Fixed Tool Turning


Fixed Tool work with Artificial Ivory
Made by Al Collins

Fixed Tool Turning is the ornamental turning term for scraping.

Dovetail Scraper

If you've used scrapers in wood turning, you get the idea: a metal tool with some profile is presented to the object whilst the object turns, and the tool scrapes off a very thin layer at a time.

The shape of the scraping tool used in ornamental turning is a bit different than the one shown above as, in ornamental turning, the tool will need to be able to get into cracks and crevices created by the rosette. A bevel angle of 20-22° is typical, and 15° is not uncommon.

There are some shapes that can only be made using this method of turning.

Guilloché is another form of fixed tool work, but the tool is applied to the material in a slightly different different manner (typically the tool is spring-loaded).

Examples of work produced with this technique

Al Collins (the "A" in the MADE Lathe) is a one artist doing this type of work. You can see some of his creations on his Instagram page.

Examples of this technique in use


GPhilPoirer made this video of fixed tool work on his Armbruster Mark II rose engine late, and posted on his Instagram feed.

How many times did you rewatch it, mesmerized by the actions?

Usage Notes

This video describes tools, setup, and turning process to produce patterns that are only available with fixed tools. It was given by Al Collins at the 2018 Ornamental Turners International Symposium. This is fascinating to watch, as it happens so very slowly.

More Information

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

About this site
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.