Woodturning Basics: Different Types & Techniques

woodturning basics

Woodturning is an old craft that has been done for centuries. 

In the old days, it was done manually but with the advancement of technology, now it’s mostly done with a combination of wood lathe, different types of woodturning tools, Sharpening jig, etc.

In this article, we will discuss the woodturning basics, different types of woodturning and woodturning techniques.

Table Of Contents

What Is Woodturning? 

what is woodturning

In a dry technical language, we can say that turning is a process to obtain a part that has a certain shape from rotating and scraping the workpiece on a lathe. 

In the case of wood, our goal is to make this part look attractive too. 

The aesthetic component is achieved by changing the diameter of the workpiece and carving different shapes.

Different Types Of Wood Turning  

Different Types Of woodturning

As for the classification, turning on a wood lathe can be divided into the following types:

1. Longitudinal 

The workpiece rotates around its axis, and the cutter gradually moves towards it parallel to the axis of rotation.

2. Transverse 

The cutter moves in a plane perpendicular to the axis of rotation of the workpiece.

3. Angular (tangential)  

The cutter moves at an arbitrary angle to the axis of rotation.

Pro Tips

Different Wood Turning Techniques  

different woodturning techinques

The methods of working on a lathe are diverse and each woodturner has his secrets. 

But there are several basic techniques for processing wood on a lathe, as well as certain methods of turning. 

Each of these methods was characteristic of individual countries or groups of countries. 

1. The Upper (Arabic) Style

It appeared because the design of the machines that were used in the Middle East involves the use of one leg in the process of starting the machine. 

This method appeared even at a time when electric motors did not exist. 

Because of this, the turner could not change his hand in the process, so he was forced to work, holding the tool from above.

Over time, such a need turned into art and skill, due to which the style became widespread (it was popular in Egypt, Morocco, Greece). 

As a rule, a knife with sharpened edges on both sides was used for this type of turning.

The peculiarity of this method is that the knife should be held with two hands (front - from below, back - from above). 

So one of the best processing techniques came about Lower Style Of Turning.


2. Lower Style Of Turning - Greatest Productivity 

Lower Style Of Turning involves the presence of a long tool. 

The support bar is at a great distance from the workpiece. 

With this method, you can get the greatest productivity. 

However, the accuracy of the work on the wood lathe suffers. 

In the lower manner, the instrument is also held with two hands, but only the front hand in this case is on top. 

Most often it is used to make wooden utensils, from which it is also called the "utensil" methods.

3. A Direct Or European Style - Highest Precision 

This involves the use of a short bar on a support that is close to the workpiece. 

The point where the knife touches the workpiece is at the level of the bar itself, and both hands are at the bottom holding the tool. 

At the same time hands change when changing the direction of turning from right to left and vice versa. 

This method allows you to obtain the highest precision turning.

Notes On Wood Blanks For Turning  

wood blanks for wood turning
  1. There should be a sufficient number of blanks, at the beginning two times more. Beginner spoils - 4 out of 10 blanks. If you spoil two consecutive blanks, You should take a break for at least 30 minutes. 

  2. Blanks with knots should be immediately excluded from processing.

  3. Before the important, urgent work (in the manufacture of the simplest part), I strongly recommend not to re-sharpen the tool, as the chance to spoil the workpiece increases significantly.

  4. If possible, do not use other people's blanks and glues, tools.

The Other Methods Of Wood Carving  

wood carving pyrography

Turning is not the only way to process wood.

In addition to it you can use these processes to carve wood:

  • Pyrography is the usual burning of wood. You can achieve outstanding results if you carefully operate the Pyrography machines.

  • Hand-carving: This is a hard labor process and you need to have a great skill to achieve great results. Also, it is difficult to even for experienced craftsmen to work with hardwood. 

However manually carved arts are given high prices


Using the machine at times increases the speed of operation compared to the manual process. Most of the wood turned products offered in retail are obtained from the machine.

Turning on the machine can also be carried out using several technologies. 

For example, segment turning involves gluing a workpiece from individual wood fragments and then processing it on a machine. 

Due to the combination of different types of wood, it is possible to achieve interesting effects.

As for the list of what can be made on a lathe. 

It is quite large. 

You can start with simple chiseled handles for tools (the same chisel), and end with massive long products. 

Also, dishes and other trifles useful in the household can be made from wood.

In Conclusion 

I believe mastering woodturning or working with a wood lathe is not so difficult. If there is time and desire to do so.

You can start with a simple project and soon you will be able to become a professional.