Port Townsend School of Woodworking
Preserving the Tradition

Wood Turning Fundamentals

5-day wood turning fundamentals class with Ashley Harwood


Wood Turning Fundamentals



This class is perfect for complete beginners or for experienced wood-turners who want to tune up their skills.

Wood Turning Fundamentals is designed to give you a solid foundation for your wood-turning practice. We’ll cover all of the essential tools for different types of turnings, how to sharpen these tools, and how to use them safely and effectively. Through repetition of the fundamental cuts, we’ll start to develop the muscle memory that enables repeatable success and ease with each cut. The class begins with learning and practicing these fundamental cuts, and progresses to utilizing those cuts to make a number of different small projects.

There will be a strong emphasis on technique in this class. We’ll focus more on learning, practicing, and gaining a good understanding of the techniques so that you’ll have a solid foundation with which to continue to explore your passion for turning, rather than focusing on creating finished masterpieces. The goal will be to achieve repeatable cuts, minimize any stress or strain on the body, and spend significantly less time sanding. However, we’ll be working on several different projects and using mini-lathes, which are a great economical way to start a wood-turning hobby.

Class Description

In this five-day class, we’ll begin with spindle turning. After practicing the fundamental cuts, you’ll create either a candlestick or a bud vase of your own designs. We’ll progress to finer spindle turning, and practice making finials for sea urchin ornaments (which make fantastic gifts!) We’ll also explore turning for jewelry.

Towards the end of the class, we’ll progress to turning small bowls – discussing the difference in cutting techniques between spindle turning and bowl turning.

You will learn about chucking methods, turning procedures and reverse chucking to finish the bottoms. We’ll use freshly cut (green) wood because it is so much easier to work with while learning the cutting techniques. In addition, the use of green wood reduces sanding dust in the classroom. Bowl gouge shapes and sharpening, cutting techniques, as well as design and enhancement ideas will be explored. You will have the opportunity to make several small bowls about 6”in diameter and finish them.


We are equipped with the turning tools you'll need for the class. However, if you want to bring along your own turning tools and work with them, we encourage you to do so.

These are Ashley’s recommendations for turning tools that will get you started turning. 

3/4”roughing gouge
3/8” spindle gouge
3/8” bowl gouge (preferable with an elliptical flute)
bottom bowl gouge – a 5/8” elliptical or U fluted bowl gouge would work for these smaller bowls, but if you plan to make larger bowls on a larger lathe at home, Ashley recommends a ¾” bottom bowl gouge (she also sells these)
1/16” parting tool
1/4” beading/parting tool bedan
1/2” round nose negative rake scraper
1” straight negative rake scraper (or a skew can be used for this)
Sandpaper (150, 180, 220,400,600)
Shop lamp or gooseneck lamp for extra light
Jewelers magnifiers for sharpening and jewelry making (if you feel like you need them)
Pin vise and tiny drill bits for jewelry
Round nose jewelry pliers
Flat nosed jewelry pliers
Snips for jewelry

Please bring:
· Paper, pencil
· Small ruler

We do require that you bring your own safety gear:

  • Face, hearing, and respiratory protection
    Please bring a face shield, hearing protection and a comfortable dust mask. You can buy a face shield from Woodcraft for around $23. You can also buy face shields at Edensaw (our local lumberyard). Check our FAQ for more details.


The only prerequisite for this class is enthusiasm. This class is designed for complete novices up through  experienced turners who would like to tune up their skills.

Class Information and Registration

Class runs from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm Monday through Friday in Building #304.
Please read our What to Expect page for general information about the school.
Please also read our Registration Policy.

Class size: 10
Cost: $775
Materials Charge: $95

When you click on the Register link you will be able to register for the class or, if the class is full, sign up for the wait list.