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Getting Started in Lathe Turning

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Duration:   8  mins

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.

Chisel selection

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

Lathe turning videos are great, but you can’t beat a hands-on class for lathe turning. Check woodworking stores in your area for classes. You might also consider checking out the AAW Symposium.

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.

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2 Responses to “Getting Started in Lathe Turning”

  1. Thomas

    I really liked this. It gave me confidence that I can actually turn

  2. Erin K Harper

    I wanna make BANISTERS & stuff. Super detailed railings, miniature pillars they can be added to boring dressers, you can cut in between the studs of your walls & cut through the sheet rock & utilize the extra space by putting shelves in them - with a ‘pillar’ on each side of a protruding shelf. I’m really concerned about the fact that no lathers have clear casing cover. But I bought a cheap 40” wood lathe .. I’ve never used it. I need lathe tools plus I’m scared of it I want someone to use it with me.

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