10 Wood Lathe Projects for Beginners

Wood Lathe Projects for Beginners

Woodworking is an activity that has been around for centuries. It’s a hobby that many people enjoy doing in their spare time, and it can also be used to make some pretty cool things for your home or office.

One of the most versatile tools you’ll find in any woodworker’s workshop is the lathe. Lathes are used to turn bowls, spheres, pens, and just about anything else out of wood! They’re relatively safe to use as long as you take the proper precautions while using them.

In this article, I am going to share 10 projects you can do with a wood lathe – from easy beginner projects all the way up to more advanced ones. You don’t have to be an expert or spend very much money at all to enjoy turning wood.

Wood Lathe Projects for Beginners

These 10 wood lathe projects for beginners are easy to do, whether you’re working on a smaller mini-lathe or moving up to a larger one. They’ll help you get the feel of how turning works while giving you something beautiful and useful at the same time!

Pens

Making gorgeous, handcrafted wooden writing instruments is one of the most popular pastimes for individuals who own mini wood lathes – and, in and of itself, a sub-genre of woodworking.

wooden pens

And, if you take the time to master the basics of how to put lathe-turned pens together, it won’t be very difficult. For the novice, they may appear to be out of reach at first, but once you grasp the fundamentals of how to build them, the actual work isn’t that complicated.

Some people prefer to specialize in one area after they start turning pens, instead of diversifying their skills and talents. Even if you don’t intend to create pens exclusively, it’s worth giving it a go at least once or twice for the abilities you may pick up as well as the consistently beautiful results.

Rolling pins

Rolling pins aren’t exclusively woodworking items, but they can be made in a lathe with relative ease. This is one of the most versatile beginner projects because if you make any mistakes, it’s very easy to fix them!

rolling pin

Wine stoppers

Wine bottle stoppers are another option for working on your skill and expertise with a wood lathe. They are typically made out of acrylic instead of wood, but the techniques you use will be very much alike.

Spindles

Spindles can be turned easily at home on your mini wood lathe, and they’re perfect for beginners to try their hand at freehand turning. One of the most interesting and attractive aspects of spindles is that they’re made with very little waste, so you can use your longest lengths of wood to create these intricate pieces.

Read: 9 Unique Wood Turning Projects and How to Make Them

Spheres

Wood spheres are not just for decor – they’re items that small children love to play with, and no two need to be exactly alike. They can even be painted or stained to add a bit of flair.

Rings

Rings are another great project to learn how to make on a lathe. They may sound difficult, but rings are actually relatively easy once you have some experience under your belt.

Making wooden rings is similar to making bangles in that it requires the same steps. The procedures are essentially the same, but by doing something smaller, you will be able to practice.

Bowls

Bowls and vases tend to be the first project many people attempt with a wood lathe, and they’re also one of the most common items turned on mini wood lathes! You can turn absolutely any shape you want out of a piece of wood – from abstract to classic, traditional shapes – so there’s no limit to your imagination.

Spoons

Wood spoons are typically turned to be used in the kitchen, but they don’t have to be flat. Some woodworkers create tableware that’s more ornate by turning them into decorative pieces as well. They’re also really easy to make once you master the basics of how to turn them!

Tool handles

You don’t necessarily have to use your mini wood lathe to make handles for tools or utensils – but they can be a fun way to give them a personal touch.

Flowerpots

wooden flowerpot - Wood Lathe Projects for Beginners

Last but not least, flower pots are another incredibly popular project for wood lathes. They can be made in a variety of sizes and shapes, and they’re great for decorating the house.

The basic shape of the pots is quite simple to make, and it’s a great opportunity for a novice to practice working on smooth forms. This type of easy project also allows you to express yourself since the possibilities are virtually endless.

These pots would make wonderful gifts or attractive decorations with a few flowers put inside and left to adorn your home.

Tips for getting the most out of your woodturning experience

If you’re new to woodturning, always start with softer woods like pine or cedar. They will be easier on your tools, and they are also less likely to chip than harder woods like oak.

Begin on the outside of the bowl before working on shaping it inside out. You can gradually turn your piece into its intended shape while making sure you don’t go too far.

Be patient! Woodturning is not hard, but it takes practice to get the hang of it, especially if this is your first time using a wood lathe.

If you’re having trouble with your piece getting chipped up or cracked, try working on slower speeds. Wood has its own grain, and it can be tricky to get a handle on how the wood will react while turning.

If you’re still having trouble with your bowl or another project, try going down in size. A smaller piece will be easier to turn, although it may take longer depending on the size of your lathe.

Once you’ve turned one bowl, you’ll find that it’s incredibly simple to make more. You can choose your own wood and experiment with different shapes on their own, combined together, or on other projects including spindles!

Working with a mini wood lathe is an excellent way to get into woodturning while learning on a smaller scale. They’re easy to use and implement, and they’re a great way to express your creativity by creating some of these simple projects.

Common mistakes to avoid when working with a lathe 

Successfully working with a wood lathe is not an incredibly difficult process, but there are certain steps you want to avoid.

Never force your tool or turn too hard. If it’s having trouble turning, try using another tool instead. It may be too small or dull for the type of wood you’re cutting through!

Be patient – and never push. If you’re cutting and it’s struggling to go through, taking a break and waiting for the wood to “catch up” – or sanding your piece until it becomes thinner – will avoid excessive pressure that can result in damage to your lathe or tools, or even injure you!

How to choose the right type of wood for each project type

Different types of wood will work best with certain projects, and it’s important to know what they are before you begin.

Hardwoods like oak and maple tend to be ideal for smoother turning, like the projects mentioned above. They’re also better for smaller pieces that require more intricate detail.

On the other hand, softer woods like pine and cedar are perfect for heavy-duty use cases. These types of wood tend to be less expensive as well, which is an added bonus.

Woodturning tools can get expensive, so if you’re working on a budget, try using pine and cedar. They can be great for larger projects and won’t break the bank like harder woods like oak would.

It’s also important to use “seasoned” wood. This means that it has aged for at least six months before beginning your project; otherwise, the wood will be too green and may cause cracks or other damage during the turning process.

Final thoughts

There are many wood lathe projects for beginners that can be done at home. We recommend starting with small, easy-to-make items like pens or bottle openers before moving on to more complicated pieces.

If you’ve never used a lathe before, there is no better time than now to start! You will have plenty of great ideas and inspiration from our list as well as the resources we provided in the article. Happy crafting!

Thank you for reading our article about Wood Lathe Projects for Beginners!