Retractor on a MADE Lathe
Image courtesy Al Collins

A Retractor can be used for two activities on the rose engine lathe.

  1. Fading work. But, unlike a fixed fading mechanism (e.g., the MDF rose engine's fading wedge), a retractor can be used to change the fading during the cut.
  2. Fixed Tool Turning, where the desire is to slowly engage the cutter into the work.
Artists who do fixed tool turning can use this to "ease into" the rosette's pattern. They will establish the height of the cut (the outside diameter) first, and then engage the retractor so that, as the piece rotates, the amount of fading will be steadily reduced, and the cutter will be engaged to cut deeper and deeper.
The retractor allows this to be done much more easily and efficiently. (The alternative is to do this manually, and that is far more time consuming.)

Additional pictures of this device

Examples of work produced with this device

Examples of this device in use

Usage Notes

How it works

A typical retractor is a screw mechanism which is rotated using some form of mechanical attachment to the spindle. A common approach is to use a belt drive so that, as the spindle rotates, it also drives the action of the retractor to turn the screw.

Notes on making one

More Information

Published Articles

  • Fixed Tool Technique on a Rose Engine by Al Collins. The why and how of using fixed tools. Ornamental Turners International Newsletter, Volume 27, No. 2 - October, 2020, pg. 4

Books and Papers

Web Sites



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Disclaimer: eMail comments to me at OTBookOfKnowledge @ 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.