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December 17, 2009

Turning Basics for Furniture Makers

turning-basicssm.jpgI first got into turning wood about 8 years ago. The reason I bought a lathe was to turn furniture projects such as table legs, columns, knobs, etc. Being a self taught furniture maker, I assumed that I would simply do the same when it came to turning and that I would quickly catch on. WRONG!

It was a slow process in the beginning for me to learn spindle turning. Why? I think it's because turning is difficult to learn simply by reading books (which is how I learned furniture making). When someone asks me the best way to learn to turn wood, I always recommend taking a class from a knowledgeable instructor. If this isn't available to you, the next best thing is a good quality video.

There are a lot of movements that have to be going on at the same time in order to get the results you're looking for when turning wood. The tool, hands, and body all have to work together. This is very difficult to communicate in words and pictures. Video is a much better way because you actually get to see all these movements happen as the turner works.

Steve Shanesy, the publisher of Popular Woodworking has released a video titled, "Turning Basics for Furniture Makers". This is a great video if you're just getting started as a turner and you want to learn how to make common furniture parts such as table legs, columns, feet, etc.

The video begins with Steve turning a chisel handle so you can have an idea of what spindle turning is all about. After watching this you'll have all kinds of questions. Fear not, the rest of the video goes on to answer all those questions.

The next part of the video are on the basic tools needed to do spindle turning and how to keep your tools sharp. Steve then goes through and shows how each turning chisel is held and what kind of operation each one performs.

The meat of the video is in the actual turning of furniture parts. There are sections that show how to turn table legs, a foot for a chest, and a 1700's candle stand column.

The video does a nice job showing exactly how each piece is made. There are plenty of close up shots so you can see exactly how the tool cuts and how the body and hands are controlling the tool. There's even a part that shows you how to make multiple copies of a piece, such as table legs, using a simple full size template.

So if you're just starting out and want to learn basic spindle turning or just need to brush up on your skills, this is an excellent video.

You can order your copy here

Watch a short clip from the video

Comments (58)

Larry Downes:

Merry Christmas and the video looks pretty good.


Good info, thanks for the headsup re: I'll pick it up as I go theory!

Greg Long:

I watched the brief turning video and I for one will be ordering the DVD as I learned a bit in that very short time. I had an instructor but he was a hack and I wnat to learn to turn properly.


The video looks like it does a good job of covering the basics. Thanks,

J. Bodin:

Like the music - OH, the video looks good too.


I have an interest in learning to turn wood, but I'm a bit apprehensive about getting started. This video looks promising. Thanks for the review Craig.

Brian Gilstrap:

Looks like a good video. It's been so long (more than 25 years) since I've done any turning I think this sort of video would be right up my alley.

Rick Engledow:

Great book and review!

Jim Mossoney:

I sounds like a great DVD.

Steve Rome:

Furniture components are demanding as they require a certain degree of accuracy and repeatability. I am always ready to learn another tip or trick in order to enable me to be a more productive turner. I am happy to welcome this video to my library.

Lane Martin:

Nice review. Now if that prize DVD just came with a lathe... ;)

Henry Barney:

Thank you for the Christmas update, I have two daughters that have had woodturning classes in school and keep asking for a lathe for christmas. Thanks for the turning tips.


Gayle D. Strand:

Watching the video clip you get a very clear inpression of Steve's skills in turning. Although I have a mini lathe maybe the techniques still apply. Thanks for the video clip!!

Jim Barry:

Looks like an interesting video, especially for those of us whose interest is in furniture rather than other turning applications. I've got an old lathe, some turning tools and a grinder - all I need is some good instruction.

Stanley Zalumskis:

It looka like a video that I will have to have.

It will have to wait until after the holidays though.

What great info you always share with us!
And, the woodturning DVD looks like a great addition to any shop where turning is enjoyed.

Can't wait to see what next you pull from your Pandora's box!

--Dr. Larry S. Anderson
Tupelo, MS

Jim Bowers:

Some real talent here. I will keep working at i and someday I might be talented also.

Tim Kelly:

I have wanted to get back into wood turning. I would like to get a book that brings back the basics.

Bob Casey:

Looks like an interesting DVD as are most of the ones from Popular woodworking. Glad to see you back woodworking

Thank you for the opportunity to review the turning video. I am a designer and crafter of country rustic and lodge style furniture and I am totally self taught.Female wood workers are not taken very seriously in my rural area so trying to learn new skills is very challenging. I would be very grateful to be the one that your kids pick to receive the video.
Your web site is awesome and I have learned a lot from your online presentations. Thank you!I have wondered why I had not heard from you but I am glad you are back.
Merry Christmas to all that read this. God bless. Please always remember to give more than you ask for! Blessings, Sally Brown

Mike Mathews:

The video clip makes me want to get back on my lathe. Due to the down economy, I've had to focus my attention on the things that make my, and my family's, world go around. Hopefully in the next couple years I'll be able to get back into woodworking and maybe even get back on the lathe to continue to hone my turning skills.

Thanks for the sneak peak into the video.


Hey, Craig, thanks for the review! There can never be enough woodturning videos and this looks like a good one.

Quinton M Ditmore:

Better video than most.

joseph curran:

Talked me into it. Thanks, Joseph

Roger Kavanah Sr:

Everyone that shares their "expertise" in any sort of woodworking is greatly appreciated. All knowledge is good knowledge. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Keep on turning.


Nice video, he sure makes turning look easy.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year.


Wesley Tanner:

I have to confess that I've been a little afraid of turning until now. This indeed will be a great introduction, and I'm looking forward to seeing it.


This is a great review - Thank you for posting this!

Jim Million:

Thanks so much for the preview. It looks well worth the investment and I look forward to using it to further my education in the turning world. God Bless and Merry Christmas.

Jack Giovo:

This video looks great and would be very helpful in ones library - looks excellent for rookies like me that want to do even more with my lathe. Jack


This looks like just the learning tool I have been looking for, can't wait for its release. Merry Christmas to all, and many "chipps" in the coming year.


Looks good. I need lots of help with spindle turning.

Frank Bivins:

Great review of the video. Appreciate you work. Also like the link to the Christmas Story. That is one of my favorite sites

Jeff Brockett:

I use the site quite a bit and like the video updates.


looks like a video I need to study - not just look at! My skills as a turner are minimal and need lots of honing!

Colson Crew:

Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge - it has helped get our act together in our family - especially with Dad and the three boys. The video is great! Merry Christmas.

Frank Russell:

Thanks for the preview! I really need help with beads and coves. Long runs are not to bad. I look forward to having my name drawn!!!

Carl Parker:

Good information can save a lot of time and money. I have found videos such as this to be an effective way to understand what needs to be done. Then, to the shop to see if I can perform a similar task.
Thanks for bringing this video to our attention.
Merry Christmas.


Welcome back, that video looks like it was done very, very well with the proper perspectives. Thanks for the look. Paddy

Rich Mantell:

I'm happy to hear about the video. As a self taught turner, it provides lots of food for thought and reminds me of some turning basics that need to be reinforced. Thanks


I really appreciate you having the link for the Christmas Story. Sometimes we forget the real meaning of Christmas.
Merry Christmas

Thanks for the review Craig and Merry Christmas!

I have only been turning for a couple of years and would like to turn more spindle work. this video looks like it would give me some great ideas and tips. My brother-in-law does a majority of the furniture making, but I am hoping to collaborate with him on some of his pieces.

David McDonnel:

I need to learn to turn stuff for furniture. This looks like a good place to start.

Ed Gladney:

At last, a turning video for furniture makers.


Happy Holidays to all. Good music at your video presentation. At least for me the video will be of great help.

Rik Minnich:

Merry Christmas and Happy New Years. I don't know if I'm ready for turning. I'm still working on the crown molding. I hope everything is fine and heard from several people wondering where you've been. It's been a tough year on everyone....Rik

John Shurtleff:

Nice! Takes me back 66 years to my high school woodworking course where we did a lot of very enjoyable woodturning--I sure liked those chips flying!

Rick Kirkpatrick:

I have no trouble with all the tools except the skew. This seems to show it well. it is what I need.
Thanks for the clip.

It's a beautiful thing to watch a craftsman. I don't turn but it's tempting. Maybe I'll try it.

Shop Class as Soulcraft by Matthew B. Crawford is a great treatise on the value of craftsmanship and it's diminishing presence in our society.

George Dering:

This vedio is just the thing to get me back on the lathe. It is the one tool I am always going to use but never do !

Gerald Jensen:

Thanks for the preview. A lathe is on my list of tools to acquire, so hopefully chips will be flying in my shop one day soon!

Ray Marsh:

My wife has become interested in turning & it will be a great help for her.

Rick Nelson:

Nice looking video. Merry Christmas!!!!


A refreshing vid on turning. Merry Xmas to everybody.

Bryan Free:

Thanks for the update Craig. I subscribe to quite a few woodworking blogs and podcasts, and yours is one of my favorites. Thanks for the review of this DVD. I have always been a little apprehensive about using my lathe. I know this is only due to inexperience, but still there it is. Something like this could give me more confidence and I could start incorporating more round objects into my projects. Thanks again, and GOD bless. I also really liked the Christmas Story link. It's refreshing to see someone take the time to remind people why we have this season. Thank You.


Good DVD, Great Banjo. Merry Christmas.

Jason Young:

Hi Craig,

This is a timely review since I just bought my first lathe. I picked up a 1947 Delta 1460. I`m just missing the live center, the turning tools and the knowledge of how to use them. I`ve seen the DVD and wondered if it was the right way to go. Looks like it is. Now if I could only win a free copy....

John Downey:

Well, the video looks great, just what I need as someone new to turning. I just hope I win it so I don't have to buy it. That's all.

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