Image courtesy Omegatron
Own work CC BY-SA 3.0

A reciprocator is used to produce a wave pattern along the object.

Radial Reciprocation
of Square Wave on
an Object's End

Typically, this is a sinusoidal pattern along the side of a cylinder or taper (i.e., the Z axis). Such a movement is expected based on the design of the mechanical devices involved.

The MDF rose engine lathe's control system has implemented square, triangle, and sawtooth waveforms (sinusoidal is still in development).

Additionally, the MDF rose engine lathe's control system has implemented the ability to cut these axially (along the Z axis) and radially (around the perimeter of the cylinder). The radial pattern also opens up a lot of options when applied to the end of an object.

Additional pictures of this device

Examples of work produced with this device

These pictures of completed pieces were provided by the Plumier Foundation, and are excellent examples of work by David & Christian Lindow. (Thanks due especially to Becky Lindow for the excellent photography.)

Additional examples ...

Examples of this device in use

Usage Notes

How it works

The headstock is locked in place and does not rock or pump. Instead, the movement consists of these two activities:

  1. the spindle is rotated clockwise and counter-clockwise whilst
  2. the cutter is moved along an axis (i.e., propelled along by a linear slide)

Key note: the movement of the spindle is driven by the rotation of the leadscrew used for linear movement of the cutter. This is the opposite of other activities like threading where the spindle drives the leadscrew.

David Lindow gave a great presentation on how this device works for The Society of Ornamental Turners in February, 2022. The video of that presentation is available at that group's web site. You will probably need to be a member to get access to the video, but joining the SOT is great idea anyway.

Notes on making one

More Information

Published Articles

Books and Papers

  • John Edwards compiled a great amount of information about this device in Hotzapffel, Volume VI.

Web Sites


  • Len Schrock on Wave Work using a reciprocating chuck by Len Schrock. 2000 OTI Symposium (Kennebunkport, ME)
  • Scott Barrett gave a demonstration to the club about his reciprocator. The recording for this video is in the member meeting videos, August 2023.


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Disclaimer: eMail comments to me at OTBookOfKnowledge @ The process of woodturning involves the use of tools, machinery and materials which could cause injury or be a health hazard unless proper precautions are taken, including the wearing of appropriate protective equipment.