Wood Turning Lathe

Written by Jeremy Horelick
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A wood turning lathe is the perfect tool for anyone interested in highly ornamental crafts and other detail work. By revolving wood at anywhere from 500 to 2500 RPM, wood lathes help you create cylindrical shapes that are suited to bowls, dishes, tops, and a variety of other knick-knacks. With a little practice, it's even possible to produce high-quality home furnishings that may be intricately carved and finished with the stain of your choice.

Wood turning lathes are unique in that they require minimal mechanical effort in producing stunning results. Simply place your wood blank between the headstock and tailstock of your lathe's bench, clamp it into place, and begin your motor. It's best to begin with a roughing cut that defines the basic shape of the piece you're carving. Once that's been sanded and finished, your wood turning tools can help you form intriguing patterns through careful incisions.

Using Your Wood Turning Lathe

Whether you're making table legs, pilaster capitals, crown moldings, or any other hand-carved trimming, wood lathes are critical to the task. Any carvings in three dimensions require a machine with a reliable motor and turning axis to help your final product achieve a balanced and professional look. Changing the speed of your revolutions, varying your gouges and skews, and adjusting the angle of your carving tools are all basic ways of creating exciting new shapes.

As with any woodworking equipment, wood lathes require a bit of practice before you start to see the results you're after. You'll first need to find a comfortable "neutral" position in which to stand for optimal leverage and control. And you're bound to chip more than a few blanks at first before mastering the delicate touch needed to create more subtle designs.


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