Best Wood for Lathes

If you love turning pieces of wood into something beautiful, you will need a lathe that will allow you to do so. A lathe is a fundamental pedestal required to make stunning objects from different pieces of wood. So, if you’ve developed a craving to get involved in woodturning, you must invest in an excellent quality lathe.

The best way to build a suitable lathe is by getting the best piece of wood. To know which wood type will suit you while making a lathe, you must know all the essential facts about different wood types and their functions. The better the piece of wood is, the more robust your lathe.

The 7 Best Woods for Lathes

Hence, investing in a rock-solid wood type is the first thing you should do. This article will explore different wood types that will significantly benefit you while constructing a lathe.

Best Wood for Lathes


Maple tops our list of the best wood types as this woodblock will help you construct the best lathe. Using this wood type to build a lathe will help you have a sturdy lathe that won’t fall apart even after substantial weight.

However, you must know that maple is more expensive, so you’ll need to have a flexible budget to invest in this piece of wood. It may be costly, but it’s undoubtedly a worthy woodblock to invest in due to its qualities and appearance. Building a lathe will cost you money anyway; you might as well take a hit once and invest in the best quality wood.


Walnut wood is another piece of wood we recommend to build a decent lathe. It comes in light to dark brown colors, and it’s pretty stain-absorbent. If a wood type quickly absorbs stains, you should know it’s worth investing in. Most wood types that absorb stains without any hassle are pretty versatile as they allow you to add more colors.

So, if you have a specific shade in mind, you can easily stain your walnut wood to get your desired color. Imagine having an aesthetic lathe for woodturning; isn’t that an image you look forward to turning into reality? Also, walnut wood is exceptionally durable and sturdy; hence, using it will be wise.


If you’ve decided to use cherrywood, you should know it comes in different types: rustic cherry, red cherry, black cherry, Brazilian cherry, etc. All these types serve other purposes. However, whichever you use will benefit you in unique ways as cherry, in general, is an excellent quality piece of wood.

The best part about cherry is the finished look, as it will add a rustic appeal to your lathe. If the overall look of your lathe plays significant importance, getting cherrywood will be ideal. Besides the visual aesthetic, cherrywood also has practical traits, such as sturdiness, durability, and stain-absorption. So, using cherrywood to build your lathe will serve you well.

Box Elder

This wood comes from the box elder tree, and many woodworkers use it to craft other items due to its practical traits. Since box elder is a solid tree, it only makes sense for the wood extracted from it to be strong. However, you might not find it in your local forest, so you’ll have to put in some effort to acquire it.

If nothing else works, you can always order it online, but it may cost you a bit. But if you’re passionate about woodturning, you’ll know the importance of investing in the right wood type. Boxelder has raspberry tones, giving the objects you make from it a stunning appearance.


As the name suggests, rosewood has dark red (rosy) tones, making it visually aesthetic. If you have a thing for brighter colors (especially reds), you will love having a rosewood lathe. The tree this wood comes from grows up to a hundred meters, earning its title of one of the most rapidly growing wood.

However, it’s rather challenging to acquire this wood type as it’s endangered in some parts of the world. So, if you get your hands on it, use it wisely as it’s considered a delicacy. Using rosewood to build a lathe will give you a lifetime of sturdiness and durability. This piece of wood is highly resistant to rot and decay, making it a pretty demanded wood type.

Pacific Madrone

This stunning piece of wood will contribute highly to building a solid lathe. All woodworkers have one common concern regarding the wood they work with: sturdiness and durability. If you find a wood type with both these qualities, you’ll be set for a long time.

Luckily, the Pacific madrone is such a piece of wood. If you use it to build your lathe, you won’t have to make another for years. The longevity of this wood is timeless. Also, it’ll give you an extremely stunning appearance as it has a smooth texture and refined grains. If elegance is what you’re looking for, pacific madrone will deliver precisely that.

Red Elm

Red elm is known to be incredibly versatile as you can make distinctive shapes from it. This wood type has excellent finishing properties, making it the best wood type to use if you want a stunning polish. It comes in a light brown color, regardless of what its name suggests.

However, you might find some pieces of this wood with reddish hues. Overall, this wood type has beautiful grains, and it’s highly stain-absorbent. The latter trait makes this wood quite versatile to work with, helping you paint this wood in different colors. So, if you want your lathe to stand out, using red elm to make it will be beneficial.

Quartersawn Sycamore

This wood is as beautiful as its name. The best part about using this wood to build your lathe is the reflection of significant ray dots on the surface. This quality automatically adds more charm and beauty to your lathe. Most woodworkers who use this quartersawn sycamore in their wood building are obsessed with how stunning the results are.

So, if you want your lathe to immediately stand out and look exceptional, using this wood type will be the way to go. Besides its aesthetics, quartersawn sycamore also offers significant density that makes it last longer than most wood types. Hence, we give this wood piece two thumbs up for delivering top-notch quality.

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