Let’s Get Small


Some woodturners like to work big, making bowls the size of washtubs or porch columns for an antebellum mansion. Big turnings take a big lathe, big tools, and a big commitment of time.

There’s something to be said, however, for working small, making a bowl that can barely hold a single pea or a weed pot for a couple of sprigs. Small turnings take only a few minutes to make. It’s my belief that working small helps teach you how to focus on your work and improve your tool control. And a miniature bowl also makes a great “how did you do that!?” gift. All you need are small scrapers you can grind yourself, plus a good eye for detail.

I’m sure some turners can work really small, making pieces barely 1/8″ across for doll houses built to a 1:24 scale. I’m not one of them. My tiny turnings average 1/2″ to 3/4″ in diameter.

Here’s some advice if you want to get small.

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