Wood lathes are tools crucial to the construction of components for furniture pieces. They can also make great designs on their own. You wouldn’t want to use a wooden lathe to create something unsuitable because you will be left with a piece that’s just not quite right. Luckily, our professional woodworkers are here with simple wood lathe projects that are suitable for all experience levels.

Wood Lathe Projects

Best Types of Wood Wood Turning

One can use various types of wood for wood turning projects, but what’s the best kind? Our team of construction contractors say that the answer to the question is highly subjective. Using fresh woods that have just detached from a tree, such as pine, is an excellent wood to start with in the beginning.

Once you have worked slowly to build up your skill, it won’t matter what type of wood you use — any hardwood will do. Oak wood is not very easy to work with but there are a few members of our team that find it okay. Most of our experts prefer the more expensive cherry and maple wood. They are quite hard but very suitable for woodturning projects.

wood turning
Our suggestion is to opt for high quality wood. The price tag may be higher, but you will end up with wood turning projects that can make great gifts, or you can sell at a better price.

Is it Difficult?

In the beginning, when people relied mostly on the wooden lathe alone, woodturning projects were not easy. Nowadays, anyone with the will can create a wood turning project, but the learning curve can vary. If you are a handy person, it could take no time at all. Others may need more guidance and tutorials to help shape simple projects.

14 Simple Wood Lathe Projects

There are some designs that beginners can start with when they want to try a woodturning project. Even experts can benefit from one of our team’s suggestions below to create pieces that will work very well in homes.

1. Bowls

wooden bowls
Bowls are perhaps the easiest starting point compared to other designs on our list. As a first project, you won’t want to be too ambitious. Large wooden bowls can seem more difficult for some, so start with a small design so you can shape it easily with your wood lathe. After turning a few bowls, you can then graduate to larger and more intricate designs.

2. Jewelry Box

wooden jewelry box

A jewelry box is a project that isn’t commonly attempted by beginners. Producing anything but a round design can take some practice, but there are plenty of video and photo step-by-step instructions online that can help you master this piece of art.

Don’t be discouraged if your first attempt doesn’t turn out quite like you expect. With time and practice, you will be able to produce pieces that look like they came right out of a shop.

3. Jar Lid

hands holding jars with wooden lids

Transform regular objects around the house into something more versatile. For example, simple jars can become receptacles with a lid if you know how to make one. Use your imagination to make the most out of your new woodturning skill.

Aside from a jar lid, you can also try producing lids for other objects such as bowls, soap dishes, and even cups.

4. Wooden Bangles

wooden bangles

Wooden bangles are an excellent and simple gift idea. Nothing is more intriguing than wearing something you made from scratch, and wood bangles are a great option to help hone basic woodturning techniques. Other than bowls, wooden bangles are a great place to start for beginners.

The process is easy, but again, don’t be disappointed if you can’t produce the exact item you had in mind. Wooden bangles are also easily customizable via other woodworking techniques such as carving. There are great videos online you can get inspiration from for your first craft project.

5. Ring

wooden ring

A ring is a smaller version of a wooden bangle. Our woodworking team says the size of the rings make them easier to control, although the finer details are harder to realize if you plan on customizing your turning project.

Wood rings are also a common woodturning project seen on Etsy. Tons of sellers put them for sale in their store and make a good return. You can personalize the rings and charge more for your efforts or create beautiful gifts with your newfound skill.

6. Flower Pot

white flowers on wooden pot
A flower pot is similar to a bowl, with the same hollow hole in the center, except flower pots have a flat base. This is why our team of woodworking professionals like to recommend the bowl as a first project. From the techniques you acquire from creating a bowl, you will then have the means to elaborate and build on the basics to create more complex pieces.

7. Rolling Pin

person using a rolling pin in dough

Rolling pins are fun to make and are a kitchen tool that can also sell for good money. Creating something cylindrical is what a lathe is meant for, so it won’t be too hard if you have the creativity. If you master rolling pins, the same skills can be honed to create table legs.

A rolling pin is an excellent option for those who are looking to sell their woodturning items for a good price. Any tool one can use around the house can provide great returns.

8. Bottle Stopper

empty glass with a wooden bottle stopper

Compounding on our idea of jar lids, our team suggests bottle stoppers as well. Bottle stoppers are tiny pieces of wood rounded off to clog the opening of a bottle. They are useful options to preserve the freshness of your alcoholic beverages. Our woodworking pros have had plenty of cracked corks that won’t go back into the bottle, and that’s when these bottle stoppers can come in handy.

Our team members also love the idea of a smaller project such as this one because turning wood can also become an economical solution for your leftover woods.

9. Wood Trivet

white ceramic bowl on wooden trivet

For those who don’t know, a trivet is used to protect the top of your table or countertop. It acts as a barrier between the hot bowl and the surface to prevent damage. Again, wood trivets are an excellent way to make the most of leftover woods. It doesn’t require much woodworking skills and the process is relatively easy compared to other designs.

There are plenty of tips available in educational video and instruction guides online that can guide you to the final product.

10. Goblet

goblet made of wood
Why stop at a bowl when you can create a whole set of dishware? A goblet is a bit more difficult than a plain mug or cup, but it operates on the same basis as the other beginners’ designs our experts have suggested. Like the bowl, making a goblet can be simple or a bit more complex, depending on your creativity.

11. Pen

two pens on brown surface
A pen is a very functional yet ambitious attempt at lathe turning. These designs may incur an additional cost as you would need to get the pen kits. Turning pens are a great option for people who want to begin their own business and find a niche. They can also make great gift ideas for friends and family on special occasions.

12. Christmas Tree Decor

wooden Christmas ornaments

Number 12 is a favorite for many people in our woodworking team. The point of arts and craft designs is to have fun, right? What’s more fun than honing your lathe turning skills with Christmas tree ornaments? You can try for a simple bauble or try something more advanced. Depending on where your skills are at the time, the sky’s the limit [1] for Christmas tree decor potential.

13. Candle Holder

framed picture, speaker, and a wooden candle holder
As our contractors have said, round and hollow as well as elongated designs are the best places to start. Even if you are an experienced woodworker, it never hurts to revert back to the basics once in a while to polish your skills. A candle holder is also a great way to showcase your taste for art as they are also highly customizable and can also sell for money like pens.

14. Clock

round clock
Just for our expert woodworkers, our team has the ultimate challenge — a clock. There are intricate inner workings that will require more than just your turning skills, but the end result is a very rewarding one. A clock is something no household can be without, and these nice gift ideas can also be vastly different with customization.

FAQ

What can you make with a wood lathe?

You can make wooden spoons, a baseball bat, cooking tools, pens and many other projects with a wood lathe. These designs are some of the easiest to learn, if your sights are set on simpler designs. There are plenty of video tutorials on the web that can help you hone your skills at any experience level.

Is wood turning profitable?

Yes, wood turning is profitable if you know what designs to create. There are ones that sell better than others such as kitchen tools, wooden spoons and bowls. Our woodworking pros say that anything that provides a utilitarian purpose will sell well. Decorations are fun and creative, but you will need a lot of inspiration to set yourself apart from the competition.

What is the best wood to turn on a lathe?

The best woods to turn on a lathe are cherry, pine and maple. The answer to the question is highly subjective, but our team has found the above-mentioned wood the most malleable and versatile compared to other types.

Conclusion

Our experts’ final thoughts on wood lathe projects are to develop your skills by starting with the basics, and to start small. A lathe isn’t a tough tool to learn, but it can be a hard tool to master and excel with. Don’t be discouraged if initial designs don’t turn out as planned, just take your time and go at your own pace. Happy turning!

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Robert