Additional Craft Information:
There are four things you need to become a woodturner: a workspace, the equipment, some timber and the necessary skills.
DIY Craft Essential #1: Washi tape
DIY Craft Essential #2: Needle nose pliers
The space you can dedicate to the craft determines what you can do. Woodturning can be noisy and dusty, and you need somewhere to store materials and valuable equipment, so the workspace is the first thing to sort out. A proper building, secure, insulated, heated, powered, dry and well lit is ideal. But lots of people do great work in just a garden shed or garage. Whatever you use, if possible, allow nothing in the workspace that does not relate to turning – no bicycles, lawnmowers etc. They take up the space that you will need, and detract from the proper dignity of the craft. And, unless your workspace is very large, try to find somewhere else protected from the weather to store the wood.
When you start, the bare essentials are
DIY Craft Essential #3: X-acto knife
DIY Craft Essential #4: Spray paint
- a lathe with a chuck or at least a faceplate. The lathe should be the most substantial possible. If you start with a cheap, flimsy machine, you will soon want to replace it. A good used machine is much better than a poor new one.
- a grinder for sharpening. Blunt tools will not give you the results you want.
- a sharpening jig for gouges. Scrapers and chisels can be sharpened using the grinder's own tool rest.
- some basic turning tools – a good start would be a small roughing gouge, a small spindle gouge, a small bowl gouge, an 18mm skew chisel, a square nose scraper, a round nose scraper and a parting tool
- an instructional DVD or book
- a face shield and dust mask
- the usual workshop tools – screwdrivers, power drill, handsaw etc.
With these, you can make bowls and vases, boxes, all kinds of spindles, and lots of mess. Later, you will need a bandsaw, a chainsaw, a drill press, a dust extractor, power sanding equipment, additional turning tools, buffing equipment and lots more. No woodturner ever has all the equipment they would really like. But don't fall into the trap of thinking that buying the latest advertised tool will make you a turner.
In the beginning, you can buy readymade turning blanks, but this is the most expensive way to buy wood. Better to convert small logs and branches to turning blanks yourself, at no cost. Unseasoned timber is fun to turn. A hammer and splitting wedges can stand in for a bandsaw. You will soon find you have more timber than you can use, and will need somewhere to store it, protected from the weather while it seasons.
For practice, almost any timber will do, but it is easier to turn wood that is free of large knots, decay and splits, and not too hard. It is a mistake to buy tropical hardwoods when you are starting out. They are beautiful, but hard to turn.
A turner must be able to prepare the wood, sharpen and use the turning tools, and make pleasing shapes for the finished items.
To learn the craft, read the books and magazines, study the DVDs, take lessons, join a turning club. If you practice, you will improve. Practice some more. Eventually, practice makes perfect. Learn from people who have gone before, then go your own way to establish your own original style.