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Engine Turning

I like to define Engine Turning as "Mechanically assisted engraving."  It is an old decorative art using very specialized equipment, a steady and experienced hand and absolute concentration.  The art was at its peak in the late 1800's and early 1900's and was used extensively on watch faces, jewelry and fine kitchenware.


Engine work is true engraving using a fixed tool, or graver, to remove material.  This method provides a very different, more lustrous and reflective surface than typical modern-day high speed rotating tools.

There are a number of typical Engine Turning categories I will discuss briefly here:

Rose Engine

Rose Engine turning lends itself to repetitive round geometric patterns.  It may sound a bit boring, but are thousands of permutations and variations.  Each design plays with the light differently and presents its individual 3D illusory effect. Sometimes the emergent patterns can look inches deep when the actual engraving is on the order of .002" to .004" deep.  We currently have 2 rose engines and have the ability manufacture patterns custom to your aesthetics and needs.

Rose Engine

Rose Engine Turning


7x Magnification

Straight Line Engine
Straight Line Engine

Straight line Engine turning is much like Rose Engine work with repetitive straight geometric patterns.  A typical place to see this work is on really nice pens and mechanical pencils.

Straight Line Engine

Nickel Silver

10x Magnification

Round Brocade Engine

Brocade Engine Turning was, at one time, considered the lowest of the Engine Turning arts.  This is because, once set up, a pattern could be repeated over and over by a less skilled operator.  The real expertise is knowing in how to set up the equipment as they are the most complex of the engine turning machines with a plethora of adjustments and settings.  We find this the most useful machine for modern work - like logo reproduction as seen here.

With the help of our in house machine shop, we have a the ability to reproduce your symbol, device, emblem, trademark, brand or shield repetitively.  And, once a custom pattern is machined for you, it can be used with whatever product you desire.

Brocade Engine Pattern

Custom Machined Brocade Pattern

Finishe Brocaded Wine Glass Coaster

Brocaded Wine Glass Coaster


Rose Engine turned details
Combined Work

In this example of Brocade work is hidden Straight Line work.  To give the appropriate amount of detail the inside of the butterfly wings have been ornamented with Straight Line work.


We have some equipment projects in process.

The restoration of an early 1900's Straight Line Brocade Engine is underway..

Additionally, a Birch Double Mandrel head stock as recently been acquired with plans to use it for a Medallion Lathe.

We are also in progress making a semi-homemade Geometric Lathe.


Engine Turning is considered a subset of Ornamental Turning.  The use of Ornamental Turning techniques and equipment in wood and ivory predates Engine Turning in metals by several hundred years.  Some of the most extravagant works were completed in the 1500's and 1600's.  An example of this can be seen in the Coburg Ivorys collection.  Ornamental Turning was completed on special Rose Engine Lathes as well as Ornamental Tuning Lathes.

Ornamental Turning work is completed on a Holtzapffel lathe from the first part of the 1800's or a specially constructed Rose Engine recently completed after 3 years in the making.

Ornamentaly Turned Wine Bottle Stopper

Wine Bottle Stopper made of African Blackwood ornamented with by antique Ornamental Turning Lathe with brass Brocaded insert and Stainless Steel.

Brocade Engine Example
Hand Engraved Wings


Hand Engraving

Hand engraving, completed with antique gravers, not modern power carvers is used to compliment your design.

Here is a photo of a Brocaded butterfly that is later chased with gravers to better outline the wings.

Fine Silver (.999, 100% recycled) butterfly fresh off the 1911 Brocade Engine

We offer vitreous enamel work - real glass fused in a kiln to your design at over 1400°F

The final prototype.  Brocaded butterfly with hand chased wings, wing veins and Straight Line work to detail the wings

Brocaded and Enameled Pendant

The wings stand out after chasing with hand gravers


Leaded and non-leaded enamels fired in a kiln at 1400F to 1500F

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