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July 10, 2009

Lathe Bloomer: How to Become a Woodturner

I love my lathe.  There.  I've said it.  It's an actual love relationship.  I pat it every time I walk past it in the workshop.  I bring it gifts (new chucks).  And I think about it when I'm cutting the lawn.

We recently finished a video that shows my very first woodturning project, which was making the voluptuous legs for my new desk.  Sure, I could have started small with a candlestick or a wine-stopper, but I really needed legs for my new desk and the idea of turning raw, angular blocks into silky-smooth curves made me feel like the Goddess of Undulations, if there was such a goddess. 

If you search YouTube you won't find very many woodturning videos with girls in them and I think we should change that.  Here's my entry:



Lovely, Mag. Always wanted to try turning.

Of course your next step is to make a pole-lathe. Here's a link to an amazing guy who lives near me (we use his bowls daily for breakfast) - great videos too.


Mark Rose

Awesome video Mag!! I've watched your shows, followed your website and knew sooner or later you "wood" fall for a lathe. I've been turning for years and love it! There are many women in woodturning. Betty Scarpino is the editor of American Woodturner the journal of the AAW. Cindy Drozda http://www.cindydrozda.com/ makes the most beautiful lidded boxes with gorgeous finials. Marilyn Campbell is a fellow Ontarian who creates wonders with her lathe http://www.marilyncampbell.ca/
A lathe is a beautiful tool and I think you'll find it'll turn into a passion rather quickly. It did for me.
Keep up the great work!


Wow, you guys are blowing my mind with these links! How inspiring. I actually first learned about lathes at the Ontario Science Centre when my Grade 6 class visited in 1968 and they had a foot-powered pole lathe! I never forgot how cool it was.

And Mark, thanks for the links to these incredible woodturners. They're just awesome - so glad to know about them - Cindy even has her own line of turning tools; how cool is that?


Fred Williams

That's a great story and good footage of the turning. I'm trying something similar because I'm reading up on piano repair and tuning. I've always loved pianos, (I've played since I was 5), and I tune my own, -with an electric box,- so I want to see if I can maybe make a living at it. Like you say, "How hard can it be?" (;-))

Viorel Agocs

You Canadians are such a wonderful and pleasant people. Nice to see you in action ;)


I never understood the whole "girls with guns" video thing, but I can solidly get behind the "girls with lathes" video genre!

I started turning several years back, and recently was so burned out at work that I took a full week off and spent it all in my workshop, much of it turning.

For others interested in learning how to turn, I suggest two things that have helped me:

1) Richard Raffan's books


2) Woodturner University at SmartFlix


I'd love to see more blog posts dedicated to turning - projects, techniques, whatever!

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Mag's Books

  • : We're All In This Together

    We're All In This Together
    Based on four years of interviews with Steve Smith, Mag's unconventional biography reveals the personal stories, sorrows and joys that continue to inspire the man behind the Red Green legacy.

  • : How Hard Can It Be?

    How Hard Can It Be?
    Mag's quirky and entertaining book of home improvement projects for beginners.

Nota Bene

  • It’s never too late to be who you might have been. - George Eliot (1819-1880)
  • Simplicity of character is the natural result of profound thought. - My fortune cookie