How to Use a Wood Lathe in 12 Steps

The wood lathe is quite a handy tool for most DIY projects at home. It can not only provide Finnish but also reshapes the wood into a new outlook. The wood lathe isn’t just some ordinary tool with simple control, it has proper mechanics and any improper usage can cause serious damage to you and the wood.

How to Use a Wood Lathe

In this guide, we’ll be showing the appropriate way how to use the wood lathe for any sort of woodturning.The wood lathe isn’t that difficult to use, you just need to understand the mechanism to properly function this equipment.

How to Use a Wood Lathe in 12 Steps

1. Get Familiarized With the Components

Before you begin to discover more about the usage of wood lathes, you should get acquainted with the nuts and bolts of the devices. Your standard wood lathe can have the tailstock, tool rest, bed, and headstock.

2. Tools Needed to Operate Wood Lathe

Although there are a variety of chisels available, featuring different types of handles. Some are long, round working great on oak, timber, while others are carved straight for giving you a stable grip on fir, chesternut, etc.

Tools Needed to Operate Wood Lathe

Because of it you will have to control the wood being cut without putting in the effort. Choosing the right tool is essential for effective and precise cutting of the wood.

3. Gouges

You’ll find a huge variety when it comes to different types of gouges that include spindle, bowl, and grind bowl gouge. They’re used especially for making some precious cuts to ease in your oak or timber wood.


4. Parting Tool

The parting tool is used in the last steps for separating the end product from the waste material. It has a thin structure for precision.

5. Skew Chisel

Now if you just need your wood log to trim for your fireplace then a Skew chisel can be employed for a complete finish.

6. Hollowing Tools

The hollowing tool can be used for creating bowls or creating a hollow in the finished product you’re making.

Hollowing Tools

7. Read the Manual Carefully

Now, it’s time for another crucial step that you don’t want to miss i.e going through the manufacturer’s manual carefully. Some people think of it as a useless task but let us tell you that it’s totally worth all your time. You can easily get detailed knowledge about the entire procedure and system through it. It’ll inform every bit from specifications to capabilities of the equipment and the right tools for the right usage.

8. Pick the Right Wood for Your Project

For all the beginners out there, it is important, to begin with, pine or fir as these are softwoods and easy to break apart. If you’re going to use a hardwood like oak or timber on your first go, it’ll become very difficult for you to start.

Pick the Right Wood for Your Project

Don’t pick the ones with split pieces or loosened knots as they can shred after the first rotation and won’t be of use. Moreover, the loosened ones can break down into some pieces while turning and can shoot everywhere while you work, causing damage.

9. Outline & Place the Wood Between Lathes

Each of the wooden pieces you’re working with should be marked in the center before placing it between the lathe. After that, you need to slide the tailstock until it hits the stock’s end. Now you use the hand crank to tighten the spindle as it’ll push the wood into the center.

You make sure that the log is completely stiff between the lathe as if placed improperly then can the parts get to fly over the place while rotating. Before starting with the woodturning process you should remove the keys.

10. Keep Tool Rest Parallel To Log’s Length

Tool rest can be of great help throughout the procedure so it is important to keep it right next to the stock or the log you’re working with. However, it should be at least ¾ inches away from the stock so the lathe can easily move without the tool rest getting in between.

Keep Tool Rest Parallel To Log’s Length

The closer you place your tool rest, the more efficiently you’re going to get the work done and you’re going to control the piece effectively.

11. Pick a Chisel for Turning

After spinning the lathe by hand, it is time to pick the right chisel for turning. If you’re looking to create a round structure of your finished product then gouge would be perfect. Similarly, if you need a thin structure then a parting tool would give you the right cut. Hold your tools against the tool rest by placing your hand on the metal blade which you’ll see behind the rest. It is crucial to make sure that you keep it near the end of the handle for the calamity of your hands

12. Turning On the Wood Lathe

Starting the wood lathe can cause the entire system to move to keep it at the lowest setting till you get used to the mechanism. Now, you need to keep the chisel you’ve picked by the cutting edge and push it forward so that it can break your stock gradually.

It should be noted that you move the chisel perpendicularly towards the log until it hits it. Keep a steady and firm pace as any sudden movement can result in a loosened grip or can even break the tools.

Precautionary Measures for Using Wood Lathe

There are some essential precautions that you must take to keep you and your belongings safe from any mishap.

  • Avoid wearing any loosely fitted clothes while working on the project.
  • Don’t leave your hair open, it is recommended to tie them
  • There is a constant need of cleaning up the wood shaving as a pile of it is enough for a deadly fire.
  • Protect your ears using headphones or protective headpieces.
  • It is essential to keep the tool rest right next to where you’re working on the piece.
  • Initially start the wood lathe at a slower pace and then take it fast when you become used to it.
  • Rotating the lathe by hand is necessary before starting it to ensure it’s running and clears up the tool’s rest.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is tool rest important?

Tool rest is essential to keep all your tools and gears in one place. After each step, you only have to pick the right tool and replace it on the lathe.

Is it essential to go through the manual?

Yes, reading the manual can tell you a lot more about the device than you can learn anywhere. So, in order to know every bit of the mechanics, you have to go through the manual properly.

What tool should be used for creating a wooden bowl?

You need to attach the hollowing tool for creating a wooden bowl.


As we reached the end of the blog, we’re hoping that the procedure was quite a simple one for you, if properly followed. By following it step by step, you can’t get wrong in woodturning using a wood lathe. Furthermore, every time you start a new project, it’ll get easier for you and your new product will be better than the previous one.

Just have proper familiarization with the tools and read the manual thoroughly, then you won’t be having any trouble in how to use a wood lathe.

Similar Posts