Beautifying your builds lets you add personal touches to your woodworking projects, and picking the right wood turning tools for beginners helps you get the results you want. And while there are numerous woodturning tool sets with expansive offerings, beginners in the woodturning craft usually just need basic carbon steel or carbide tools to help them learn techniques and polish their turning skills.

With that in mind and to help you save money and time, we’ve lined out the new woodturning tools DIYers and hobbyists need to create a workspace and start woodturning.

Wood Lathe Tools

Woodworking on a lathe

The first piece of woodturning tools you need to learn the craft is a wood lathe. Used to create cylindrical wood shapes, wood lathes boast fixtures and devices to secure projects for the woodturner. Once affixed to the wood lathe, you use woodturning tools like gouges and scrapers to achieve the look you desire.

Lathe tools may cost a little or a lot depending on what you want, with small manual options for beginners running far less than larger electric wood lathes for advanced turners. Other basic woodturning tools essential for operating your first lathe sometimes come with the equipment and may include:

  • Faceplates: Made from metal, circular faceplates hold the wood you’re working with on your lathe. You clamp your piece down for faceplate work before you begin turning, and you can also bolt or screw larger pieces to spindle-mounted faceplates.

  • Drive center: Drive centers utilize the power of the wood lathe to spin project pieces. Inserted into the headstock spindle, these wood lathe tools secure wood to your lathe and grip the end so the lathe can turn it.

  • Tool rest: Wood lathes usually include an adjustable tool rest that simplifies and standardizes placement of your woodturning tools. Tool rests sit slightly below the centerline of the stock and as close to the cutting edge of your work as possible to reduce risks of a caught and thrown woodturning tool.

  • Wrenches: Standard wrenches are a woodturner’s friend, as they help you quickly release faceplates and tool rests plus adjust the height of the tool rest. Likewise, wrenches let you secure wood to the wood lathe in a fast, easy fashion for confident use.

Spindle Turning Tools

Beginner Woodturning Tools

One of the two main methods of woodturning, spindle turning lets you create lovely chair and table legs and decorative spindle accents for things like stairways. The spindle turning method for creating fine details secures wood between the centers on the lathe, then spins them for effective use of your turning tool. The basic tools you need for spindle work are:

Spindle Roughing Gouge

Spindle roughing gouges are used to shape square and off-center pieces of wood into rounded objects with a smooth surface. Built with heaviness in mind with a wide U-shaped flute, a roughing gouge is a great tool for tapering wood, creating cylinders and smooth planing wood. Beginner woodturners typically do well with a roughing gouge sized between 7/8 and 1 inch, especially when dealing with medium to large pieces of wood.

Spindle Gouge

After you create basic shapes with the spindle roughing gouge, a spindle gouge helps you add fashionable detailing to your piece. Spindle gouges have a shallow flute design that woodturners can manipulate to craft beads, coves and other fine details in their work. Spindle gouges offer a fingernail grind, which means they have ground-back edges for improved clearance during projects. Typically, new woodturners get by well with a 1/2-inch spindle gouge.

Skew Chisel

chisel woodturning tools

Though difficult to master, skew chisels are worth it when you want to improve your wood turning chisels skills. A skew wood turning chisel helps you create a flat, glassy smooth surface by planing cuts of wood away with their rounded tops and bottom edges and are a great tool for refining your projects. When picking out woodturning chisels for beginners with a sharp cutting edge, consider a 1/2-inch skew chisel for your toolbox.

Parting Tool

Parting tools deliver the final cut for your woodworking projects. Likewise, parting tools enable easy separation when you want to remove scrap material quickly and polish the look of your final results. Beginners do well with a basic 1/8-inch square nose parting tool, but they come in other shapes as well, so you also have fluted, rectangular and diamond-shaped parting tool options.

Faceplate Turning Tools

faceplate wood turning tools

The other method for woodturning is faceplate turning. This method secures wood via faceplate turning tools or in chucks like a scroll chuck. Things a woodturner can make with faceplate turning include platters, bowls and vases. If you want to go this route in developing your turning skills, basic faceplate turning tools include:

Bowl Gouge

Used only for bowl turning, bowl gouges come in two standard shapes that shape bowls inside and out — U and V. U-shaped bowl gouges deliver smooth cuts to the bottom of the surface, while V-shaped options have a fingernail grind that lets bowl turners rough, finish and detail the exteriors of their creations and add facegrain work. Good bowl gouge sizes for beginners include 1/2-inch and 5/8-inch carbide turning tools.


Scrapers let wood and bowl turners smooth out cutting and tool marks left by other tools such as a bowl gouge. These woodturning tools utilize a burr rather than a blade and come in different grinds. For example, a round nose scraper takes off marks left inside hollowed-out objects, while square nose scrapers are for use on the outside of projects. Novice woodturners should consider getting a 1-inch scraper for versatile yet consistent results.

Other Tools

other wood turning tools you may need

A few other tools may be necessary to round out your woodturning tools, including a sharpening system for your high-speed steel investments. A grinding wheel can come in handy not just for woodturning projects but also for woodworking projects, while better quality replaceable tip tools offer a modular way to expand your toolbox beyond basic or cheap tools.

While this list lays out general options for beginners, you may require different tools and sizes, depending on what you’re shooting for in terms of appearance and quality.

Now that you understand the woodturning tools you need to develop your woodturning skills, it’s easier to plan purchases to deck out your workshop. And as always, the Real Milk Paint Co. stands ready to help you complete your finished woodworking projects with high-quality paints and finishes ideal for turned wood crafts.