Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Rose Engine Ornamental Lathe

The presentation at last night's woodworkers' meeting was given by Dean Swagert, club member, who built his own Rose Engine Ornamental Lathe from plans printed in an article in American Association of Woodturners publication.

Dean is a Rock Star Woodworker.

The Rose Engine gets its name from the shape of the rosette wheels that play a part in the shape that is cut into the workpiece. Several other variables, like position of the carbide cutter, design of the rosettes (you can stack more than one on the machine), use of the indexing plate, and shape of the rubber, can also alter the design.

The rosettes are fastened to a headstock that pivots back and forth and bounces off the rubber; the wheels are turned with polyurethane tubing; the motor is 7.5 rpm, direct drive; and for increased precision, Dean installed a variable speed motor and compound gear system.

Dean turns pieces on a regular lathe that are simply amazing. He explains how he makes them, but it's way over my head. He also makes traditional Japanese tansu cabinetry, with hardware made in Japan.

And here are some of the pieces this quiet, humble, Korean War veteran has made with his Rose Engine Lathe. Enjoy!


YouTube video using an ornamental lathe.
Plans to build one of your own.
Rose Engine Lathe and parts for sale.
Previous post about the Rose Engine Lathe.


Vic Hubbard said...

Wow! Those are cool! I'm not mechanically inclined, but I'll definitely have to try my hand at building one someday. Those rosettes are beautiful.

Hey, Did Nancy say you could go out and play yet?>:|

Kari Hultman said...

You're right, the pieces were gorgeous, and the cutter produced a finished surface--no sanding required. He also said you do not need to sharpen the cutter—ever—since it's carbide. Bonus!

I snuck out when she was at Tai Chi class...shhhh.

Shazza said...

Wow...they are beautiful pieces.

Thanks for posting this Kari...interesting stuff!

Remember - she has a sword and is learning to use it!

Vic Hubbard said...

OMG! Nancy has a sword?!?!?
You'd better start behaving!!

Kari Hultman said...

Yeah, she uses it in Tai Chi class. And guess where's she's taken to stowing it??? I suppose she figures since it has a blade, I won't complain.....

Anonymous said...


Those swords are made of *wonderful* steel. In fact, it will probably hold the edge very nicely...

; )

will said...

I once had the opportunity to visit a private person who owned a Goyen lathe - there's about ten Goyen's still in existence. It was made in the 19th century and with it you can do the most incredible ornamental turnings - much like you've shown - or do flat work - such as make a copy of Notre Dame's Rose Window or engrave a money printing plate (I was told that's how the US Treasury does paper money , with a Goyen).

The lathe came with several tall metal cabinets filled with accessories, including special sharpening jigs for each cutter. Everything was "decorated" with Victorian era striping and fancy metal work.

The fellow who owned the Goyen had waited for 25 years for one to be available. He was in the Midwest and he bought it from a person in Australia.

While I was visiting he was turning a flute made of Pink Ivory.

I've seen lots of old and new tools but never anything as amazing as the Goyen lathe.

Kari Hultman said...

Al---good thinking! ; )

Bill, I google-imaged "Goyen lathe" and it is indeed an incredible machine. Hard to believe they were able to produce such precision machinery in the 19th c.

Anonymous said...

if you're into this stuff, you'll want to check out this site that covers everything OT:


Kari Hultman said...

Thanks for the link!