Contemporary Writing and Other Media

On Ornamental Turning and Related Work

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This Notebook will consist mostly of bibliography and links, since everything being written in our own period is still in copyright. (Unfortunately, very little of it is licensed through Creative Commons or other licensing encouraging responsible copying and re-use. It is therefore doomed to be lost as soon as its web hosting lapses, as it cannot be republished. Some fairly important material referenced here has already been lost (e.g., the Pledge & Aldworth Illustrated Engine Turning Reference is gone)).

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Baird. [Louis XVI Lathes.] (2005)

Baird, Olga. "The Ornamental Lathe of Louis XVI from Collection of Science and Industry." The Society of Ornamental Turners Bulletin. Vol. 23, Whole No. 113 (September 2005): 102-107.

This is primarily a study of the "La Croix" lathe at the Birmingham Collection of Science and Industry (see the photographs of this lathe from Wikimedia Commons in the "Collections" Notebook ). It covers briefly other lathes which also have been associated, with greater or lesser credibility, with Louis XVI, including Science Museum Inv. No. 1922-265, the lathe discussed in Gentry's 1922 article in The Model Engineer . (Note, though, that the "Science and Society" image number she cites for Science Museum 1922-265 is incorrect. She cites image 10437418, which is a Rose Engine Lathe circa 1768 by Hulot fils. The image of Inv. 1922-265 is No. 10415845.)

Baird has uploaded this article to the "" website (you may need to register there to view it):

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John Edwards, of the Society of Ornamental Turners, has wrtten a number of very good introductory pieces on ornamental turning and related work, both as a whole and in its various aspects. These include:

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Matthews. Engine Turning. (2006)

[This is a link "up and over" to the entry for this video in the 20th century section; even though it was made in 2006, I wanted to keep all of the references to Matthews' work in one place.] This video covers a marvellous range of material, from rose engines and straight line engines, through some ornamental turning, to brocade engines.

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Elliptical/Oval Turning

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Volmer. "Ovalturning." (2006)

Volmer, Johannes. "Ovalturning." Second Edition. (Chemnitz, Germany: By the Author, 2006) Manuscript published as a PDF online at: This is a practical treatise which has, nevertheless, a solid historical and theoretical base.

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Rose Engines

Note: See also Martin Matthews' video, Engine Turning , which includes quite a bit on rose engines.

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Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie

The Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie has a video, The Guillocher, showing Rose Engine work. It also (I think) includes images of a Brocade Engine in use; this is rather unusual. It is unexpectedly charming. It is online on their website in French, Japanese, and English at

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Lindow-White Rose Engine

The Lindow Machine Works now manufactures a rose engine for sale, the Lindow-White. See their website at (note: not "", which someone seems to be domain-squatting on at present). Lindow-White also have a number of videos online on the use of their rose engine.

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Magill. MDF Rose Engine (2007)

In the Spring 2007 issue of American Woodturner magazine, Jon Magill presented an article on "Rose-Engine Turning" which included a description, with available plans, of a Rose Engine constructed out of MDF (Medium-Density Fiberboard). This MDF Rose Engine was based on an earlier design by Paul Fletcher. This article, together with plans and a video, is available on the American Association of Woodturners' site: (Hover over "About", then clickon "AW Journal" then scroll down to "Additional Downloadable Content" and see the Spring, 2007 section for the article, drawings, and videos.)

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The firm of Vacheron-Constantin has produced a video, Master Guillocheur - Métiers D'Art and uploaded it to YouTube: It is an advertising piece, not a technical film.

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Straight-Line Engines

Thanks to the enthusiasm of several modern practitioners, there is finally a good body of information available on actual practices of Rose Engine and Straight-Line Engine work.

A list of names of makers of Straight-Line Engines (sometimes just knowing a name helps in research):

Note: See also Martin Matthews' video, Engine Turning , which includes quite a bit on straight-line engines.

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Rich Littlestone / Metalwrite / Argent Blue

Has put together several very nice videos of using a straight-line engine. See: Pen Barrel Guilloché,, Pen Barrel Guilloché 2,, and Pen Clip Guilloché,


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Chris Manning / Silver Hand Studios

Has restored two G. Plant straight-line engines. There are photographs of these on the blog on his website, on his flickr photostream:, and in the Gallery of the Ornamental Turners International website: (search the Gallery for "Chris Manning"). These are extremely useful for someone trying to understand the construction details of a straight-line engine without actually having one to view.


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Pledge & Aldworth

Formerly there was a splendid modern treatise available online from the firm of Pledge & Aldworth, The Illustrated Engine Turning Reference, at Regrettably, the entire Pledge & Aldworth site is now offline.

This "Illustrated Engine Turning Reference" existed in two edition. The first edition has been archived more or less completely by The Internet Archive, and is accessible via their "Wayback Machine." The links don't always work quite right within The Wayback Machine, so I find it most useful to plug this in to its search:

This displays a list of all of the times the work was archived between 1999 and 2006. Pick a likely archived version, and read away (you should end up with a page titled "Reference Contents" which lists the two dozen odd pages of the work). I think that most of these versions are identical; in this edition, the work was complete in the late 1990s.

Around 2007, "The Illustrated Engine Turning Reference" was revised into a second edition. The text of this second edition may be found via The Wayback Machine, but, regrettably, they did not archive the images for this edition.

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Roland G. Murphy / RGM Watch Company

Pennsylvania-based watchmaker. Has produced The Art of Guilloché (Engine Turning) covering (very nicely) both the Rose Engine and the Straight-Line Engine. This video emphasises the machine as kinetic sculpture, while the Littlestone videos (see above) emphasize its operation. Note that in one scene he is shown operating a Rose Engine wearing a loupe - and that the loupe has engraved on it the logo for RGM Watches. Clearly this demonstrates an attention to detail!


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Brocade Engines

Note: for a different, and perhaps more traditional, style of Brocade Engine, see the video, Engine Turning, by Martin Matthews .

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Steve White; Linden & Co. Brocade Engine

Steve White demonstrates a 1930s vintage Linden & Co. Brocade Engine. On YouTube at:

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Shevlin. Guilloché. (2017)

Shevlin, Calina C. Guilloché: A History and Practical Manual Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing, Ltd., 2017. ISBN: 978-0-7643-5017-7.

An extremely useful combination of practice and theory.

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Specific Apparatus: Dividing

Mike Fallows has published drawings and calculations for a two-plate vernier dividing plate for the Myford ML7 lathe on the Ornamental Turners International website:

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Specific Apparatus: Goniostats

If the ornamental turner's goniostat is of interest, it's likely that certain tool cutter grinders such as the Gorton 375 (I am fortunate enough to have one) and the Quorn will be of interest as well. If you're more familiar with conventional lathe tool bit grinding, note that most traditional ornamental turning and rose/straight-line engine tools were ground with no side or back rake; the top of the toolbit was flat. The goniostat, therefore, has no provision for grinding this surface.

Mike Fallows has posted engineering drawings of a goniostat on the Ornamental Turners International website at:

An unnamed user on the Ornamental Turners International site has put up three pictures of two brass goniostats from, I think, Mike Fallows' OTI plans in the Gallery (all three pictures are in the main page of the Gallery (not in an album); one of them spells goniostat "geniostat"). It's made of brass with a plastic protractor.

Ornamental Turners International site user "Geoffrey" has put up several pictures of his goniostat in the Gallery (search on "goneostat"). It's made of brass with a paper protractor.