15 Fascinating Things You Can Make with a Wood Lathe

Entering the realm of woodworking with a wood lathe opens a gateway to a world of creative possibilities, prompting the question: “What can you make with a wood lathe?” This inquiry serves as a catalyst for artisans and hobbyists alike, igniting the imagination and fueling the desire to transform humble blocks of wood into functional masterpieces and intricate works of art. The versatility of a wood lathe unveils a spectrum of crafting potential, allowing craftsmen to turn, shape, and carve wood into an array of objects. From classic spindle shapes and decorative bowls to elegantly turned furniture components, the wood lathe becomes a dynamic tool for expression. As we delve into this exploration, we unveil the myriad creations that can emerge from the hands of those wielding a wood lathe, showcasing the limitless ingenuity that arises when craftsmanship meets the capabilities of this timeless woodworking tool.

What can you make with a wood lathe?

What can you make with a wood lathe

The wood lathe is a versatile tool that opens the door to a wide range of creative possibilities in woodworking. Here are 15 fascinating things you can craft with a wood lathe:

Bowls and Plates

One of the most common and visually striking items crafted with a wood lathe is bowls and plates. By mounting a block of wood onto the lathe and spinning it at varying speeds, woodturners can carefully carve away excess material, revealing a beautiful and functional vessel. The possibilities are endless when it comes to design – from classic, smooth bowls to more ornate, textured plates, woodturning allows for endless creativity in shape and form.


Wooden pens are not only functional writing instruments but also exquisite pieces of craftsmanship. With a wood lathe, you can turn small blocks of exotic wood into personalized pens with unique grains and finishes. This is an ideal project for beginners, as pen turning allows for experimentation with different wood types and finishes while requiring less material and time than larger projects.

Spindles and Balusters

If you’re interested in woodworking for architectural purposes, a wood lathe can be an invaluable tool for crafting spindles and balusters. These intricate, turned components are commonly used in staircase and railing designs, adding a touch of elegance and craftsmanship to homes. With a wood lathe, you can produce custom spindles that match the style of any interior or exterior space.


Transforming a block of wood into a vase is a challenging yet rewarding project that showcases the woodturner’s skill. The lathe allows for the creation of elegant, thin-walled vases with smooth curves and unique textures. Experimenting with different wood species and incorporating segmented designs can result in truly one-of-a-kind pieces that serve as both functional containers and decorative elements.

Tool Handles

Woodturning is not limited to purely decorative items; it can also be a practical skill for creating tool handles. Whether you’re a woodworker, gardener, or DIY enthusiast, crafting your own tool handles allows for a customized grip and aesthetic. With a wood lathe, you can turn handles for everything from chisels and screwdrivers to gardening tools, making your work not only more comfortable but also uniquely yours.

Candle Holders

Wooden candle holders add warmth and character to any space. With a wood lathe, you can craft intricate designs that complement various decor styles. Turned candle holders can range from simple, classic designs to more elaborate and artistic shapes. Experiment with different wood types and finishes to create pieces that enhance the ambiance of your home.

Lamp Bases

Elevate your home lighting by crafting custom lamp bases on a wood lathe. The cylindrical shape of the lathe allows you to turn smooth, elegant lamp bases with unique details and contours. Consider experimenting with segmented designs or incorporating inlays to add a touch of personalization. Wooden lamp bases bring a natural and handcrafted feel to any room.

Salt and Pepper Shakers

Designing your own salt and pepper shakers with a wood lathe provides an opportunity to showcase your creativity in the kitchen. Turned shakers can be sleek and modern or rustic and traditional, depending on your preference. Experiment with different shapes, sizes, and wood grains to create a set that not only seasons your meals but also serves as a conversation piece at the dining table.

Wooden Goblets and Goblet Sets

Turned wooden goblets are both functional and artistic. Crafting these delicate vessels requires precision on the lathe to create thin stems and well-proportioned cups. Consider making a set of goblets in various sizes and wood types for a stunning and cohesive collection. Wooden goblets make excellent gifts and are sure to be cherished for their craftsmanship and uniqueness.

Artistic Sculptures

Take your woodturning skills to the next level by creating small artistic sculptures. Use the lathe to shape and carve wood into abstract or figurative forms. Sculptures can be standalone pieces or integrated into larger projects. This allows you to express your artistic vision through the combination of form, texture, and wood grain, pushing the boundaries of traditional woodturning.

Wooden Jewelry

Crafting wooden jewelry is a delicate and intricate project that showcases the precision of woodturning. Create unique earrings, pendants, or even bracelets by turning small wooden pieces into beautiful accessories. Experiment with different wood types, incorporate inlays or segmented designs, and apply a variety of finishes to achieve a polished and sophisticated look.

Coffee Mugs or Tumblers

Elevate your morning routine by turning your own wooden coffee mugs or tumblers. The lathe allows you to shape the exterior while ensuring a smooth and functional interior for beverages. Experiment with ergonomic designs for comfortable grips and explore the beauty of wood grains on the exterior. Finish with food-safe coatings to make your handmade mugs a practical and artistic addition to your kitchen.

Decorative Bottle Stoppers

Wine enthusiasts and homebrewers can add a personal touch to their favorite bottles with custom-made wooden bottle stoppers. Turn small, cylindrical pieces of wood to fit standard bottle necks, and design the top with creativity. Whether it’s a simple, classic shape or a more intricate design, these bottle stoppers make for unique and thoughtful gifts or additions to your own collection.

Wooden Tops and Toys

Bring a touch of nostalgia and playfulness to your woodworking with turned wooden tops and toys. Spin tops, yo-yos, or even small wooden cars can be created on the lathe. This is a particularly enjoyable project for woodworkers with children or for those who appreciate the craftsmanship and charm of traditional wooden toys. Experiment with different shapes and finishes for added flair.

Knobs and Handles

Give your furniture and cabinets a custom touch by crafting your own knobs and handles on the wood lathe. Whether you’re looking for sleek and modern or rustic and vintage, turning wooden knobs allows for a high level of customization. Match the wood type and finish to the existing furniture or use this opportunity to introduce a contrasting element that enhances the overall design.

Wooden Planters

Bring a touch of nature indoors by creating custom wooden planters on your lathe. Craft cylindrical or uniquely shaped planters that add a natural and organic element to your living space. Experiment with different wood species, finishes, and sizes to complement various types of plants. These wooden planters not only serve a functional purpose but also contribute to the aesthetics of your home.

Hat or Coat Racks

Upgrade your entryway or bedroom with a handcrafted wooden hat or coat rack. Use the lathe to turn hooks or pegs that are not only practical for hanging items but also serve as decorative elements. Experiment with the arrangement of hooks and the overall design to create a functional and visually appealing storage solution for your home.

Wooden Gavels

For those involved in organizations or clubs that hold meetings, crafting a wooden gavel can be a unique and meaningful project. Turn a handle with a comfortable grip and a striking head to create a custom gavel that adds a touch of tradition and craftsmanship to formal proceedings. Consider personalizing it with engravings or inlays for added significance.

Chess Pieces

Challenge your woodturning skills by creating a set of wooden chess pieces. Each piece can be individually turned and customized, allowing you to experiment with different shapes and details. Use contrasting wood types to distinguish between the two sides and create a visually stunning chess set that becomes a focal point during game nights.

Wooden Musical Instruments

For those with a passion for music, consider using your wood lathe to craft small wooden musical instruments. From drumsticks to simple percussion instruments, the lathe allows you to shape and turn wood to achieve the desired sound and feel. Experiment with different wood types to explore how they impact the acoustics of the instruments you create.

Is there anything that cannot be done on a lathe?

Is there anything that cannot be done on a lathe?

While a wood lathe is an incredibly versatile tool for shaping and turning various wooden objects, there are certain limitations to its capabilities. Intricate carving and fine details may be challenging to achieve solely with a lathe, requiring additional hand tools or specialized equipment. Additionally, the lathe is primarily suited for symmetrical designs, making asymmetrical or highly irregular shapes more difficult to produce. While it excels at creating cylindrical and rounded forms, creating flat surfaces or precise angles may pose challenges. Materials other than wood, such as metals or plastics, often require different types of lathes or machining processes. Despite these limitations, the wood lathe remains a powerful tool for a wide range of creative projects, showcasing the beauty and craftsmanship achievable through woodturning.


The wood lathe is a versatile tool that opens up a world of possibilities for creative expression. Whether you’re a seasoned woodworker or a novice looking to delve into the art of turning, these five projects offer a starting point to unlock the full potential of your wood lathe. From functional bowls and pens to decorative vases and architectural elements, woodturning allows you to transform raw wood into objects that are both practical and aesthetically pleasing. So, roll up your sleeves, grab your tools, and let the lathe spin your imagination into reality.

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