Wood lathes are typically used to turn things such as spindles, bowls, pepper mills, pens and bottle stoppers. This makes it the perfect tool for turning something like a tap handle.
Unlike most woodworking tools, the lathe is not based on precise measurements or straight cuts. It’s the artists’ favorite tool in the wood shop – which is why I love it. It is about working the wood and not fighting it, creating something that flows with the shape of the wood.
That being said, there is definitely some technique to learn. You’ll have to learn how to make the basic cuts on a lathe, such as beads and coves, and you’ll need to learn how to use a few tools – a spindle gouge, a roughing gouge, and a skew are all good ones for using on a tap handle. Obviously, there are others, but those are the basics.
You can learn the basics in a couple hours at a class, or from some YouTube videos, then it’s just taking the time to practice. I made it at TechShop, which is a great place to get started, especially if you don't have a wood lathe readily available.