Nationwide Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage

Turnery - Traditional Technique of Mechanical Material Processing Based on Rotating Workpieces

Turnery belongs to the oldest crafts of humanity. Rotating workpieces made of natural materials such as wood or amber are refined with the help of cutting tools to craft artistic (utility) objects. Due to a large number of raw materials and product specializations used today, the profession is characterized by rare disciplines such as tire turners, amber turners, and wooden toy makers.

Facts & figures

  • Crucial date: Throughout the year
  • Inscription: 2018
  • Domains: traditional craftsmanship; oral traditions and expressions
  • Where to find: All over Germany and beyond


Verband des Deutschen Drechsler- und Holzspielzeugmacherhandwerks e. V.
Thomas Moertel

In Germany, the craftsmanship of turnery is widespread and widely appreciated. The practice requires many years of experience, a strong technical understanding as well as fine-motor skills in seeing, hearing und smelling. A good craftsman will hear if the parts are turned properly and if it holds in the home-made chuck. In addition to the classic lathe and the moving iron, tubes and chisels are the most important tools as well as computer-controlled CNC milling machines.

Individual elements such as columns, bowls, cans or complex articles such as tables, chairs, or coat racks are manufactured. Special attention is given to the production of individual pieces of handcrafted objects that adorn churches, monuments or pieces of art. However, turnery also supplies carpenters, makers of musical instruments and sports equipment. The passing on of the crafting skills is carried out usually by a three-year vocational training of apprentices in workshops as well as in vocational schools.


Wissen. Können. Weitergeben..
Deutsche UNESCO-Kommission, 2019