What is Woodturning?

Woodturning began over 5000 years ago. Evidence of it being used in the ancient Egyptian, Jewish, Greek and Roman civilizations abounds. From building ships, to drinking bowls a woodworking was a highly sought after skill in the ancient world. Today however, it is considered more of a hobby or a type of art necessity. That doesn’t mean if you love working with your hands and natural materials you’re out of luck. On the contrary, once you’ve applied a layer of Workman’s Friend Barrier Skin Cream you can dig into your project and start enjoying this ancient practice.  But first here is a crash course in woodturning.

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Woodturning is a dynamic style of woodworking that can produce a vast array of different items. It uses a rotating machine or lathe that turns a piece of wood on its axis at a high speed in order to create an array of objects The two main types of woodturning are spindle and faceplate turning. The biggest difference between the two is the direction of the wood’s grain relative to the axis of the lathe. Faceplate turning is used when the wood grains run vertical to the rotating machinery-lathe. This approach produces bowls and plates. By comparison spindle turning is the process where the grains of wood and the lathe move in the same direction. This method is used to produce tables and chair legs.


Your biggest single investment is a lathe. From there, you will need to buy some basic turning tools such as a roughing gouge, a small spindle and a bowl gouge, an 18mm skew chisel, a square nose scraper, a round nose scraper and parting tool.

Just like a knife sharpener can be found in every chef’s kitchen, a grinder is an essential part of a wood turner’s space. This piece of equipment will sharpen all blunt tools. Blunt tools will certainly not give you the results you want.

Don’t overlook the necessary safety equipment including a face mask, protective eyewear and a tube of Workman’s Friend Barrier Skin Cream. Our unique formulation will keep your hands moisturized as they work tirelessly to turn a simple piece of wood into a useable part.

Finally you’ll need a dedicated workspace. Often where you work can determine what you can build. For example, if your workspace is in the garage it should be set back from bicycles, items being stored in boxes and even your car. You wouldn’t want to damage any of this equipment while woodturning.


Whether you choose to look for resources online, at the library, or you decide to take a class, there are many different ways to learn about woodturning. Keep in mind that this ancient skill is not something that is mastered by simply watching a YouTube video. It will require practice, precision, and discipline to create something of value. But when you do produce your first useable wooden object you’ll feel a sense of unmatched accomplishment.


Workman’s Friend Barrier Skin Cream is light-weight and odorless product. Apply a dime-sized portion of our non-greasy, formula on each hand. Then rub them together to ensure the cream has been properly absorbed.


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