Your spouse, relative, neighbor or friend is a woodturner, and you are thinking of getting him or her something related to that interest. Getting them a fancy chunk of wood (called a “blank”) or a new tool or kit seems like an obvious choice. But before buying that present, here are a few things to consider before getting gifts for woodturners.
What do they turn?
Most turners tend to do one type of turning more than others. For example, some prefer doing spindle turning, making things like chair legs, baseball bats, boxes, or eggs. Others prefer bowls, bowls, bowls. Some do mostly hollow forms, such as vases, urns, and vessels.
Buying a pen kit for a turner who does pens might be ideal, but it wouldn’t work for a bowl turner. You actually need special equipment to make pens, so unless you are sure the person has everything else they’d need, and that they’d actually turn it, it’s best to skip the pen kit.
How big is their lathe?
Lathes come in several different sizes, from mini lathes, to heavy iron monstrosities. The “swing” is the measurement of the largest diameter piece of wood any particular lathe can accommodate.
A mini lathe has a swing of about 12 inches, and other larger lathes can handle 14, 16 inches, or more. If you get a wood blank for them to turn, you’ll need to know what size they can handle.
What is their skill level?
Beginning turners have many failures. My goal, as a beginner, was always, “a finished piece, not a masterpiece.” So spending money on tools that they wouldn’t even know what to do with is foolish. So is buying wood blanks that are likely to end up as an expensive pile of shavings.
However, if you know they can do spindle turning and have turned a tool handle, for example, you can assume they have the skills to complete a similar project, such as the handle for a cheese knife or ice cream scoop. One of those kits might be a great gift.
Are they purists?
Many turners start out working with wood only. Eventually they may venture into playing around with embellishments, such as stone or metal inlays, carving, coloring, and burning.
If you know for a fact that your turner friend does these things, you might get them something related. Or present them with a book focused on the type of embellishments they enjoy.
Believe me, nothing is more exciting to a wood turner than a related gift. But make sure you consider these factors, so you give gifts for woodturners that are a good use of your hard earned money, and something they will actually be able to make use of.