Rose Engine Fly Cutter, Traditional

Sharpen the edge using a goniostat (or goneostat, if you prefer the Queen's English) to ensure the correct angle is maintained.

Sharpening with lapping compounds of 6, 3, 2, and finally 1 micron are recommended. The 1 micron paste should also used for resharpening via a micro bevel approach.

Additional honing information is in the Notes & Comments section below.

Considering the tools and machinery available in the 1800s, it is amazing such beautiful works were made. They must have been better machinists than we.

Rich Colvin

Some historical information about sharpening these is available on the Ornamental Turning Book of Knowledge.

General Guidelines
Usage α Micro Bevel Notes
Hardwoods and Ivory-like Materials 60° - 65° 3° - 5°

This is recommended by Holtzapffel, but if the original angle is different, it is best to match that.

Higher angles are recommended for reducing chatter in the cutting operation.

Metal 70° - 75° 3° - 5°

Notes & Comments

Examples of these cutter shapes are shown to the right.

With regards to sharpening, the method outlined by J.H. Evans in Ornamental Turning, Chapter VI (1903) is:

  1. Primary Bevel
    1. Use an oil stone
    2. Use a brass plate with oilstone powder and oil

  2. Secondary / Micro bevel (Evans recommended +3°)
    1. Use a brass plate with oilstone powder and oil
    2. Use a cast iron plate with very fine crocus powder and oil

  3. Debur - very lightly on the back side
    1. Use a cast iron plate with very fine crocus powder and oil

Angles shown in the table above are those recommended by John Jacob Holtzapffel in Turning and Mechanical Manipulation, vol. 5 - The Principles and Practice of Ornamental or Complex Turning.

The Accu-Finish machine has been used for years by machinists. These machines use diamond wheels, or a ceramic lapping wheel with a diamond spray. It is is a really great machine, especially as it has a built-in goniostat, but it can be a bit expensive.

I've found the Tormek grinder to meet my needs, though I did have to make some of my own jigs.

More Information

Books & Papers

Web Sites

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About this site
Remember : The goal of sharpening is to produce sharp tools, and these tools can injure you if mishandled. Safety measures should be followed to protect yourself and those in your shop. Be sure to read and follow all instructions from the manufacturer, and and utilize proper safety equipment. Never consume alcohol or anything that could impair your judgement before sharpening tools, or using sharp tools. Comments can be sent via eMail to me at