A wood turner spins a piece of wood on a lathe and then shapes it with a selection of tools and techniques to create both practical and beautiful pieces.

The first lathe was invented by the Egyptians many thousands of years ago. It then took two men to operate and turn a piece.

Lathe, Pole Lathe or Treadle Lathe
Inside and Outside Hooking Knives
Parting tools

These tools come in a multitude of shapes, sizes and materials.

The Treadle Lathe is foot powered the same as the Pole Lathe but is a newer design that allows the wood being worked to spin in the same direction for cutting even when the treadle is released.

Various woods

Fell your tree then saw it along the grain into planks. Store the planks held apart to allow air to circulate around them. You should store them for a couple of years in a shed. You are able to purchase pre-seasoned, ready cut round blanks but you will have to pay the price of not doing the work yourself.

Turning a bowl
Cut a lump of wood to the approximate size for the finish bowl. Glue a piece of waste wood to the base of what will become the bowl (this is done to save cost and further wastage).

Attach the waste wood (previously glued) to the head of the lathe ready to be turned. Using a gouge on a rest start to cut gouge out the bowl shape, starting with the outside and then the inside.

Apply sand paper to the spinning bowl to make it smooth then add beeswax to fill the pores and give it a shine, removing any excess.

If you intend to purchase wood for wood turning, please use wood from well managed sources.

If the wood is not seasoned sufficiently it will crack and warp.

Popular things to turn would include, bowls, candlesticks, spindles, vases, egg cups, dishes and works of art with no practical use.

Bowl turning for example, start life as a solid lump of wood which is larger both in diameter and depth than the finished article. Which is why bowls can be rather expensive. It is therefore relatively difficult to make a good living out of turning wood, unless a high price can be charged. Partly because of the waste as mentioned above but also the wood is expensive and hard to acquire. Also, the wood may arrive unseasoned and will therefore need to be left for up to two years before turning.