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Texturing tools for turning


Texturing tools dress up the plain surfaces of turned pieces. To demonstrate these decorations, we tried out three texturing tools on the box top.

Each tool creates a specific pattern on the wood, but the appearance varies, depending on wood grain and density, position and movement of the tool, the contour of the surface, and other factors. Cherry, walnut, maple, and other popular turning woods work well with texturing. Most of these tools perform best on end grain.

Experiment; if you create a pattern you don’t like, simply turn the surface smooth and try again. 

  • Henry Taylor decorating elf

    A high-speed steel (HSS) cutter spins freely in the handle of this tool to create the pattern. The tool comes in a kit with ball- and bud-shape burrs that produce different patterns on convex (rounded), concave (dished), and flat surfaces, and a cylindrical burr that works only on flat or convex surfaces. The photos show the ball-shape burr. 

    With the lathe running at 800–1,200 rpm, hold the tool level and at an angle to the lathe axis as you push it into the surface along the horizontal centerline of the workpiece. Press the tool firmly against the surface, and work from the center outward. Move the tool slowly and steadily to make the texture in one pass; don’t go back and forth. 

    Enhance the texture band by making shallow V-cuts with a skew tip on the inside and outside, if you like.

     type on end.jpg


  • Robert Sorb spiraling system

    A toothed cutter, held at an angle to the workpiece by an adjustable fixture, rotates when it contacts the revolving wood to create swirling lines. Changing the angle changes the pattern. Run the lathe at 800–1,500 rpm; low speed gives you greater control. Lay the flat side of the fixture on the tool rest and engage the cutter along the centerline of the work. To achieve the pattern shown, we angled the cutter one mark to left of center, viewed from the tool handle. You can slide the tool along the rest to create a larger pattern. This tool works on end, side, or face grain.



  • Wagner texturing tool

    The knurled wheel on this tool stamps a pattern of pyramids into flat or convex side grain or end grain. We used the 38 "-wide tool with 12 teeth per inch; others available are 38 "×16 TPI and 14 "×16 TPI.

    Run the lathe at 500 rpm, with the cutter wheel making contact at the centerline of the work. Hold the tool steady and straight into the surface to imprint a decorative band; you’ll have to apply a lot of pressure and hold the tool steady for at least one minute and perhaps longer to develop a well-defined pattern. To texture a wider area, make one band. Then place the tool wheel lightly against the work beside the textured area, overlapping one edge slightly. When the wheel engages the pattern and starts turning, increase the pressure to create an adjoining band. 

    Shallow V-cuts on the inside and outside set off this texture, too.




    Henry Taylor Decorating Elf: combo package includes ball, bud, and cylinder cutters, and burnishing brush, no. 104088,  Packard Woodworks Inc., 800-683-8876,
    Sorby Spiraling/Texture system, no. 108777,  Packard.
    Wagner texturing tool, no. 155-0015, Craft Supplies USA, 800-551-8876,

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