Welcome on my Homepage – it is dedicated to Ovalturning.

Johannes Volmer

With great sadness we inform, that our beloved father, Johannes Volmer, passed away on July 8, 2015 in Chemnitz, Saxony. It was because of his passion for engineering and designing that the longtime-established technology of oval-turning was remodeled and took a turn to brighter attention and acceptance in our society. This homepage will no longer be updated. We trust that his dedication and commitment to the technology of oval-turning will never be forgotten.
Susanne Meyer-Arndt (nee Volmer)
Janko Volmer
Steffen Volmer




This photo shows Johannes Volmer (pronounced Follmer) with an oval bowl of spruce in his hands. He turned the bowl on his ovalturning lathe ODM30. The photo is the last one of a series that shows the step by step ovalturning of this bowl. Mike Darlow included this series into his book “Woodturning Methods” in a detailed chapter on ovalturning (The Melaleuca Press Exeter, NSW, Australia 1999). He called the chapter Elliptical Turning. Before him David Springett reminded in his book “Adventures in Woodturning” (GMC Publication, Lewes/England 1994) as the first of the today´s English writing authors of the ancient art of ovalturning. He built an ovalturning device (oval chuck) from wood and turned on it beautiful oval pieces - a marvellous introduction

 Ovalturning is an old challenging woodturning art. It was applied until the middle of the 20th century in frame manufactories. There were many  such factories in European countries but nothing remained. In the USA the Old Schwamb Mill - a frame factory founded in 1864 by German immigrants - has been well preserved. It is a working museum with the19th century machines in action.

For turning oval pieces - or more accurately elliptical pieces - on the lathe you need an Oval Chuck but those devices are not commercially available anymore. They were produced up until 1950. If one finds an antique oval chuck or a complete ovalturning lathe headstock it will be expensive.

Ovalturning requires skill when guiding the tools. Therefore the ovalturner was the best paid among the woodturners. When Johannes Volmer demonstrated his ovalturning lathes at woodturning guild meetings old, honourable master turners stood back while the young wished to have a go. You must have some interest in the ellipse geometry and in its motion although no great theory knowledge is necessary.

Ovalturning is of increasing interest for designers, artisans and restorers and for fans of woodturning looking for new challenging techniques. The ellipse is a curve of traditional charm. Classical applications are elliptical picture frames and mirror frames but also plates, bowls, boxes and keyhole plates (escutcheons). For the design of these and other objects with elliptical cross section the creative turner has one dimension more for designing than the turner of round pieces.

The script "Ovalturning” is a brief summary of the present knowledge and the experiences of ovalturning collected by Johannes Volmer. The “Gallery” shows oval pieces mainly for usage, not for decoration, and were all made by Johannes on his ovalturning lathes. The “Literature” is a listing of relevant publications, videos and websites.

The first edition of the script has been published here in 2006. The attached third pdf-edition is an updating with new literature, addresses, interesting oval pieces and supplements of the ovalturning lathes.

Neuer Kontakt: Janko Volmer janko.volmer@gmx.de
Author: Johannes Volmer
Layout: Gerhard Ehrlich
English-Editor: David Springett


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update 30.12.2012/10.07.2015