Handmade wood turning is a traditional craft technique in the UK where artisans use a lathe to shape wooden objects by rotating them while cutting, sanding and polishing. This craft has a long history in the country and is still popular today among woodworkers and hobbyists. Handmade wood turned objects can range from simple items like bowls and spindles, to more complex and decorative pieces like furniture, lamps and vases. The skill and attention to detail that goes into each piece makes handmade wood turning a sought-after art form, appreciated for its beauty and timeless quality.

Handmade wood turning in the UK has a rich and varied history that dates back to the medieval period. During this time, skilled craftsmen used hand-cranked lathes to produce wooden objects for practical use, such as spindles for spinning wool and bowls for serving food. As the craft evolved, wood turners began to produce more decorative pieces such as candlesticks, vases and even furniture.

During the Renaissance, wood turning experienced a resurgence in popularity as artists and craftsmen sought to showcase their skills and create objects of beauty and elegance. This trend continued throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, with many workshops specializing in wood turning established throughout the country.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, the rise of mass-production and machine-made goods threatened the traditional art of handmade wood turning. However, a revival of interest in traditional crafts and techniques has seen a resurgence in the popularity of this art form in recent years, with many talented wood turners continuing to produce beautiful and unique objects for both practical and decorative use.

Today, handmade wood turning is considered a sought-after craft in the UK, with many collectors and enthusiasts appreciating the skill and attention to detail that goes into each piece. The tradition continues to thrive, with numerous workshops and courses available for those who wish to learn and develop their skills in this fascinating art form.

The following are the main tools used in handmade wood turning in the UK:

Lathe: This is the main tool for turning the wood, and it consists of a machine that rotates the piece of wood while the turner uses cutting tools to shape it.

Turning Chisels: These are specialized tools used for cutting and shaping the wood, with each chisel designed for a specific purpose. Examples include:

- Roughing Gouge: This is used for removing large amounts of wood quickly.
- Spindle Gouge: This is used for making fine cuts on spindle work.
- Bowl Gouge: This is used for making cuts on the inside of bowls.

Sharpening Tools: These tools are used to keep the cutting edges of the chisels sharp, including:

- Sharpening Stone: This is used to sharpen the chisels.
- Jigs: These are used to hold the chisels at the correct angle while sharpening.

Other Tools:

- Calipers: These are used to measure the diameter and thickness of the piece of wood.
- Parting Tool: This is used for making small cuts and parting off the piece from the lathe.
- Sandpaper: This is used for sanding the surface of the wood to create a smooth finish.
- Finish: This is used to protect the wood and enhance its natural beauty.

1. Oak: A steadfast favourite, oak offers durability and a distinctive grain pattern. Turners often choose oak for crafting sturdy bowls, candle holders, and furniture elements.

2. Ash: Known for its light colour and straight grain, ash is frequently turned into vases, platters, and tool handles due to its workability.

3. Yew: This British wood, with its golden hue and often interlocking grain, is perfect for intricate projects like decorative bowls or artistic sculptures.

4. Walnut: Dark and rich in texture, walnut lends itself well to elegant pieces, such as jewellery boxes and finial ornaments.

5. Cherry: With a warm, reddish tint, cherry wood is often selected for turning goblets, dishes, and ornate pens.

6. Sycamore: Its pale appearance and even texture make sycamore a top choice for kitchenware like spoons, platters, and salad bowls.

7. Beech: Given its tight grain and resilience, beech finds its way into turned items such as rolling pins and childrens toys.

8. Maple: Recognised for its light colour and subtle grain, maple is often employed in turning delicate bowls, lamp bases, and ornamental pieces.

9. Elm: Though rarer due to past diseases, elms attractive grain makes it desirable for standout items like hollow vessels and artistic forms.

10. Spalted Timber: Any wood subjected to fungi, spalting gives unique black line patterns. Spalted timber is turned into visually striking bowls, vases, and decorative pieces.

In the heart of a British workshop, a craftsman might choose the robust nature of Oak to fashion a lasting bowl, or opt for the intricate patterns of Spalted Timber to craft an eye-catching ornament.

Wood turning is a traditional British craft that involves shaping and sculpting wooden objects on a lathe. It requires a skilled hand and a sharp eye for detail, as well as a good understanding of the different techniques involved. Here are some of the main techniques used in wood turning:

Spindle Turning: This technique involves turning a cylindrical shape, such as a table leg or a candlestick. The piece is secured between centers on the lathe and rotated while tools are used to shape the wood.

Bowl Turning: Bowl turning involves creating hollow, rounded objects such as fruit bowls or serving platters. The piece is secured to the lathe with a chuck and the inside is hollowed out using a gouge.

Faceplate Turning: This technique involves attaching the piece of wood to a faceplate on the lathe and turning it round, rather than between centers. This allows for greater freedom in shaping the piece and is commonly used for creating platters, plates, and lidded boxes.

Segmented Turning: This technique involves turning a piece made up of several smaller segments, glued together to form a larger piece. This allows for intricate designs and patterns to be created, and is often used for creating decorative objects such as vases.

Pen Turning: Pen turning is a specialized form of wood turning that involves creating writing pens. The pen blanks are turned on the lathe to the desired shape and then fitted with the internal mechanisms to make them functional.

Each of these techniques requires a different set of tools and skills, and wood turners often specialise in one or two areas. However, many wood turners also enjoy experimenting and incorporating elements of different techniques into their work to create unique and beautiful objects.

1. Highlight your skills and techniques: Emphasise the unique qualities of your handmade wood turning by showcasing the techniques and skills you use to create each piece. Demonstrate your process and talk about the materials you use.

2. Create a cohesive collection: Display a range of wood-turned pieces that work well together, including bowls, vases, platters, and other decorative items. This will show off the versatility of your work and give customers a sense of the different items they can purchase.

3. Offer custom pieces: Consider offering customers the opportunity to commission a custom piece, such as a personalized bowl or a special piece made to match their decor. This can help to set your work apart from other vendors and increase sales.

4. Showcase your finished pieces: Present your finished pieces in a way that highlights their beauty and showcases the grain patterns and natural imperfections that make each one unique. Consider adding a clear finish that brings out the natural beauty of the wood.

5. Share your passion: Share your love for wood turning with customers and explain why its a special craft. Talk about the history of the technique, the challenges involved, and the satisfaction you get from working with wood.

6. Highlight the value of handmade: Emphasize the value of handmade products, and explain why they are special and unique compared to mass-produced items. Talk about the time and care that goes into each piece and the difference it makes in the final product.

7. Provide care instructions: Give customers information on how to care for their wood-turned pieces, including tips on cleaning and maintaining the finish. This will help to ensure the longevity of their purchases and increase customer satisfaction.

Wood Turning Ideas for Craft Fairs:

Bowls: Bowls are always in demand at craft fairs, and can be made in a variety of sizes and shapes to suit different purposes. Examples include: fruit bowls, salad bowls, and serving bowls made from exotic woods such as mahogany or rosewood.

Pens: Personalized pens are a popular item at craft fairs, and can be made from a range of different woods, including locally sourced timbers, to appeal to customers. Examples include: ballpoint pens made from oak, fountain pens made from birch, and rollerball pens made from cherry.

Vases: Wooden vases can be turned to suit different occasions, such as wedding or dinner parties, and make great decorative pieces. Examples include: tall vases made from elm, short vases made from ash, and multi-coloured vases made from different species of wood.

Candlesticks: Candlesticks can be turned to match any table setting, and make excellent gifts for friends and family. Examples include: tapered candlesticks made from yew, colonial candlesticks made from maple, and carved candlesticks made from walnut.

Spindles: Spindles can be turned for a variety of applications, such as chair legs or table legs, and can be made to suit different styles of furniture. Examples include: twisted spindles made from beech, spiral spindles made from sycamore, and tapered spindles made from oak.

Platters: Platters make excellent serving pieces, and can be turned in a range of sizes and shapes to suit different dishes. Examples include: round platters made from ash, oval platters made from elm, and square platters made from beech.