What is wood turning

Learn wood turning - the instructions

After looking at planing in the traditional woodworking industry, today it's time to turn. Turning (also called turning) is just a machining production process for the craftsman, mainly used for wood. For children it is pure magic when a perfectly shaped top emerges after a short time. But before we look at the individual forms and options, we will first go into the basics in our instructions. Of course we also show a lot of woodturning videos in German and, as always, free of charge.

Which materials can be turned?

Of course you immediately think of wood, but that's not the whole truth. The following materials can be processed when turning:

  • Wood
  • alabaster
  • Plastic and plexiglass
  • Amber
  • horn
  • ivory
  • Soapstone
  • Serpentinites

As you can see, you can do a lot more than just turn wood.

Turning tool

Of course, you can't turn anything if you don't have the right tool. It doesn't always have to be the most expensive lathe, especially for beginners. In theory, you can build one yourself, but more on that later.

The lathe consists of several parts, in the middle of which the workpiece is machined. The whole purpose of the bank is to create a rotation. With this movement you then shape the material to be processed. So that the material also holds there, there is a headstock on the left and a tailstock on the right. We clamp the workpiece between these two elements. The headstock and tailstock stand on the machine bed, which are flush cast iron carriages. There is a hand rest so that your hand does not slip or tire while turning.

Let's take a look at what we need for turning in addition to a lathe:

  • Flat chisel
  • Parting tool
  • tube
  • Plain steel
  • Boring tool

The flat chisels and parting tools are available in a wide variety of shapes with one-sided and two-sided ground surfaces. This allows the workpiece to be cut to length. The finishing steels and boring steels have an extremely steep cut. With the semicircular tube tools you have a flat outer bevel.

If you want to have it more advanced than a lathe and want to automate turning, you should choose an automatic lathe.

Work carefully with sharpened tools

You can only get a clean result when turning if the tools are also sharpened. Those who use their tools regularly will find that they become dull over time. In order for us to do clean woodturning work, we need tools that are properly ground. A wrong cut is enough and the tool is duller than it was before. We use wet grinding for grinding, so the steel is not damaged by the heat. But it's not just about the right procedure, but above all about the right angle.

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Woodturning long wood turning

When turning logs, the workpiece rotates along the grain. As a rule, the wood is clamped with the point on both sides. In the case of special applications, the long timber may only be fixed on one side of the headstock.

When turning logs, you can make pretty much any long object, such as:

  • Wooden pillars
  • Stair rods
  • Wooden posts
  • Decorative elements
  • Cans
  • Writing implements
  • Buttons

Basically every wooden object that fits on the lathe and is to be processed by rotation.

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Wood turning

In contrast to long wood turning, with this process the workpiece is only fixed on one side in the headstock. It is important that the material to be processed has been sawn out beforehand. As soon as the rotation begins, the object is rotated across the grain. The hand rest is also used with this method so that the moving iron can be neatly guided against the workpiece by hand. This results in a targeted cutting of the material.

A number of beautiful wood projects can also be realized with cross-wood turning:

  • Peel
  • Plate
  • Handrail screws
  • Rings
  • Cans
  • Decorative objects for stairs
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You can get particularly beautiful bowls if you leave a little bark on the edge. As can be seen in the video, this results in a particularly beautiful and natural decorative effect.

Tire turning

Turning tires is more demanding. Mostly coniferous woods are used here, which are completely saturated with moisture. It is usually used to make wooden toys or decorative items. You can let your imagination run wild and turn wooden figures, children's toys or small wooden animals.

As with transverse wood turning, the wood is fixed on one side in the headstock and turned along the grain. With the help of the palm rest, a targeted cutting process can be achieved again. Long moving irons are used as tools, with which one can turn rings with fine contours. As soon as you split it up, the shape becomes clear.

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Rotate winding pillars

The turning of winding columns overlaps with the turning of long wood. In the first step, as with long wood turning, an elongated and flat piece of wood is created on which the windings are now marked. This can then be easily cut with a hand saw. It is important to choose the right depth. The rough contour of the later shape can now be chiseled out with a chisel. So that a filigree quality product is created in the end, the shape is continuously refined by means of rasps and grinding.

The creation of a sinuous column overlaps with other woodworking areas, but despite the work such as chiselling, cutting, rasping and sanding, it is part of the woodturner's craft. These wooden pillars can be used in many ways:

  • Chair leg
  • Stair rungs
  • Table legs
  • Bedpost
  • Cabinet structures

Turning to fit

There are three different variants that can be used for precision turning:

  • Longitudinal turning
  • Transverse turning
  • Longitudinal and transverse turning (mixed form)

Fitting turning is also not often used, as a different type of lathe is required for this. The spindle is moved forwards and backwards in the longitudinal direction by forced control. The tool has a fixed position, scraping and cutting. Cross-pass turning can be achieved by a cross pendulum motion from the headstock or just the spindle. Templates and cams are used so that the result can be implemented as planned. This allows the amount of distraction to be determined.

The wood to be turned must be homogeneous, i.e. made of one piece and very solid. The workpiece is guided in the support and has nothing to do with turning a hand. A free tool guide can only be used for light, passive work. The following products can be manufactured by precision turning:

  • Cans
  • Table legs
  • Chair legs
  • Stair rungs

Oval turning

Only very few woodturners have mastered oval turning and this woodturning work is rarely found. To realize oval turning, you need an oval turning mechanism. The workpiece is fixed to this and then attached to the headstock. The oval movement creates a transverse pendulum movement, and the axis difference can be adjusted. To ensure that the shape is actually a clean oval afterwards, the tool may only cut at a constant height to the axis of rotation when turning. Possible design options are:

  • Plate
  • Peel
  • Cans
  • Picture Frame
  • Borders
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Thread steels

Thread cutting is also known as thread chasing and is one of the most difficult tasks because you need a lot of experience and skill. The turner profession hardly ever uses the process, but it is still taught in class. You can use it to create internal and external threads. To do this, so-called screw steels are used (inner or outer steel). To ensure a clean thread, you should make sure that the lathe runs particularly slowly.

So that the workpiece does not break, the tool is applied to the rotating workpiece with little pressure. One thread turn is created per revolution. Once the correct feed has been found, the process is repeated until the thread depth is the desired length.

# Not every type of wood is suitable for this turning.Homogeneously grown woods with a very high density such as pear tree, boxwood, hornbeam, plum tree and apple tree are particularly popular, but other types of wood are also suitable. If you don't want to choose wood, you can also work with bone or horn. If the procedure seems too strenuous or lengthy, you can use normal cutting tools to create threads. You don't need a woodturner's bench for this.

The following objects can be completed with thread cutting:

  • Pipes
  • Closures and vessels
  • Lathe chuck
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Turning ideas

Since you can always use new ideas when turning, we have put together our favorite list of woodturning jobs here.

  • Gyroscope
  • screwdriver
  • Bullets
  • Bangles
  • Nutcracker
  • Tripod vessels
  • Square shells
  • Pinard pipe
  • Easter bunny
  • Furniture knobs
  • Pepper mill
  • Vases
  • Wood duck
  • thin-walled light shells
  • Cans
  • Decorative bars
  • Fountain pen

If you are looking for more woodturning ideas, you can find them under this link. And of course there are tons of instructions on YouTube.

Conclusion on turning

Turning is a beautiful and traditional wood craft. With a relatively inexpensive lathe, even beginners can quickly learn to turn and implement their own elegant products and projects. In order for the work to be successful, it is important that the tool is always sharp and that the workplace is well cared for. A well-maintained wood lathe can live for many years and will delight you that much longer. By the way, you can also build a wood lathe yourself:

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The second video is much nicer, but unfortunately in English. But I think the good video guide still shows how you can build a small woodturner's bench yourself. Of course, such small hobby benches are not for professionals, but rather a hobby piece to practice on.

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If you liked our instructions, we look forward to a comment or a 5-star rating. Have fun turning!