Woodturning Tool Recommendations for the Beginner

Woodturning Tool Recommendations for
the Beginner

So you decided to get into woodturning.

You purchased a lathe, a good wood lathe like a Laguna Lathe ….you’re stoked and ready to turn.

Oh, Oh!

Need some woodturning tools!

Laguna Revo 13\36 wood lathe
This Laguna Revo Wood Lathe wreaks of quality, gonn be my next purchase!

I think that’s the scenario that many of us go through. Maybe we don’t buy the lathe yet but we do the research and figure out which one we are ready to get ….in other words, you are ready to pull the trigger on a woodlathe.

My friend, you’re just starting out and you are going to learn that there is a lot more to woodturning. There are a lot of wood turning tools and supplies you are going to need. And, you are going to have to learn how to use these new tools.

Each new wood turning project will require different techniques, differnt tools and different wood. It will require a different plan of attack. Even if you decide to turn a couple of wood bowls, chances are you will need some different tools and each one ….and maybe even a different finish on each one. It all depends on the type of wood and style of bowl.

I’m not going to talk about all the different accessories in this article, but I do want to talke about what is probably one of the most important considerations when entering into the world of wood turning. I want to talk about your woodturning tools.

First you are going to find out that the same type of tool from one vendor is 10 times the cost with another vender or manufacturer. In this case, you usually get what you pay for, but should you buy expensive turning tools to start off with?

Expensive WoodTurning Tools

If you have the cash, go for it!

beginning woodturing toolsIf you are like most wood turners, that is, always frugal and a good steward of your money you are going to want to purchase tools with the best value to start with.

After fighting through pages and pages, videos and videos about wood turning tools I have come to understand one of the most important things is the type of steel. A wood turning bowl gouge made with less expensive steel will not perform as good as the same woodturning tool made with the best steel. Not only that, it will not hold an edge and you will always be sharpening it.

This could be a double edge sword. It’s important to learn how to sharpen your wood turning gouges, skews and the like because ….number one, it will cost a fortune to pay someone to sharpen your tools and with a cheap tool you might have to sharpen it 2 or 3 times during the project …so you will have to learn how to use something like the Wolverine Oneway Sharpening Jig …you’ll need this regardless of the type of tool you have along with a decent 8″ grinder. So the lesson is, with a cheap tool you will learn sharpening faster and that’s a good thing because when you buy a good expensive Sorby Bowl gouge you don’t want to grind it away honing your sharpening skills with the grinder and oneway sharpening jig!

Don’t Buy A Set of Woodturning Tools

The other mistake most newbie wood turners make is that they buy a set of woodturning tools. A set might have 5 to 10 wood turning tools in it. You might find you only really use 2 or 3 of those tools and you really don’t need the rest at this point.

ellsworth woodturning gougeIt’s better to purchase 2 or 3 seperate wood turning tools of better quality and learn how to use those tools and how to maintain and/or sharpen them. And then as you do more research and your scope of woodturning expands you can grab another medium to high quality tool and learn how to use it.

If we consider the last paragraph, then the question would be….. what tool should I start with? A very good question. I would suggest a spindle gouge, a bowl gouge and a scraper. I don’t hear too many woodturners talk about scrapers, but a good scraper has saved my butt on many occaision and it’s a tool that can build your confidence. Spindle gouges and Bowl Gouges come in many shapes and sizes along with different grinds on each …..unless you are a natural they require some effort to learn but with these three wood turning tools you can do just about anything. The only other one I would suggest to begin with is a parting tool.

Here’s a good video that talks about what type of woodturing tools to begin with….good stuff, excellent photography since you can actually see how the tools cut. For instance a bowl gouge with a fingernail grind can make 3 or 4 different cuts and it could do your entire project if used correctly.

Check out Beginners Woodturning Tools

Sealing End Grain on Your WoodTurning Blanks with AnchorSeal or Latex Paint

Sealing End Grain on
Your WoodTurning Blanks

I was out collecting some wood for turning the other day. Found a pine or fir tree about 12″ at widest end cut up in 2, 3 and 4 foot lengths. Just what I was looking for.

I got some ash and beech a couple months ago. A neighbor was cutting down some small trees and I grabbed some choice pieces. I brought them home and stuck them off to the side and forgot about them. I figured I would seal the ends when I got around to it.

Guess what, I never got around to it and it looks like the pieces will be ruined for wood turning. Very disappinted since I had some burls and other pieces that looked interesting. So reminder to self …..always seal the ends right away!

Anchor Sealer for end grain sealingSo, I grabbed my new pine pieces. Had some old Latex paint laying around and promtly painted the ends to seal them. The theory goes like this. The ends will dry quicker while the wood in the middle of the log stays nice and wet. You’ve got some uneven movement due to the dryness and continual drying going on so something has to give …..you ususally see it right in the end of your cut logs.

If it hasn’t been too long you can still seal it or better yet, cut off an inch or two and see what it looks like, you might find that the log is still “check” free. Make sure you seal that puppy right away 🙂

What to use for sealing end
grain on wood blanks?

Basically you can use any ole paint you have laying around for end sealing, some swear by it others think a commercial end sealer is better. Put in on thick and store it outside under cover if you can. A good place to find cheap paint is your local Home Depot, Menards or Lowes ….any hardware store will have paint that someone returned or didn’t get mixed right. A gallon of paint goes a long way when sealing ends.

I’ve tried spray paint and it works, but unless you can pick up a can for $.25 or so, it really isn’t worth it.

I’m on a facebook group for sawyers, portable sawmills. These guys get 10′, 15′, 20′ or more length of trees that are 36″ or more in diameter and they still seal the ends otherwise the checking and cracking can ruin much of the log.

These guys use the same thing us woodturner’s would use, old paint …except they’re looking for 5 gallon deals! I would say 70 to 80% of these guys use latex paint on their slabs and other produced wood and stock tree trunks!

AnchorSeal Stops Logs from
Checking and Splitting

There is a commercial product made specifically for sealing the end of wet wood, wether small stuff like we use or whole tree trunks. I believe it’s called “anchorseal”. Seems as though they have several different versions of Anchor Seal now and it looks like it ranges from $25 to $35 dollars. If I was doing a project where I wanted to be absolutely sure there was not splitting, checking or cracking I would use Anchor Seal.. but for my budget and normal woodturning I do I will continue to use paint I have laying around. Maybe when the old paint is no longer available and I get rich, I’ll switch over to AnchorSeal!

Here’s a guy who did a quick video using AnchorSeal for End Grain Sealing from Peter Matthew

Using Glue to Seal Log Ends
to Prevent Splitting

Rick from RickTurns shows us another way to seal end grain on your woodturning logs using Elmers Glue. Notice the nice little jig he set up to slice his logs into slabs and other usable features. A pretty interesting video since he actually performed some tests on the best method to keep logs from splittng!

GreenWood End Sealer Stops
Splitting on Wet Wood

There are a lot of great reviews for Rockler’s Green Wood End Sealer. A product similar to AnchorSeal but cheaper. Next time they have free delivery I think I will grab a gallon to use on some of my choice wood finds. Or I could go down to the local Rockler store to get some 🙂

Check out some of these reviews.


I have always used Rockler Green…
I have always used Rockler Green Wood end sealer or Anchorseal to seal the ends of my wood. It will seal the wood from cracking until you are ready to use it. Another advantage is, I believe it keeps bugs out of the wood. I don’t know this as fact, but it just seems so. The wood I bring in is not only crack free but bug free. I don’t know if Rockler’s product is the same as Anchorseal but it performs exactly the same. Excellent.
Had 3 trees taken down and milled into lumber. This product is great, easy to apply and clean up. I fully expect my boards to have no end-checking after they dry out.
I’m new to this and as you can see I bought the smaller bottle and applied using brush on the freshly cut ends on all ten of them while I wait for them to dry and eventually make them into cutting boards and or to turn them into bowls. Each one of these averages in 1′ 2″ to 1′ 5″ in diameter and I still have some left over. I notices some sap coming through later in the day and I brushed more on them. Easy clean as instructed used hot water only to clean my brush. So far so good. Thanks to one of the Rockler sales rep. who introduced me to this stuff. I am definitely going to buy more of this stuff.

You can always see what’s new at Wood Turning Basics!