Wood turning involves the physical act of creating wooden objects on a lathe. Wood turning differs from other types of woodworking, mainly because the turner cuts and shapes wood by moving it on a stationary tool. Wood turners can create elaborate shapes and designs once they become familiar with the equipment. Wood turners typically choose between two types of turning methods, including spindle and faceplate turning. Both types of wood turning techniques work to create specific objects. For instance, most wood turners create platters, bowls, and other vessels using the faceplate method. Others use the spindle method to create pens, furniture legs, and spindles. The application of each method differs according to the wood turner’s supplies and abilities.
Wood turning has lost its value as an occupation in society; however, it has not always been that way. Wood turning has its origins set back to around 1,300 BC, when the Ancient Egyptians developed a two-person lathe. This tool required one person to turn the wood with a rope while another individual used a sharp tool to cut intricate shapes into it. The Romans modified this design by adding a turning bow; however, a replacement that would free the craftsman’s hands did not emerge until the Middle Ages. This design consisted of a pedal that was connected to a pole, also known as a spring pole lathe, which became popular during the early Twentieth century. The reintroduction of a two-person lathe design, also called a “great lathe,” closely resembles the mechanics of modern lathes. Great lathes enabled turners to cut and shape wood continuously. A master wood turner would typically have their apprentices turn the crank during the creation process.
As with other antiquated machinery, the Industrial Revolution changed the way lathes operated. This time period introduced motorized components that allowed wood turners to create objects in less time. The motorized lathe produced a great rotational speed, which made it easier to create high quality work. Today’s commercial wood turning involves computerized machinery that allows for mass production. Unfortunately, this has eliminated the need for skilled wood turners in the commercial sector. Many people have rekindled an interest for hand-turned products. Others have taken up wood turning as a hobby. Professional wood turners may acquire occupations in factories that create mass-produced furniture or other related objects. Exceptionally talented wood turners can earn a sufficient living by selling their pieces to interested parties.
Independent wood turners use more than a lathe to create their artistic expressions. The wood turner’s tool box may consist of several instruments, including a hollowing tool, spindle gouge, skew chisel, roughing gouge, parting tool, scraper, bowl saver, auger, bowl gouge, chatter tool, wire, ring cutter, thread cutter, adhesive, and maybe a decorative varnish. Each of these tools requires full dedication and practice to truly create an eye-catching wooden object. Wood turning may seem complicated at first, but it can prove rewarding in time. Beginners can join local clubs, associations, and major organizations to learn more about the craft. This will also provide opportunities for networking with like-minded individuals. It would also help to find a suitable teacher to move beyond the intermediate stages of wood turning, even if the initial interest is to build furniture and nick-knacks for your home. The first step to completing a project involves research, which means getting to know the fundamentals about wood turning itself.
Follow these resources to learn more about wood turning, including its history, techniques, tools, and designs that make it an interesting hobby.
Wood Turning Basics
- Turning Injuries: Learning the Hard Way
- An Introduction to Wood Turning
- About Medieval and Renaissance Lathes
- A Beginner’s Guide to Wood Turning
Wood Turning Techniques
- What is Ovalturning?
- Ornamental Turning: A Crickett Cage
- Finishing for Woodturners
- Turning a Natural Edge Bowl
Wood Turning Tools
Wood Turning Organizations
- Ornamental Turners International
- Irish Wood Turners Guild
- Kauai Wood Turners
- Coulee Region Wood Turners
- Cumberland Wood Turners
- Carolina Mountain Wood Turners
- Capital Area Wood Turners
- Gulf Coast Wood Turners Association
- Wood Turners of North Texas
- Cascade Wood Turners Association