Table of Contents

Wood for Turning on Lathe

Woods come in various types, shapes, and sizes, and the kind you use will determine the result you get, especially in woodworking. To get the best workpiece from your raw materials, turners should pay attention to things like the wood used to turn on the lathe. It is because most woods are not compatible with turning on the lathe. If you are a woodturner, you would want to know what type of wood works well on the lathe you use. In this write-up, you get to know which wood works well for you. Let’s find out. Also if you are looking for the best woodturning blanks for bowls then check out our article here with all the information.

What Is the Best Wood for Turning on Lathe?

There are so many woods a woodturner can use for turning on a lathe. However, most of them do not work well in creating a masterpiece. Some of such woods include Mesquite, Manzanita, and Eastern White Pine. They do not last long and can easily damage. In turning wood on the lathe, a turner should know which woods suit the specimen well. To do this, knowing the qualities of good wood is necessary. The best wood should be durable, versatile, and will make your work attractive. Here are some of the best wood for turning on a lathe.

1.    Box Elder

The wood from a Box Elder tree’s unique quality presents woodturners with a raspberry -colored dots and streaks. This color scheme makes it easy for tuners to produce beautiful wood works like bowls, goblets, and platters. What causes the red spots is a fungus called Fusarium Negundi.

2.    Bradford Pear

Bradford Pear is a wood for turning on lathe that you can only get in urban settlements, thus making it a limited material. Occasionally, you will see a pink-like streak on it, but its color is typically light orange. Bradford Pear is usually hard and dense, but when a woodturner uses it, they can make beautiful vases and bowl from it. It is also easy to sand and polish.

3.     Rosewood

This wood grows in humid environments, especially in parts of Africa and Asia. Usually, under a good environmental condition, this tree’s height can be about 100 feet long. Even their trunks can grow as long as thirty-five to fifty feet. When used on a lathe, they are durable and can produce an exquisite piece for furniture and musical instruments.

Rosewoods are challenging to get because their species is almost extinct. However, because of its unique color that varies from deep reddish-brown to purplish-brown, many tuners go all the way to purchase this wood.

4.     Cocobolo

Many people also know this tree as Dalbergia retusa. Cocobolo resembles a Brazilian Rosewood, but the difference between a cocobolo and a Rosewood is where they grow. Rosewoods favor the South American rain forest, while Cocobolo shows up in the dry, upland Pacific Coast of Central America’s Savana country. This wood can be poisonous as the poison Ivy if not appropriately used. So, woodturners should ensure to wear your gloves, facemask, or long sleeves when turning this wood.

5.     Figured Maple

A figured maple has oddness in the wood, which comes in different shapes. It has many types you can choose from, such as curl, birds-eye, fiddle back, spalted, and many others. You may not get this wood locally because it is of high quality and many turners want one in their studio. If you can’t get one nearby, go online.

6.    Walnut

When you turn a walnut from 800RPM to 1000RPM, it gives you an excellent piece and a transparent finishing when you apply a Danish oil, and use razor-sharp tools. Walnut has a sharp end grain that may tear the bowl’s bottom when used. So, you have to be careful when turning one. It also makes sanding difficult because of its rough edges.

7.    Cherry

Like walnut that works well with oil finishing, cherry possesses this same quality. Cherry is also compatible with clear lacquer and varnish, but you get the best results when you thin the first coats on the surface to seal it. After closing it, sand with 400-grit sandpaper or 0000 steel wool and applying to coat again when it dries-up. Cherry wood has a color scheme of light yellow and sometimes reddish-brown combined with dark lines. This color range makes it easy for woodturners to produce attractive specimens.

8.     Pacific Madrone

Another best wood for turning on lathe is the Pacific Madrone. Pacific madrone gets its name from its location. It is because there are various types in the world, like the Mexican and Texas variety. They all have similarities because they all originate from one source, from British Columbia to California’s central coast. With pacific madrone, tuners can make attractive vases.

9.     Red Elm

There are about twenty different species of red elms in temperature forests all over the world. Some of the renowned ones include Ulmus Americana (the stately American elm) from the United States and Ulmus procera (the English elm) in Great Britain and Europe. The elm grows about 140 feet tall, but this happens rarely. Instead of growing tall, they often grow into an umbrella-like curve that shades the sun away. They have a light-purplish color that makes creating vases exciting.

10.  Spalted Maple

A spalted maple’s distinct feature is in its spalting, a design made by a fungus that grows in trees and logs. The fungus goes into the tress through a hole and begins spreading. The result is that the tree gains a dark streak that gives it a marble-like effect, especially when turning on lathe. Species like maple often fall victims to spalting. So, it is best to get dense spalting before the log gets ruined. With this type of wood, a turner can create stunning wooden bowls, cups, mugs, and vases.

All these woods are best for woodturning on a lathe. So, whether you do woodwork as a hobby or profession, it is necessary to know which comes out well. If you have been using logs like Mesquite, Manzanita, and Eastern White Pine, this is the time to go for something new and promising.