Ornamental Turning Bibliography & Information Sources

Books & Mainstream Periodicals

  • Danielevskii, V.V. (trans.) Nartov and His Teatrum Machinarum, Russian XVIIth Century Machine Tools. Published by the Smithsonian Institution and the National Science Foundation. National Technical Information Service, U.S. Dept. of Commerce, 1966, TT6411109. Israel Program for Scientific Translations.
  • Evans, John Henry. Ornamental Turning (orig. pub. 1886) REPRINT--Mendham, New Jersey: The Astragal Press, 1993. ISBN 1-879335-35-2*^
  • Holtzapffel, John Jacob. Turning and Mechanical Manipulation, vol. 4--Hand or Simple Turning: Principles and Practice ( orig. pub. 1881), 592 p. REPRINT--New York: Dover Press, 1976. ISBN 0-486-23365-0*+^
  • Holtzapffel, John Jacob. Turning and Mechanical Manipulation, vol. 5--The Principles and Practice of Ornamental or Complex Turning (orig. pub. 1894), 656 p. REPRINT--New York: Dover Press, 1976. ISBN 0-486-22965-3*+^
  • Kelsey, John. "Ornamental Turning." Fine Woodworking, Fall 1976, Vol. 1, No. 4:46-49.
  • Knox, Frank. Ornamental Turnery, 78 p. New York: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1986. ISBN 0-671-61369-3^
  • Lukin, James. Turning Lathes: A Guide to Turning, Screw Cutting, Metal Spinning and Ornamental Turning (orig. pub. 1894), 432p. REPRINT--Mendham, New Jersey: The Astragal Press. ISBN 1-879335-49-2*^
  • Matthews, Martin. Engine Turning 1680-1980: The Tools and Techniques. I984 address: Martin Matthews, Southover, 41 Greenhill Road, Oxford Sevenoaks, Kent TN14 5RR, England.
  • Plumier, Charles. L'Art du Tourner. Originally published in Paris in 1706. English translation of the 1749 2nd edition by Dr. Paul Ferraglio of Brooklyn, NY and privately published in a very limited edition.
  • Ungerer, P. D. "The Ultimate Lathe." Popular Science, April 1989:116-120.
  • Walshaw, TD. Ornamental Turning, 208 p. England: Argus Books, 1990. ISBN 0-85242-826-X

* Available from: The Astragal Press. P.O. Box 239. Mendham, NJ 07945-0239. TEL: (201) 543-3045. FAX: (201) 543-3044.
+Available from: Dover Publications, Inc. 180 Varick Street. New York, NY 10014.
^Available from: The Wood Turning Center. PO Box 25706. Philadelphia, PA 19144, USA. TEL: (215) 844-2188. FAX: (215) 844-6116.
Notes of Interest:
Reprints of old books on technical subjects are available from: Early American Industries Books, PO Box 143, Delmar, NY 12054-0143.
Warren G. Ogden, Jr. has written a book on the pedigrees of Holtzapffel lathes, and others have written interesting books on the subject of ornamental turning.


Articles in Woodturning Magazine


Note: Woodturning magazine first appeared in the fall of 1990. It is the only full color magazine devoted to woodturning in all its aspects around the world, and has been the source of a goodly number of articles pertaining to ornamental turning. Woodturning (ISSN 0958-9457) is published monthly, except August and January by the Guild of Master Craftsmen Publications Ltd., 166 High Street, Lewes, East Sussex BN7 1XU, England, UK. TEL: 1273 477374 (from the USA: 011-44-1273-477374). FAX: 1273 478606 (from the USA: 011-44-1273-478606). A subscription for one year (10 issues) costs: £32.95, $US70, Overseas £37.95. All of the following references appear in issues of this magazine.
  • Foden, Mike. "Adapting Plain Lathes for Ornamental Turning." Issue No. 8, May/Jun 1992:28-31.
  • Gardner, Nigel. "Craft Crusader." Issue No. 27, Nov. 1994:50-54.
  • Jones, Bill. "Notes from the Turning Shop." Issue No. 8, May/Jun 1992:68-71.
  • id. "Notes from a Turning Shop, part 7." Issue No. 9, Jul/Aug 1992:16-17.
  • id. "Notes from a Turning Shop." Issue No. 35, Sept 1995:16-17.
  • Jordan, Cecil. "The Lathe of the Ornamental Turner." Issue No. 1, Autumn, 1990:11-14.
  • id. "Restoring & Sharpening OT Cutting Tools." Issue No. 9, Jul/Aug 1992:62-65.
  • LeCoff, Albert. "A Focus on Hidden Talent--The Ornamental Turning of Jon Sauer." Issue No. 7, Mar/Apr 1992:20.
  • id. "Eastern Promise." Issue No. 39, Feb 1996:54-55.
  • Levy, Ray. "Make an Index Plate." Issue No. 10, Sep/Oct 1992:8-10.
  • id. "Build a Decorative Turning Lathe--Part 1." Issue No. 12, Jan/Feb 1993:8-10.
  • id. "Build a Decorative Turning Lathe--Part 2." Issue No. 13, Mar/Apr 1993:36-39.
  • id. "Build a Decorative Turning Lathe--Part 3." Issue No. 14, May/Jun 1993:50-56.
  • id. "Build a Universal Cutting Head." Issue No. 16, Oct 1993:39-41.
  • O'Loughlin, Geoff. "Low Cost Lathe." Issue No. 31, Apr 1995:58-62.
  • id. Issue No. 32, May 1995:50-52.
  • ..."A Lathe in Trust." Issue No. 11, Nov/Dec 1992:36-37.

Other Sources of Information


  • Another OT Site on the WWW

    If your interest in this historic craft has been aroused by what you have seen here, check out the ToolTimer, or Union Hill Antique Tools, site of Steve Johnson. You will discover some very high quality images of antique OT equipment and work. If you would enjoy looking at some of the tools and creative work from the Victorian era when the Holtzapffel firm thrived in England, visit this site. Steve also serves as the information source for the Ornamental Turners International, for whom he serves as President. He has also created an indepth site as a resource for ornamental turners which contains the information about the Ornamental Turners International mentioned below.

  • Ornamental Turners International

    This group was organized in July, 1995 and is comprised of some of the OT aficionados who have kept the torch of ornamental turning alight in the US for many years. One of its purposes is to provide a biannual meeting as a forum for interested OT'ers to share information and renew acquaintances. These meetings have planned speakers and slide presentations and support special interest groups meeting to discuss different specialized topics of ornamental turning. It has also planned to organize group purchases of OT equipment and materials, to reprint rare, out-of-print books on OT, to produce hard-to-find OT equipment and apparatus, and to foster group networking by means of a newsletter.

    For information, check out Steve Johnson's OTI website and the new OTI site with interactive features.

  • The Society of Ornamental Turners

    Founded in London in 1948 by British ornamental turning enthusiasts to perpetuate the art and craft of ornamental turning, the SOT now has an international membership of over 300. The SOT holds several annual meetings in London and publishes a Bulletin twice a year comprised of articles by members about the many varied aspects of ornamental turning. This group serves as an educational center for ornamental turning worldwide, and has exhibits of ornamental turning and apparatus at their meetings, a library, seminars, competitions and auctions of OT apparatus and books. For more information, visit the SOT website.

  • The Society of Ornamental Turners Bulletins on CD

    The Bulletins of the SOT have been published since its founding and are an invaluable source of information on ornamental turning. Steve Johnson has worked in cooperation with the SOT to produce a CD-ROM containing the first 98 bulletins plus some bonus material. The SOT Bulletins CD is available from the OTI website in the US or the SOT website in the UK. The SOT website also offers a second CD of photos from the bulletins at the same link.

  • The Wood Turning Center

    The Wood Turning Center is an international non-profit organization comprising an educational, research and development foundation, a museum and a living archive. It was established in 1986 by Albert and Alan LeCoff. It has since become an internationally recognized source of information and assistance to artists, hobbyists, galleries, museums, collectors, and educators. The Center also maintains a museum-quality collection of more than 300 turned objects which are loaned to other museums and galleries.

    Through exhibitions, conferences and publicity, its aim is to increase the recognition and acceptance of the art of lathe-turning among the general public and the craft art world. The Center has worked with many museums to stage historical and contemporary exhibitions and catalogues featuring lathe-turned objects in wood, metal, glass and plastic. It also produces a quarterly publication, Turning Points, which includes articles, news, and a calendar of upcoming events.

    The Center offers numerous books, slides, and tapes for sale, and a comprehensive membership program to all those who practice or share an interest in lathe-turning. It has produced the World Turning Conference and it coordinates Challenge: International Lathe-Turned Objects, an international competition sponsored by the Center to select and exhibit significant lathe-turned objects. These works exemplify the cutting edge of the lathe-turning field and reflect artists' search for new expression, and include work in any medium.

  • The American Association of Woodturners (AAW)

    This organization has goals of providing education about turning to the public and of supporting local chapters across the US. It has, as a local chapter, the Ornamental Turners of America. A yearly conference is held with a wide ranging set of demonstrations and exhibits and a portion is devoted to ornamental turning demonstrations and information. A magazine, the American Woodturner, is published quarterly. There are occasional features or information related to ornamental turning, and much more information of broad interest about turning in general. For membership or other information, visit the AAW website.



These are some links to reference materials which are available from archive.org (thanks to Steve Chamberlain):

Notes on the epicycloidal cutting frame of messrs. Holtzapffel & co., with special reference to its compensation adjustment and with numerous illustrations of its capabilities
by Bazley, Thomas Sebastion, Sir, bart., 1829-1919

Turning and mechanical manipulation, by C. Holtzapffel
by Charles Holtzapffel , John Jacob Holtzapffel

A brief account of Ibbetson's Geometric Chuck, manufactured by Holtzapffel & Co. : 
With a selection of specimens illustrative of some of its powers.
by Ibbetson, John Holt; Dibner, Bern
intended as a work of general reference and practical instruction on the lathe, and 
the various mechanical pursuits followed by amateurs, Vol. I 
by Holtzapffel, Charles

Turning and Mechanical Manipulation, Vol. II
by Charles Holtzapffel

Turning And Mechanical Manipulation Vol. III
by Holtzapffel And Co

Turning And Mechanical Manipulation Vol. IV
by Holtzapffel, John Jacob

Turning and Mechanical Manipulation Vol. V
by John Jacob Holtzapffel

Turning and Mechanical Manipulation: Intended as a Work of General Reference 
by Charles Holtzapffel, John Jacob Holtzapffel

A manual of wood carving
by Leland, Charles Godfrey, 1824-1903; Holtzapffel, John Jacob

Turning Lathes: A Guide to Turning, Screw Cutting, Metal Spinning and Ornamental Turning 
by Lukin, James