What is the Best Wood Turning Project? — Ideas To Try For Your Woodworking Business

If you buy something through our posts, we may get a small commission. Read more here.

The woodworking business is a lucrative venture which can give you sizeable profit if you have the right skills. From time immemorial, people love buying wood items because of their affordability and uniqueness. 

If you’re just starting out and unsure about which wood turning projects will truly elevate your business, don’t worry. I’ve been there, and I’m here to share my insights with you.

What Are Wood Turning Projects?

Woodturning projects involve the use of tools to shave, cut, and shape the wood material into desired designs. These projects are crafted using a machine called a lathe, which allows for precise and intricate woodwork.

Powermatic 4224B Woodturning Lathe

A lathe is a machine that shapes pieces of materials, mainly wood, by turning the wood against it. Unlike other shaping tools, a lathe makes it possible to turn wood quickly and expertly. Like the best CNC routers, it’s a powerful tool that many professionals and beginners use for making exceptional wood pieces. 

From my years of experience and collaborating with seasoned professionals, I’d strongly advise any beginner to invest in the best lathe. It truly makes a difference in efficiency and user-friendliness.

To make your lathe perform better, here is the step-by-step process of sharpening your lathe tools

Tools and Materials You Need

Before looking for the best woodturning projects to do, you need some tools and materials to get started. These tools depend on the type of woodturning project that you want to create.

Powermatic 4224B Woodturning Lathe close up

The tools that you need for are:

  • Forester drill bit (usually 9/16) for drilling holes into woods
  • Wood material
  • Bandsaw or table saw for cutting wood into size
  • A lathe for turning wood

Some wood materials are suitable for woodturning, while others can be a disaster. In essence, you have to choose the most suitable wood to turn and know the right place to buy wood for your projects.

Before making your purchase, you need to understand the two major types of wood: hardwood and softwood. Hardwood is denser and more durable than softwood. It is produced from Angiosperms trees that lose their leaves yearly. One example of hardwood is poplar wood sheet

Softwood, on the other hand, is produced by evergreen trees like Pine. They are lighter and usually have loose grain. Most pieces of furniture used are gotten from softwood.

You can turn both softwood and hardwood on a lathe, depending on the type of object or tool you want to make.

repurposing scrap wood with a bandsaw

Some of the wood materials you can purchase to turn on a lathe are ebony, beech, hickory, rosewood, and yew. Ebony and beech are dense[1] and durable hardwood that are ideal for turning on a lathe and making a good table top wood project. Hickory is another dense and tough wood that appears in two colors – creamy color and reddish-brown

Other wood materials I’ll suggest are Maple and Black Walnut. Some of these wood-like Hickory have coarse finishes. I recommend sanding them before turning them on a lathe.

Yew wood is a good material, too. If you plan to use this wood, make sure you’re aware of the disadvantages of yew, first.  

Read More: Glossary of Wood Terminologies  

Woodturning Projects to Try

You can do several woodturning projects on a lathe and make it a successful woodworking business. With it, you can shape and turn wood into any object of your choice. These are the best woodturning projects for the kitchen, as a decorative item, etc. 


Bowls are items everyone use everyday. You can turn them easily on a lathe, making them one of the first set of projects you can try. You can make bowls out of 6/4 or 8/4 stock, depending on what you want to use the bowl for.

Pens and pencils

Turning pens and pencils on a lathe is a great way to start your woodturning journey. 

Pencil Holder

These items have a broad appeal. If crafted with a touch of beauty and design flair, I’ve found they sell quite easily and bring in a decent profit.


Spoon is a common item that you can turn on a lathe and can be a great wood project for beginners like you. Spoons serve culinary purposes, and the best thing about them is that they are quite simple to make. When making spoons, remember to use the right size of stocks.

Flower vases

Flower vases are also wood turning projects that you can try as a beginner. You can turn them into different sizes on a lathe and create wonderful designs. You can also make them colorful by using high-quality HVLP spray guns for woodworkingPlus, you can make quick money from selling it because everyone loves a well-decorated flower base, especially if it’s wood.

Picture frames

Apart from being easily turned on a lathe, a wooden picture frame can fetch you quick cash, especially if it’s uniquely decorated. You just need to finish it up with best quality semi-transparent deck stain

Wooden Picture Frame

Bottle openers

The most incredible thing about this item is that it takes only a small amount of wood. So you can make several openers at once with a medium-sized wood and turn them into massive profit.

Christmas ornaments

Over the years, I’ve observed that while Christmas ornaments aren’t daily bestsellers, the festive season can dramatically change that. I’ve reaped substantial profits by crafting these ornaments when the time is right. And here’s a tip from someone who’s been there: you don’t need expensive wood. Grab some affordable wood, work it on the lathe, and you can mold it into any ornamental shape you fancy.

Ornaments With Sentiments

These items are profitable and are in high demand. You can sell them on Etsy, Amazon, Facebook, Instagram, Craiglist, etc.

To get an idea how to make your projects more competitive in the market, here is how you can determine the pricing of your woodworking projects. Reasonable price is the key!


What wood is best for woodturning?

The best wood for woodturning is beechwood. It’s dense, has a fine grain, and incredibly durable.  Other types of wood that are good for woodturning are ebony, yew, rosewood, and hickory.

What can I make on a woodturning lathe?

You can make several things on a woodturning lathe, such as bud vases, pens, pencils, salt cellars, Christmas ornaments, etc. Things you can make on a woodturning lathe range from kitchen items to decorative items.

Can you make money woodturning?

Yes, you can make money by woodturning. All you need to do is to have the right wood material and tools to get started. You can then sell your ready-made products or make products for people.

How dangerous is woodturning?

Woodturning can be dangerous if you don’t use the lathe properly. Before you start woodturning, ensure you read and understand the manual carefully. If you are a novice, ensure you get proper training on how to operate the machine.

(After deciding to make a profit out of your designs, here’s how to sign your woodworking projects for promotion and attract potential clients, too)


As a hobbyist or a professional, making a profit from your craft should be your number one priority. However, to do that, you need to do the best woodturning projects. Thankfully, I have listed the various woodturning projects you can begin with. I also listed the tools and materials you need to start turning your wood projects.

With the right tools and wood material, turning wood on a lathe is easy. However, ensure that understand properly how woodturning works before you start a project.

robert headshot

Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles
Join our community on facebook and get 3 woodworking plans for free!