If you already know what a rose engine is, you may want to just scroll down to the videos and skip me blathering on about how incredibly cool they are. You’ll have to excuse my excitement as I was only recently introduced.
Last year, I visited Maker Faire Paris and had a wonderful time. One of the exhibits that really caught my attention was operated by a group called Etto that had brought some antique rose engines. You could tell these machines were absolutely gorgeous even from across the room. Elegant curves, layered and nested brass lobes, and slowly spinning gears drew me in. As I got closer and closer, I finally saw that these machines were engraving Guilloché (intricate geometric patterns).
Here are the machines from Maker Faire Paris:
In the time between my visit and finally sitting down to edit this footage, I could no longer remember what the machines were called. So I turned to the Internet. I got many responses explaining that what I had seen was called a rose engine, but then the man seen operating the machine reached out. His name is Yann Pronier and he told me that the machine he’s operating is specifically a Lindow Rose Engine.
correction: Yann saw this article and sent me this message:
the guilloché machine i use is not a lindow rose engine (who make new engine), it work the same way, but this one is a 1914 old Duget “tour a guilloché” (rose engine) machine and the other is a 1891 old “ligne droite” (straight line) from Duget machine (an old french engine maker).
Some hunting around the Internet turned up a fair bit of information and videos on rose engines. There appears to be a bit of variety in both its construction and final use. Some are for fine engraving, like the Lindow, while others, such as the MADE rose engine, are used for creating ornamental wooden pieces like finials. In certain cases, the same machine can do different kinds of carving depending on which accessories, such as the chuck and cutter, it’s using. However, while there is variation when it comes to rose engines, they all seem to have a common mechanism: a stacked series of lobes to guide material through the repetitive geometric designs.
There even appear to be a few home made variations of the rose engine. I found this extremely simple version to be fantastic at displaying the basic concept.
If you should happen to find yourself in the possession of a rose engine, with no one there to inform you of how to use it, YouTube user Swhitefrog has uploaded a series of tutorials (though there are a few missing from the beginning) that you can follow along with.
I get ridiculously excited seeing people make things. I just want to revel in the creativity I see in makers. My favorite thing in the world is sharing a maker's story. email me at caleb (at) make.co or You can find me on tiktok, talking about my animals at TikTokView more articles by Caleb Kraft