In celebration Pye Day, we are sharing this excerpt from an article about the replication and use of David Pye’s idiosyncratic “fluting engine.”
Using the tool is an exercise in combined precision and randomness. With every different intended design, there are variables that change the use of the machine and its setup in some way or other. And once everything is working the way it is supposed to, every rotation of the turntable feels risky. Will each of the supposedly controlled strokes do what you want? Will the wood cooperate (as some grain patterns in the wood deflect the cutter a little and other areas are prone to tearing out)? Will the pattern you’ve established on the previous rotation be ruined by the next one? The combination of control and risk was always in my mind as I made my own pieces.
At the same time, taking a long time to set up a machine is not a criterion with much relevance to Pye’s discussion. Many machines take a long time and deep knowledge of the mechanism to set up properly. But once set up, the fluting engine still feels capricious, and results are not assured.
–Jeff Miller, excerpt from “An Exercise in Precision & Randomness: Replicating David Pye’s Fluting Engine,” in Issue Ten