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  • Latest project with long boring story

    A neighbor friend of mine called me a while back and asked if I would be interested in helping with a machining project. I'm always interested in machining projects. He is a master ornamental wood turner using what is called a Rose Engine (RE) lathe. He makes some very amazing stuff. Here are some examples of ornamental wood turning with an RE lathe,

    As you can see the ornamental wood lathes are capable of making some interesting shapes and even capable of turning an almost square box.

    RE wood lathes are fairly rare and usually very expensive. My neighbor who is an engineer decided he wanted to try to make an affordable way for people to get into ornamental turning. He has a friend in England who had been working on a way to make an RE lathe out of MDF wood. With the approval from the friend in England my neighbor ran with the project. He redesigned much of the original design to use many off the shelf parts from the local hardware store and MSC. The parts that he couldn't buy I made for him. When he was done with two prototypes we were all amazed at the quality of the work that could be produced with this thing. It would do things that his $36K RE lathe wouldn't do. Both of the previous pictures were of parts that were made on this machine. Here is a picture of the finished lathe,

    My neighbor was then asked to write an article on how to use an RE lathe for the American Woodturner Journal. This article described RE turning, showed many projects and had an overview on how to build the lathe. In the article he gave a link where the complete instruction manual and all of the CAD drawings could be downloaded for free. Also at the link there is a video of the lathe in operation. The information and video is towards the bottom of the page listed under the heading "additional downloadable content for the spring AW issue:” Here is the link,

    One of the reasons I posted this is there are some members here who are into wood working also, and this is a fairly simple project for someone with wood working skills and a metal lathe and mill. Here is a picture of the parts,

    But there's more to the story. My neighbor thought that most wood workers wouldn't have access to a mill or metal lathe so the project would be out of reach for many, so he decided to put together kits and sell them. He had me machine enough parts to make 60 kits. I thought his wife was going to kill him for investing that much time and money into this project. When the AW article came out the response for kits was crazy, he sold over 30 kits in the first two weeks. He and I also started touring and doing demos for different wood turning clubs and in June will be doing 4 demos at the wood turners symposium in Portland OR ( He is almost sold out of kits and just asked me for another 60 to be completed before the Portland show.

    This idea could even be built in metal and used for light metal cutting. I know of one person who did this. Take a look at some of the work this guy does on metal and wood with a home made RE lathe,

    My friend and I worked very hard on this project and we hope some of you will download the free plans and instructions, give it a try and have some fun with it,

    I will post some more pics in another post,
    Mark Hockett

  • #2
    More pictures

    All of these items were made on the MDF Rose Engine lathe.
    Mark Hockett


    • #3

      Well!! - what more can I say - its all there.

      Back to the fundamental cam-driven profile lathe (no CNC - just cams) and sheer genius.

      And to top it off, it is available to try.

      A true "Users helping users" situation.

      Point very well taken re. wood machinists being Home Shop Machinists as well!!

      I guess us (well, me anyway) just assumed, wrongly, that HMS was all about and only about metal machinists.

      Well, I confess to being wrong and myopic as well as having been corrected and taught a very good lesson - in many ways.

      Again, "thank you".


      • #4
        WOW...thanks for sharing that. Very nice.


        • #5
          Fantastic work! I'm quite interested in ornamental turning and have made accesories for my small metal turning lathe, never considered starting from scratch as it were. Is the England connection strong enough that we are likely to see kits over here?

          Well done to both of you.

          West Sussex UK


          • #6
            Nothing long and boring about this post! I could easily go a few hours and look for more. Great post and I'm grateful for you posting it. The work is fantastic. A lot of highend custom gun makers and engravers like to case their work usually with custom screw drivers and cleaning kits. This work would look beautiful with these guns.

            I'm not too interested in trying to build the model engines guys are building for projects although I find them interesting to look at. This Rose Engine is something I'd like to take a run at. Before someone else does it and now that the cat is out of the bag, your neighbor might consider offering up CD's with this info on ebay as those guys with dial-up will have a tough time with it.
            Last edited by Your Old Dog; 05-23-2007, 05:52 AM.
            - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
            Thank you to our families of soldiers, many of whom have given so much more then the rest of us for the Freedom we enjoy.

            It is true, there is nothing free about freedom, don't be so quick to give it away.


            • #7
              RE lathe

              WOW! What YOD said with loud and long applause! I am going to save those plans. I have looked at the Legacy Ornamental wood working machine with interest but not enough to spend that much money for 1.
              Thanks! I love being part of this group/forum/website!



              • #8
                Way to go! Great idea, and like YOD said you might get a head start on the ebay thieves befor e one of them downloads and starts selling the plans. Thanks
                Been there, probably broke it, doing that!
                I am not a lawyer, and never played one on TV!
                All the usual and standard disclaimers apply. Do not try this at home, use only as directed, No warranties express or implied, for the intended use or the suggested uses, Wear safety glasses, closed course, professionals only


                • #9
                  Wow as well



                  • #10
                    The detail is just amazing --- I never would have thunk it, Not questioning it, but it blows me away at how the main spindle of that machine can be mounted in a wood base, never would have thunk that either --- Is it posible for that machine to hold up for years without getting loose and falling apart, would the stability of metal improve things? what about conversions for somebody to take a cheap metal lathe and turn it into something like that?
                    Thanks for posting.


                    • #11
                      You know, I have at times poked fun at woodworkers... as their idea of "precision" differs from mine... being different materials, Wood and Metal...

                      I take it all back..
                      I won't be poking fun at woodworkers any more...

                      That darn thing work on more axis' of motion than my brain does...

                      Paul F.


                      • #12
                        There were a couple of reasons for making the lathe out of MDF. It is a very stable material with no grain structure to worry about. It is very easy to work with and obtain (low cost). It has very good vibration damping quality. It takes glue well and when sealed properly should last many years. One of the biggest surprises was the ability to drill and tap threads into it. You just drill and tap the threads, pour some thin Cyanoacrylate glue and then re-tap the hole. At first I thought that the tapped holes should have a heli coil but after seeing how many times the screws have been in and out for the demos I think tapping the MDF is just fine.

                        The link I gave for Randy Knapp's studio shows his RE lathe, which is very similar to this one only made out of metal, so it is very possible to do that.

                        Here is a link showing Randy Knapp's home made RE lathe cutting aluminum and it shows his process of making kaleidoscopes,

                        There are some design features built into the MDF RE lathe for future options. Right now we are working on a double rubber system for the rosettes (cams). This will allow you to rub two rosettes at the same time to create even more patterns. Another feature that we are working on, and the reason there are bushings on the main spindle instead of bearings, is a system to allow the spindle to pump back and forth using one of the rosettes. One rosette will rock the headstock and one will slide the spindle front to back. This can create some very cool effects. We are also working on a way to modify a Harbor Freight cross slide drill press vise to work in place of the Hardinge cross slide in the picture. This will help lower the cost to build and eliminate the need for the QCTP. We are even working on a way to adapt a milling machine power feed to the spindle so you don't have to hand crank.

                        Alan Smith,
                        My neighbor (who we will call Jon, because that’s his name) will ship the kits to England. He is also going to be over there (Sussex) in November and will have kits with him. I don't know if he will be doing any demos. The wood turners organization in the UK asked if they could print the article in their journal. There is some tension between the original designer (Paul Fletcher) and the UK group, so I'm not sure of the status on the article being printed in the UK.

                        Contact Jon at [email protected]. He can send you a CD with all of the info. The cost should be minimal, just the shipping and the cost of the CD.

                        Jon just sent me a link to the Ornamental Turners International web site ( His plans and video can also be downloaded there. There are some nice pictures in the gallery. The site is fairly new so there’s not a lot of content yet but hopefully some of the guys building this lathe will start posting some pictures of finished projects.

                        One thing I should mention that kind of amazes me is the finish that you see on the parts is the right off the lathe. Due to the complex shapes and fine detail it’s usually not possible to sand the parts after machining. They just get a coat of wax or stain and they are done.

                        Mark Hockett
                        Last edited by Mark Hockett; 05-23-2007, 01:35 PM.
                        Mark Hockett


                        • #13
                          Mark, first class. thanks for sharing
                          in Toronto Ontario - where are you?


                          • #14
                            Outstanding post!! My neighbor is a wood worker and I have made several tools for him in the past. This will probably be the next when sees this article! Many, many thanks for sharing this!

                            A side note about woodworkers versus metal workers; my neighbor and I are always messing with each other as he obviously works with wood, and I metal. It is in good fun. I tell him that I make the tools that make his messes. However, I know that he is a genuine craftsman in the work he does, and that respect is present both ways (though I think he is far more proficient in wood than I in metal). I have tried wood working including turning, and had decent results I guess for an amateur. It is not my cup of tea, and certainly isn't as easy as it looks. For me, I will stick to the metal work. I know it (okay, I can spell metal ), and enjoy it. He is the same in regards to wood work.

                            Keep us up to date on how things are going for you! Best of luck!
                            Why buy it for $2 when you can make it for $20


                            • #15
                              Very cool! When I have the space (soon, I hope) a dedicated rose/OT engine/lathe is on my to-do list.

                              I did recently play around with emulating the rose engine with my Taig cnc mill, if you have a 4 axis mill, this is probably worth playing around with if you like rose engines. I did single point cutting, but using the spindle with flycutters is an obvious option...



                              Largest resource on the web for Taig lathes and milling machines,