Lathe turning is an incredibly fun hobby, and is one of my favorite woodworking tasks. I’m frequently asked, “How do I get started turning?” I’ve answered this question a number of times, and it’s nice to hear someone else’s thoughts on this. Luckily Paul Zaspel was recently in my shop. He’s a relatively new woodturner, and ready to share what he’s learned as his lathe turning has grown.
Paul tried a starter set of chisels, but found that carbide chisels made his turning a lot easier. They don’t need to be sharpened, you simply replace the tip when it’s dull, so there’s no need to master sharpening techniques.
Choosing a lathe
Part of your lathe-buying decision will be based on capacity and what you intend to make, but the mechanics of the lathe are very important, too. V-belts and step pulleys are commonly used for speed control, but you can’t beat electronic speed control. Paul and I are both big fans of dialing in your desired speed instead of moving a belt on a pulley.
Instant (or nearly so) gratification
There aren’t many woodworking projects that can go from start to finish in a few hours, but bowl turning is one of them. Going from log to bowl can easily be done in an evening.
Learning lathe turning
Identifying what you find
If, like Paul and I, you’re scrounging wood for your projects, you’ll benefit from the Good Wood Handbook. It’ll help you identify the stuff you pick up.