Wood Turning

Starter projects for woodturners

When you’re getting started with woodturning, it’s natural to look for projects that are easy to complete while still teaching basic lathe skills. Workshop projects like chisel handles are a great place to start, but when you’re ready to make items suitable for use in your home, utensil handles are a great project for new woodturners.
In this video, I turn a couple of handles for kitchen tools. Starting with some birdseye maple, I turn two styles of handle. One uses a mandrel (essentially a rod used to support the work from inside), while the other is simply turned between centers.
In both cases, the process is simple: I use a roughing gouge to true up the work, then switch to a spindle gouge to create a graceful curve that will fit comfortably in the hand. To make the piece look more finished, I check the size of the collar using a set of calipers, then bring the end of the handle down to that size using a parting tool. From there, you can simply taper the handle to that diameter using the spindle gouge.
Handles may not be glamorous, but they teach some important skills. You can use handles to learn about turning between centers, using mandrels, sanding and finishing on the lathe, establishing and reaching critical dimensions, and of course the use of tools. There’s no reason why you could not also use carbide tools for these projects, but they do present a good opportunity to learn how to use traditional turning tools. If you use a dense tropical hardwood for your handles, you’ll also get a great lesson in sharpening your tools!
These handles are a great way to improve your skills at spindle turning and get more comfortable with your tools. They don’t require a huge time or material investment to get started, so a mistake isn’t as disastrous as it would be for a more involved project.. Each of the handles I made in the video took about 15 minutes from start to finish, not including drying time for the lacquer.
I made these handles for specific kits from Chefwarekits, which are very high quality and make excellent gifts for friends and family. You can also make new handles for existing tools if you’re looking for an inexpensive way to get started. Even a dollar store vegetable peeler looks like a high-end implement when it’s sporting a handmade hardwood handle.
Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed the video!

Jellyfish LED Lamp

Jellyfish LED Accent Lamp
At the beach last week, my wife and I were browsing through a local store and saw these jellyfish-inspired air plants made with sea urchin shells. Of course, I immediately started thinking about how to create a jellyfish project of my own in the woodshop.
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I started planning in earnest once I got back to the shop. I decided on maple burl for the base. The piece I used looks like coral or a rocky sea floor and adds some atmosphere to the finished lamp. The head is made from Osage Orange and rounded to a graceful curve. To connect the two, I used a rod made of amber acrylic, which was turned down to size, sanded, and then bent using a propane torch to carefully soften the middle section. Again, I was trying to obtain an organic feel, so a gradual curve is important
The tentacles are made from myrtle wood that I carved on the bandsaw and shaped using an oscillating spindle sander. I made several more intricate inner tentacles using the lathe to cut a spiral shape.
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The lamp itself consists of LEDs recessed into the maple base. LEDs are ideal for this because they are small, require little power, and do not generate as much heat as fluorescent or incandescent lights. The acrylic tube helps transmit the light up through the piece and illuminates the tentacles from behind. A piece of blue acrylic sheet cut into a circle acts as a diffuser for the lights in the base while also concealing them from view.
I finished most of the piece using clear lacquer. After four coats, the lamp has a beautiful “wet” look that makes it seem like it’s underwater.
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I had a lot of fun making this piece despite its challenges. I love how it turned out and I hope you do too.



Last week my wife and I were at the beach, and ran across these Jellyfish sea shells. My first thought was how cool! My second thought was how can I turn this into a woodturning project. I used Maple for the base, Myrtlewood for the tentacles, and Osage orange for the body. The orange tube is acrylic I heated up with a torch to bend it.

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Woodturning Back-to-Basics #3 Turn a bowl without a chuck

I started this series to help new turners with a few tips I’ve learned after 23 years of woodturning. In this episode I go over how to turn a bowl without a chuck, and different types of waste blocks.

How To Make A Cryptex

In this video I demonstrate how to make your own Cryptex. What is a Cryptex? A Cryptex is a puzzle box. All the rings rotate independently of the others to create a different combinations of letters or symbols.

Pokemon Go PokeBall

GET UP, GET OUT, AND EXPLORE! You use your phone to walk around catching Pokemon. This was a fun one, I really enjoyed making this Pokeball. The project only took me about an hour to finish.