Wood Lathe Ideas

Working with a wood lathe has some versatile use but there are a lot of potential wood lathe ideas that you can bring to life. Whether you’re a beginner at working with a lathe or you’re just looking for some new ideas to switch it up a bit, this guide is the place to be!

We’ve put together a number of wood lathe ideas to give you some fresh inspiration and perhaps help you get started in the world of wood turning.

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JET JWL-1221VS, 12"x21" Variable-Speed Woodworking Lathe (719200)

Why We Like It:

In terms of midi lathes, the JET JWL is made with solid cast iron that really sets it apart. It is one of the best wood lathes you will find with quality speed control and a measure of simplicity that really can’t be beat.

10 Wood Lathe Ideas to Try

1. Wine Cup or Goblet

Wine Cup or Goblet
Image by Alexander Andrews from Unsplash

This particular idea might take some skill and practice to really be able to do. It probably shouldn’t be your first project. However, when you feel you’re ready it’s a really great project to try out and this is an item that can sell as well if you’re wanting to make a business out of wood-turned items.

You can check out this video that shows a quick process for a goblet with a ring around the stem and also walks you through a variety of other projects as well. The video is fairly fast-paced and does not walk you through step-by-step but it can certainly give you some valuable ideas.

Things like cups and goblets are always popular because they tend to be unique in that type of market. They are also solid and take a considerable amount of skill to turn and shape so people are intrigued by them. This is a great challenge and an idea that others will love as well.

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2. Bowls

Wood bowl made with one of the best wood lathe machines
CTTO

Wood turning a bowl is another project that might take some practice to get just right. Bowls are another popular item. People love wooden bowls and you can make them in so many different ways and styles.

You can make serving bowls, soup bowls, large bowls, small bowls, and so much more! Not to mention, you can make them with creative sizes and styles and they don’t have to be perfect. If you’re looking for something popular to sell or you want a challenge, definitely try out a wooden bowl.

If you’ve never turned a bowl before but you really want to try, you can check out this awesome YouTube video on turning your first bowl. It’s incredibly helpful and it walks you through the entire process from start to finish. You can follow along as you work even.

3. Sports Items

Wooden sports car made from wood lathes
Image by vinsky2002 from Pixabay

Yes, you read that right. Wooden sports items are a big deal. Some of them are more usable than others so choose your sports items wisely. Things like bats and pool cues are really great here because they are specialized items that are commonly made from wooden materials anyways.

Of course, there are items like balls or rackets and other fun things that you can make as well but they might not be as popular simply because they don’t cover as much need or usefulness. These specialty items are one of a kind items so hand-making things like bats and pool cues can really set you apart.

The nice thing about some of these is the overall design is fairly basic if you can get the shape and sanding down. It’s not like bowls and cups where you have to be able to clear the center out so it’s a whole different style of project and they tend to popular in the industry.

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4. Box and Lid

A box with a lid made using one of the best wood lathe tools
Image by Pixabay from Pexels

We tend to think of rounded items as being what you make on a lathe but that simply isn’t always true. You can make plenty of other items as well. Try making a box with a lid on your lathe.

Turn a chunk of wood into a gorgeous jewelry box or a simple box with a lid that you can use for anything. This particular wood lathe idea is really meant for a small or decorative box of some sort but you really can open this up to a lot of possibilities and options to consider.

5. Pens and Letter Openers

Letter opener and pens made using midi and mini lathe machine
Image by bluebudgie from Pixabay

Pens are a really neat item to make on a lathe and if you have a mini or midi lathe, this could be a really great option. Pens and letter openers both sell really well when you list them or perhaps take them to a craft show. Everyone loves a nice pen, right?

This is a project that you can be creative with because there are so many different styles and colors and designs that you can use so it’s always something different and unique in its own way.

You really can’t go wrong with making pens, particularly if you are looking for something simple or something that you can sell. These will forever be a popular go-to

6. Chess & Other Game Sets

Chess pieces sports item on the table made with one of the best wood lathe
Photo by Abdiel_Ant on Unsplash

Looking for a challenge that will still be valuable? Try making games, particularly a chess game. There are a lot of wooden games that you can make but this one is a classic and it will certainly always be a hit if you’re making items to sell.

Woodturning a chess game will definitely take you some time and skill. This will be a challenge and it will not be a short and quick project. This is the wood lathe idea for someone looking for a challenge or wanting to test your skill in wood turning.

Creating a chess board will most likely not happen on your lathe but chess pieces absolutely are a lathe project and there are a lot of little pieces and shapes to create here. The pieces and the spheres are unique and intricate so put your skills to the real test here!

This is another piece that you can make on a midi or mini lathe if that is what you are limited to as well.

7. Legs for Days!

Many wooden chair legs
Image by Vorsen Furniture from Unsplash

While you certainly could use this for an opportunity to make a peg leg for a pirate theme, that is not what we meant. Chair legs and table legs are another really great wood lathe idea that you can put to use. Whether you decide to turn this woodworking into a business and make custom pieces or you just offer the opportunity to redo these for people, it’s a great undertaking.

The thing about chair and table legs is that they can be incredibly unique but also are not overly challenging to make. You can make table legs as a beginner or as a seasoned woodworker. You can also make the entire chair or table as well but the legs will be the only part you make on the lathe most likely.

This is a great project for the lathe that is versatile but can be unique. You can use this in a lot of different ways without having to worry about being able to find somewhere to put the legs. There is a hearty demand for refurbishing furniture or making new furniture so this is a good contribution.

8. Vase or Flower Pot

Wooden flower vase or plant pot made using wood lathe
Image by
Tara Winstead from Pexels

Looking for something unique that you can sell on places like Etsy or perhaps take to your favorite craft shows? Vases and flower pots are a good wood lathe idea to consider. Not only will these be shaped and created but they also might be painted or decorative to add some additional creativity to them.

The cool thing about this type of project is you can sell them or distribute them as is right off the lathe or you can go one step further and paint them up or add some design to them for some extra appeal. Both ways are popular solutions that are always a hit.

People love homemade items like this that can be used for decorative purposes in their home. It takes your skill and ability to turn them and they are willing to pay to add the beautiful piece to their décor and fill their home with something special and unique.

9. Salt & Pepper Mills

Salt and pepper shaker made of wood using the mini and midi wood lathe
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Did you know that you can make pepper and salt grinders on your lathe? These decorative pieces will be another popular item. You simply need to purchase the additional hardware to make them functional and then piece it all together for a valuable and unique product.

Yet again, this wooden tool sells well at craft shows and listings and they are absolutely gorgeous when set in a kitchen or on a table. You can make sets or simply just make pepper grinders, it’s totally up to you! You will find that these can be on the challenging side because of the centers but the exterior can be versatile.

You can keep it simple or you can add intricate designs to the structure to really get a great look!

10. Rolling Pin

Wooden rolling pins made using one of the best mini and midi lathe machines
Image by flockine from Pixabay

Let’s finish off with another kitchen item! Have you ever used a wooden rolling pin in the kitchen? There is just something about it that makes it perfect for baking and rolling. When made correctly, they have the perfect weight and they just don’t stick as bad.

A rolling pin is a simple project that a beginner can handle most likely. They are beautiful and every kitchen should have a wooden rolling pin so this could be another good seller if you’re looking to make money from your work.
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Summary

In closing, if you’re looking for some really great wood lathe ideas, don’t stop here! These are some unique and interesting options that are popular and just might put your skills to the test but the options are pretty much endless.

If you can think of it, you can most likely make it. Whether you’re a beginner or you have a lot of experience, these will give you a challenge and the opportunity to really show off your skills.

Amazon Recommends:

Bestseller No. 1
WEN 3421 3.2-Amp 8" by 12" Variable Speed Mini Benchtop Wood Lathe
  • Perfect for pens, bowls, cups, chess pieces, and other small workpieces
  • Fits workpieces up to 12 inches long and 8 inches wide
  • 3.2-Amp motor provides over 50% more power than most 8-inch wood lathes
  • Adjust the soft start variable speed motor anywhere from 750 to 3200 RPM
  • Features a 2.3-Inch face plate, an MT1 spindle and tailstock taper, and two interchangeable tool rests
Bestseller No. 2
Grizzly Industrial G0842-14" x 37" Wood Lathe with Copy Attachment
  • Motor: 3/4 HP, 110V, single-phase, 11A
  • Swing over bed: 14"
  • Swing over tool rest base: 9"
  • Distance between centers: 37"
  • Distance between centers with copy device: 32"
Bestseller No. 3
WEN 34034 6-Amp 14" by 20" Variable Speed Benchtop Wood Lathe
  • Attack workpieces up to 20 inches long and 14 inches wide
  • Adjust the variable speed anywhere from 250 to 3550 rotations per minute
  • Includes 4 inch Faceplate for turning bowls, cups and other workpieces
  • MT2 tailstock and headstock tapers, along with 1"- 8 spindle thread, allow for compatibility with a wide variety of Lathe Accessories
  • Features a 6A motor, MT2 spur center, MT2 live center, 8-inch tool rest, and an onboard accessory holder