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How to use a woodturning chisel

Shop for Wood Turning Chisels

Wood turning woodturning lathe work tools chisel chisels gouge roughing out spindle lathing workshop wonkee donkee tools DIY guide Using a woodturning chisel for the first time can be a daunting task. Follow this step-by-step guide to help get you started.

Spindle turning

Wood turning woodturning lathe work tools chisel chisels gouge roughing out spindle lathing workshop wonkee donkee tools DIY guide

Step 1 – Select a blank workpiece

When selecting a workpiece for spindle turning try to use a blank that has a straight grain and try to avoid using a piece of wood that has knots and other defects.

Wood turning woodturning lathe work tools chisel chisels gouge roughing out spindle lathing workshop wonkee donkee tools DIY guide

Step 2 – Mark centre point

Using a centre-finder, mark a central point on each end of the workpiece. By doing this you are ensuring that the workpiece spins around it central axis.

Wood turning woodturning lathe work tools chisel chisels gouge roughing out spindle lathing workshop wonkee donkee tools DIY guide

Step 3 – Secure workpiece in lathe

Align your workpiece between the lathe’s headstock and tailstock, using the newly marked centre-points to make sure it is central. Secure the workpiece by adjusting the position of the tailstock quill.

Wood turning woodturning lathe work tools chisel chisels gouge roughing out spindle lathing workshop wonkee donkee tools DIY guide

Step 4 – Position tool rest

Loosening the tool rest’s banjo will allow you slide the rest to and fro along the length of the lathe. Position and set the tool rest so that it sits alongside and parallel to the part of the workpiece you are cutting into. The tool rest should be as close as possible without interfering with the workpiece as it spins. A clearance of ¼” is acceptable.

Wood turning woodturning lathe work tools chisel chisels gouge roughing out spindle lathing workshop wonkee donkee tools DIY guide

Step 5 – Start spinning

Turn the lathe on and start your workpiece spinning.

Wood turning woodturning lathe work tools chisel chisels gouge roughing out spindle lathing workshop wonkee donkee tools DIY guide

Step 6 – Begin roughing out

To take your square stock down to a cylinder you’ll need to first use a roughing gouge. Starting at one end, and keeping your tool in contact with the tool rest at all times, introduce the cutting edge to the spinning workpiece and move slowly along the length of your workpiece.

Wood turning woodturning lathe work tools chisel chisels gouge roughing out spindle lathing workshop wonkee donkee tools DIY guide

Step 7 – Repeat until cylindrical

Move the roughing gouge slowly back and forth along the workpiece (keeping contact with the tool rest). In this fashion, the roughing gouge will remove a little more material with each passing until the square stock is rounded off and cylindrical.

Wood turning woodturning lathe work tools chisel chisels gouge roughing out spindle lathing workshop wonkee donkee tools DIY guide

Step 8 – Impart your design

Once your workpiece is rounded off, you can impart your design. This may involve use of any (or all) of the woodturning chisels mentioned previously in this project. For more information on the types of cuts and how to make them, see What types of woodturning cuts are there?

Wood turning woodturning lathe work tools chisel chisels gouge roughing out spindle lathing workshop wonkee donkee tools DIY guide

Story stick

A story stick is a piece of wood onto which a design is laid so that you can easily transfer the design to multiple workpieces (for example: table legs). Using a story stick promotes accuracy of repeated design patterns.

  Images on this page are used with the kind permission of Brian Clifford at www.turningtools.co.uk