Woodturning chisels work by having their sharp cutting edge placed against a wooden workpiece that is spinning at high speed.
The woodturning chisel’s blade is positioned on the lathe’s tool rest for support.
Once the lathe is spinning at the required speed, the chisel’s blade is moved forwards into contact with the workpiece.
As the workpiece comes into contact with the sharp cutting edge, small shavings of wood are removed.
In this fashion, and by altering the position of your tool (or type of tool being used) many different shapes and cuts can be achieved. Note: horizontal movement of the tool is called the “swing”. Vertical movement of the tool is called “tilt”.
Note that for a woodturning chisel to work at full effectiveness, it should be razor-sharp at all times. Blunt or chipped tools will not only make rough cuts, they are also much more likely to snag, bind and tear at the wooden fibres.