Project 10: The lathe

March 9, 2011

Wood lathe start

What you’re looking at is a Jet Mini Lathe. This is the tool I’m using to make candlesticks this week. It’s totally fun to work with. The wood mounts between the headstock and the tailstock and spins really fast. The woodworker then takes the variously shaped gouges and holds them to the edge of the wood. Wood shavings fly out at you and make you feel like a rockstar.

The first step in working with the square turning blanks (see them sitting on the lathe?)  is to round the edges. When you’re done, the wood looks kind of like this:

Rounded blank

Ignore the flat spot there on the front. I got it later.

Now the real fun begins (heck, it’s all been fun already). Using the various gouges you cut away the spinning wood to make shapes. It’s a this point that an imagination helps, and I’m sad to say that mine is kind of underdeveloped. It doesn’t matter, though, because playing on the wood lathe turns any effort into an impressive finished product.

Here is my first candlestick after an hour of work on the lathe (an experienced turner could probably do this in 10 minutes or less):

First candlestick in progress

Cool right? This photo was taken before a fellow TechShopper gave me some sandpaper so I could smooth out those rough spots you see. After sanding and drilling the hole for the candle, the result was this awesome thing:

Finished candlestick

Ta da! Imagine me with a giant grin on my face. I turned a wood candlestick and so far have experienced no dramatic allergic rashes. It’s a great day!

Next: another candlestick, maybe even two more, and staining the group.


  1. Man I wish we had a Techshop!

  2. In retrospect you should have asked someone to snap a picture while you were turning like a wood shaving rock star.

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