Putting a chunk of wood on a lathe and turning it to carve out a form is one of the most popular ways people get into wood art. Artists know this is a specialized form of creation, but many amateurs see it as a quick way to create beauty in a few minutes. It takes effort to learn how to use a lathe properly, and the artist must understand the properties of the wood they are turning. If the artist chooses to combine several types of wood within one piece, they must be prepared for the different cutting properties of the wood throughout their creative process.
Turning wood looks as easy as tossing a glob of clay on a potter’s wheel, but it takes experience and knowledge to master this creative form. Spinning at high speed, the wood is carved with sharp tools that can cause damage if not handled properly. An experienced artist sees how the wood needs to be carved, and they make it look fast and easy. Their knowledge often comes from years of learning about the wood as well as the tools of their trade.
Experienced wood artists who choose the lathe method understand the need to use the proper tools during creation. Their lathe must be able to fit the piece of wood they are carving for length, width and weight. These are factors many beginners fail to recognize, and some of them choose to stop creating in this medium because of unbalanced or under-powered lathes.
Lathes do have other artistic functions for those who choose to create art pieces on them. Decorating an art piece, even one made of wood, is part of the process. A lathe is a fast way to spin an object and create a colored line on a wood piece with a marker, or it can be turned slowly for a spiral. Doing this type of decorative art on a lathe can be learned quickly for artists who are seeking new options in their work.