A wood lathe can be one of the best tools in a wood worker’s shop if they know how to use it properly. Woodturning projects often sell for a good price for those who take commission work. But, if you just started working with it recently, you might want to practice a few projects first. This is why we decided to help you by listing 10 easy things to make on a wood lathe.
The process of woodturning is very satisfactory not just for those who work on the wood lathe. There are tons of videos on YouTube with people making projects with it that viewers watch as a form of ASMR. So, it is a fun way to work wood from the perspective of not only woodworkers but people who aren’t familiar with this tool.
Though on the downside, woodturning can be very messy due to all the shavings and dust that is produced. But, most woodworkers are used to their workshop being covered with it already. So that might not be a huge issue for those who love to work on the lathe.
10 Easy Woodturning Projects for Working on Wood Lathe
All these projects are very easy to work on, but we made sure to keep the list in ascending order of the difficulty, from easier to slightly more difficult. If you have a general idea of the chisels required for the kind of cut, and what type of chuck to use for the project, then you will have no issues whatsoever with anything mentioned below.
1. Rolling Pin
Does your kitchen need a new rolling pin? Well, there is nothing better than a wood lathe to make one with! It is an easy build, you don’t need to go all fancy on it either, it is just a plain ol’ kitchen utensil. It is a simple cylindrical shape that can be done even if you only know the basics of the tool. You can make it in parts if you feel like you are not up for the challenge of making it out of one whole piece as well.
A rolling pin can be made if you can only carve out a basic cylinder shape from the wood. The key to doing so is consistent motions and making sure you move the chisel uniformly. Another thing you do ahead is to make the piece of wood closest to a cylinder with a saw ahead of loading it on the lathe.
If you want to go advanced for practice’s sake, you can make the handle on the pin in the same piece as the roller. Even if you can’t, making it in pieces is also a possibility. So it is a win-win situation, either way, you can just stick the handles afterward.
If you want to make a mechanical rolling pin that rolls with ease, you just need a drill bit for the lathe. Make a hole through it and add in some bearings in the piece, attach the handles inside with a small rod, and you are good to go. It is a need for every kitchen in every household, whether it is rolling the dough for a pie or pasta, a rolling pin is a great help.
Here is a useful video demonstrating how a rolling pin can be made with ease using a wood lathe:
A bowl is a pretty important kitchen utensil as well.. You can use it for eating food, as well as to keep your important items, like keys. Making it is an easy and a great example of how to shape wood in a curve inside out. This can be a base for you that will help you in many other useful future projects as well.
Bowls are easy to shape, a good tip is to make the piece of wood you are going to turn on the lathe circular. This will help with removing larger chunks and you won’t have to shape it into a circle on the lathe itself.
You will save time and effort on it, but it can be done on a lathe as well if you feel like trying to do so. Also, making a bowl will give you practice on how you can hollow out wood from the inside.
Once you master this craft, you can make all sorts of bowls with different shapes. You can watch this video of how you can turn a basic bowl out of a piece of wood on the lathe for a better visual representation:
With the theme in mind, let us talk about how you can make a plate from a wood lathe. It is a bit more challenging since you have to make a flatter object on the lathe. This might be difficult for people who are just starting off, but it is one of the easier projects for someone who has had a little experience with woodturning.
For a plate, you are going to use a similar technique to how you worked on the bowl. You will cut off a circular shape ahead on the piece of wood using a jigsaw. Once you have the circular shape you can start to work from the plate’s bottom to the top. The challenge will be to create an indentation at the bottom of the plate itself. Using a gouge chisel you can start to carve out the curve at the bottom.
Once you are done with that, turn the sides, and start to carve out a slight curve on the inside now. You have to make sure the curve is going to match that of the outside. The challenge is to match the thickness of the curve inside to outside, which in this case is much easier thanks to the plate being carved out of a thinner piece of wood than a bowl.
Here is a much more detailed look at how you can make a plate using a wooden lathe:
A goblet is a pretty good-looking decoration as well as a utensil to drink from. It is a more advanced project compared to the ones that we have talked about above. But you don’t have to go all fancy right off the bat, a simple goblet is plenty easy to make. It is often one of the first projects woodworkers work on when practicing a lathe.
The key to making a goblet is to make sure you don’t go too thin on the handle. If you narrow it down too much there is an ever so slight chance of it snapping while you are working on it. To start off, you need to turn a piece of wood cylindrical. You can do this on the lathe with a roughing gouge and from there you should use a pencil to mark the proportions of the goblet itself.
It would be easier to carve out the inside of the goblet in the initial stage as it gives you some room for minor errors. Then slowly you curve it to the handle and make it thin and straight if you are doing it for the first time. Once you master this, you can make the handle a bit more fancy with more grooves and ridges in it.
Here is a very useful video depicting a woodturner making a goblet out of a beautiful piece of cherry:
Containers and or jars are pretty easy to make once you know how to carve a hollow inside. You can use such containers for a variety of purposes, for instance storing food items like cookies, tea, sugar, and such. While you can also make smaller containers to store important items that you don’t want to misplace. Either way, it is a fun project to work on a lathe with, also pretty easy as well.
The first thing you need to do is find a suitable piece of wood with a diameter big enough for your container. It can be small, or big, depending on the purpose for which you are carving it. You can mark the actual diameter of the container/jar on the vertical end of the piece of wood. This will help you know how narrow you want to carve the piece on the lathe. It will help you avoid mistakes and give you a point of reference.
Once you are done carving out the cylindrical shape, you can start to hollow it out. So far you have carved a curve inside in the other projects, but for this one, you need to match it to how it is from the outside. When you are done with that, you can then make a lid for it by working on a plate without carving out the inside.
Here is a useful video that helps you make a small container for storing jewelry:
6. Handles for Tools and Utensils
Handles are there for a reason, it is to protect our hands and to help get a better grip on things. There are a lot of workshop tools that have a handle on them, for instance, chisels.
When you need to replace the handle due to it being damaged because of some accident, then you can make a new one using your own lathe. Because taking care of your tools and utensils does not need to be a job for someone else.
To start off, you will need to take a small piece of wood and make the diameter of the handle on the vertical end of the piece. We will be using that as a guiding reference point for how thin you want to make the handle.
Using a roughing chisel, you can start to carve a cylindrical shape. Depending on the kind of handle you want for your tools or utensils, you might need to learn how to make grooves and ridges in it.
These help you give a good grip on the handle, a smooth rounded handle might easily slip under work pressure. Also not to mention the shape of the ridges and grooves will give your tool and utensil handles a beautiful look.
Once you are done, you can drill a hole into the handle using a drill press. You can actually do that in advance before putting the piece of wood on the lathe.
Here is a short video describing how you can make handles for your tools/utensils:
7. Baseball Bat
We all grew up loving baseball and baseball bats, people in the United States have an undying love for this sport. So we are here to tell you, you can turn your own using a wood lathe.
If you are making one for decoration, you can pretty much use any wood, but if you are planning on using it for the sport itself, then we suggest something that can take much more abuse, like maple.
You can start off by using a roughing gouge to carve the 4 edged piece of wood into a cylindrical shape. Once you are done turning it into a cylindrical shape, start to taper the piece ever so slightly from the top to the bottom. Then you will want to taper away at the end to the knob for a good grip. This will create a pretty decent baseball bat with a tapering barrel.
You can make a cylindrical barrel without a taper and start doing that after the size of the barrel ends as well. But that is for you to decide as the design is dependent on your preference for the baseball bat.
Here is a video example of how you can make a baseball bat yourself at home using a lathe:
Made purely for aesthetics these days, candlesticks can be the centerpiece of any table. Whether it is having a romantic dinner with your loved one, or to be used for lighting purposes during a light-out situation, candlesticks are a very useful tool, with aesthetic and general purpose.
With a lathe, you can carve one for your table or keep it as a decoration. Either way, it’s a great and easy project to work on that will help you polish your skills for harder projects later.
To start the candlestick, as always, use a roughing gouge to make the shape of the wood cylindrical. Once that is done, attach the piece to a chuck and start to carve out a hollow where you will be inserting the candle.
Take your time on this process ensuring it is not too big and not too small for a candle to fit. When that is done, you can start to carve the grooves and ridges with a knob at the end for placement.
Depending on your level of experience on the lathe, you can create intricate designs and patterns with grooves, bulbs, and ridges. A good-looking candlestick will attract the attention of all your guests to the dinner table and might even provide you with a compliment or two on your choice of aesthetics.
Check out a detailed video example of how you can make one for your table:
9. Honey Dripper
A honey dripper is a pretty useful tool if you enjoy using honey on your pancakes instead of syrup. People also use honey in their tea for its healing purposes. But enough about honey, let us talk about how to make a honey dripper using a lathe.
To make a honey dripper, you will need to first take a small piece of scrap wood of your choice, and turn it cylindrical using a roughing gouge. Start to carve a bulbous shape for the top with grooves in it for the dripper part. When you are done doing so, it is time to make a tapered handle.
Since this is a smaller project, you will need to be extra careful not to apply too much unnecessary pressure. Take your time and be patient, otherwise, the handle might just snap off. Here is a video illustration of how you can make one yourself with the help of a lathe and scrapwood:
Another smaller project that you will want to be careful about when working on is a pen. Making a pen is a slightly more tough job than any of the other projects above. But once you pull it off, you can make a profit by turning customized pens for people.
To start off you will need to drill a hole in a piece of wood. The choice of wood is on you, though we would recommend something hard but light in weight. A heavy pen is hard to with, balance is the key after all.
Once you are done with that using a rough gouge, carve the piece of scrap wood into a cylinder shape. When it is the desired shape and size you want it to be, start adding in the details on it.
You can reverse taper from end to end and add ridges in the middle for design purposes. Once you are done, you can cut off the lid on the pen. Making a few of these you will have a better idea of where you can add more details for design purposes using the lathe.
For a more visual representation, here is a video on how you can turn a pen on a lathe:
Tips and Tricks For Working Wood on a Lathe
- Be patient: Working on a lathe is a process that requires time and patience. By taking your time, you can minimize the mistakes you make and avoid wasting the wood and time that will be required for a do-over.
- Let the tools do the job: Applying pressure using the chisels on the lathe will just ruin the piece and might even snap the wood. Instead of applying too much pressure, just guide the chisels and let the tools do the job instead. Uniformity is the key.
- Polish on the lathe: Polishing your projects on the lathe is very efficient and easy. Instead of sanding manually, use the rotation of the lathe instead. You can also use it to help spread the polish and buff the piece.
- Make close passes: Make small and close passes instead of doing deeper ones. This will help avoid small mistakes and reduce the margin of error.
Practicing any of the 10 easy things to make on a wooden lathe mentioned above will give you not only a great experience but also help you be more creative with each piece you make. Most of these pieces are incredibly easy to craft, though a pen and honey dripper might be slightly more difficult to work on. However, they can also become pretty easy once you get the hang of using a lathe.