Woodworkers of all skill levels turn to woodturning, a process that involves mounting material on a lathe and shaping it with hand tools. Many use woodturning to restore furniture, continue folk-art traditions and create custom architectural work.

Wood turning requires different skills than other types of shop work because the material is moving at high speeds and the tool must be controlled differently. This article will cover some basic and important topics you should know when getting started in this fun hobby.


Woodturning is a form of art that involves sculpting wood pieces into unique shapes. It is typically performed on a lathe, a machine that holds the wood in place as you manipulate it with various tools to shape it into a desired form. With the right tools, you can produce a wide range of products, from traditional wooden items to avant-garde creations. This is an ideal hobby for those who enjoy working with their hands, are looking for a creative outlet, or want to make a unique gift.

Before you start turning wood, it is important to familiarize yourself with some basic woodturning techniques. This will help you avoid any mistakes that can affect the results of your project or even cause injuries. The following three woodturning basics for beginners are crucial to understanding the art of woodturning and how to practice it safely.

One of the most important things to remember when woodturning is that you always work with the grain of the piece. This is because the direction in which the grain runs will determine the type of tool you need and how you should use it. For example, cutting across the grain in a bowl will create a rough surface that can be difficult to work with. Cutting with the grain will result in a smoother finish and will be easier to handle.

Another woodturning basics is to always sharpen your tools before using them. This is because a dull blade can easily slip, creating uneven cuts or worse, grabbing the wood and pulling it away from the tool. It is also a good idea to keep some spare sharp blades on hand in case you need to replace one.

When it comes to choosing the correct wood for your projects, be sure to choose a durable hardwood that will not warp or shrink over time. Additionally, it is important to use only the highest quality tools for woodturning. This will ensure that you get the most out of your tools and can use them for a long period of time.


Woodturning is a hobby that requires patience, precision, and, of course, the right tools. Without the proper set of woodworking tools, a beginner can run into unforeseen complications or do something that could be dangerous. Woodturning involves a lot of cutting, which produces small wood particles that can float in the air and cause serious damage to your lungs and respiratory system if you inhale them. This is why it’s important to make sure that your tools are properly sharpened and have a limited distance between the tool rest and the wood.

To begin with, the most important piece of equipment to have is a wood lathe. This is used to create cylindrical wood shapes and can be adapted with different attachments for other types of turning projects. For example, a faceplate can be attached to a wood lathe so that larger pieces can be bolted or screwed onto it for turning.

In addition to a lathe, you will also need a variety of woodturning tools. These tools include gouges, skew chisels, scrapers, and more. These tools can all be used to create different effects in the wood and should be sharpened with a sharpening wheel or, preferably, a wet stone. Having the right tools will ensure that your cuts are clean, accurate, and smooth.

Another important tool is the chuck. This is used to hold the wood being turned and provides a good base for a tool while you cut it. The chuck should be attached to the head stock and have a chucking point or spigot that can be turned into it so that the wood can be securely held in place while you turn it.

Finally, you will need a tool rest to support the tool as you cut. This helps keep the blade in contact with the wood so that it doesn’t grab and pull on the wood or rip the tool out of your hand. Depending on the type of turning you are doing, you may also need a spindle gouge or a bowl gouge.

These are a bit like roughing gouges but have shallower flutes to allow you to shape curves in the wood. A spindle gouge can be used in tighter areas than a roughing gouge or to form swells and hollows. A bowl gouge is also a useful tool for finishing a project and can help you achieve a high-quality finish on your workpiece.


Wood turning is a very enjoyable pastime, but like many other forms of woodworking it can be dangerous. Unlike other woodworking projects where the machine is stationary, when you turn on a lathe the wood is spinning and this requires special attention to safety. Fortunately, with a few simple precautions you can enjoy this hobby without putting yourself in harm’s way.

The first thing that every new turner should do is learn the basics of how to properly use a woodworking lathe and woodturning tools. Whether it is reading the warning labels and owners manuals that are attached to the equipment or attending a woodturning class, an introduction to the fundamentals of the craft will allow the budding turner to safely enjoy this rewarding hobby.

When you’re just starting out, it is important to remember that a turning project must be turned with the grain, and that is the opposite direction of the spindle. It is also imperative that the turner keep a light grip on the tool; a tight grasp can cause the tool to grab or gouge into the workpiece and is a common mistake of novice turners. Once the beginner gains experience and feels comfortable with the process, he or she can gradually increase the pressure on the tool to achieve a better finish, but only after becoming familiar with how to do this properly.

It is also essential for the woodturner to have a good stance when working on the lathe. Keeping the torso in a balanced position will prevent the body from becoming tired or strained and will make it easier to perform any task. A sloppy stance can lead to a number of problems, such as slipping and falling off the machine and causing injury.

Another safety measure is to wear the proper eye protection. This is not only to protect against flying debris, but it is also necessary to prevent the buildup of dust in the eyes and lungs. Those who turn regularly should invest in a good pair of glasses that provide excellent optics and can be cleaned easily with water.


Woodturning allows a person to make a variety of different items. These projects include functional objects for around the house, decorative artforms and unique gifts. The woodworker uses handheld tools to rotate wooden blanks inside a lathe, creating unique shapes. This human-powered process has been around for 1,000 years.

Several different types of wood can be used in turnery, including domestic and exotic species. The wood must be able to withstand the pressure put on it by the spinning lathe, and strict durability standards must be met. You can browse through several different options on their website. The turning process can produce both curved and cylindrical items, such as bowls, pen holders and more.

The first woodturning projects for beginners should focus on a small, manageable size. The best starter projects don’t require a big lathe, which can be expensive and take up space. They also don’t require a lot of additional woodworking tools beyond basic turner tools. These projects are easy to make and can be made from materials that are relatively inexpensive.

A wooden honey dipper is a useful item that can be used to add a drizzle of flavor to dishes. It’s an easy project for a beginner and requires only a small piece of wood, which makes it a cost-effective way to start turning.

If you want a woodturning project that is more advanced but still within reach for a beginner, try making a wood trivet. A wood trivet is a heat-resistant pad that protects a countertop from damage from hot items. It requires a few steps to complete and is an excellent way to demonstrate the versatility of woodturning.

Another great intermediate-level woodturning project is a wooden rolling pin. This kitchen tool doubles as a fun way to make one-of-a-kind gifts and can be customized with unique features, such as notches.

Woodturning is an exciting and creative hobby. By taking a few safety precautions, newcomers to the hobby can enjoy their time on the lathe without worrying about potential complications or dangers. By utilizing the right equipment, preparing the work area properly and following basic safety principles, woodturners can create unique works of art for their homes or as beautiful gift items for friends.