5 Beginner Wood Lathe Projects You Need to Try

You've got your wood lathe. Purchased a few turning tools. Now what? We've compiled 7 of our favorite woodturning projects for beginner woodturners.

Choose your first project based on the skills you want to master, tools you have on hand, or level of difficulty.

M42 HIGH SPEED STEEL

It’s no wonder M42 is favored across industries. A distinct cobalt additive bumps M42’s red hardness off the charts, ensuring impressive wear resistance. And M42’s tight molecular structure produces a finer, sharper edge. Less time at the grinder - cleaner cuts at the lathe.

Practical Bottle Stoppers

Not only are bottle stoppers handy to have around, but they make an excellent, hand-made gift. Stoppers are quick to turn, and, because they only require a small square of wood, are an excellent choice for beginner turners (scrapping a small block of wood is far less expensive than a larger blank).

Suggested Equipment

  • Faceshield
  • Wood block
  • Bottle stopper kit
  • Spindle roughing gouge
  • Parting tool
  • Spindle gouge

Skills Learned

  • Creating beads and coves
  • Spindle roughing & shaping

Difficulty Rating: 3 out of 10

The Simple Wooden Box

The simple box is a blank canvas with great potential for detailed accents and creativity. It is an excellent project to practice spindle skills and stretch your artistic style.

Starting with shallow, wide boxes will help you master interior cuts. Make sure to slow down as you create the fit between the lid and the base, and don't become discouraged if it takes a few tries to get the right fit. Before you know it, you'll have more boxes than you know what to do with.

Suggested Equipment

  • Face shield
  • Wood block
  • Spindle roughing gouge
  • Skew chisel
  • Spindle gouge
  • Bedan
  • Round nose (bowl) scraper

Skills Learned

  • Planing and detailed skew chisel work
  • Shaping with a spindle gouge
  • Creating coves & beads
  • Finishing with a round nose (bowl) scraper

Difficulty Rating: 7 out of 10

The Classic Wooden Pen

Pens are a favorite project of many turners, beginners and otherwise! The variety of pen blanks, both wood and acrylic, and pen kits, mean the options are endless.

Pen turning will allow you to master basic roughing and shaping cuts with a spindle gouge . You'll learn to "ride the bevel" and apply the appropriate pressure depending on the type of cut. Because you are turning between centers (both ends of the wood are secured), vibration is minimal.

Suggested Equipment

  • Faceshield
  • Pen kit & pen mandrel
  • Spindle gouge (1/2" or 3/8" are good sizes to start with)

Skills Learned

  • Roughing & shaping with a spindle gouge

Difficulty Rating: 2 out of 10

The Iconic Bowl

An iconic woodturning project, the bowl is satisfying to create and elegant to show off or give away.

Start with small, shallow bowls (about 8" diameter) with a large opening. These characteristics will provide easy access for shaping the interior of the bowl and allow you to focus on mastering the cuts. Another way to ease the learning curve is to turn your first few bowls out of soft, forgiving green wood.

And, as with any new skill, be patient. Even experienced bowl turners end up throwing finished peices into the scrap pile. Learn from your mistakes, practice, practice, practice, and you'll have a hand-made salad bowl sitting on your dining table in no time.

Suggested Equipment

  • Face shield
  • Bowl blank
  • Chuck & jam chuck
  • 5/8" or 1/2" bowl gouge
  • 1" round nose (bowl) scraper

Skills Learned

  • Roughing & shaping with a bowl gouge
  • Creating a foot
  • Finishing with a scraper
  • Creating & using a jam chuck

Difficulty Rating: 8 out of 10

The Timeless Goblet

In his thourough video tutorial, Mike Waldt demonstrates a fairly tall goblet, but using the basic techniques he presents, you can shape your goblet however you desire.

A thicker stem will result in less chatter, and a wider, shallower cup will make the interior turning less rigerous. This project is excellent for sharpening your spindle skills, as the spindle gouge is used extensively throughout.

Suggested Equipment

  • Faceshield
  • Wood block
  • Spindle roughing gouge
  • Spindle gouge
  • Parting tool
  • Round nose (bowl) scraper

Skills Learned

  • Extensive shaping with a spindle gouge
  • Detailed work with a spindle gouge
  • Finishing with a round nose (bowl) scraper)

Difficulty Rating: 5 out of 10

wood lathe turning tools

HANDLES & ADAPTERS

Experience comfort and control at your lathe. Aluminum is the perfect weight for a balanced, even feel. And our patented handle shape fits your hand.

Three sizes of aluminum adapters provide complete interchangability and easy removal for sharpening.

wood lathe turning tools

MANUFACTURING EXPERTISE

40 years of manufacturing expertise is the foundation of every Carter & Son tool.  

Fueled by meticulous designs (such as a round tang for enhanced stability and strength), attention to key details (like our hand-polished flute), and pursuit of innovation (100% interchangeability), your Carter & Son tools' performance will exceed your expectations with every trip to the lathe.  

wood lathe turning tools