Getting Started in WoodTurning

So, how does one get started in wood turning?

The older I get the more research I do when it comes into taking up a new hobby or craft. Although I’ve been an architectural designer, property developer, contractor, remodeler, electrician, concrete contractor, excavator, drywaller, carpenter …..I could go on but there really isn’t anything I can’t do when it comes to construction and building or remodeling homes and buildings.

Although I’m not a Donald Trump, money wise or project size related …..I have been building for over 40 years.

Getting Started Wood Turning
Your First Wood Lathe

I enjoy attempting to work at find woodworking, something I have yet to master. I never really thought much about using a wood lathe and turning projects. My interest started in kind of a backwards way, I’ve been researching sawmills, looking at several forums and facebook groups and became fascinated in these machines. Turns out wood turning can quickly squirt out of an interest in portable saw mills.

First you need to do some research. Check out the forums. Take a look at some of the local wood stores. Two big names are Rockler and Woodcraft, you can source manufacturers for a wood lathe from there.

Harbor Freight Wood Lathe
Good starter wood turning lathe from Harbor Freight, if you have the cash, get the best you can afford, read the reviews on Amazon or what I post latter on this site!

You can spend a couple thousand on a wood lathe or you can do what I did. I went to Harbor Freight and purchased a medium size wood lathe for a little over 200 bucks with coupons. I’ll talk more about my lathe latter, but despite of the negative reviews that Harbor Freight often gets, I’m really pleased with my purchase. You can get an extended warranty which means you can torture you machine (at your own risk) and get a new one at the end of the year. I wouldn’t recommend that but hey, the world is full of different people.

You get everything you need to turn a bowl, candle stick hold or lamp with your Harbor Freight Lathe with the exception of turning chisels or gouges. But don’t worry, Habor Freight has ….I think 3 different sets of turning chisels.

Affordable Wood Turning Chisels
Get Started with the most expensive woodturning chisels you can afford!

Here’s the key to wood turning chisels. Two things you need to be aware of:
1. steel type of strenght
-get the most thick chisels you can afford
-I believe you need to try and stay with HSS or above type steel (do you own research because its a little confusing to me) but suffice it to say, the more expensive the chisel, the better the steel
2. Keep your chisels sharp
-good steel will hold an edge for a longer period than cheaper ones
-imagine a 100 dollar chisel when properly sharpened keeps an edge much longer than the same chisel that costs 20 dollars
3. Learn quickly how to sharpen your tools, even if you have a cheap set of tools, learn how to sharpen them properly. Unfortunately the other investment you’ll need is some type of sharpening system geared toward sharpening wood turning chisels and gouges. There are several available from $100 to $200+ along with some sharpening jigs you can make if you have a grinder ….check out youtube.


So, really, if you want to get started woodturning on the cheap you need:
1. A Woodturning Lathe
-get at least a midsize lathe, that would be one bigger than somethingĀ  used to make pens
-something able to handle 30″ to 48″ in length
2. A set of wood turning Chisels or Gouges
-get the best you can afford
3. Invest in a wood turning (chisel/gouge) sharpening system

Now you can literally grab a branch or log and mount it on your lathe and start woodturning.

Simple Wood Bowl Turning Using
Just a Faceplate and Not a Scoll Chuck

I didn’t intent on talking about this but if you’ve been looking at woodturning then you undoubedly have come across the term “scroll chuck” or “lathe chuck”, a method of hold a piece of wood on a lathe. You really don’t need anything more than what comes with this basic lathe. You need a:

  1. Faceplate
  2. Drive Center
  3. Tool rest
  4. Comes with some cheap wrenches to take off the faceplate

Watch this Video on how to turn a log into a bowl using a faceplate with just the very basic tools that come with the lathe and a set of wood turning chisels!

How to Turn a Bowl with Just a Faceplate Not Using a Scroll Chuck

How to Turn a Bowl without a Chuck!