How Do You Use a Wood Lathe?


To use a wood lathe, secure a piece of wood between the head stock and the tail stock, ensuring that it is clamped in tightly. Select an appropriate RPM rate, rest the cutting tool on the tool rest, and turn on the power.

  1. Choose a piece of wood

    Select a piece of wood that fits easily into your lathe. If it is too long, cut the end off to create a better fit. Check the wood to ensure that it does not have any splits or large knots. For an oblong piece of wood, split off one side to create a shape that is roughly square.

  2. Lock the wood into the lathe

    Place your piece of wood between the head stock and the tail stock of the lathe. Center it, and use the crank to tighten the stocks on either end of the wood. Continue tightening until the wood is firmly attached to the spindle on the head stock. Lock all clamps into place.

  3. Adjust the tool rest

    Adjust the tool rest so that it sits between 1/2 inch and 3/4 inch from the wood. Lay your cutting tool against the rest to ensure you can maneuver it safely and easily.

  4. Choose a rotation speed

    Set your lathe to a speed that is appropriate for the thickness of the wood. Use higher RPMs for thinner pieces and lower RPMs for thicker pieces.

  5. Turn and cut your wood

    Make sure your hands and tools are safely out of the way, and turn the lathe on. Position your tool on the tool rest, and rest the tip against the wood to make a cut.

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