Wood Turner



OFO No: 682304





Other names for Wood Turner:

  • Precision Woodworking Sawyer
  • Wood Lathe Turning Operator
  • Woodworking Lathe Operator

What is a Wood Turner?

Woodturning is a specialised form of woodworking.  Wooden pieces are ‘turned’ on a lathe.  This lathe spins and while doing so, removes unwanted wood, leaving behind a beautiful shape like a chair leg.

There are 2 kinds of woodturning:

  • Spindle
  • Faceplate

Spindle turning means the piece of wood is fixed at both ends before the lathe is turned on.

Examples of spindle turning items: chair and table legs, baseball bats, chess pieces etc

The Faceplate method the piece of wood is screwed down to a faceplate. 

Examples of faceplate turning: bowls, platters etc

What does a Wood Turner do?

  • chooses appropriate woods for the various jobs
  • works out designs to ‘turn’
  • makes sure wood is securely fastened on the lathe
  • monitors the ‘turning’ so that the right amount of wood is removed for the design
  • sands
  • polishes

Are you … ?

  • passionate about wood?
  • good with your hands?
  • artistically inclined?
  • observant?
  • patient?
  • accurate?

How do I become a Wood Turner?


  • Apprenticeship
  • Trade Test


  • Learnership – Furniture Production: Wood Machining NQF Level 2, 3 and 4
  • Trade Test


  • Learnership – Wood Products Processing: Charcoal Manufacturing NQF Level 2, 3 and 4
  • Trade Test


  • Learnership – Wood Products Processing: Fibreboard and Chipboard Manufacturing NQF Level 2, 3 and 4
  • Trade Test


  • Learnership – Wood Products Processing: Match Manufacturing (Board Processing and Packaging) NQF Level 2, 3 and 4
  • Trade Test


  • Learnership – Wood Products Processing: Tannin Extraction NQF Level 2, 3 and 4
  • Trade Test


  • RPL (Recognised Prior Learning) for Artisans: CLICK HERE
  • If you have already been working a long time as a Wood Turner without qualifications, you may be able to get your qualification through RPL
  • Trade Test


  • CLICK HERE to check for a training institution near you to see what they offer.
  • Make sure you understand their entry requirements for each course.
  • To avoid scams, make sure your institution is registered with the Department of Higher Education. 
  • CLICK HERE to check accredited Private Higher Education Institutions. 


Here are some private places you can do short courses:

  • STRAND HARDWARE: (Port Elizabeth)

Offers short, certificate courses in woodturning and other carpentry-related skills.


OTHER CAREERS TO CONSIDER:  Carpenter … or … Set Designer 

Is becoming a Wood Turner the right career choice for me?