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This bibliography, I consider a work in progress. The information available for instruction on engine turning can be somewhat difficult to find and I share here some works that I have found very helpful and I am hopeful others will find them helpful, as well. Also, any help in locating further writings and information to post here would be very gratefully appreciated.



  • George Daniels, Watchmaking, ISBN 978-0-85667-704-5-This book is superb on a number of levels. Written by a man who taught himself to make watches and came to be known as the worlds greatest living horologist, the discussion of engine turning is excellent. He was an autodidact in the field of engine turning, as well. At one time, this book was difficult to find and expensive when found second hand. A second edition was published last year and it is much more affordable now.  His discussions of cutting tools is excellent and his drawings and explanations are first rate. One can learn a great deal from this volume in all areas of small workshop machining. Mr. Daniels died October 21, 2011 and he is best known as the inventor of the coaxial escapement watch. A thorough discussion of this important innovation in watchmaking can be found in this book and the Wikipedia listing will give more links to those interested, including a living history interview that he gave to his student and protegé, fellow watchmaker, the notable Roger W. Smith. He was an amazing man.
  • John Jacob Hotzapffel, The Principles & Practice of Ornamental or Complex Turning, ISBN 0-486-22965-3-The Holtzapffel  ornamental lathe and its chucks and components are considered forward thinking for their time and they were truly the prizes of kings and royals. Aside from designing and building these amazing machines, a number of books were written by them on all topics of mechanical manipulation, turning, and finishing of both wood and metal. The ornamental lathe is the “Patriarch” of the engine turning family and the rose engine was first designed as an accessory to be used with an ornamental lathe. The illustrations and descriptions of tool shapes, particularly those used for 3D work, provide the reader and user with a vocabulary that is easy to understand as it describes the them and helps allow for consistency in descriptions of turned articles.
  • Martin Matthews, Engine Turning 1680-1980, ISBN 0 9508801 0 8-Mr. Matthews self published this book and it is very hard to find and has become quite expensive. He also has a video available on DVD entititled, Four Generations of Watchcase Making, and is available for sale on line in all video formats. A simple web search should enable it to be found easily. The book focuses on the Plant array of machines, but is most interesting as well because of its well written descriptions and illustrations of the following chucks:  Epicycloidal, Eccentric, James Wilcox’s Circloidal, John Holt Ibbetson’s Geometric Chuck and the marvelous William Hartley Compound Geometric Chuck. The marvelous story of the Hartley Chuck is told brilliantly and anyone interested will find it a delight. He lists a number of faults common to engine turning and suggestions for avoiding them. His section on guides and touches is also most informative, as is his take on the ever important tool sharpening. The video depicts Mr. Matthews fabricating a watch case in its entirety, spinning a sheet of silver, forming it, fabricating the hinge mechanism, and engine turning it, as well. In the video, he uses a number of antique machines, including a bow lathe.
  • John Edwards, Holtzapffel VI, A Compendium of Rare or Previously Un-Published Material Related to Ornamental Turning. ISBN-13: 978-0957659407. This book is not specific to engine turning and guilloché, but focused more on ornamental turning, which many engine turners and guillocheurs also practice. It is rich with information previously unpublished and most edifying.


  • Jean Yves Godechoux & Sophie de Bernis, Boites En Email Et Argent Guilloché, 1880-1930, ISBN 2859173188, This book contains excellent color photographs.
  • James Miller, The Work Of A Master Goldmith, A Classic Collection, ISBN 978 0 7198 0102 0-Mr. Miller is an English goldsmith trained formally and was awarded his Freedom of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths when he completed his indentured apprenticeships. This book represents 40 years of work by Mr. Miller and his collaborators, who included engine turners in their numbers. The photographs of engine turned articles are simply splendid.
  • John Traina, The Fabergé Case: From The Private Collection of John Traina,  ISBN 0-8109-3344-6
  • Janet Zapeta, The Art of Zadora America’s Fabergé, ISBN 0-86565-201-5-The book contains excellent photos of modern engine turning and objets de vertu commissioned by Andreas Von-Zadora-Gerlof. Many of the pieces, including the impressive Four Seasons Clock were constructed with my mentor, Lew Wackler, as the work-master.
13 Comments Post a comment
  1. David Lindow #

    Are you looking for books with good pictures of engine turning too or just books with instruction?


    March 14, 2012
    • studiocelia #

      David, Thanks! I will divide the bibliography into two categories, one for instruction-the most important in my mind-and then another for inspiration. Please, please contribute! Also, I would like to add a page with web links. May I link to your web site?

      March 15, 2012
  2. Thomas Lake #

    An old gold magazine, Aurum, #27. “Guilloché – Engine Turning” by Jochem Wolters, was good as well the book “Boites en email et argent guilloche 1880 – 1930” ISBN : 2 85917 318 8. This book has lots of good color pictures.

    Thomas R. Lake

    March 15, 2012
    • studiocelia #

      I agree, the Aurum issue #27 is outstanding, with both images and text not only providing excellent process description, but also inspiration. I hesitated to put it in the bibliography, however, because I can find no way to contact Mr. Wolters. I have a reprint of the article and would love to post it. If anyone might know of how to get permission to do so, I would certainly appreciate it! The book is excellent and I will post it to the bibliography.

      March 16, 2012
  3. Thomas R. Lake #

    Hello Studiocella,
    I ran across some videos on “YouTube” by watchmaker Roger Smith using the rose and straight line engine turning machines. I think these machines we’re George Daniels. Mr. Smith describes some of the techniques that I think are a very good for a start on how these machines work. Thought this may be good introduction for others.
    Thomas R. Lake

    January 16, 2013
    • studiocelia #

      Thank you so much for the information on these videos. Mr. Smith is the one and only watchmaker to ever work with Mr. Daniels and these are excellent videos. I have written him to see if he would give permission to link to them from this site. If not, I suggest anyone interested watch these to see a true master at work.

      March 4, 2013
  4. David Lindow #

    The Faberge’ Case should be on your list. There are some great close up pictures of engine turning in that book.

    October 6, 2013
    • studiocelia #

      Done! Thanks!

      October 7, 2013
  5. James Miller FIPG. #

    I see that you have my book listed above, most of my engine turning was done by Gerald Mayo and some pieces by Steve Keen when he worked with David Pledge. One of Gerald Mayo’s apprentices, Paul saunders also does engine turning here in the UK. Please let me know if you would like to show any of my pieces.

    October 7, 2013
    • studiocelia #

      Yes,Mr. Miller! I am sure many people would love to see your work. Please contact me and I will happily place your work her!

      October 7, 2013
      • J MILLER #

        Hi Celia, I am not sure if you still have the same email address as back when we last exchanged emails, so I have just replied to this one. I have attached some photos of my work that has engine turning done for me by Gerald Mayo, he is shown on one of the photos at his Plant straight line machine, cutting a pattern on a Cartier gold handbag. Please post them if you wish, as I am the photographer as well as the maker. Any further details required please feel free to ask.

        Best regards James James Miller FIPG


        October 7, 2013
        • studiocelia #

          Thank you so much Mr. Miller for your kind permission to publish these photos of such fine workmanship and collaboration.

          October 8, 2013
  6. Ramsay Holmes #

    As a possible addition to your bibliography the website of RGM Watches has an excellent introductory video on engine turning. I’m sure you know of it but the link is:
    Ramsay Holmes

    July 25, 2014

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