3 Must-Know Basics of Woodturning for Beginners

Ken Rizza

Posted on September 01 2021

3 Must-Know Basics of Woodturning for Beginners

 

Woodturning can be a creative hobby through which you make beautiful artforms as well as functional items to use around the home. But before jumping into anything, you need to familiarize yourself with a few must-know basics of woodturning for beginners to avoid any complications or do something potentially dangerous. These can affect your project’s final result or your personal health. Be aware of what you need to do before putting the chisel to the wood. We’ll address some basic points here. But whenever possible, take some lessons from someone experienced and watch any available videos on the subject.

 

Proper Speeds

As the name suggests, woodturning requires you to turn the wooden blank to form it into whatever shape you need. To do this efficiently, you need a lathe to secure the wood and turn it. You must be aware of the speeds you keep it at as well.

Generally, the wider your wood is, the slower you’ll want to go. Belts and pulleys are responsible for changing the RPMs of many lathes. Other lathes have electronic means for adjusting speed, though. This may mean the rotational speed of the blank is too fast even when using the lowest pully setting. If a blank is out of round or unbalanced, the lathe can shake violently and may eject the piece. This can injure the turner. There are posted charts on the internet depicting diameters of wood and the proper lathe speeds for them. But keep in mind that the machine you use may not be capable of maintaining the lathe speed you need. It’s better to go slow than too fast until the wood object is round and in balance. Then, you can increase the speed slowly and safely. Make sure you learn all the proper ways of mounting wood blanks to a lathe, as this is critical to your success and safety while working on your woodturning project.

 

The Right Tools for the Job

Not every woodturning instrument is ideal for every situation. Each tool has a purpose, and you need to know the proper application for the best results. Take a spindle roughing gouge, for example. You don’t want to use it when shaving off cross grain. You should only use the spindle roughing gouge for making wood round on the lathe when the grain is parallel to the lathe bed. At the same time, you should never use it to make a bowl where the wood grain is perpendicular to the lathe bed. “Catches” with the tool can easily happen when you use it this way. Because of how they are made, many will snap off at the tang and injuring the turner.

Knowing the various turning tools and their purposes is essential for becoming an accomplished turner. There is no single right way to go, as you will begin to develop your own technique on how you like to do things. Get a few of the basic woodturning supplies first and learn how to use them well. Then add other tools as you see fit and as the need arises. Get the best tool steel you can afford. You’ll be glad you did.

 

Safety Precautions

Woodturning isn’t only a hobby that many enjoy. Some people even earn a living doing it. Still, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have risks. One major concern you need to address before turning is the issue of particulate matter and airborne particles. Every time you cut into your wood, you create small wood particles that float into the air. If you inhale these particles, they can cause significant damage to your lungs and respiratory system over time.

 

You don’t just need tools to manipulate the wood; you also need safety equipment to protect yourself from the dust. Invest in respiratory masks before you dig into anything. Exposure to dust particles will have a cumulative effect. This means that you may not feel the toxic effects immediately, but long-term exposure will poison the body.

 

Protect Yourself and Your Tools

Your tools will degrade over time. You can slow the frequency of maintenance with proper usage, though. But above all, you need to protect yourself from harmful matter. Neglecting to do so will make you regret it in the long run. Knowing the three must-know basics of woodturning for beginners will help you start on the right foot.

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