Ornamental Turning Book of Knowledge
What is a Rose Engine Lathe?

Rocking Motion

At a simplistic level, a rose engine lathe makes three sets of movement happen at the same time.

  1. An object, held in a chuck, is rotated very slowly (typically <10 RPM) about the Z axis,

  2. The headstock is rocked back and forth based on the shape of a cam (also known as a rosettes), and

  3. A spinning cutter (held in cutting frame) is engaged to make the cutting.

The video below shows these activities working in harmony to produce a nice design.

But what makes a Rose Engine Lathe really fun is that there are so many variables that can be brought into play.

  1. There are a whole bunch of types of chucks that can present the object in different ways to the cutter,

  2. The headstock can:
    1. rock back and forth,
    2. pump to the left and right, or be
    3. held fixed, and indexed using a indexing wheel.

  3. The cutter can:
    1. rotate horizontally, vertically, or somewhere in between,
    2. spin like a drill, or
    3. simply be a fixed scraper.

To me, the most excellent part is the way it can work relatively unattended. This means:

  • I can walk to the other end of my shop and get a cup of coffee whilst it is running, and

  • Someone who has less muscular control (e.g., an arthritic) can make great pieces whilst sitting in front of the machine, making small adjustments as needed. This hobby really accommodates those of us who aren't in the prime of our life any more (or maybe never were).

And, my wife loves what I make on the machine! (She chooses what to keep, and what to give away.)

So, how do you get started? Well this site is intended to help you do just that. But if you get hung up along the way, do send me an email via the address shown below. I will do what I can to get you past your stopping point.

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.