The Society of Ornamental Turners

The Society of Ornamental Turners exists to encourage, develop and promote the study and practice of the art of ornamental turning. This encompasses a wide variety of types of work including traditional English ornamental turning as exemplified in Volume V of Holzapffel's book ‘The Principles and Practice of Complex and Ornamental Turning’, Rose engine turning (both with fixed and rotary tools), Geometric Chuck work and Engine turning on metal.

This work may be carried out using historic machinery from such makers such as Holtzapffel, Evans or Birch (which must first be carefully restored to working order, a task which some members find as pleasurable as the actual ornamental turning), or alternatively modern approaches may be taken either painstaking construction of accurate replicas of historical equipment, or alternatively entirely original approaches (even some CNC), or – improvised from scrap. Fine work has been produced, in the right hands from all these approaches.

Corona Virus Update

The corona virus is having an impact on all our lives, and the SOT, being a social organisation, is not exempt from this. To date, no decision to cancel any SOT events has been made. However, and in accordance with government advice, the SOT Council is continually reviewing the SOT activities and it is likely that future meetings, the summer outing, and demonstrations at exhibitions will be affected. Any decisions made will be in good time so that all members can be made aware of any cancellations. Please refer to this website in the first instance to find out the latest news. In the meantime, take care, and I look forward to seeing you all once everything calms down.

Peter Johnson, SOT President.


The society organize seminars to pass on knowledge on the craft of ornamental turning. Nick Edwards, a past president of the society, wrote an article describing the setups which were used at a seminar which he hosted. The article was originally published in the society bulletin (one of the membership benefits), but an edited version is now available online.

A Napkin Ring Fest »

Martin Matthews

Engine Turning

The SOT have arranged to reprint the major work on Engine Turning by the late Martin Matthews. More information on the book can be found here.

Examples of OT

Exhibitions 2020

The SOT will have a stand at the Model Engineering exhibition at Alexandra Palace where there will be demonstrations of OT. The exhibition is Friday 17th through Sunday 19th January. For details see the exhibition website.

SOT Bulletin

One of the benefits of SOT membership is the bulletin, a high quality publication produced twice a year and sent to members. A sample copy is now available online!

OT in action

Introduction to Ornamental Turning

This video produced by Mike Bain gives an introduction to the society and to the varied interests of its members.

WCOT Competitions

Well done to all those who took part in the Worshipful Company of Turners competitions held on the 26th and 27th November 2018 at the Carpenters Hall London where the ornamental turning exhibits stood out in terms of quality and elegance. Bob Wade demonstrated ornamental turning throughout the day using the SOT Holtzapffel lathe. Over 1000 people passed through the exhibition and had a chance to see what ornamental turning was all about.

Congratulations to the winners, runners-up, and those commended!

Further details are available on the Worshipful Company of Turners website. There is also a gallery of some of the winning entries.

Masters Ornamental Turning 1st Place: Maggie Wright.
Masters Ornamental Turning 2nd Place: Gerry Marlow.
Masters Ornamental Turning 3rd Place: Peter Johnson.
Lady Gertrude Crawford : Jean Claude Charpignon.
Lady Gertrude Crawford Commended: Richard Hoodless.
Lady Gertrude Crawford Commended: Bob Wade.
Fred Howe 1st Place: Jean Claude Charpignon.
Fred Howe Commended: Arthur Kingdon.
H E Twentmen : Jean Claude Charpignon.
H E Twentmen Commended: Gerry Marlow.
H E Twentmen Commended: Maggie Wright.

In addition Maggie Wright got a Commended award in the Felix Levy Open Turning Competition.