Woodturning is a form of woodworking, and it is the art and craft of using hand-held tools on a wood lathe; turning a piece of wood into an object. The lathe is the tool used to rotate the piece of wood and they come in all shapes and sizes. From small pen lathes, where the primary use is making hand held objects like pens, to large, powerful lathes which can turn platters in excess of 50 inches diameter. The operator of the lathe is known as a turner, and the use of the tools and skills are known as turnery.
The craft has evolved over the years and has started to incorporate other mediums with wood, such as resin and acrylic. This has further been built upon by adding paints, stains and other mediums of colours to either enhance the natural grain of wood or hide it. Some turners also carve into their turned pieces to give another dimension to the turning.
One can use all types of wood, from exotics such as zebrano and luan, to domestic woods such as oak and beech, and even plywood! Some go so far as to amalgamate a number of species of wood together to create different effects.
There is a whole host of skills, techniques, tools, styles and methods in the woodturning skill, and it appeals to different people for different reasons. For some it is a hobby to develop skills and relieve stress, for others they enjoy making gifts or a living from the craft. Ultimately, woodturning appeals to those who find pleasure in the visual, olfactory and haptic aspects of wood, and those who like to solve problems and work with their hand,
Woodturning has a long history; a history with some documents dating to the 12th century. Unsurprisingly, a lot has changed over that time in terms of technology. However, fundamentally, the craft is largely the same. A skilled turner can use a few tools, and take ideas to reality. In a world of industrialised production, turners can bring a personalised touch to a wide variety of objects, which can last through generations. One’s imagination is typically the limit to what you can make with a lathe. Some have built bespoke jigs, developed tools and holding mechanisms to overcome particular challenges or make something truly unique.