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So you want to be a Woodturner?

Updated: Nov 20, 2023

You've seen the videos of Woodturners online and you are enthralled by the fast flying shavings and skill of the Woodturner who cuts the wood with so much ease. You are so impressed that you want to go out and buy a Lathe and some Tools immediately.

Sound familiar? I did that too back in the day. Now that I am a Professional Woodturner with my own business of 8 years I look back on that person and wish I could have advised him that he was making mistakes. Big mistakes!

reducing the blank size to form a poin with a beading and parting tool
Beading and Parting tool in action

So you want to be a Woodturner?

So you want to be a Woodturner do you? You probably know nothing at this stage and are checking your bank balance and comparing various brands of Lathes to see what you can afford. You are making your first mistake and you will buy a Lathe completely unsuitable for your future projects just because it is in your price range. They all look the same on websites and are photographed to look their best by professionals who want you to buy the product because it looks great in a picture.

I know that it seems expensive to shell out a few hundred Euro on lessons when all you want to do is just buy the stuff you think you need. Why waste half the price of an entry level Lathe when you can just buy one and see what happens? You have to realize that taking a lesson will actually save you money long term and allow you to keep Woodturning long into the future. Take the initial hit to your pocket and buy using the advice of experience.

Please Take a Lesson First!

I was advised to take a lesson but I didn't and I regret it to this day. Who knows how far I could have climbed in the Woodturning World if I had done it right and looked for guidance in those first few months. I stupidly thought I could do it on my own and only realized my error when I eventually asked a professional for help. Talk about a light bulb moment!

you need to learn how to use Woodturning tools before you start turning
Woodturning Tools in a holder ready for action

Woodturner Overnight?

You can't become a Woodturner overnight after taking a single lesson or even after two lessons so don't expect that to happen. You will not get a light bulb moment on the day of your lesson or even the next day but it will happen in time. One day the muscle memory will kick in you will go forward and you will wonder why it ever seemed so hard.

Woodturning is a difficult craft to master. It takes time, effort, money and repetition to achieve good or even great results. Some people are better than others and will make greater strides forward, don't let this get you down. You must stick with it and persevere no matter how bad it seems to be going for you. The effort is all worth it when you are finally able to finish a piece properly on the Lathe. It is this great moment that I wish my students could see up front as it would encourage them to go forward with even more effort. I spent months after my first tuition making fair pieces before becoming proficient and proud of what I was making. I still keep some failures in my workshop to this day to show my students that I didn't start at the top, I had to work hard at it.

Will you Take my Advice?

That's a loaded question right there. I have taught many new Woodturners at this stage and I can see when their eyes glaze over as I'm explaining something about spending money. I know then and there that they will go off and spend on the cheap, probably buying inferior machines or handtools and regret their decisions privately later on. I rarely see these students again. They chose poorly, they may no longer be turning and are too embarrassed to come back and admit they didn't take my advice.

Buy Great quality Lathes, buy cheap lathes and you will regret it later on
A great lathe is a great start


Money is at the forefront of Woodturning and it is something that all Woodturners have to contend with. 'Buy cheap and you will end up buying twice' is an absolutely accurate statement and one which I sometimes had to learn the hard way.

I normally advise students that they should probably spend about €2,500 to buy what they need to get started. That is buying a reasonably good but small entry level Lathe, Accessories and Tools. You will have to buy more later on, accept that fact before you proceed in the first place and you will be a lot happier.

Many want to buy with money they have in their wallet but what you should be doing is taking out a Credit Union loan and paying that back monthly. You can always pay off a bit extra here and then and the loan will soon be gone. You can then borrow again for the next machine upgrades.

Taking a Lesson

The hardest part of this is actually making yourself arrange the lesson in the first place. In other words booking the day/time and deciding to go ahead with it. You might be shy or lazy and the effort seems too much. Push past these procrastinations and arrange a lesson immediately! Ignore that inner voice that keeps stalling you and tell yourself that the lesson will save you money in the future. It could also prevent you from being hurt while using a Lathe which is a very real possibility. Once that booking is made, the rest is easy.

Shaping a finial design with a spindle gouge
Taking a Lesson is key to a good foundation for the future

Booking a Lesson

I offer a few options on my Woodturning Tuition page for you to try. Pick the one you want and use the Contact page for booking requests. Tell me the name of the Tuition/Experience you want to do and the date which suits you from my Calendar. I will then get back to you to confirm your booking if I am available.

I list the days that I am willing to teach well in advance but I am not always available closer to the time as I may have bookings from other sites or have production days. My website doesn't have the capacity to deal with all the different options by automation so that is why the Contact Form is necessary. I find that some people try to book the wrong option for what they need so I can correct and steer them to the right option before they attend.

I have another Blog Post which goes into more detail about getting started, 'Buying Your First Woodturning Lathe in 2023'. It is listed on the see other posts section at the bottom of this page.

In Conclusion

The best things you can do in life are by listening to those who have walked in your shoes, made their mistakes and then corrected. It saves you a lot of grief. Take the plunge, take a lesson and then feel good that you will save money going forward and will probably be Woodturning in years to come.

I hope to see you in my Workshop soon!

Thanks for Reading, David

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