Learning to Turn

learning to turn

This week I was lucky enough to spend my Thursday and Friday learning to use the wood turning lathe. Jon has a lathe in our wood shop and has shown me how to use it a few times but I was still a little terrified of the thing. I signed up to take two courses – an intro and a slightly more advanced course – to help me become more comfortable with the tool.

On Thursday we started with a spindle turning project – a simple dry vase – to get comfortable setting wood up on the lathe and using the spindle tools. I got over my initial fear of the tools pretty quick and found myself enjoying shaping my vase. We started with a rectangular piece about 10″ long and ended up with a 6″ vase.

Turning a

In the afternoon we made a bowl. I’ve turned one before (with Jon’s help) so I felt less intimidated by the process this time around.

turning a simple bowl

On Friday we started with another spindle project – learning to make beads (bumps) and coves (dips) in the spindle. Then we practiced taking pieces off to make little spinning tops. My piece came off the lathe and I just couldn’t get it back on so it didn’t wobble so I had less fun with this part of the day.


After that we started work on wide lipped bowls. Since we had just learned to put beads on things (see our spindle) I worked to put beading on my bowl both on the outside and on the lip. I was pretty pleased with how it turned out!

Turning a

There were only 9 of us in the class so my instructor had lots of time to work with me and I feel like I have a better understanding of the role of all the different turning chisels. Now comes the part where I have to just practice with them!

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