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Ornamental Turning

Ornamental turning differs from traditional or plain turning insofar as it primarily involves the decoration or surface embellishment of objects that may first have been turned by traditional means. One of the key differences between plain and ornamental turning is that in the latter the tool rotates instead of the work. In ornamental turning tools may be profiled in a variety of ways, and move in any direction while cutting. Although the work itself remains stationary in most cases, sometimes both the tool and the work may move in a synchronized fashion. The variety of decorations and surface shapes that result is infinite so the skill of the ornamental turner in part lies in the ability to produce designs which are artistic and consistent with the object being embellished.

The embellishment normally consists of a series of cuts, incisions or holes made at regular intervals around the work. Ornamental turners have traditionally made all cuts using a mechanically controlled machine such as an ornamental lathe or a Rose Engine lathe. The cuts or incisions must remain as they leave the tool as any attempt to improve their finish will detract from the crispness of the cuts. For this reason the wood typically used in ornamental turning tends to be the hardest wood such as African blackwood, boxwood or gidgee. It should be noted that works which have been created featuring freehand texturing which is commonly undertaken using hand tools such as the Robert Sorby Spiralling & Texturing tool or a Dremel are not classified as traditional ornamental turning. Ornamental turning was particularly popular during the Victorian era. Although its popularity fell during the early part of the 20th century there has been renewed interest in this ancient craft in recent times.

Some examples of ornamental turning by our members.

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