How Do I Choose the Best Lathe Projects?

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  • Written By: A. Rohlandt
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 17 November 2018
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When choosing a lathe project you should keep a few things in mind: the type of project, the size of the project, and the kind of lathe you plan to use. The tools needed for the project, and the difficulty level should be considered as well. It is also a good idea to find a detailed plan or blueprint for the project before getting started.

Lathe projects are generally best suited to items that are cylindrical or round, so you should choose an item that has a suitable shape. Common lathe projects include pens, candle holders, pepper grinders, and bowls. They can also include the restoration of furniture, as new chair and table legs are often turned using lathes.

The size of the project is an important factor when choosing a lathe project. Free-standing lathes can turn large objects, while bench-top lathes are better suited for smaller projects. If you plan to make larger objects, chances are that you will need a free standing or large lathe. Small objects such as pens and small bowls are good project ideas for a small bench-top lathe.

Another important consideration is the kind of lathe you have available. A wood lathe is best suited to wooden projects. They also have higher turning speeds than metal lathes, which is an advantage when working with softer materials. This type of lathe is best suited to non-precision projects.


Metal lathes are best suited to metal projects but can also be used on hard woods, such as maple. This type of lathe is very accurate and is a good choice for very detailed or precision lathe projects. Unlike a wood lathe, a metal lathe can create perfect cylinders or spheres. Metal lathes cannot create small objects, however, because of size limitations, so for small projects, a wooden lathe may be the better choice.

You may need special tools or chisels for certain lathe projects, so it is best to ensure that the project you choose can be completed with the tools you already have. To make a bowl, for example, you will need a bowl turning kit. For certain projects, you may have to use routers in conjunction with the lathe. Routers are normally used for ornamental turning, such as twisting or rope-like designs.

Lathe projects can vary in difficulty, and it is important to choose a project that matches your skill level. If you are a novice, its best to start with simpler projects. Candle holders or pepper grinders, for example, are relatively simple projects.

Try to find clear and detailed blueprints or plans before you commit yourself to a particular lathe project. Having easy-to-follow graphs and instructions makes it easier to achieve a good end result. Project plans are relatively easy to find, and can be bought at hardware stores or downloaded from the Internet.


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