Wood turner

What they do

Wood turners create decorative and functional components for furniture and other craft items using lathes and other wood turning equipment. They select the wood to be turned, mark it, set the speed of the lathe, ground their cutting tools, adjust their chosen tool on the toolrest of the lathe, and use cutting tools to shape the wood as it is turned. Wood turners create rounded or cylindrical table and chair legs, as well as other items such as bowls, toys and decorative pieces. Wood turners work all over the state, making furniture and craft pieces with many of our native timbers.

Working conditions

Wood turners work mostly for furniture manufacturers, but may also work independently as arts and craft practitioners who specialise in wood products. They work primarily in workshops and factory settings, where conditions may be hot, dusty and loud. Wood turners spend a large portion of their time standing, and due to the hazardous nature of the equipment they use, are required to follow strict safety regulations. They usually work regular business hours, but may be required to work longer hours at times.

Tools and technologies

Wood turners spend the majority of their time working on lathes. They also use turning tools such as roughing gouges, skew chisels, spindly gouges, parting tools, bowl gouges and scrapers, as well as bevels, which are used for sharpening these cutting tools. They may work with many different types of wood, including pine, oak and teak, and native Western Australian varieties such as jarrah, karri and marri. Wood turners are required to wear protective gear such as gloves, earmuffs, safety glasses and work boots.

How do I become one?

Education and training

To become a wood turner you usually need to complete an apprenticeship in timber and composites machining or furniture making. The apprenticeships usually take 42 months to complete and are available as school-based apprenticeships.

Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer, enabling you to complete training towards a nationally recognised qualification. You spend  time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider.

You can do an apprenticeship or traineeship if you are a school-leaver, re-entering the workforce or as an adult or mature-aged person wishing to change careers. You can even begin your apprenticeship or traineeship while you're still at school.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.