Learning to Turn

Moving into retirement a few months back I decided to purchase a small lathe to have a go at turning pens. A trip to Axminster changed all that… Like a kid in a sweetshop I was enthralled by the range of kit available. SO… finally decided I needed a lathe that would allow me to grow beyond pens. Have watched hours of You tube videos and have tried to emulate what I saw… have had some sucesses with bandsaw boxes, pens bowls from boards and small bowls ( and some majestic catches) but now feel I need to have some instruction to move forward especially with how to best present gouges to the piece. Axminster offers a week group course ( but no spaces until April 2020)… I have seen a days one to one instruction, not cheap but just affordable. Be happy to hear anyones experience, suggestions or recommendations to improve. I live North West Kent boarders.

Hi there
Like you I retired earlier this year but had been turning for a few years. I am entirely self taught and again like yourself I have spent days on end watching YouTube. I have turned out some pretty good stuff but always felt that there was probably a better way to do things and so I booked the 2 day bowl and platter turning course at Axminster Sittingbourne. There were only 4 of us on the course so we had a very good level of instruction and every aspect was discussed before turning the bowls and platters in easy steps. It turned out that I had been using my gouges almost the exact opposite way that I should have. Peter Hibbin the instructor is a real craftsman and shared his knowledge with us all freely and we left the course with a bowl and a platter to be proud of. I was so impressed with the course that I have booked a router course in February 2020. If you can get on the bowl and platter course you will learn a great deal about gouge presentation to the wood and also the importance of finishing. You could then also maybe see if the spindle course would be available earlier to cover off that subject. I hope that’s helpful and happy turning.
If you want to see some of my items take a look at my website: mayflowerwoodcrafts.com

Kind regards


Hello Brian. Good on you for taking woodturning as your hobby. I have been turning now for 6 years and I have sold quiet a lot of my work. I was like you, I started to do turning just before my retirement, But I took 24, 3 hour classes. at a local adult education centre, fortunately there was a woodturning club at the same centre, which I joined and it was there that had a great group of men that passed on So much knowledge to me and fortunately for our club, we have 7 lathes to play with. I would strongly recommend that you had a look around to see if you have a club near you. All the members of our club are also members of the AWGB ( The Association of woodturners Great Britain ) If you search the web you will find them easily enough. There will be a link on the site which will tell you of any clubs local to you. I hope you have success in finding what you need and I wish you all the happiness of the great hobby of woodturning. A couple of tips I would give, make sure you rub the bevel before taking a cut, and most cuts are with the flute pointing at either 2 or 3 O clock, depending which direction you are cutting. Happy Turning. Rob. Cwmbran, S Wales.

Can only agree with the previous responders, ie

  1. Join a local Club and seek advice from the other members.
  2. Attend a professionally led course.
    …and then practice.
    I can thoroughly recommend the Axminster courses at Sittingbourne or the SkillCentre in Axminster having attended many courses in each location. The five day Beginners Course is very good, but if no places are available the two day course is worthwhile. Obviously it can’t cover as much ground but does leave one with plenty to get on with.
    Happy turning, Philip.

Philip, Rob, Steve Gentlemen, Thank you very much for taking the time to reply and for your words of wisdom, all of which I have taken to heart and will be following up on each and every one of them. Yes, I have kind of settled on a 1 to 1 all day course with Martin Saban-Smith, much as I love the look of natural wood the coloured finishes he does are facinating. I will then follow up on a few 2 day courses ay Sittingbourne for other diciplines to get me along the road. I have found a club, not very local, about a 40 min trip each way, Kent Woodturners, but near enough in Maidstone and they have a clubroom and meet twice a month and are a branch the AWGB. If the guys there are as supportive as you guys then its a very rosy looking future… Thank you all once again. Happy Turning. :slight_smile: