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The Principles and Practice of Ornamental or Complex Turning by John Jacob Holtzapffel is one of those rare books that will completely blow your mind. A compilation of techniques for doing ornamented woodturning, which is dependent on a highly complex apparatus for the wood lathe, ornamental turning is to regular turning as a Rolls Royce is to a Taurus.

Half of the techniques are routing around the periphery and across the face of work held in the lathe, using chucks and spindles that can eccentrically, geometrically, linearly, spherically present the work to the cutting tool. Oh right, I forgot, and elliptically! True Victorian madness. A great read for its own sake as well as for techniques that you can add to your “simple” wood turning.

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2 Responses to A Good Read: The Principles and Practice of Ornamental or Complex Turning

  1. Gary says:

    My library has a copy. I’ve checked it out a couple times. Be warned. It is a very dense book – has an incredible amount of information, but if you’re not familiar with ornamental turning and math baffles you, this may not be the book for you.

  2. David says:

    This is an excellent read, but it soon dawns on you that the machinery described is not available unless you have lots of coin.
    Use this book instead, to realize and understand the principles behind ornamental turning, then figure out how to use modern equipment to accomplish the same results.

    I am presently working on a book to explain to people how to assemble their own OT equipment using readily available equipment such as bench-top drill presses, trim routers and Dremel tools to get accurate results. It is possible, you just have to think outside of the box.

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