Wood turning: An Art

Wood turning: An Art

Wood turning is the process of shaping a piece of wood on a lathe, using cutting tools to remove material and create an object with symmetrical, round or cylindrical shapes. The wood is rotated while the cutting tools are held against it, forming the desired shape as the tools move along the spinning wood. Wood turning is used in the creation of furniture, decorative objects, and various wooden items such as bowls, plates, and spindles.

Exotic wood zone is giving you out a guide on how wood is turned into a work of art.

Basically, there are two type of wood turning process:

Spindle turning



It  is a type of wood turning that involves shaping cylindrical objects, such as chair legs, table legs, candlesticks, and spindles. The wood is mounted on the lathe's spindle, which rotates the piece while a cutting tool is used to remove material and shape the object. Spindle turning requires precise control and manipulation of the cutting tool to achieve symmetrical and uniform shapes. This process is usually used with a smaller lathe and lighter, more slender workpieces.

Faceplate turning

This process of wood turning involves shaping flat or convex objects, such as platters, lids, and goblets, by mounting the workpiece on a faceplate that is attached to the lathe. The faceplate rotates with the wood as cutting tools are used to remove material and shape the object. Unlike spindle turning, faceplate turning allows for a greater range of shapes and designs, including objects with a flat base, concave or convex curves, and intricate patterns. This process is typically performed on a larger lathe and with heavier, thicker workpieces.

Other wood turning process involves:

Bowl turning


This process involves shaping hollow objects, such as bowls, vases, and other containers, from a solid block of wood. The workpiece is mounted on the lathe's spindle and rotated as cutting tools are used to remove material and shape the inside and outside of the object. Bowl turning requires precise control and manipulation of the cutting tools, especially when shaping the inside of the bowl, to ensure a smooth, uniform surface. Bowl turning can be performed with a variety of cutting tools and techniques, including roughing gouges, skew chisels, and scrapers, to achieve different textures, shapes, and designs.

Ornamental turning


This is a form of lathe work that involves decorative engraving, cutting, and shaping of metal and wood using a lathe machine. It is an ancient technique used to produce intricate and complex patterns on cylindrical and spherical surfaces. The process involves using specialised tools and chisels to create a range of patterns, including spirals, scrolls, and geometric shapes. Ornamental turning is often used in the creation of jewellery boxes, candlesticks, and other decorative objects.

Segmented turning


It  is a woodturning technique where pieces of wood are glued together to form a blank, which is then turned on a lathe to produce a finished piece. Unlike traditional solid wood turning, segmented turning allows for the creation of intricate designs and patterns by using a variety of different wood species, colours, and grain patterns. The process involves cutting and arranging the segments, then glueing them together in a specific pattern. Once the glue has set, the blank is mounted on the lathe and turned to the desired shape. The technique requires precise measurement, cutting, and joinery skills, and can be used to create bowls, platters, vases, and other decorative items.

Wood turning is a craft which involves different steps to accomplish a final piece of art. The process of woodturning can be broken down into the following steps:

Preparation of the Wood:

  • Select a suitable piece of wood for the project, taking into account factors such as the type of wood, its density, and the desired final shape and size.
  • Mount the wood blank on the lathe, securing it with a chuck or faceplate.
  • Mark the centre of the blank and make sure it is aligned with the axis of the lathe.

The Turning Process:

  • Turn the lathe on and adjust the speed to a suitable setting.
  • Use roughing tools, such as roughing gouges, to remove the bulk of the material and shape the piece into a rough cylinder or cone.
  • Use shaping tools, such as spindle gouges and scrapers, to refine the shape and add details.
  • Sand the piece with progressively finer grits of sandpaper to remove any rough spots or tool marks.

The Finishing Process:

  • Apply a finish, such as oil, wax, or lacquer, to protect the wood and enhance its natural beauty.
  • Buff the piece with a soft cloth to a high shine, if desired.
  • Detach the finished piece from the lathe.

These steps are general guidelines and may vary depending on the specific project and personal preference. It is important to follow proper safety precautions and to become familiar with the tools and techniques involved before attempting wood turning.