While the lathe itself is a seemingly complicated and “high-end” woodworking power tool, the principle in of itself is deceptively simple. It turns pieces of wood at a high enough speed that they can be stripped and shaped into all manner of useful objects. In this article, we teamed up with the woodworking experts at Data Powertools to explore 10 things that can be made with a lathe.
- Curtain Rings
This may seem like a fairly mundane use for such a pricey tool, however, the simple curtain ring can be a great way for beginners to learn how to use their new lathe. The simplicity of its shape is an easy and familiar goal to set yourself and can be easily crafted with a little trial and error. Besides, you never know when you will need spare curtain rings handy! Especially if you have pets or small children!
For something a little more impressive, but still ultimately quite easy to make would be something like a wrist or ankle bracelet made from wood. As with the curtain ring, the shape itself is just a larger version as well as being easy for beginners to conceptualize in their heads. As an added bonus, a handmade bangle or anklet of simple turned, varnished and polished wood can be a strikingly beautiful gift to a loved one or friend. As well as a way to convince your spouse that the expense of a lathe was worth it after all!
Again, in the “seemingly mundane but actually more complex than you thought” category is the simple wooden spoon. While it may seem boring, to somebody who loves cooking, a spare utensil can never hurt! And knowing that you took the time, effort, and thought to make something like that for them is quite a touching and memorable gift for them to reminisce about every time they pick up a frying pan! The wonderful thing about a wooden spoon is that once you have the basic technique down, it is easy to expand on this and make more beautiful and intricate spoons.
Wooden bowls are a great way to dip your toes into something a little more complicated than the aforementioned objects. Using your lathe, you can make the simplest of wooden soup bowls, to highly decorative and intricately carved centerpieces. However, when starting out its highly advisable to go for something simple, and focus on making that beautiful, rather than shoot to high and bite off more than you can chew. There are some great resources available for learning how to make bowls and dishes to be found on YouTube.
Pens are a staple amongst woodworking enthusiasts as not just a novelty item, but something that some choose to dedicate their entire woodturning careers on! While they may seem impossibly complex and dainty for the average beginner, learning how wooden pens function and the basic premise behind making them than with patience and time, they are something that are relatively easy to produce. A simple polished wooden pen is a striking enough gift but plenty of examples exist on Google and Instagram to show you exactly how far you can take this simple concept and how amazing you can make them look.
Making flowerpots is a great way to get some use out of your lath, because not only are you putting it to good use and making something to beautify your home, but it hopefully will encourage you to get yourself gardening and plant some flowers or herbs! As with many entries on this list, once you learn the basic principle and form behind making a flowerpot, you can then expand on that knowledge to make more complex and larger flowerpots, and start to include things like proper drainage to keep the plants alive longer.
- Wine Glasses
While the term “goblet” is actually more appropriate for a drinking vessel not made of glass, you aren’t limited to the traditional “medieval” design that most opt for. Again once this basic shape has been learned, making more aesthetically pleasing and modern drinking vessels is only a small step up the ladder. You can find many examples of amazing looking wooden wine glasses with a simple Google Image search for inspiration.
- Wine Stopper
While simple enough in concept, the wine stopper is complex for such a tiny item. Requiring varied materials and a little bit of patience to nail the technique, this is a great beginner step to making something that you might get a fair bit of use out of depending on how much you drink! As you may imagine, there are many different styles and shapes of stopper you can go for and they are a great way to expand on what you know already by experimenting in different styles and shapes that can be made.
- Bannister Struts
This can be something that can be quite profitable, the pillars holding up the banister or handrail on your stairs is actually called a “banister strut” and making them can be a lucrative and creative way to turn your new hobby into cash. Having said that, making them from hardwoods are the most sought after and those materials can be expensive so only commit to this when you have the basic technique learned on cheaper, more readily available materials.
We have already learned that you can make jewelry from turned wood, but you can go further and make rings with them as well as bangles! While this might not be your ideal way to propose, who wouldn’t appreciate a handmade token of your appreciation that they can see every time they look at their hands! To make it more of a challenge you can eventually learn how to set beads and stones into wooden rings which will accentuate just how beautiful your designs are! Maybe not one to pop the big question with but a worthwhile thing to learn how to make with your new lathe!