When you talk to Wade Wendorf, there’s a certain joy that fills the air. You really can tell that this is a passionate man who loves his work. Wade also wears a lot of hats as Owner, Designer, and Head Machinist at Mandala Rose Works, LLC. Wade works so hard, that when asked how long he’d been in business, he had to pause.
“I think it’s been over 10 years now? I’m really horrible with dates so it’s easier for me to just look at my LLC paperwork," said Wade, who was suddenly very determined to find the answer.
We were carrying on the conversation as to how years blur together when he exclaimed, “2009!”
Wade couldn't let it go, he had to figure out exactly how long he had been in business. In less than 5 minutes, he had already dug up his LLC paperwork to confirm it. Wade's committed.
Wade started the company with the intent to design, produce and sell rose engines; but in addition to that Wade makes small batch parts for customers, does CNC milling and lathing, as well as laser cutting and engraving. But it all began with his introduction to the rose engine.
Wade had been involved with woodturning for a number of years doing hand turning with a lathe. For the unfamiliar, a basic overview of woodturning can be found on Wikipedia; but, in short, it’s the art of cutting symmetric shapes into wood around an axis using a lathe.
“A couple of years into it, I heard about the ornamental rose engine. I thought, ‘What the heck kind of machine is a rose engine?’ So, I sat down, did my research, and I was running across images of machines from the 1500-1600s! These were the hobbies of kings and queens and the royalty back in the day!”
He became fascinated with the Rose Engine, but that fascination turned to disappointment when he researched purchasing one, “The only machines I could find were either $20K and just completely beat up, OR they were $100K and in mint condition. Since I couldn’t afford a good one, I found some people were building their own and decided to learn from them.”
After getting plugged into the ornamental turning community, Wade was invited to a get together with a couple of rose engine enthusiasts during which time the host of the event helped Wade with instructions for building a simple Rose Engine out of a 5C Spin indexer.
“It was crude, but it was cool. So, I started building one, and in doing that I realized I needed some CNC equipment. I converted my small Sherline into a CNC, and built the 5c based rose engine lathe, and went to the next get together. I got it working with some help, and in talking to the people at the get together I started getting this idea for a compact rose engine.”
Common wisdom among the ornamental turning community before Wade’s innovation was that rose engines had to be very large machines composed of steel, bronze or brass. Wade had a different idea.
“I came up with the idea to build it out of aluminum. These guys told me I was crazy and that it would never work. That’s the worst thing you could say to me… so I went home and bought a CNC milling machine.”
Wade had been designing projects in 2D and Sketchup , so it was time for a CAD upgrade if he wanted to revolutionize the rose engine.
“Alibre was my software of choice. The software is so easy to learn and the design methodologies are very easy to pick up and learn for a new user while, at the same time, there are tons of powerful features for the advanced user. Alibre allowed me to go through many iterations of design until I came up with an ideal solution before making parts.”
“The following year, I went to a wood turning symposium in Virgina with my dad. We walked in carrying an aluminum rose engine that weighed 25 lbs. The 200 some-odd people in the room collectively went batty. It took over the ornamental turners room, and I was mobbed with questions, the loudest of which was ‘HOW DOES IT CUT?!?’ So, I showed them. It made a perfect cut and jaws were on the floor.”
"I thought, ‘I should make and sell these.’"
Thanks to hard work, dedication, and Alibre Design - now Wade does just that... along with machining, running his informative and entertaining YouTube Channel, and uploading new products to his ThingVerse store.