Spiral Master

The Search For An Easy Way to Cut Spiral Flutes

See the YouTube video on the home page. 

It's Here !

For many years turners have searched, experimented, and innovated all manner of mechanical ideas to turn spiral flutes on wood lathes.

No one surpassed the incredible ornamental lathes of Charles and John Holtzapfel (1843-1884). Their exquisite machines seemed to do the impossible. In 2012 the Holtzapfel & Company Rose Engine Lathe # 1636 sold for $228,000. Later ornamental lathes have been made by Evans, Birch, Plant, Hulot, Goyen, Munro, Lukin, Fenn and others.

These machines are marvels although beyond the affordability of most, and are complicated when all you really want to do is cut flutes and reeds on a spiral. The Lindow Rose Engine costs from $4,350 to $14,250 plus accessories.

In recent years a number of turners have designed home-made rigs and jigs that accomplish cutting basic spiral flutes. They range from wooden jigs to steel gear and/or cable router lathes, but they do not offer an inexpensive manufactured product you can take out of a box and begin cutting spiral flutes.

Is there no simple solution for the average woodturner?

Forty year turner Dick Webber was making wine pourers in the oenochoe style of 400 B.C. Greek pottery. Cutting flutes using wood carving gouges turned out to be a difficult and time-consuming effort. He set out to design a tool to cut flutes on both linear and curved profile turnings. Vowing “no more hand-cutting flutes,” he invented an easy-to-use portable tool that cuts flutes on linear and curved profiles. No guides are needed, just set the depth of cut wanted and cut away. It is the Flute Master. It has been well accepted, with orders coming from as far away as New Zealand, Australia, Norway, Hawaii, France, Alaska, Canada and most states. He continues to update and improve the tool.

When demonstrating he was often asked, “Will it cut spirals?” Tempted to answer, “My name is not Holtzapfel,” he finally had to ask himself, “Why not try?” After months of testing several ideas, and with the help of a wizard engineer friend, John Miller, they have perfected a tool that works with the Flute Master. It cuts spiral flutes on linear and curved profiles. It is surprisingly simple, requires no special skills, works on lathes from 12 to 25 inch capacities, is portable between lathes and is available at a price just about any turner can justify to their wife or husband.

Here is how to cut spiral flutes and reeds:

  • Turn the piece to its final shape
  • Determine the number of flutes desired and use the index wheel included with the Spiral Master to control the number of flutes.
  • Choose the router bit (normally core box bits for flutes, or pointed round-over bits for reeds)
  • Set the depth of cut desired in the Flute Master depth control guide
  • Use a Mastercarver, Foredom or Wecheer drill, or Ridgid R2401 or Trend T4 router attached to the Flute Master (routers not included)
  • Fasten stop blocks to the lathe bed to control the beginning and ending of each flute
  • With the Spiral Master attached to the Flute Master, cut each flute

The Spiral Master used with the Flute Master accomplishes what expensive equipment might do, yet is affordable and easy to use for vases, columns, lamp stands, closed and open-form objects and more.

Flutes, reeds and spirals produce interesting and beautiful turned objects. Added to these capabilities the tool can:

  • Cut flutes and reeds around curved profiles
  • Cut spirals in both clockwise and counter-clockwise directions.
  • Work on small and large turnings.
  • Work horizontally, vertically and parallel to the lathe bed. Use any router bit or drill with a ¼ inch shank.

The Index Wheel and pin are included. 

The variety of features is limited only by the imagination of the turner.