Advance Lathe Turning Techniques

Having mastered the basics, many woodworkers quickly move on to more advanced wood lathe turning techniques. Being able to use more complicated lathe techniques will allow you to create more intricate and professional looking projects. As you try out your new skills, you will find yourself learning with each piece of wood you put on the lathe.

Hourglass Bore

It’s easy to get a nice hourglass shape on the outside of your project; the trick is being able to get the same form on the inside. Being able to hollow out a large cavity with a small opening will allow you to create decorative vases from a single piece of wood. Using a solid piece of wood will allow you to have a finished product without any messy glue seams.

To get an hourglass bore, turn the outside of your project first. When you are ready to bore, swing the tool rest into the tailstock position. Use a straight cutting tool to bore a cylinder to the depth you want first. To hollow out the center of your hourglass bore, use a bent cutting tool. Put the lathe on a slow rotation and insert your cutting tool carefully through the neck. Stop your project frequently to clean it out and use a caliper to make sure you get the desired wall thickness.

“Au Naturel”

Leaving a little bark on your finished woodworking project can give it a rustic look. Achieving this rustic feel without it looking unnatural will take a bit of planning. Have a visual idea in your head before starting and put it down on paper. The most difficult part of the project will be making sure you get your wood centered on the faceplate so it will spin properly. When cutting into bark covered wood, have the lathe turning slowly so you can insert the cutting tool safely.


Getting a cut to curve inwards takes much more concentration than to cut a hump into the turning wood. Always start with the deepest part of your cut, using calipers to measure the depth that you want. Once you have the center of your hollow cut, slowly work away the wood to the left and right to create a curve that looks as though it works inwards. The end result will be a u-shaped cut in your project.

Oversized Projects

Some projects will be too big to fit on your lathe and you will need to complete them in sections. Planning ahead and taking precise measurements will limit your frustration on these projects. Turn each section of your project in increments, taking the time to make sure the pieces join properly. Doing the entire project slowly in sections will allow you to see where you need to put the most attention.

Multiple Sections

You may also have projects that are too long to fit between the headstock and tailstock on your wood lathe. These projects will also need to be completed in sections and you will need to plan ahead to make sure your final product turns out the way you intended it to. As you finish each section remember to cut a stud at one end and bore a hole at the other. A peg and hole joint between sections will make for a much stronger woodworking project.