How to Make Money with a Wood Lathe – Turning Wood for Profit

How to Make Money with a Wood Lathe

Turning wood on a lathe is an enjoyable hobby for many people. However, it can also be a great way to make money if you do it professionally.

In this blog post, I will break down how you can make money turning wood on your lathe!

How to Make Money with a Wood Lathe 

There are two main ways you can make money with a wood lathe. You can sell the items you turn or you can teach other people woodturning.

Selling

Selling the items you turn is the most common way to make money. The easiest and least expensive option for turning wood into a saleable product is bowl turning. Bowls can be turned from any type of hardwood, but it’s best to avoid softwoods like pine or fir because they are more likely to crack when being worked on the lathe.

Craft fairs are a great way to sell your bowls, but you can also find more niche markets like gourmet shops and restaurants.

Another option for turning wood into a saleable product is vases or other items with an open center. This type of item would work best if it’s made from hardwood because the softwoods are less resistant to cracking when being worked on a lathe.

You can sell pretty much anything you make but there is one secret. Unique items sell best. Most people turn just a basic item. This is not the way to go about it. Customers will want something special and unique.

Another option for selling your items is online marketplaces like Etsy and Amazon. These are great places to turn your items into a business.

Etsy is more arts and crafts oriented while Amazon is more for manufactured products. You can visit the website and see what sells.

You can also start your own online store. The downside of this approach is that you will need to advertise your business to potential customers.

Read: Can you make money turning wood? 4 Ways To Do It

Pros and cons of this method

Selling your items is great a great way to make money. It is also a very profitable business for those who are just starting out. However, there are some downsides to this approach as well:

Pros

  • It is a low investment method. You will only invest time if you have all the tools needed.
  • You will develop your skills if you are a beginner at woodturning or entrepreneurship.
  • If woodturning is your hobby then this will not really feel like work. You do what you like and have the option of getting paid for it.
  • Starting an online shop is easy

Cons

  • It might be difficult to find markets or customers at first because you have no brand recognition
  • You have to spend money on raw materials. For example, if you buy a log at $100 and turn it into bowls for sale, then each bowl would need to be sold at a price that will generate a profit.
  • It can take some time before you understand what sells. You will definitely have to try many products before finding one that will sell a lot.

Teaching

teaching woodturning

The other way to make money with a wood lathe is by teaching how to turn. This can be done by either charging an hourly rate or offer classes for a set price. To teach, you will need the right tools and space.

If you are only going to offer occasional lessons in your backyard then it’s not necessary to invest heavily into tools and space.

It’s also very helpful if you have several different types of tools to teach how to turn different things.

If you are going to offer classes on a regular basis, then it’s best to invest in more specialized and expensive equipment.

Starting a youtube channel is a great way to make money teaching other people what you know. It might take a while before you can monetize your videos but is well worth it. You can teach people basic things or just about anything that you enjoy talking about.

Pros and cons of this method

Teaching how to turn is a great way to make money with your wood lathe skills but it does have some downsides as well:

Pros

  • You get to meet new people and network.
  • Once your youtube channel takes off you can expect to make a lot of money. You will also make money if you stop working. The videos will still be there teaching people.
  • Flexible schedule. You decide when to teach.

Cons

  • High investment. You will probably need more than one wood lathe depending on how many people you want to teach. You will also need a large space to teach.
  • There is more work involved in this method because you have to spend time training someone how to turn or teaching basic things about turning like how bowls are made.
  • It is difficult to find people who are willing to pay that much for a class in this day and age of budget cuts.
  • You will also need some marketing skills which can take time before your channel gets popular enough on youtube or other social media platforms.

Combining both methods

The best way to go about making money with a wood lathe is by combining the two methods of making wood turnings and teaching how to turn. The best way to do this is to start with an online store and then branch out into classes or one-on-one lessons.

You can record the process of making items to sell in your online store. This gives you both the content for youtube and the item to sell. It is a little bit more work but the rewards are also greater.

Why turn wood for profit

There are many reasons why you would want to turn wood for profit. Woodturning is a nice hobby but it can also be how you make your living.

Some people only do this as side-gigs while others have turned their skills into something that sustains them full time with all the benefits of being an entrepreneur.

Woodturning is a great skill to add to your resume. It’s also nice that it doesn’t take up much space and you can do this work from home with very little expense. The most expensive part is buying a wood lathe.

It can take a while to get started but once you do, it’s worth the effort. Woodturning is not something that everyone understands how to do so there will always be people willing to pay for your services.

You have many options of how you want to make money with this skillset including teaching others how to turn and having an online store of your own.

Read: Learn How to Sell Handmade Wooden Pens

Types of turning projects that can be done on a lathe 

There are many projects you can do on a wood lathe. The most basic and common is bowls. You also have the option of turning spoons, pens, or anything else that comes to mind.

Your imagination is your only limit in how you turn things for profit so feel free to experiment with different ideas!

The more time you put into it, the more options you will have for how to make money with your wood lathe skills.

Here is a list of items you can turn on a wood lathe and sell: bowls, pens, duck calls, baseball bats, table and chair legs, flower vases, egg cups, rings, chess pieces, tool handles, ornaments, and many more.

Final thoughts

Turning wood on a lathe is an enjoyable hobby for many people. However, it can also be a great way to make money if you do it professionally.

There are several ways that you can turn your love of turning into cash.