Woodturning Tips for Beginners
Below are some of the basic but useful
hints tips and ideas I have learned from others and from
experience over the years. Remember you are always learning,
someone somewhere will know things you don't, be open to new
ideas and respect the experience others can offer and you will
benefit by becoming a better and wiser turner. Enjoy!!
Here are a few tips to
get you started:
Use sharp tools
This makes turning much easier and quicker, and means that the wood is
cut smoothly. My bowl gouge needs sharpening about four times for one
bowl, so you may wish to buy an electric grinder to make sharpening
quick and easy.
Practice with each tool
It took me a while before I could cut smoothly and without dig-ins. So
get yourself a piece of scrap wood and practice different techniques on
it until you get good at them. For between centres work, you need to be
able to: rough out (gouge), smooth (skew chisel), and form shapes
(parting/beading tool, spindle gouge). When I make bowls, I use only one
tool (a bowl gouge) for almost everything, so don't feel that you must
have loads of tools to begin with! Also, try not to be put off if a tool
snatches (usually the skew chisel) as this will be remedied with
Beginners 6 Piece Woodturning Set
The ultimate full size, all round woodturning set.
Perfect for the beginner for any type of turning from
bowls to spindles. These 6 tools are also essential for
the more experienced turner.
* 3/4" Roughing Tool
* 1/8" Parting Tool
* 3/8" Bowl Gouge
* 3/8" Spindle Gouge
* 3/4" Oval Skew
* 1/2" Round Nose Scraper
Get a book or video
There are lots of woodturning books and videos which I found very
useful. If there is another woodturner in your area, get in touch, but
if not, books and videos give lots of advice and tips. They also show
people actually woodturning so you can see what to do. There are lots of
woodturning sites on the internet too.
Use different grades of sandpaper
Start with the roughest, sanding until all tool marks are gone. Change
to a finer grade to get rid of the rough sandpaper scratches. Finally,
use an even finer grade to get the wood glassy smooth. I use '150',
'240', and '320' sandpaper. You can get the wood even better still if
you hold a handful of wood shavings against it to 'burnish' the surface.
Check before switching on
Before you start the lathe, spin the wood to check that it won't hit
anything on the way round. Check that all bolts/clamps are tight too.
Remember your safety glasses just in case the unexpected happens! If you
are sanding the wood wear a dust mask, especially with exotic hardwoods.
Although wood turning on a lathe
is probably statistically safer than using other
woodworking tools and machines, it has some very
specific safety rules that should be followed. If
adherence to these safety rules can be enforced from the
outset until they become habit, your wood turning will
consistently be a safe and enjoyable experience.
As with all woodworking, safety glasses are the most
important piece of safety equipment. There are numerous
styles of safety glasses. Try out the many styles that
your woodworking supplier offers, and find a pair that
you'll be comfortable wearing. Be certain that the pair
you choose incorporates impact resistant lenses and side
screens to protect against debris created by your power
A face shield is a good idea when wood turning, as chips
tend to fly in any direction. A clear, impact resistant
full-face shield will keep these flying chips and debris
out of your face, helping you to avoid distraction when
When wood turning, proper attire is of the utmost
concern. It is advisable to wear long pants and a long
sleeved shirt to keep flying chips and debris at bay.
However, you should wearing avoid loose-fitting
clothing, to prevent the excess cloth from becoming
entangled in the machine. Also, when wood turning, a
woodworker's apron is a good idea. This will also help
keep flying wood chips away from your body.
When turning some woods, particularly fine imported
woods such as mahogany or rosewood, it is advisable to
wear a dust mask or even a respirator, as the fine dust
generated by turning these woods can cause irritation to
the lungs and mucous membranes. Prolonged exposure to
such dust may cause some long-term effects.
Always Use the Tool
When wood turning, never free-hand a
tool into the turning stock. At the very minimum, this
can cause tear-out, which can ruin your hard-earned
efforts and turn a fine wood turning into firewood
immediately. Even worse, free-handing can cause a the
tool to be ripped out of your hands. A flying, sharp
cutting tool is a recipe for disaster. To properly use a
lathe, the tool rest should be placed close to the work
and tightened in place. Always rest the tool before
moving it into the stock.
Adjust your Turning
Speed for the Stock Size:
As a general
rule, the larger the piece of stock, the slower the
speed that the lathe motor should spin. Turning a very
thin piece of stock for a pen can be rotated much faster
than an eight-inch piece of stock for turning a bowl.
Remember to set the speed of the lathe before
turning on the lathe motor. Failure to adhere to this
rule can result in a rather large projectile.
Read the Safety
Precautions as with any power tool, always read and
follow the safety instructions that come with the tool.
Failure to follow the safety instructions can lead to
severe injury, and even death.