The production stages of wood turning

The best time to cut a tree is during the winter, when the moon is waning. The wood is driest during this period, ideally during the months of December or January.


Cutting the wood


This procedure, which is part of wood turning production, allows for the transformation of a rough log into planks and beams.
The tool that is used for cutting wood is the saw, either a traditional handsaw or an “electric” hydro-powered saw. To facilitate the smooth sawing action of the blade, the saw’s teeth point in opposite directions with a straight tooth between the angled ones.
The wood, whether in logs or planks, must age for one to two years depending on the size and type of timber.
It must be solid and without defects, mildew, or blackish copper protrusions because these qualities could compromise the quality of the final product; the wood’s fibers must be compact and relatively straight, the wood must have a pleasing color, ideally with a clear level of differentiation between the sapwood (the younger woody part of the trunk, just under the bark) and the heartwood (the no-longer-living inner woody part of the trunk which surrounds the marrow and extends out to the sapwood).  


Turning the wood


The wood lathe is a machine which rotates the wood, eventually impressing it into a variety of shapes: round, cylindrical, conical, or spherical.
The tasks carried out using the lathe are referred to ask turning and allow for the creation of furniture and interior design pieces such as chair and table legs, furniture feet, and shutters as well as utensils and other every-day objects such as bowls, pepper grinders, salt pestles, and parts for kitchen utensils and toys.
The types of wood best suited for lathe turning are those with compact fibers: pear, birch, alder, and oak.
The piece that will be turned is secured horizontally to the lathe’s rotating tree (the part of the machine which spins, called the spindle) and is worked with a cutting tool which the woodworker holds tightly in his hand or, in the more elaborate machines, supports on a stable tool post.
The tool used in this process is almost always a single-lip blade called a gouge.
Once the woodworker has positioned the chiseled piece onto the lathe, he moves the gouge horizontally from right to left and vice versa along the object to make it cylindrical. Next, he continues to work up the wood with the same tool and eventually obtains the desired shape. Finally, the object can be finished with sandpaper to make it smooth to the touch.
Pulleys, or wooden wheels connected to the machine via a system of leather straps, are used to turn the lathe. It always rotates vertically.


The turning of a salt pestle




The drilling process consists of boring holes of various dimensions into the worked wood.
To drill into the wood, the lathe turner uses small manual hand tools called gimlets or augers or, in the local dialect, “tapetta”. This is the same tool used to drill out the salt pestle before it is emptied.
These tools consist of a handle; a metal, usually iron, stem that makes up the body of the instrument; and a bit equipped with a helical cutting edge that increases in pitch towards the stem.
These tools are 10-15 centimeters long; the body and bit can be various sizes depending on the desired size of the hole to be drilled.
To drill the hole correctly, the wood worker must ensure that the bit enters the wood at an exact perpendicular angle.


Finishing and Painting


Buffing with wax calls for the application of a beeswax paste, applied on a background prepared with French polish, which can be spread along the object with a paintbrush or a polishing pad. The object of this polishing process is to close the wood’s pores and create a suitable backdrop on which the wax will be spread. Once the polish is dry, the artisan passes a very fine steel wool cloth over the surface of the product to make sure that its surface is uniformly opaque and smooth. The polish can be reapplied many times, after which the wax will be applied over the entire surface. Once it is dried, a warm wool cloth is used to buff the whole object. Each of these tasks is done by hand without the assistance of other equipment or machines.

Linseed Oil

Baked linseed oil is ideal for finishing, often used in place of varnishes, whether for indoor or outdoor wood. The distinctive trait of this oil is that it seeps into all open pores in the wood’s cellular structure, making it completely impermeable. Furthermore, finishing with baked linseed oil not only covers the treated wood surface like a varnish, but also penetrates the wood, lending it a shiny yet not plastic effect while leaving its beautiful natural grain visible.


Varnish is applied with a brush or a sponge passed along the wood in parallel lines.
Water-based varnish does not work well on highly absorbent woods. When the object is completely dry, the wood worker passes fine-grained sandpaper over its surface. If the object is too lightly colored, this sanding process can be repeated.


Transparent varnish enhances the appearance of the wood’s grain. After intensive sanding, it usually helps to add a preventive coat of wood filler. The varnish can be colorless or etched. This process is carried out with an electric spray gun that allows for a very subtle uniform application of the varnish, and it is important to monitor possible leakage.
Before the second coat of varnish, the object is smoothed out with finely-grained sandpaper to get rid of any wood residue. It is important to clean and stretch your hands out afterwards.


This is a synthetic varnish that is applied to the wood with a flat brush in slow, regular parallel strokes along the grain. When the first coat is dry, a second is applied.

Water-Based Enamels

These varnishes are of a very high quality. The primary advantage of water-based varnishes is that they do not carry the risk of unwanted stains because all containers and brushes can be cleaned easily with just water.
As it dries, water-based varnish does not produce noxious gases, so it is possible to use it safely even in closed-in spaces.

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