Wood Turning Projects For Beginners
Discover my 23 wood turning projects for beginners
- Bottle Coasters
- Trinket Box
- Wine Bottle Stoppers
- Pen Kits
- Secret Compartment Holder
- Magnifying Glass
- Tea Light Holders
- Jewellery Display Stand
- Christmas Tree
- Ring Stand
- Doughnut Shaped Dish
- Toothpick Holder
- Bear Claw Salad Servers
- Rolling Pin
- Oak Coasters
- Mortar And Pestle
- Kitchen Roll Holder
- Log Reindeer
Wood Turning Projects For Beginners
Wood turning being a new hobby for me is turning out to be both rewarding and frustrating.
So the Question “Is wood turning difficult?” I can honestly answer “No, with a little research and a lot of practice is can be very rewarding.
Just when I thought I was getting the basics right Mike my brother bought me a book for Christmas entitled “Wood Turning A Craftsman Guide” by Mark Baker (thanks Bro!).
It comes with a comprehensive video and is the information I should have had right at the start! It has a number of wood lathe project ideas but not many, so I thought I would record here my own easy lathe projects.
So what have I been up to in the man cave, well the pictures below are of the beginners projects I have played with recently.
Turning bowls is probably the most common project to start on but is not necessarily the easiest of things to get right.
The first bowl pictured now resides on our dining room table.
Its about 8 inches in diameter and made from a Bubinga wood blank .
It is not as deep as I would have liked but that is because I was conscious of not going too deep and hitting the screws holding it to the back plate! (Toblerone miniatures are soo addictive!)
Note the visible screw holes in the base. (Below you will see a series of my own Wood Turning project photos)
Another bowl this time in Cherry wood but with a limited edition Charles Dickens coin inserted in the centre.
On the theme of “More” from Dickens Oliver.
I have covered the base of this one with red felt. Screw holes are not visible but the red felt is difficult to cut in a a perfect circle.
The next bowl is a side salad bowl made from purple heart.
This time I have cracked the felt base issue buy cutting a grove around the base and feeding the excess felt into the grove thus producing the perfect circle – result!
The only problem with this one is I did not use a food safe finish inside and the vinegar oil is stripping away the polish so I will need to return it to the lathe.
I also have made a salad bowl with proper food safe finish
I have another blog post on turning bowls with a useful video you can see here Turning A Bowl
I buy a lot of my accessories from Amazon. Below are links to some current offers.( I am an associate of Amazon and may earn a small commission should you buy through my links)
Have you ever thought of buying you wood blanks online?
I have managed to bag myself some bargains which is really important whilst I am learning and experimenting otherwise mistakes can be costly!!
Wood Turning Projects For Beginners
I have made two of these. One from Tambootie (South African hardwood) which is very dark in colour which I like but Karen does not.
The other was made from Goncalo Alves (Mexican Tigerwood) and is really striking and the one Karen prefers.
Note I made these two early on and I had not perfected the bases. These are simple Wood Turning ideas.
Wooden Trinket Box
My first attempt at making a box with a lid went fairly well all things considering.
It was made in Bubinga wood which I seemed to have bought too much of first time around.
Making the right sized collar to fit the lid with is one area I will work on in my next box.
I needed to make it much deeper.
I had some left over Sapele so I decided to make a gavel.
It is a crude design but for a first effort it looks like a gavel and feels like one.
Only mistake was to put a shade too much glue into the hole where it inserts the handle into the body.
You can see a small ring of epoxy glue but I was keen it should hold and not fly off at first strike!!
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Wood Turning Projects For Gifts
I bought a number of the Craft Pro kits from Axminster tools.
These can be great fun to make.
I have made several of the pen kits, bottle stopper,secret compartment kit and magnifying glass kit and a tambootie paperweight with clock insert.
I am now experimenting with as many different wood types as I can.
(these are affiliate links and I will earn a very small commission should you purchase anything from these sellers on Amazon)
I have just made a series of tea light holders in spalted beech which do look very nice when polished.
Tea light holders can be easy to practice on and I have tried a variety of different shapes.
Wood Turning Projects For Beginners
Wood Turning A Pen
Wood turning a pen can be a hobby all in itself.
I really do enjoy making pens and you can turn the bodies from wood, acrylic and other man made materials.
I tend to prefer the slimline stylus pen kits from axminster tools as they have proved to be of good quality.
I have written a more detailed blog post here Wood Turning a pen which has a useful video if you have not seen a pen turned before.
Below are some images of pens I have made.
You can view a selection of hand turned pens I have made – these are fun wood lathe projects
The below pen kits are for sale on Amazon
To turn a pen you will need a particular tool called a mandrel – I bought mine from Axminster Tools see below.
Read the description here Jewellery Display Stand
Turning an Apple then a Pear
I have also had a go at turning an Apple and a Pear – click the link to see how it went
Another good idea is to use up odd bits of wood and turn some Christmas Decorations such as this Christmas tree.
I have actually attended a Christmas Craft Fair last year and sold out of all of the Christmas Trees I had made.
They are a great way of using up odd bits of wood as you can see from the images below. I made a large variety of different sizes and wood types and was surprised at how popular they were.
Making Use Of Off Cuts
I hate wasting wood so any opportunity to make use of off cuts and odds and ends is to turn small items such as this cute little ring tree I made out of a Bubinga end
Some Further Experiments
I have also purchased from Axminster Tools a couple of their clock mechanism kits. Below you will see a very crude first attempt by me to create a clock for my shed out of a Tulip Wood Blank and some red drawing pins I had found in a desk drawer – waste not want not. It is pretty crude as I did not buy the numerals to go with it but hey ho its now ticking away in the shed nicely.
A Wenge Doughnut Shaped Dish
I tried to make a doughnut shaped dish. It proved a lot harder than I thought. Getting the two faces to match the doughnut shape was not too successful as you will tell from the images below.
Log Reindeer For Christmas
Not an actual Wood Turning project but great fun none the less. Take a look at my blog post where I describe how I made Rudolf Here
Another interesting project was a:
I tried to get technical and bored out the centre. I then made a plunger type holder for the toothpicks.
The body was made from a spindle blank of birch and I turned a little finial from tulip wood I had left over.
The idea is that you pull up the lid which raises the toothpicks to make them accessible. I think its quite cool and a really good project for any beginner.
The toothpick holder opened
I have also made a much simpler project in the form of Tooth Pick Holder In Shape Of A Mushroom. Click the link to see the full details of how it was made.
Tooth Pick Holder In Shape Of A Mushroom
Here is another interesting project for a beginner.
These very nice wood salad claws were made for Christmas 2016 as a “Snowman” Present for Karen – click the link to read about the full build.
This Goncalo Alves rolling pin was her 2015 Snowman present. I have not done a separate post on this one.
I chose this wood as it was very hard and durable and would take the pounding life in Karen’s kitchen would give.
The below image was taken in December 2016 one year later and it has survived its first full year very well indeed.
If you are looking for a simple beginners project which will gain brownie points with the wife this is a good place to start.
The biggest issue was making it perfectly round and the same diameter for its whole length. I did find that making the ends identical was a bit of a challenge also.
Here is another simple project to turn for a beginner.
Click the link to see how easy it was to make these cool wood lathe project…
You can start turning wood very cheaply – I bought an axminster hobby lathe which are easily purchased on eBay
Wine Bottle Stoppers
Another project which is quick and small is turning wine bottle stoppers.
In the above image you see on the far right a traditional shape made with a cork stopper. A bit of a failure in this case.
On the far left is a stainless steel stopper I had as part of a wine set.
This stopper is in my opinion the best shape as it has a rubber O ring which seals neatly in the neck of a wine bottle.
(Note this is for wine bottles with corks – screw top wine bottle necks are slightly larger so you may need to make one for each size)
I decided to turn a replica and bought some tap O rings to fit.
Siting the O ring and getting exactly the right depth of groove for it to fit is tricky.
There is a knack in getting the exact size and position of the O ring to fit snugly in the bottle.
However with practice it becomes easier and they do make an ideal gift idea.
Mortar & Pestle
Not a new idea being as it was developed over 35000 years ago and has been used in kitchens and pharmacies ever since.
This one I made as the 2017 Christmas Snowman gift for Karen.
The bowl is made from Bubinga whilst the pestle is made from English Oak.
The bowl measure approximately 5 inches in diameter and stands 3 inches tall whist the pestle is 6.5 inches long and 1.5 inches in diameter.
The bowl was shaped to be heavy at the base and thick on the bottom to be stable whilst things are crushed within it. I also added some cork to the base to absorb some of the pressure.
I did not put any fancy shaping into the pestle other than a good solid handle to grip whilst pounding and crushing herbs. It seemed to be well received as a gift idea and could be made by any beginner.
Well that’s a round up of the projects and learning points from me to date. I am not sure what will be turned next but watch this space…….
Here is another quick and easy project which is useful as well. Turning a kitchen roll holder…
Wood Turning Projects For Beginners
Chris Bagnall says
I’m a carpenter by trade but have decided to take turning as hobby and your site has given some inspiration. So will get in the man cave begin the fun. Brilliant lite site bt the way.
Thank you for your kind comments – it means a good deal to me if my humble efforts have offered you some inspiration! As well as wood turning the man cave is a great place to escape to for some peace and quiet as well!!
Thank you for your visit.
Janette sherwood says
Hi Steve, I am just starting out with woodturning. I love how having a lump of tatty wood that I find in the wood pile can be turned into a bowl or a pen holder. I shall be doing my first craft farye this November and you have given me some ideas. Happy turning, Janette.
Thank you for stopping by and leaving me a comment. Wood turning can be addictive with the smell texture and feel of polished wood. Good luck with the craft fayre, I have only done the one and it was nice when people compliment the work you have on sale, it makes it all worthwhile.
Suzanne Cousins says
Hi Steve, I’m just starting out and have 2 lathes..one a clarke 20″ and the other a mini max t124 duplex. Your site has inspired me, as I would like to start small and work my way up to make stock to sell. Any other tips would be greatly appreciated.
Hello Suzanne, Thank you for your comments.
The things I would do differently now were I starting from scratch would be to a) Join a local woodturning club B) Learn how to sharpen tools correctly at the very beginning (it is essential to have sharp tools when learning and to know when they go blunt) c) Consider paying for a proper course from a professional. Everything I have done is self taught mainly by watching all the great Youtube videos.
There are some very clever lady turners with videos on YouTube as well.
Selling stock can be rewarding but when you add the lady hours you put into making an item plus the cost of materials even small projects come out with a large price tag. At fairs you will get comments such as “nice but its never worth that” – when you do, ask them how much an hour they get paid and then ask them to multiply that by the number you took to make it. That usually wipes the smile from their faces!
Good luck with your future projects and enjoy!!!
Andrew Hannah says
Hi Steve enjoyed your presentation and got a few ideas so thanks again. I am a be dinner and bought a cheap T-mech lathe from amazon, I was want to add some accessories but seemingly my spindle thread size doesn’t exist had no satisfaction from Amazon and ca T find the company the size is 3/4in x8tpi and I have had a friend who is an engineer to check my measurements which are correct any advice. Regards Andy.
Hello Andrew, Thank you for your comments. I am not familiar with the T-Mech I am afraid so cannot suggest a solution. However I get a lot of visitors to this post so you never know another reader my be able to help.
Rob McCorkell says
Loved the ideas above and I will be trying some of them out. I have been turning for a few months now and it is interesting that I seem to be following the same jorney as you describe in trying new ideas and getting used to the tools. One addition I am using is Epoxy Resin – I have used it on a couple of bowls and tea light holders. It makes an interesting effect but still struggling with the sanding of wood and resin at the same time.
Keep up the excellent work and I will revisit occasionally to see if you have any more ideas. I am presently planning to experiment with turning chess sets.
Thank you for your visit and leaving a comment. I have not yet tried Epxoy resin with my turning but have seen some fantastic videos on YouTube. I therefore do not have experience to help with the sanding issue. My Brother made me a chess set out of Brass and Aluminium as he favours turning metal. I was going to attempt to make him one in wood in return but have found it takes a lot of skill to make 16 identical pieces in size and shape and I need to become more proficient before I could give him one as a gift so I hope you have more success than I have to date!
What do you use to finish your projects? Varathane? Oils? Beeswax? I saw your food grade finish product in your pictures, but wondered about the rest of your work.
Hello Carol, I have used a variety over the years but mostly friction polish and beeswax. I am currently using Hampshire Sheen which I quite like and here is a link to their website for your information https://www.hampshiresheen.com/finishes/ Thanks for leaving your question. Regards. Steve