awards for my wood working skills. Here you will notice that the clamp pads are not yet attached and the relief between the wear pads has not yet been cut. I am hoping that I can find some time to work on it tonight. I also have an idea for creating the draft on the out side edges for the screw tunnel / cross slide ways support. If it works I will show it the next update. If you are building a Gingery project, I wish you the best of luck and encourage you to share with the rest of us. If you don't have a place to share, let me know, I can provide a little space to someone who wants to post their work for others to see. In the mean time HAPPY CASTING!!! Oh, almost forgot ... happy scraping too! ;-)

Monday, 29 January 2007

Cross slide patternI managed to find a little more time to work on the pattern. So I thought I would put a couple more images of the progress. I imagine that the more I add to this page, I will probably remove some of this stuff to conserve space. But for now, what the heck. If you compare this image to the one above, you will see that the bearing surface for the ways looks much better. I wanted to make sure that the surface that carries the ways was as parallel to the pieces below it as I could. I used two blocks of wood that were of the same depth and placed them on top of some sand paper on my table saw. I used these blocks to hold the side pieces to prevent sanding any taper into the ways surface. Well, It seemed to work pretty good. Now I turned my attention to something else. I wanted to sand draft into the pattern before I attached the clamp pad pieces to it. I used my protractor to mark a piece of heavy card stock to make a gauge that was 93 degrees. I used this card stock to set the angle on my little belt / disk sander.

Cross slide patternIn this side shot you can see the draft as it was sanded into the pattern. I done the same thing for the clamp pads. There is still plenty more work to do before this pattern is finished, like fillets and rounding the sharp corners and some cosmetic filling. I am grateful to whoever created Bondo and wood fillers. With a coat of paint all my sins are covered. One thing I do want to pass along is how I done the taper on the outsides of the screw tunnel. I am going to attempt to explain it, but if it ends up being as clear as mud to you, let me know and I will post a picture of the device. I started with a piece of sheet metal a couple inches square and found the straightest side I could. We will call this the bottom. I took a permanent black marker and colored the whole bottom section for about 3/4 of an inch. Then I took my protractor and set it for 93 degrees. I scribed a mark about 1/2 inch from the left edge of the sheet metal. The mark angled up to the right. Next I measured 3/8 of an inch from the bottom and scribed a line all the way across the metal. The purpose of the black marker was to help the marks stand out. Next I took some snips and cut along the mark made with the protractor to about 1/4 inch above the horizontal line. Then I clamped the sheet metal in my vice and bent the sheet metal on the right of my vertical cut on the line scribed earlier. I tried to make this bend as close to 90 degrees as practical or as I could eye it. This left me with an angled tab sticking down to the left. Now my tool was complete. To get the taper on the side of the screw tunnel, I took the putty knife and gave a coat of wood filler on the side of the screw tunnel. I used the sheet metal tool to scrape off the putty leaving me with tapered side of 93 degrees. So while you are looking at the images here, you may notice some purple looking color, that was from the sheet metal where I colored it with marker to lay it out.

I am hoping that I can find a little time tomorrow to work on it some more. I guess when I am done with the pattern, I will turn my attention back to the bed casting and scrape until I am sick of scraping again. Don't get me wrong, scraping isn't all that hard to do, or at least it does not seem to be, but it does get boring rather quickly. Well till next time, Happy Casting!

Tuesday, 30 January 2007

Cross slide patternWell, I think I am about done with this pattern. I still need to give it another coat or two of primer and a few clear coats with some sanding in between. The screw tunnel isn't as nice as I would like for it to be, but as long as it is functional I suppose it will be just fine.

Cross slide patternHere is a side view. You can see the fillets on the wear pads and clamp pads.

Cross slide patternFinally here is a shot of the front. My camera didn't focus on the pattern though. Looks like it was more interested in the knife or the grain of the table. Oh well. If you look close, you can see the fillets I put along the screw tunnel. I will most likely finish this pattern up this week. I guess it is back to scraping now. We are expecting some bad weather the next couple of days, so I guess I should have some time to work on it. Till next time. Good luck on your projects and happy casting!

Part 1 - Building the bed and ways

Tuesday, 7 June 2005

When you read this book, you will discover that is is broken down into chapters. The first chapter gears you us to get started. It gives you a brief history of the lathe and explains some of the techniques that you will be using to build the project. The next chapter talks about foundry work and pattern building. Finally you get to chapter three where you start the project by building the lathe bed, feet and install the bed ways.

The first thing you have top do is build the patterns that are going to be used to cast the bed and the mounting feet. These are simple enough to make. I learned a couple of things in the process. I used 1/4" plywood to make my patterns. Plywood is not the best material to use when it is so thin. It warps easily. If I ever make another, I think I will use 3/8" stock of either plywood or clear pine. I think that the heavier casting will be less apt to warp. Below is a picture of the two patterns I made for the lathe bed and mounting feet. (Unlike most of the images on my website, I am using a larger version of the images. You can click the image to get a bigger version yet.)

Bed and Foot Patterns for lathe. Once the patterns are made they can be cast. Molding these things was a real challenge for me. Both these pattern require a double roll and leave a sand core in the drag half of the flask. This core creates the hollow part of the foot and bed. My problem was that when I opened the mold and tried to lift the pattern off of the core, I would break the core. It took about four tries to mold the bed pattern without breaking the one or more of the core prints off. Finally, I rammed the core prints a little lighter and I was able to pull the pattern off them without breaking them. Below is a picture of the two feet that I cast.

Gingery Lathe Feet Castings. These cast fairly good the first go. You can see on top where I cut the sprue off and drilled a hole to mount it to the bed. (This part of my lathe was already together before I decided to post it. I put it together to keep from losing the parts while I moved from Illinois to Tennessee.) The only other thing that I done was to mount the feet on the faceplate of my Craftsman lathe to face them off. As cast the bottom of the feet bowed upwards and did not sit well on a flat surface. I filed most of it off, then decided to try out my lathe. I figured the worse I could do was mess it up and if I did, I had the pattern and the foundry to make more of them. Casting the bed was more of a challenge to me than the feet. First of all the bed had four cores to worry about breaking off while the foot pattern only had one. Below is a picture of the cast bed.

Gingery Lathe Bed Casting. I had real issues trying to get the bed cast. First with breaking the cores when I molded it, then after that with it bowing when I cast it. After the third cast I said to heck with it and used it anyway. You can see that the center of the bed is less than perfect. This is because when I rapped the pattern to remove it from the mold, some of the sand broke away. I laid a piece of sandpaper (rather a strip about 3 feet long) on my workbench and sanded the top down until it was mostly flat. If you seen the side profile of the bed, You can see where it bows up. Some due to me rapping that pattern too hard to remove it from the sand and some of the bow I suspect is just from the shrinking of the casting itself.

Monday, 04 December 2006

Wow, 18 months have passed since I have done anything with the lathe project and this page. But I have not forgotten about it. I have been doing other projects during that time. I still have a LOT of things demanding my time, but for the moment I have a little time to spend with the project. It is dark and too cold to work on the workshop. But I digress ...

When I last left the project, I had sanded the bed casting a little flatter than what it started out with from when it was shook from the sand. I done this by laying a strip of course sand paper about three feet long on my workbench and sanding the casting until it looked like most of the surface was sanded smooth. Now, that does not mean it was flat, flat would require scraping the casting to some standard. Well Dave suggests that we use the cold rolled steel as a flat testing standard. The process as Dave explains it is very simple. Coat the bed with a thin coat of oil paint, rub the test standard on the casting and then look for the spots that the paint was rubbed off. Take your scraper and scrape these spots. Apply new paint and repeat the procedure until you have at least 75% contact between the test standard and the bed casting. (Yeah Dave, that sure is simple to someone who never heard of scraping anything before) ;-)

SCRAPING - The tools of the trade.

Scraping toolsSo how do you scrape, and what do you need. Well Dave gives a pretty good explanation on how to scrape but I thought I would give my $0.02 worth of advice. In the picture to the right you see my tools for scraping. A tube of blue oil paint I bought from Walmart, and oil stone and a file. The file has been ground smooth on the end of the face and the end had been ground to a gentle arc. There is a few great articles on scraping at the scraping forum Yahoo group and I have those documents as well. I will try to post them for you to have if you want them. Scrapers can be ground and shaped to most any shape you need for the job, but this seems to work OK for what I am trying to do. Also, It is important to keep the scraper as sharp as you can get it. It will allow you to make finer cuts and control the cut much better than when it is dull. Dave instructs us to apply a thin coat of paint to the bed, rub the steel ways against it and then scrape those areas that the paint has been rubbed off. Well I done that, but to me, the spots were hard to see and I found myself constantly looking at the bed casting at an angle to the light to see the bright spots of aluminum showing through the paint. The paint is applied in a thin coat so it looked a little metallic to me as well. Long story short, I think it made the job even harder to do that it should be. My solution was to apply the paint to the cold rolled bed ways, and then rub them against the bed casting and scrape the paint spots left on the casting off with the scraper.

Scraping the bedHere you see the bed during the scraping process. I have been scraping on the bed casting a while now, and at first with varying amounts of success. When I first started it seemed like my indicator was moving around. In other words the spots of blue paint that were left on the casting were moving around instead of getting bigger or more spots. Well, I suspect my problem was that I was cutting off too much material and just left more dips and new high spots. I put the bed aside and decided I need to practice on something I could screw up. I took an ingot from the stockpile I had and started on it. I filed the bottom of the ingot as smooth and flat as I could get it, then smeared my plate glass surface plate with a thin coat of paint and applied the ingot face to it. Here is what I learned and maybe it will help you. The scraper should be as sharp as you can get it, and resharpen it often. The angle of the cutting tooth of the shaper will determine the depth of the cut. When you first start you will only have a few high spots, I scraped mine with the scraper held at a higher angle to get a deeper cut and scraped the area that had paint plus a little around it. As you continue the process you will get more spots of paint on the casting and larger spots. Start taking finer cuts. Also, just like a file, cut on the forward stroke and lift the tool slightly on the return stroke. Otherwise, I have noticed that you will grab bits of aluminum with the scraper and it will dig in like what can happen when you file aluminum. Take your time and don't get into a hurry. Just plan on spending a LOT of time with this casting to get it scraped flat. If you look at the photo I posted you will see that I am near 50% contact. Only 25% more to go and I can install the ways on the bed, well after I scrape the back side of the ways flat. I think because I have such a bad spot in the middle of the casting I will shoot for 80% or more contact on the bed, or whatever it takes to get an ample amount of contact around the center of the bed where the sprue was.

Some thoughts about the project so far.

If you have the whole series of books from Dave on building a metal shop from scrap, you will notice that as he goes along, some of his processes change and get better. A case in point for the lathe would be the bed pattern. When dave gets to the Miller, the bed is made of heavier material and is not solid on the top. Additionally, the ways are attached with two rows of screws rather than a single row in the center. The benefit from these changes is that the ways and bed become more rigid because of the structural thickness and more screws holding the thing together, and the next great benefit is that there is only a small area to scrape flat compared to the bed casting of the lathe. The less time you spend scraping the more energy you can put into other parts of the project. These suggestions have been made as well as many others regarding the Gingery projects on the Gingery group on Yahoo. If you are not a member and plan on building any of these projects, I would suggest you join the group, it is free and there are a lot of helpful people there that can help when you get stuck, share information about upgrades to the equipment and tell you what some of the weak points are. Now, I intend to build the project as laid out, but if I were to do the bed again, I would go with something like that on the milling machine. Till next time, happy casting and building!

Sunday, 14 January 2007

SCRAPING, what more can I say. It turns out that there is a bit of skill that goes into the process and a few variables. Your gauging standard, your tools and your technique in applying the tool to the work piece all affect the outcome. I have been struggling trying to get the technique down so that I can progress with the project. I scraped and scraped and didn't seem to be getting anywhere very fast, so I decided to ask around on the Gingery Forum to see if some help was available. First of all, I cannot say enough kind things about these folks. They are there to help each other and you too. If you have a question about your Gingery project, ask there. You will surely get an answer and extra information to boot. My question to the group was basically their scraping experience to see if I could get past the problems I was having. Soon enough I had a lot of resources to look at and plenty of extra tidbits of knowledge to file away. One thing that came up was the testing standard. The conversation ebbed and flowed about this for a bit. I ask about using the cold rolled metal as a testing surface and was asked in return about how flat was the cold rolled steel. Fair enough I thought. Well after chewing on that question a bit, there is no real reason to believe that the steel is flat at all. Now I think Gingery was correct in saying that the thickness is accurate within a couple of, or a few thousands of an inch, but could I detect a slight bow or twist in it? Well the truth of the matter is, it may be straight and flat, it may not be. So I started asking about what standard to use. There are a number of options. Here are the ones that make the most sense to me. (1) Use an existing milled surface like a table saw or other steel surface that has been milled down. (2) Use rather thick plate glass that has been lapped together. I would recommend at least 1/2 inch but thicker would probably be better. (3) Get a surface plate. These are not too expensive as far as buying the plate goes, but shipping will eat you alive. It was suggested that you could use a granite tile or counter top too, but I don't know.

Now I am back to scraping. I ordered an 12 x 18 surface plate from ENCO and with the free shipping offer they had made it a good deal. In the mean time I used the milled surface of my table saw as the test standard. I immediately noticed a different pattern of high spots. Seems like the surface of my table saw and the surface of the cold rolled plate were not the same. Additionally, the group taught me a few things about the indicator. (1) During the start of the project, use a heavier coat of indicator when you start to scrape. Scrape the high spots aggressively. When you have a lot of surface area being indicated like the image above, you need to start using thinner coats of paint. You will discover that your high spots are spread apart and your scraping should be lighter so as not to remove as much material. (3) As you near the end of the scraping task, you will have more and more high spots, grouped closer together. At this point you want a very thin layer of paint and only gentle pressure applied to the plate so that you are picking up only the high spots. Keep working these down until you have several spots per square inch of surface area. The more spots the better and the remaining low spots will hold oil.

The surface plateHere is the surface plate as I received it from ENCO. It came in good shape save for a dinged corner. But that will not affect the use of the plate. Now the plate that I bought was 12 x 18 and as you know the bed is 24 inches long. So to get as much use of the plate as possible, I painted my indicator from one corner to the opposing corner across the plate. I rubbed my bed a few strokes across it and the results were nothing that I expected at all. What is seen on the bed casting were some high spots near the ends and a few inches from each end. That confused me a bit, but I thought that the plate must know. By the way, I received a certificate with the plate giving its inspection date and its government compliance and its actual flatness. The paper said that it was flat to a tolerance of +/- .000050. Man that sure seems flat to me. Well, I started scraping and retesting. I had nearly the same results on the bed with the indicator. So I scraped and tested again, and again, and again, and again. The more I scraped the more story the process told me.

Still scraping the bedNow I suggest you click on the picture of the bed and give a good long careful look at it. Here is what I take on it. You notice that there is indicator on both ends and none in the middle. As I watched the indicator grow on the bed from each scraping that the bed is bowed from end to end. A close look will show you heavier indicator on the ends and as you move towards the center of the casting the indicator gets lighter. Well, I must be getting somewhere because more and more is starting to show up where it wasn't before. The bed is bowed for a couple of reasons. (1) The center of the bed is cast with a pop gate, you are supposed to rap this srpue before you open the mold. Truth be told, I rapped too hard and caused the pattern to flex and bow which shows up very clearly at the bottom of the casting. (2) The top of the bed is solid while the bottom is hollow. As the casting cools and the metal shrinks, it makes sense that the bed should or would bow as it cooled. Maybe a heavier section thickness would have kept it to a minimum. I really don't know. Maybe someone could expand on that sometime for me. The next thing you notice is that there is more indicator on the bottom left and top right of the casting. I take from this that the bed is twisted as well. Now as I set the bed on the surface plate I cannot detect any wobble that would indicate that the bed is not making contact with the plate. I will continue to scrape this casting to see where I can go with it. I am hoping that the indicator will slowly start to show up closer and closer to the center of the casting and at the same time start showing me a balance of indicator on what would be the front and back of the casting. I am going to continue to use a good coat of indicator on the surface plate until I get what appears a reasonable flat casting, then will start using lighter coats of indicator on the stone to show me the real high spots.

I will post my progress as soon as I can show some. For those of you that have not scraped yet, you are in for a treat. Gingery says that it is tedious to do, and well, he didn't lie to us. It must be the longest, most boring task I have ever set myself to do. But hey, I am not going to give up. I want to say someday, LOOK, I WON!!! HEHEHE Thanks for your support and check back once in a while to see where I am at with it. If you have questions, feel free to email me and I will answer them the best I can. HAPPY CASTING!

Wednesday 17 January 2007

Well I have sent quite a few emails back and forth with the Gingery Machines group on Yahoo. Lots of great advice and information was taken in. As a result, I created a resource section to the lathe. Be sure to check it out.

One thing in particular was a bit of advice I got from Mr. Williams. As you see the lathe bed is bowed and twisted as it stands. Mr. Williams suggested that I lay the casting on the surface plate and see how much bow there was. Then indicate and grind it off. Here is part of his comments to me on the group.

Joe, this might be illuminating: Some years ago a friend showed up with a 1968 Chevy 6 cylinder exhaust manifold. It was severely warped into a bow and he asked me to mill it flat. Putting it on my big surface table it was clearly .160" = 4 mm out of plane. As I puzzled how to hold it I decided to just take the high spots off with a disc grinder. Rechecking it showed it had gotten so much flatter I took another pass with the grinder, then progressing from the grinder to a coarse file to a finer file in about 30 minutes left me at a maximum bow of .002" = .05mm in less time than it would have taken to secure it to the mill table!

Bill in Boulder, "Engineering as an Art Form!"

Well, I used a heavy coat of paint on the surface plate and slid the casting across it marking the ends of the casting. I took my die grinder and ground the paint off the casting. I had to repeat this about four or five times until I had indicator showing across the whole casting. So at this point, I think the casting is flat enough to start working. The next trip into the garage, I plan on indicating and draw filing with a course file to get the casting cut down to something closer to flat. Eventually, I will start scraping on it. After my next session, I will try to post a picture for you all to see.

Tuesday 23 January 2007

ComparisonsI have managed to get a little more time here and there to work on the lathe bed. I did not draw file it before starting to scrape because I didn't have a good file to do the work with. So I set out to scraping. I wish I would have taken a photo of the bed as it looked after the grinding session, but as they say hind sight is 20/20. One thing about aluminum is that you have to be light on the touch if you grind the stuff. It does not take much pressure to take a lot of material off the surface. The result was I had quite a few grinder marks on the casting to contend with as well. Fortunately, as I went along the marks were getting less visible and starting showing more and more indicator. The photo you see here is after the 9th scraping and after the 12th scraping. If you click on the image you will get a better view of it. If you look close you will see that there are more areas of the casting starting to come into contact with the plate. The amount of indicator will change the results slightly from scraping to scraping. I try to use the same amount of indicator on my surface plate with each application. Keep in mind that I am using too much indicator for a fine job. As more of the surface of the casting is indicated, I will start using a thinner coat of indicator on the stone and taking lighter cuts from the casting. Dave tells us that we should have at least 75% contact with the ways that are to be bolted in place. I am still a good ways off from that mark. I will keep plugging at it. One thing for sure, I don't like scraping. This must be the worse task I have ever set myself to. BUT, I know that if I keep at it, I will be alleviated of it someday, or at least less of it. Check back once in a while, as I make progress I will post it. In the mean time, HAPPY CASTING!

The Gingery Lathe

A long, long time ago, in a city far, far away ......

I guess that sounds a bit like star wars or something. Maybe I should change the tone of this page. To be serious though, I started my hobby wanting to learn how to make molds to pour miniatures from lead or pewter and then the hobby started to change shape and from from there. At one point I wanted to try out some plastic injection molding. I found a book on the subject from Lindsay Books. (They have a bunch of books on a bunch of subjects, you should check them out if you have never been to their website. If they ask who sent you, just tell them it was one of those mad scientist people. They will understand. You can find them at As I read this book written by Gingery, I noticed that the molds were machined with a lathe and made from aluminum. So I hit a major stumbling block. I had neither a lathe nor a way to cast aluminum. So I started looking around on the Internet and was pricing lathes. It took no time to discover that it was out of my reach. My hobby had to support itself and it didn't have a lathe in its budget. Right when I was ready to give up on the idea of plastic injection I stumbled on Lionel Oliver's site at and what I found there kept me in awe for over an hour. Here I found a guy that was casting metal and building a home made lathe. And best of all, he was doing it on my kind of budget. I ordered his booklet entitled build a flowerpot crucible furnace. All I can say about the book was that it caused my hobby to take a sharp turn to a territory that I had never explored. And it just keeps getting better. If you have never cast metal and want to try it, go to Lionel's site, get his little book and build one. I have had mine for a few years now and it still serves me well. You can cast metal cheaply without much outlay of cash by building this furnace and it is an excellent start for a beginner. (I need to stop, or you will think that Lionel is paying me to advertise his book).

Once I built the furnace and discovered that I could actually melt metal with it, I was hooked. I mean, if I can do it anyone can. Next I ordered Gingery's book on building a lathe. This book is part of the seven book series on building a metal shop from scrap. You can get these from Lindsay's Books. Well I started the Lathe project and had cast the bed and feet when I was given a lathe by a friend of mine. As a result the project lathe has set on the shelf slowly decaying away. I put all of my effort on rebuilding and buying tooling for the Craftsman 10921270 lathe that was given to me. Next I bought the rest of the books in the series. Then I noticed something. Each book builds on the skills you learn and develop from the previous book. Not having any machining skills, I was lost. So one day I decided I was going to build the Gingery lathe and learn what all this machining business was about.

Another thing that I like about how Lionel done his site, was that he broke the construction of the lathe into different sections and posted them that way. Well Lionel, if you ever read this, remember that imitation is the best form of flattery. I am going to break my experience into sections as well.

To get started just follow the links below. I hope you enjoy it but most of all, I hope that it encourages you to try to make one for yourself. Or if not a lathe, anything at all that makes you enjoy your time spent on your hobby. Happy Metal Casting!!!