Image courtesy

Rubbers (sometimes called touches) are so called as they rub against the rosettes. The terms are interchangeable, but touch is preferred by some.

A rubber works fundamentally the same way a cam follower does on an engine, except in the opposite way.

  • On an internal combustion engine, the cam follower moves based on the cam's shape.
  • On a rose engine lathe, the the rubber is fixed, and the rosette moves the shaft to which it is attached, based on its own shape.

Two are shown in the picture to the right : the red and white pieces of plastic (only the red one is engaged with the rosette at this time).

Rubbers come in various forms or shapes, and each can produce a different result. Commonly used ones are :

  • Pointed (with a small rounding on the end to minimize damage to the rosette),
  • Bearing ended, where the bearing rides on the rosette, and
  • T-shaped, where the wide T smothes out the undulations of the rosette.

Rose Engine Rubbers in Action

This video shows this movement, along with differently shaped rubbers. I don't know the language used; but the video does show the movement well.

Eddie Bell gave a presentation about variations on the Gorst du Plessis finials at the 2018 Ornamental Turners International Symposium. This is a nice presentation about the effect rubbers can have on the object shape.

G. Phil Poirier wrote The Parts and Processes of a Rose Engine in the Modern Shop for The Santa Fe Symposium. Pages 483-484 show a great overview of the effect on a rubber's radius vs. the shape of the rosette.

Paul Cler Lathe

On a typical rose engine lathe, as the shaft rotates the object and the rosette, the rosette moves against the rubber, moving the shaft. The rubber stays fixed, making the whole headstock move according to the rosette's shape. As shown, this would cause a rocking motion.

I say "typical" as there are a class of rose engine lathes which have a fixed headstock, and the cutter moves according to the rosette. This is the Pudsey-Dawson approach, and the Paul Cler lathe is an example of this.

Recently, this approach is becoming more prevalent with the ready availability of linear bearings at a low cost. At the 2018 Ornamental Turners International Symposium, one demonstrator had a self-built rose engine lathe using this approach.

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