Wood Turning: An Introduction


There are many reasons why even in the midst of the digital age people still enjoy developing traditional craft and engineering skills, maybe it’s a reaction to the ways of the modern world, or maybe people just like the idea of being able to produce atifacts that are completely unique. One thing’s for sure, people love the satisfaction and achievement they feel when of making things, and no other activity embodies this better than wood turning.

Woodturning isn’t too difficult to pick up as a hobby, and should you so wish it can offer satisfaction pretty much full time, with a myriad of skills to be finely honed. Even if you don’t have this level of dedication and a full suite of wood turning tools at your disposal, you can still get great results even with more basic kit.

Woodturning is a creative form of woodwork that uses a lathe- a power tool used to rotate the selected wood piece on an axis to produce cylinderically based forms. The turning action allows you to shape the work piece into your preferred shape or form with the right carving tools. Many common wooden objects are the results of woodturning; these include wooden bowls, candle sticks, table legs and wooden goblets.

Getting Started

The process of woodturning is very simple with the right lathe. However, there are different types of lathe on the market depending on the stock size of material you intend to turn. The preferred lathe unit must be able to accomadate both the desired workpiece diameter (according to the spindle and chuck size) and length (as measured between the centers of the lathe), to suit your requirements.

Different woods require different lathes of different sizes and powers for the best outcomes. A common choice of lathe is one of half a horsepower with a 12-inch swing capacity, while a more powerful unit may be have a one horsepower motor with more swing capacity, though this of course comes at a higher price.

If you do chooce to invest in a lathe you should know that lathes must be regularly maintained, including the application of lubrication to critical moving parts, and checking for loose bolts and nuts. The manufacturers’ maintenance schedule should be adhered to with regards to the specifics of this, but the bottom line is that lathes are precision instruments and should be treated as such.

Woodturning Accessories

Besides a lathe, other turning tools are required to shape the wood with lathe chucks for attaching the wood to the lathe securely. Chisel-like turning tools with a differently shaped beveled point works to produce a different effect on the wood piece.

Spindle turning tools and bowl turning tools are the more common woodturning accessories for this skilled hobby. Cheap woodturning sets are available, although higher quality sets offer better outcomes thanks to technological innovations such as carbide tipped points.

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