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Art & Inspiration The History and Art of Engine Turned Material - Lets See Yours

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Speed~On, May 17, 2017.

  1. Mr cheater
    Joined: Aug 18, 2010
    Posts: 478

    Mr cheater

    bchctybob, VANDENPLAS, j-jock and 9 others like this.
  2. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 27,570


    VANDENPLAS and kidcampbell71 like this.
  3. HealeyRick
    Joined: May 5, 2009
    Posts: 558

    from Mass.

    I love the look of engine turning and the appearance of a vintage Bugatti engine compartment is beautiful. I needed to make a false firewall for my Healey and don't have the skills or tooling to do the work myself. I did find a company that produces sheet metal and dashes already turned. I know it's a cheat, but it met my needs:

  4. big duece
    Joined: Jul 28, 2008
    Posts: 6,072

    big duece
    from kansas

    This panel was made from 1/8" stainless, lot of time at the drill press. 2003-02-28 21.22.56.jpg 2003-02-28 21.23.07.jpg
  5. The car is a bit off topic but I added a turned panel to the dash of my ISO Rivolta to give it more of a hot rod feel. I have since re done the gauges and re wired the whole thing.
    [​IMG][/URL][/IMG] [​IMG]
    dan31, dana barlow and mgtstumpy like this.
  6. Here is the gauge panel for the sedan. Used a piece of 1/4" aluminum.

    Gauge Panel - Copy.JPG
  7. GordonC
    Joined: Mar 6, 2006
    Posts: 2,248


    I love this look on almost all panels done this way. Here is a shot of my dash panel.

  8. stude54ht
    Joined: Dec 30, 2007
    Posts: 659

    from Spokane WA

    Stainless steel firewall in my 54 stude
    luckythirteenagogo and mgtstumpy like this.
  9. Larry T
    Joined: Nov 24, 2004
    Posts: 7,660

    Larry T

    I didn't do the engine turning, but I like it.
    I know it's not the "I did it" way, but you could buy panels to work with that are already turned. I assume you still can.

    dashboard for 1956 Ford.jpg
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2017
    bchctybob, VANDENPLAS, j-jock and 2 others like this.
  10. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 5,099



    Hey LBCD,

    That is very impressive, a very tough job for you. I have also noticed that in public places people tend to lean or grab walls, dividers, corners for support. Even at home, some corners get more action than others. There is also a move to get away from drywall and paint to the more artistic, but easy maintenance walls or dividers to these metal forms of art.

    Not only do they look so much better, but the cost savings in the long run, without having to replace drywall and paint yearly, is a savings for the public. Stay safe…

    Our car versions started with small sections of chrome accessories and since we did not have a drill press or such to make accurate swirls, our cars had the hand swirled custom look. As neat and orderly as possible, in nice rows, but when placed next to machined swirled ones, it was noticeable. Did we care? Not so much, as we did the work ourselves.

    With a little super, fine grain sand paper, making the paper somewhat flexible and with our index finger, we made swirls on metal. Once we got wet/dry sand paper, it was easier. As long as we had set out a pattern or direction of the swirls, it looked uniform. We practiced on small bits of aircraft aluminum purchased from the scrap yard at Douglas Aircraft on Carson St.

    Small things were done first and if that looked good, then a larger dash plates, etc. No one tried a firewall, had the patience or wanted to wreck a Moon Tank, so it was usually dash plates, instrument surrounds, door panels and interior pieces. Quite a few shiny swirls made it to the small aircraft, aluminum plates for grades in the metal shop class.


    We are in a remodeling/decorating stage with a sculpture coming down off of a big wall. I showed my wife the machine turned, swirled, metal designs as a replacement and she said maybe. So, there is a local, metal working place that does custom work for the whole industry, including cars, restaurants, table tops, and advertising designs. Maybe, just maybe…

    At home, a swirled metal wall would look very cool, indeed…But, so far, we have settled for some simple aluminum frames for a wall display, for now. That is as close to swirled metal in the house as it gets. It all has to be approved by the rabid, in-home designer.

    If someone wanted to get real fancy, there are now metal garage cabinets that could get this shiny, custom look with a few hours of design and work.


    mgtstumpy likes this.
  11. Dan Timberlake
    Joined: Apr 28, 2010
    Posts: 1,284

    Dan Timberlake

  12. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 5,099



    I (also) still have ideas of turning this aluminum art frame into a swirled design machine look. But, if I started one, I would have to do all 6 of these, edge to edge, on a blank wall with photos or ???? It is not like it can be done instantly, so… Practice, practice, practice…motto of the day!


    First I will have to take car machined turned photos, super impose them and see how it looks. It is the perfect platform and it would look rather cool. On the other hand, the other half may not go for altering these nice metal frames.
  13. dirt car
    Joined: Jun 26, 2010
    Posts: 151

    dirt car
    from nebraska

    Always liked the engine turned dash inserts, has anyone had any luck finding the vinyl type often used by truckers/ track cars for lettering/numbers etc. ? checked several local & on line vendors searching a for 1/2" dia. something as close as possible to the 32 Ford dash insert size swirl.
    Black_Sheep likes this.
  14. Check on Amazon, I ordered some for numbers on our minibikes. It was pretty cheap too.
  15. AmishMike
    Joined: Mar 27, 2014
    Posts: 488


    good post love the look. But no one has answered the question about allignment. don't you have to kind some set measured pattern to look good. That hood job is unreal. What sealer finish on it. Any pictures of hand/finger done jobs?
  16. Speed~On
    Joined: Apr 28, 2011
    Posts: 1,283


    Did you watch my video in post #1? I describe how you should line up your second (and subsequent rows) of swirls.
    Simply split the difference of the 2 swirls above the swirl you're making. You want to ensure you're covering your piece of material with swirls and not leaving gaps anywhere (you dont want any area without swirl marks)
    Please excuse my crude rendering below, but you get the idea.
    Lay your first row:

    Then your next row by off setting the swirls from the top enursing full coverage.

    I'm no expert in this, but this is the genreally accepted way to get nice uinform swirls.

    Also, use the jig or adjustor on your drill press (most come with them) to help give you straight passes ( watch my video for further explanation).

    This piece here was my first attempt at engine turning and I think it turned out pretty nice. I would only allow the Cratex to touch your material for 1 second as that is plenty of time to leave a nice swirl. In my video I let the Cratex touch my steel for about 2 seconds, that's a little overkill, I was still learning.

    Sealer/ finish:
    When I finished my piece I whiped it down with laquer thinner as it had a lot of sanding dust on it. Then I sprayed it with Gibbs spray. It gave it a nice sheen; you could use WD40 and get the same results. Or, you could just leave it. I have bare steel pieces in my garage I sanded years ago and they look as bright and brilliant as the day I sanded them.
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2017
  17. Speed~On
    Joined: Apr 28, 2011
    Posts: 1,283


    Keep in mind I used common mild steel as I just had this scrap piece laying around in my materials bin. I just wanted to try engine turning so I didn't use expensive material. I am however very pleased with the results/look.

    With that being said, I would recommend using stainless steel or maybe aluminum if you're going to make a dash panel, gauge mount or other decorative piece.

    Hope I was of some assistance. I'm very new to this as well.
  18. 28dreyer
    Joined: Jan 23, 2008
    Posts: 1,133

    from Minnesota

    Here is a Seleen DOHC head cam box and up-draft intake manifold on a 261 Chev with "flowering" or "flaking" done with a hand scraper. P1011205.JPG
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2017
  19. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 27,570


    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Very Nice! The brass plugs give it even more of a Bugatti look. Bob
  20. AmishMike
    Joined: Mar 27, 2014
    Posts: 488


    sorry - found this post at lunch & glanced through without watching video. Put it on "watch list" to see video tonight. Thanks again for GREAT post
    Speed~On likes this.
  21. Pat Thompson
    Joined: Apr 29, 2012
    Posts: 211

    Pat Thompson

    PICT7027.JPG Dash I made for a 97 chevy pickup.
  22. Sinister Sleds
    Joined: May 20, 2009
    Posts: 44

    Sinister Sleds
    from Gloucester

    Engine turning seems like a good idea and is for small pieces. LOL

    I turned the hood and deck lid of this P1800 after making them in aluminum. Last pic shows layout which I has to do by hand due to the compound curvature of the panels.

    I used a scotchbrite pad and home made arbor inside a piece of exhaust tube and lubricated it witb water in case I decided to clear it after. The decision was made to not clear it and allow it to fade naturally.

    There was about 8-10 hrs of layout and turning on the deck lid and 12-14hrs on the hood.[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    Sent from my SM-G900P using Tapatalk
  23. Speed~On
    Joined: Apr 28, 2011
    Posts: 1,283


    I had a decal and this ornament laying around so I made a mount/display. I ran my swirl lines in the same direction as the devil. I'm more of a church going guy so it will make a good gift for a friend. He's in to bikes and he's pretty wild.


  24. Pooch
    Joined: Apr 11, 2006
    Posts: 863

    from Oklahoma

    My Model A dash 2 10 2015 (4).JPG
  25. Todd553
    Joined: Feb 16, 2005
    Posts: 498


    My 34 roadster. Holds G/BFR and G/BGR records at Bonneville. IMG_0853.jpg IMG_0773.jpg IMG_3390.jpg
  26. burl
    Joined: Nov 28, 2007
    Posts: 685

    from Minnesota

    old engine turning on my 33 Plymouth gauges.I made a separate gauge panel that I tried engine turning with a chunk of round cratex.Didn't work to well as I already had the holes cut and it seemed to rip up the cratex when I tried to cut on a partial hole.Back to the drawing board on that one. gauges.jpg
  27. burl
    Joined: Nov 28, 2007
    Posts: 685

    from Minnesota

    pic shows the small under dash gauge panel I made to add a small oil pressure and water temp gauge that's not included in the large panel.My sample piece turned out pretty good but when I tried to do the the panel with the holes it just tore up the cratex and looked pretty bad.Thinking I may need to plug the holes and try it again.Any other advice ? dash.jpg
    dana barlow and Speed~On like this.
  28. luckythirteenagogo
    Joined: Dec 28, 2012
    Posts: 1,263


    Great thread Speed On. Thanks for sharing your technique. I've been tinkering around trying different ways and getting nowhere. Thanks again.
    dan31 and Speed~On like this.
  29. Speed~On
    Joined: Apr 28, 2011
    Posts: 1,283


    Some inspiration for your engine turning dreams.

  30. It can actually be traced back to horse drawn fire engines. Way before WWI aircraft. Originally it was done in the gold leaf work on old fire engines (so called for the pump not because they had an engine) and was done with a piece of velvet and a wood dowel.

    The name comes from the fact that it was done on fire engines.

    There is a material that we use on stainless and aluminum called *creat stick. But I have turned aluminum with a hard wood dowel before with good success.

    I don't have any pics to offer sorry.

    *I always get that name wrong. and hopefully someone will correct me.
    The37Kid and dana barlow like this.

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