Woodworking has changed in the last couple of decades; when once woodworkers only used traditional hand tools like hand saws, hammers and chisels, now the modern woodworker may have two or more power tools in his workshop. The most common of these tools are table saws and routers. But there is one branch of woodworking known as woodturning, which requires the use of only one kind of power tool.
Unlike usual woodworking projects that require the use of several power tools, to do woodturning projects you only need a lathe and a couple of different chisels. You may think that it does not take much talent or effort if you only need to hold a sharp chisel in place while the lathe does all the work of turning the wood into different shapes. But, once you try your hand at woodturning, you will find that it takes more than a steady hand to turn out beautiful pieces.
What are the most common woodturning projects?
You may not notice it, or you maybe you are not just aware what process made them, but you have actually seen a lot of woodturning crafts all around you. Some of the best examples of the products of woodturning are the wooden legs on your dining table, your bed posts, even wooden salad bowls; all of these objects are made using woodturning techniques.
What makes woodturning projects different from the usual woodworking projects is the wood that is usually used. Woodturners often use the chunks of wood that traditional woodworkers usually just throw away, either because there are too many knots or the grain of the wood is not that good. The quality and appearance of the wood is not really important; the only things that will influence how the end product of woodturning will look like are the techniques used and the talent of the woodturner himself. Even irregularly shaped chunks of wood can become beautiful wooden pieces, the knots and other imperfections in the wood may even add beauty to the piece, if turned properly.
What are the basic tools used in woodturning?
If you are looking to try your hand at woodturning as a new hobby, you will need to have the proper tools. To help you get started, here is some of the basic woodturning equipment that beginners like you should have in your workshop.
This is the most important piece of equipment that you will need. There are basically two types of wood lathes that you can choose from: you can use a floor standing lathe, or a smaller mini lathe. If you do not have a really large work area, your best option would be the mini lathes. These lathes can easily clamp on your work table and can turn relatively small pieces of wood. Choose mini lathes if you want to save on space and if you are sure that you will not be doing any larger scale projects, such as bedposts and other long pieces. If you do plan on doing those kinds of projects, you will need the power of a bigger floor-standing lathe model.
These wooden lathes are pretty expensive if you buy them brand new, so if you are on a tight budget, try to find a second-hand unit in good condition. These machines are tough, even if they are a couple of years old they still work fine if well maintained.
Wood Lathe Chuck
This is an essential tool that can help you turn small or large pieces of wood with a large degree of accuracy. There are two types of chucks that you can choose from: three jaw and four jaw chucks. Three jaw wood lathe chucks are the most common option that most woodturners use; these automatically center the piece of wood on the lathe so that you can make perfectly symmetrical objects like table legs and such.
If you want a bit more flexibility with the end products, you can use a four jaw wood lathe chuck. These chucks allow you to move the wood even when the lathe is spinning, allowing you to create rounded pieces that are asymmetrical, like spiraling wooden posts, or round table legs that have a slight curve on them. These are the wood lathe chucks that are usually preferred by artists as they are not limited as to how many different shapes they are able to turn out.
You may be tempted into buying the cheaper brands of wood lathe chucks, as these can get pretty expensive, but it is advised that you only get branded models as they are guaranteed to last longer. You need to get a chuck that you know will not dull easily and, more importantly, one that will not break suddenly in the middle of woodturning.
Basic Safety Equipment
A wood lathe kicks up a lot of dust and the chemicals used in the finishing process have slightly toxic fumes, so you need basic safety equipment like safety goggles, work gloves, and a face mask. Just like with any woodworking project where you handle sharp and high-powered tools, you should always make safety your top priority.
You can get all of these woodturning equipment and supplies in any large hardware retail outlets or online through the many hobby websites. You can get woodturning supplies in the US or UK, or practically anywhere you are in the world by just doing a simple web search for them. You will surely find a place where you can get the woodturning equipment that best suits your new hobby.
Woodturning is a craft that takes a huge amount of skill, imagination, and diligence. If you want to learn more about this fascinating branch of woodworking there are trade books and video tutorials that can help you learn more about the subject. You can also join online communities of people that share the same amount of passion with woodturning as you do, these people are all willing to help you out in any way they can by sharing various tips and tricks that can only be gained through experience and are not in any book.