The Basics of Turning Wood

Wood turning is a popular craft around the world. Unlike other types of woodworking, where you must chisel away at a stationary piece of wood, wood turning works just as its name suggests. The wood is spun rapidly, while you use nearly stationary tools to chisel away at it. This turns a rectangular piece of wood into a cylindrical shape that can be used for chairs, table legs, bed headboards, and many other uses. As you grow more skilled, you can use exotic wood to create truly beautiful pieces of craftsmanship.


Safety Issues


As with anything else that involves power tools, you will need to take certain precautions while turning your wood. Tie back any loose hair or clothing so it doesn’t accidentally get caught while you’re working. You should also wear safety glasses and a dust mask so sawdust and other particles can’t get in your eyes and mouth. Standing a little to one side can also help you avoid anything flying off the wood or lathe. Make sure your hands are stable and your fingers don’t get caught while you’re working.


The Equipment


The basic piece of machinery needed for wood turning is the lathe. This holds the wood and turns it so you can work on it. It also includes a tool rest to steady your tool as you work. You will also need a variety of chisels and gouges to create the unique shape of your wood. Make sure that these tools stay sharp—working with dull tools is one of the quickest ways to ruin your project and risk a serious injury.


Where to Learn Wood Turning


The best place to learn how to turn wood is from an expert craftsman. That way you’ll learn the proper techniques that will allow you to get the results you’re looking for. You’ll also learn how to care for your tools and handle them in such a way that you stay safe. If you can’t find an experienced wood turner to teach you, at least do your best to see one at work. Then you can get more information in books and through Internet videos to help you refine your skills.


Choosing Your Wood


The type of wood you choose is very important to your finished product. Some woods are much more difficult to work with than others. In general, you will find three major categories of woods: hard, soft, and exotic. Hardwoods come from deciduous trees like apple and oak. Their woods is generally (but not always) hard and durable. Softwoods come from evergreens like pine and cedar. Despite their name, these woods are tough enough for most projects. Which you choose is really a matter of personal preference. Exotic wood is wood grown outside the country, and it can be either hardwood or softwood. Many varieties are known for their striking colors and textures, which allow you to create a beautiful finished product.