Making Decorative Surface 'Engine Turning' on Aluminum Sheet

Home > Education > Metalworking FAQs > Miscellaneous Metalworking FAQs > Making Decorative Surface 'Engine Turning' on Aluminum Sheet

Dear Sir,

I am looking for information on making the decorative surface "engine turning" on aluminum sheet, the swirling circles which overlap to make an interesting pattern, like those found on dashboards, carparts, and some aircraft. Do you have info and/or materials to accomplish this?

George Manthe

The Tinman Respondeth:

George, Got a drill press? A wooden dowell of nearly the diameter of the swirl you want to make? Some 320 sandpaper? Light machine oil? OK, then... Put dowell in drillpress, and tighten chuck in two places. Cut sandpaper into squares with sides longer than dia. of dowell.

Choose a slow speed on the drill press, oil the sheet, put sandpaper square face down on sheet, lower spinning arbor to engage paper, hold lightly against sheet for 3 seconds, and raise arbor to see the swirl.

Ultimately, you will fuss with speed, grit of paper-360-400- or valve lapping compound, or Kratex sticks. Tinker with kerosene and other lubricants, and practice your layout math, and overlap, and the stagger of the swirls. They can be 1/2"Dia. up to 2" dia. and may be done on many bright metals.

Have fun!


More Miscellaneous Metalworking FAQs