Ornamental Turning Book of Knowledge
How to Get More Information

Jon Magill wrote some really great articles for AAW's "American Woodturner". He has all of the ones mentioned below on his site, www.RogueTurner.com, and links to them are provided. These are great reads for the person considering this hobby.

Spring 2007, Vol 22, #1

Rose-Engine Turning
pages 46–53

It's a Small World
pages 40-45

Spring 2008, Vol 23, #1

Build an Overhead Drive
pages 30-31

The Cutting Edge of OT
pages 32-35

Summer 2008, Vol 23, #2

Cutting Through the Layers
page 55

Phasing Fundamentals
pages 62–63

Winter 2008, Vol 23, #4

Ornamental Snowflakes
pages 34–35

Fall 2009, Vol 24, #3

Ornamental Obsessions—Slightly Eccentric
pages 60–62

February 2016, Vol 31, #1

What is Old is New Again: A History of Contemporary Ornamental Turning
pages 38–42

There are many historical choices for getting more information. Some of the books are a bit arcane, but they are none-the-less full of information. The YouTube videos shown below are a sampling to help you get started. Some are part of a series, and the series may be of interest to you.

Where possible, I've included links to electronic publications so you can get access to the information quicker (and cheaper). The paper version is probably better in the end as it is easier to mark up, make notes in, and reference quickly (plus, the having these books on your shelf makes you really look wise).

Title Comments
video by christoslind

A study in fixed tool ornamental turning technique from the shop of Alan Collins.

0:54 long.

video by Rich Colvin

This is for some prototyping. I don't like the design produced, but it does show a fly cutter cutting on wood (in this case, Ash).

5:36 long

video by ArgentBluePens

Turning an African blackwood pen barrel using a 200 year-old Holtzapffel ornamental turning lathe. This lathe has been modified for rose engine applications and also has a modern cutting frame pulley apparatus.

5:06 long.

video by MandalaRoseWorks

This is demo of the Mandala Rose Engine, a new, portable and lightweight rose engine for ornamental turning purposes. This rose engine was designed from the ground up to be motor driven and speed controlled.

9:56 long.

video by Ornamental Turners International

An informal walk-around of the MADE Ornamental Lathe at the 2012 Ornamental Turners International Symposium.

Note to those new to OTThis machine is beautiful, but don't think that the new person needs to invest this much to get started.  But, if you can, this is really nice!

8:18 long.

video by ArgentBluePens

Cutting a trial pattern on a brass slug. The rose engine has been fitted with a slow-motion motor drive and operated that way for this movie. I only have so many hands and one is typically occupied holding a pint. The other is holding pressure on the slide rest and holding the camera.

3:00 long.

video by Scott Eagle

Steve White shows us the rose engine and how to turn post finials in this hands on lesson provided by Lindow White and Roseengine1.com.

Notes to those new to OT

  1. Steve White has a series of lessons, and they are great to watch for ideas.
  2. You will have to search for some as they seem to have been uploaded by a different YouTube id (swhitefrog, for example). Search for :
    • "Rose Engine Turning Lesson" or
    • "Rose Engine Woodworking Lesson"

4:31 long.
video by Time and Watches

This video shows a guilloché machine, also known as engraving lathe or rose engine, that is still used today at Vacheron Constantin to create precious decorations in the Manufacture of timepieces. By transmitting ingenious gestures to the tool in hand, by playing on shapes, spacing and interwoven motifs, the guillochéur, the artisan of relief, traces rosettes, broken lines, waves and undulations. From start to finish, the operation is performed by the human hand, of which the machine is merely an extension.

Note to those new to OT :This machine and the work produced are beautiful, but don't think that the new person needs to invest this much to get started.

2:50 long.

Title Information
Ornamental Turning - A Work of Practical Instruction in the Above Art, 1903

Evans, J. H.
188 pages

Turning and Mechanical Manipulation, Vol. 1 - Materials, Their Choice, Preparation and Various Modes of Working Them, 1843

Holtzapffel, Charles
480 pages

eBook Link

Turning and Mechanical Manipulation, Vol. 2 - Construction, Action, and Application of Cutting Tools, 1846

Holtzapffel, Charles
568 pages

eBook Link

Turning and Mechanical Manipulation, Vol. 3 - Abrasive and Other Processes not Accomplished with Cutting Tools, 1850

Holtzapffel, Charles
796 pages

eBook Link

This was originally published in 1850 by Charles Holtzapffel, and was later updated by Charles' son, John Jacob Holtzapffel in 1894.

The 2d edition has 796 pages, of which 300 were revised from the first edition by John Jacob.

Turning and Mechanical Manipulation, Vol. 4 – Hand Or Simple Turning: Principles and Practice, 1881

Holtzapffel, John Jacob
592 pages

eBook Link

Turning and Mechanical Manipulation, vol. 5 – The Principles and Practice of Ornamental or Complex Turning, 1884

Holtzapffel, John Jacob
656 pages

This is considered by many to be the manual for ornamental turning. It is a highly detailed instruction manual covering all aspects of ornamental turning apparatuses.

The language can be a bit hard to follow for someone new to the craft. Probably best to start with other books.

Holtzapffel's book is a masterly exposition of the craft but was written by an engineer in a somewhat tortuous style, with eccentric punctuation.

Forward by Wilfrid John Osborne to Ornamental Tunery : A Practical and Historical Approach to a Centuries-Old Craft, by Frank M. Knox

Holtzapffel, vol. 6 – A Compendium of Rare or Previously Unpublished Material Related to Ornamental Turning, 2013

Edwards, John F.

John Edwards has compiled an huge amount of information and has published it as, “Hotzapffel, Volume VI”.

You can order it (ISBN 978-0-9576594-0-7) from John Edward's sites, www.ornamentalturning.co.uk or http://ornamentalturning.info.

Ornamental Turnery - A Practical and Historical Approach to a Centuries-Old Craft, 1986

Knox, Frank M.
78 pages.


If you are just starting, this is the first book to read. I purchased a used (but very good quality) copy for $16.50.

The Lathe & Its Uses: or Instruction in the Art of Turning Wood and Metal, 1868

Lukin, James
303 pages

Engine Turning 1680 – 1980, The Tools and Technique, 1982

Matthews, Martin

You can order a newly reprinted copy from The Society of Ornamental Turners.

Ornamental Turning, 1990

Walshaw, T.D.
208 pages.

The art of ornamental turning in wood (and, in former days, ivory) has a long and distinguished history and it has recently experienced a renaissance among craftspeople. This is T.D. Walshaw's guide to the art, aimed not only at the experienced woodturner, but also at the novice. This book provides comprehensive chapters on purpose-built ornamental lathes (both antique and modern), essential accessories, using cutting and decorative tools, plus detailed information about screw threads and templates. There are also clear directions on using a standard engineer's lathe to create ornamental work. Fully illustrated with close-up photographs of work in stages and finished projects, plus detailed plans and diagrams, this is the instruction book for any woodturner wanting to master the art of ornamental turning.

Tom Walshaw is better known to hobbyists under the pen name "Tubal Cain" - the writer of many best-selling home workshop and model engineering guides, though he is not the same "Tubal Cain" who has many videos on YouTube (AKA, MrPete222).

If you are just starting, this is the second book to read. I purchased a used (but very good quality) copy for $14.00.

Organization Comments
Ornamental Turners International The Ornamental Turners International (OTI) is a chapter of the American Association of Woodturners.
The Society of Ornamental Turners The Society of Ornamental Turners exists to encourage, develop, and promote the study and practice of the art of ornamental turning.

About this site
Disclaimer : eMail comments to me at OTBookOfKnowledge @ Gmail.com. The process of woodturning involves the use of tools, machinery and materials which could cause injury or be a health hazard unless proper precautions are taken, including the wearing of appropriate protective equipment.