All hail Dave Gingery

All hail Dave Gingery
gingery charcoal furnace.jpg

If you hang around makers long enough, especially older ones, sooner or later somebody will mention Dave Gingery. And then everybody within earshot will either A) genuflect or B) look around in confusion at all the people who are genuflecting. For those in the latter category, here’s an explanation I wrote for Supernaturale awhile back:

Some people are better with tools than others. Like most human attributes, there’s a normal distribution of this talent, with a few exceptionally handy-capped people, a few übermechaniker, and most of the rest of us somewhere in between. The late, great Dave Gingery definitely belongs in the “über” category. His classic 6-book series, available for decades now through Lindsay Technical Books, begins with instruction about how to build a home blast furnace and sand table so you can melt scrap metal and cast your own metal parts from wooden patterns. The remaining six books go on to describe how to use these castings to make your own lathe, metal shaper, milling machine, drill press, and indexing head. The order is important, because each tool requires the use of the previous machines in its construction. While the project seems a bit ambitious for me given my available time, I keep a set of the books around on the off-chance I’ll be solely responsible for rebuilding industrial society in some sort of post-apocalyptic scenario.

Dave and Vince Gingery.jpg

Dave, sadly, left us in 2004. Personally, I think there should be a formal day of remembrance among makers. Meanwhile, Dave’s son Vince is carrying the torch and has published a healthy oeuvre of DIY books himself. The works of both father and son are available through Lindsay Technical Books.

From the pages of MAKE:


Dale Dougherty reviewed Lindsay’s Technical Books way back in MAKE 04. The review includes some classic Gingery quotes.


6 thoughts on “All hail Dave Gingery

  1. JD says:

    Agreed. Dave was (is) a master. If my feeble skills ever amount to a 10th of his, I will consider myself accomplished. If you don’t have a set of his books, and are even remotely interested in metal working, you should pick up a set.

  2. FredB says:

    Outstanding Olde School Makery.

    Shows that RepRap is nothing new. Machine tools have been making machine tools for as long as they have existed.

  3. rbean says:

    Dave was actually pretty modest about his skills– he was mostly self-taught, and his books were the result of a lot of trial and error. He thought other people could do it as well as he could, if they put enough effort into learning how. His books (and Lindsay’s catalog) were an attempt to inspire other people to do this kind of thing themselves.

    Even if you never build the stuff, his books are full of useful tips– for example, the lathe book shows how to make accurate cuts on a lathe with uncalibrated dials.

Comments are closed.

Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

View more articles by Sean Michael Ragan


Maker Faire Bay Area 2023 - Mare Island, CA

Escape to an island of imagination + innovation as Maker Faire Bay Area returns for its 15th iteration!

Buy Tickets today! SAVE 15% and lock-in your preferred date(s).