Basic Wood Turning Lathe Techniques

A wood turning lathe is a machine that spins a block of wood (and other similar material) in order to perform a variety of operations including sanding, cutting, drilling and knurling. Wood turning is a craft that is best accomplished if its basics are understood and mastered. This requires understanding more about wood properties, wood turning tools, and different wood turning techniques, as well as wood turning designs.

With a proper understanding of wood turning basics, anyone can be creative enough to make traditional to avant-garde wood creations. Let’s look at some common wood turning techniques.

Spindle Turning

This particular technique is most commonly used on a wood turning lathe. It is a process involving turning the spindle after having mounted a wood blank that has already been placed between the head and tailstock of the lathe. Different kinds of spindles can be used, and these can be chosen according to individual applications, such as making furniture legs, wooden pens and more.

Decorative Spindle Turning Technique

This is wood turning technique that is different to the normal spindle-turning technique because it involves roughing and sizing as well as smoothing of cylindrical shaped and even tapered stocks of wood. This process requires elaborate forms of cutting to make grooves and notches as well as to create curves and many other kinds of shapes.

Bowl Turning

Though there is no one technique that helps in turning wood pieces into a bowl, an experienced wood turner can use a bowl gouge to get the desired results. The bowl turning technique requires that the gouge bevel be held lightly on a piece of wood blank, which will soon be transformed into a rough bowl shape. Then, with the help of scraping tools, it is possible to continue with the bowl turning, which will help in creating a perfect bowl.

Faceplate Turning

This is a technique that provides very pleasing results, as the wood turner is able to watch a basic wood block be transformed into symmetrical and smooth as well as hollow wood. There is no need to make use of joinery or assembly or even any need to fabricate pieces of wood. Faceplate turning is a single fluid technique that is radically different to the spindle turning technique in that it allows for much more freedom in designing the faceplate.

Segmented Turning

This is a method in which several pieces of wood are taken together to create a wood blank. Each of the pieces of wood (called segments) is glued to each other before being put through the segmented turning technique. With such a technique, it is possible to create exciting patterns that, in turn, are generated through both gluing as well as shaping processes on a wood lathe.

A wood lathe is a very old wood working machine, and its earliest forms were being used as far back as in the 9th Century B.C. This kind of lathe resembles a potters wheel, but differs from it in that the wood lathe turns on its side. From manual wood lathes to the more modern engine-powered wood lathes, many changes have taken place though the basic techniques have more or less remained the same.