Ornamental Turning


Ornamental Turning, also called Complex Turning, is executed on a lathe with attachments which convert a plain circular section to variants of outline; these range from a simple series of cuts taken at intervals around the work (so producing grooves or bumps on the surface) to non-circular movements whereby the whole of the circular shape is removed to give a completely different form.

One ornamental turner described it this way:

These days, ornamental turners working in wood often use a rose engine lathe to produce their artistic pieces. But there are other ornamental turning options which do not use a rose engine lathe.

Chinese Nested Spheres

Also, there are some really nice ornamentally turned pieces made on a "traditional lathe". A classic example is the Chinese Nested Sphere pictured to the right.

David Springett's book, Woodturning Wizardry is an excellent resource for such work. These books are very useful also:

  • John Jacob Holtzapffel's Turning and Mechanical Manipulation, Vol. 4 and
  • John Jacob Holtzapffel's Turning and Mechanical Manipulation, Vol. 5 and
  • Jeremy Soulsby's English translation of Louis-Eloy Bergeron's Manuel du Tourneur, the Plates and Volume 2

Some useful videos about ournamental turning include:

Additional pictures of this device

Examples of work produced with this device

Examples of this device in use

Usage Notes

How it works

Notes on making one

More Information

Published Articles

Books and Papers

Web Sites



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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.