Common Woodturning Mistakes and How To Avoid Them

Karen Schlawin

Posted on November 10 2021

Common Woodturning Mistakes and How To Avoid Them

Woodturning requires a delicate and deliberate hand as you make sure every spin of the woodblock either shaves down or smooths out the wood. Because of the skill involved, there are some common woodturning mistakes beginners make that you need to avoid. Be aware of what you need to know before diving in so you can make your projects that much better.

Sanding Against the Grain

Sanding against the grain is arguably the most common issue beginners run into; it’s easy to do without thinking about it. However, sanding against the grain will create an ugly texture on your wooden piece, ruining its aesthetic value.

All you need to do to fix this is to sand along the grain using abrasive paper. This eliminates the initial scuffs by shaving the wood down a little more. Use wood buffing pads to enhance the shaving and polishing process. When you use these in conjunction with abrasive paper, you’ll create a very fine finish.

Starting at the Wrong Speed

Woodturning is unique in that turners need a lathe to accomplish their goals. The lathe spins the woodblock at high speeds, typically from 500 to 1,500 RPMs. Because of the wide range of speeds, beginners are likely to start off at faster speeds, believing they need the extra rotational speed to get the job done.

This isn’t true, and it’s highly advisable to start slow and become faster over time. This eliminates the possibility of accidents and bodily injury; the faster the wood spins, the more dangerous it becomes after it dislodges. Always start slow and never underestimate the destructive power of a woodblock spinning 1,000 times a minute.

Not Sharpening Your Tools

Due to the nature of woodturning, your tools will dull at a significantly faster rate compared to other woodworking hobbies. This is a result of the RPMs created by the lathe; each rotation dulls your tool.

Every 15 to 25 minutes, inspect your tools for deterioration. The wear and tear may happen faster than you expect, so it’s critical to catch it before your tools become too dull to function safely.

Start Off on the Right Foot

When you know the common woodturning mistakes and how to avoid them, you’ll develop your skills faster and make sure you’re safe while doing so. Always strive to maintain good practices and look for ways to improve your skills and equipment.

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