Is Wood Turning Expensive? (7 Important Facts To Know)

Wood turning is a really interesting hobby especially if you love woodwork. You will be able to make woodwork on a lathe such as artwork, furniture, or even utensils. In this article, we look at whether wood turning is an expensive hobby to get into.

Here’s the Rundown on whether Woodturning is Expensive

Wood turning is the priciest part of woodworking. It requires a relatively high initial investment in tools, courses and safety equipment. Although, there are ways to save if you properly plan your investment and how you plan to use your wood turning experience. 

How Much does it Cost to Get into Wood Turning?

To answer this question you must first determine why you want to start wood turning. Is it simply a hobby for making yourself and loved ones some treasured gifts? Or, do you want to be more business minded about it?

Why should you ask this question? Because if it is just a fun hobby for you, you might not really track the full expense of doing it. Maybe you will not feel the need to stress out quite as much about whether or not your products are “perfect”. 

Although, if you wish to sell your products then the cost to you really will matter. If it is a business for you then the time you spend turning the wood isn’t leisurely time, it is money. The price of the product, classes, wood, machinery, almost everything becomes an expense which must be calculated. 

Are Wood Turning Courses Expensive?

There are a lot of different types of classes available for woodturning, and the price depends on the type you want to take. There are in-person workshops that are excellent for people looking to start out in woodworking and woodturning. In-person workshops have the benefit of usually enabling you to get some hands-on experience along with instruction. 

If you are looking to purchase tools for your shop, in-person workshops are an excellent idea. It will give you time to experiment with a variety of power tools and maybe help you decide if you wish to make the investment. Considering these benefits are important when you seek to decide if you want to dish out around $600.00 to pay for an average 3-day class. 

Another, cheaper option is to take your classes online. Prices vary a little based upon what you’re looking to learn and how much experience you have. They tend to be about $15-$20 for less intensive courses (such as instructional videos about how to carve, or sand wood well). Whereas a more intensive, “all-in-one” beginner-level course can range between $50-$80. 

Are Wood Turning Tools Expensive?

This may be a matter of perspective, however, most say it is at least relatively expensive to get into wood turning. The cheapest varieties of wood turning lathes tend to be about $600-$800, and many recommend that if you are seeking to use your lathe for industrial purposes, it is better to invest more in your lathe. 

This is partially due to the lathe being one of the most used tools in your shop, with the motor being on and running for hours on end. Therefore, it is best to invest more in your lathe if this is how you hope to use it, rather than have to purchase a new lathe more often. 

This is also where in-house classes are excellent, allowing you to learn how to use the lathe before purchasing one of your own. 

The gauges and carving tools are other things to take into consideration when purchasing your lathe. The cheaper they are, the more likely you are to have to sharpen them constantly.

 Just keep in mind that I searched for affordable gauges online and found a set of gauges with 8 pieces for about $80 dollars. Meanwhile, I also searched for “good quality” gauges and found toolsets ranging in the hundreds of dollars. So the initial investment may be more if your goal is to avoid having to replace them often. 

How Much does a Wood Turning Lathe Cost?

As explained above, this depends upon what you want to do with your woodworking/woodturning experience. That being said, let’s look at some varieties and the price we’ll pay.

There are some varieties of benchtop lathes including the Turncrafter Commander and the Mophorn Wood lathe which range between $350-$550 each. They are simple and small and are therefore ideal if you are limited with your space, need a quiet machine, and only need your lathe for limited projects.

Other brands such as Grizzly also have smaller lathes for small projects ranging around the $500 zone. The general consensus is that most smaller lathes tend to go from about $500-1,500.00. 

Powermatic has a large lathe that has high ratings and good reviews online. This machine ranges in the $7,000.00 range, but a lot of people thought this version was a good choice for anyone looking to make things such as furniture. 

Other good brands such as RIKON, tend to be about the same price for a machine of similar capability. These were listed around $6,000-7,500.00. 

What is the Best Wood Turning Lathe for the Money?

If you are seeking the best balance between quality and economy, Grizzly tools are recommended fairly often. The reason many recommend this brand is because they are good quality but affordable. 

One of the infamous downsides of the Grizzy lathe is that it has a strong pull when you turn. So, most don’t necessarily think it is best for a new woodworker and you will want some experience working with a more gentle machine before moving to this brand.

What about the Cost of other Wood Turning Gear?

You should start out with a few higher-quality gauges. They tend to go for between $150-$300 for a high quality set of 6-8 types. One of the highly recommended brands was the Robert Sorby brand, which has a variety of types and sets for varying levels of expertise. 

A skew is also highly recommended for beginners to get at the start. A good skew costs about $50-$60 on Amazon for skews with 4-5 stars. Again, get quality from the start to avoid paying for more later. 

A simple woodworking bench is a great idea, especially if you’re planning to get a smaller tabletop lathe. There are some simple plan layouts for constructing your own simple bench. Some see this as a great starting project, and it will save you the initial cost for the bench. If you were to purchase a bench, they tend to go for about $400.00. 

Lastly, do not forget your safety equipment which included some goggles, masks, gloves, and face shields. Altogether these would cost you around $55. The safety glasses/goggles which are sturdy cost about $8.50-$9, the tough gloves to protect your hands are about $15, the face shields are about $25, and face masks tend to go for about $5-8 per package depending on the type. 

Is Wood for Wood Turning Expensive?

This depends wildly upon what your projects are going to be. Although, typically you want to use a harder wood for wood turning (without it being too hard). The best woods for turning are ash, oak, and maple. 

Red oak is about $3-4.50 per 4/4-8/4 piece. Maple ranges between $7-11 for hard maple for pieces of the same size. Ash is about $4-8 a piece of the same size.

One of the best ways to save money is to find your own wood in your local area. Go for a nice walk after a bad wind storm and find some large pieces that may have fallen, or if you know someone who is having a tree cut, ask them to see the pieces. Maybe they will have something you like which would otherwise be ground up. 

Do you Need a Big Space for Woodturning?

If you are looking to make large projects, or to produce a lot of products to sell you will need perhaps a garage size worth of space. You’ll want the room to store your pieces, your tools, the bench, a large industrial sized lathe, and the wood. 

If, however, you are looking to merely use this as a hobby you will need considerably less space. Some pick out a space in their basement where they do their work on the weekends. Others allocate a small area of their garage or shed for their work. Others simply do the work in the backyard whenever they have a sunny day off. 

This is simply to say that you do not need much space for your lathe and tools if you are looking to do it as a hobby or as a side project. 

Is it Feasible to Hire Woodturning Tools when Starting off?

Actually, hiring or renting tools is a great option when you are just starting out. Why? Because it enables you to test different brands and see which you like best. It also allows you to decide how far you want to take your woodturning journey. 

You can usually find some decent tools for rent at Home Depot, Lowes, Harbor Freight, and other similar home improvement stores. These places have a variety of saws, drills, and small woodworking tools for rent, but I did not notice any lathes for rent. 

Leaseville has a variety of lathes available for rent, although you will need to check the availability in your area.