Learn to Turn

Learning to Turn
Every woodturner has to start somewhere and the question I have been asked quite a lot recently is what is the best way to go about it.  Well that depends on you and your bank account.  There are several different options which come to mind and I have outlined these below.

Teach Yourself
This is probably the most popular way as a lot of people starting turning do not realise they can get training or because of costs involved in taking lessons.  Not taking lessons can actually work out more expensive in the short term as you might buy unsuitable tools or lathes and waste a lot of wood producing sawdust with no real end product.  On the other hand you might take to it like a duck to water and learn by yourself very quickly.  If you are going down this route, as I did, then I would recommend you get a good book and video to help you.  The one I recommend is Woodturning: A Foundation Course by Keith Rowley, there are of course many others just as good as this one.

Take Lessons From A Professional
This is also a popular route and is not as expensive as you might think, a full day can cost as little as £75, included in this is use of a lathe, tools, wood and refreshments.  On a course you should learn basic safety precautions, how to use and sharpen the basic tools etc.  A course with a professional turner can be taken at anytime, they are not just for beginners, and cover just about anything you want to learn.  A list of turners who give lessons is available on the AWGB web site and the RPT web site.  Adverts can also be found in Woodturning and other magazines.

Join our Club
You can join our Club and tap into the vast amount of knowledge, admire the techniques used, take a 'taster' session or two using the Club's equipment, and put up with lively banter in our well equipped workshop (see the background image).


Whichever route or combination of routes you decide on, and preferably before buying a lathe, tools etc, first decide what you want to turn be it bowls, spindle turning, miniatures etc. or even a bit of everything.  This will help you decide what sort of lathe and tools to buy and what tuition you might want, this is just one area where belonging to a club can help you. 

For most of us turning is a hobby and as such should be fun though there are times when it isn’t, like last Thursday - but that is another story.  When they come along I find it best to turn the lathe off and go and have a cup of tea, nothing stronger if you are going back to the lathe though, and do something else for a while before going back to it.  Usually it then goes better, although not last Thursday, but once I had spent some time sharpening my tools it suddenly got better, there’s a lesson there somewhere!