Semester 5: Woodturning

Stretch Out those Legs, We're Gonna Turn!

There are so many great furniture projects out there that have turned elements. These round sections can be done by hand using chisels and spokeshaves, but nothing beats a lathe for speed and consistency. Lathes have been around for thousands of years so there are many options open for the hand tool woodworker. This semester will tackle the art of turning and will start by comparing spring pole and treadle lathes, then build an 18th century treadle lathe with some modern hardware and finish with an iconic table as a perfect introduction to turning furniture parts. We will need to build our lathes first before we can get into the lessons so the whole thing will be backwards unlike previous semesters.

Two Payment Options Available

Streaming Option $125

Download Option $150

download all the videos & watch offline​

The turning tool lesson alone is worth the price of admission to Semester 5!  But then the lessons just keep going and I'm amazed at how much information is here.  Prior to this I had never turned and now I feel I'm ready to turn anything.

Norm R 
Member Since 2012

Work at Your Own Pace

What makes the lesson in The Hand Tool School so effective is that they never go away.  When you buy a semester you have lifetime access to the material.  No need to worry about cramming in all the content before access goes away or how much it will cost you in monthly fees to get through all the material.  And there is A LOT of material in Semester 5.  

Unlike brick and mortar classes, there is no start time and no need to take vacation time or travel to a location.  With The Hand Tool School you can work at 2 AM in your own shop, with your own tools, and stark naked!  I advise some protective footwear at least.​

Moreover, I think that being able to stop and rewind, or skip to a specific section makes this type of learning even more effective than the whirlwind, fire hose feeding that comes from trying to cram 6 months of instruction into a week long class.  The techniques taught in semester 5 represent an entirely new direction of woodworking.  Woodturning can be a subculture all its own but foot powered lathes will hone your turning skills even farther when we discover that high RPM and torque often disguise poor technique and dull tools.

Lessons, Projects, & Tools

  • Lessons
  • Applied Projects
  • Pole Lathe
  • Flywheel Lathe
  • Pedestal Table
  • Tool List
pole lathe centers
Tusk tenon joinery
spring pole
pole lathe turning

Spring Pole Lathe

Some incarnation of spring pole lathe has been in use since the Egyptians and this ancient lathe form still exists today. The lathe is dirt simple and can be made from simple scraps and a sapling to more elegant 16th and 17th century forms. There are a lot of designs for this style of lathe from the bow lathe to a sapling woven through the rafters of your shop. All you need are two points to hold the workpiece, a cord to wrap around the work, and a treadle to set it in motion. We will build the now iconic Hulot 1775 version made popular by The Woodwright Shop and Roy Underhill. This lathe is easy to build, requires very little material, and can even be knocked down flat when not in use.

Spring pole lathe

An Unmatched Learning Experience

I firmly believe that if you follow each lesson, do the practice exercises, and build the projects you will be a better woodworker at the end of it.  I think that dedicating 4-6 months to get through all the lessons and projects is a reasonable goal as well.​  

​Of course I'll be here every step of the way answering your questions.  Ask any of my students, I'm always ready to help.

The hand tool school has been an amazing resource. The first few semesters are a video anthology of how to accomplish any task by hand. I used to dread sawing by hand and be totally incapable of getting square cuts. With Shannon’s tutelage, I’m a confident sawyer and repeat the Hand Tool School mantra to everyone: “If you can see the line, you can saw to the line.”

Martin S 
Member Since 2014

But there is also a community of your peers waiting for you to share your triumphs, project pictures, and to help you when you have troubles.  If you are struggling with a technique or  project, many of them are building the same thing or have already built it and can offer advice.