Introduction: Turned Wooden Jar

Here are instructions on how to make your own wooden spice jar/jewelry container. You can keep just about anything you want in this jar.



3x3x6 Wood Blanks ($31.95)

Sandpaper (80-120-150-200 grit)

Food Grade Mineral Oil


Wood Lathe (12½” Variable Speed MIDI-Lathe, Model # 46-460)

Bandsaw (Powermatic 14” deluxe bandsaw, Model # PWBS-14)

Drill Press (Delta Rockwell Drill Press, Model # 62-010, not for sale anymore)

Step 1: Video Overview

This is a time-lapse of making this project, check it out!

Step 2: Mark an "X" in the Wood From Corner to Corner to Find the Center

Here, you will be finding the center of the wood so it is positioned correctly on the lathe later. You should take care to make this as close to the center as possible.

Step 3: Hammer the Bit of the Live Center Into the Wood at the Center Point on One Side

This will make a groove in the wood where the teeth are in the center, so the bit has better grip on the wood and it will not slide.

Step 4: Adjust the Dead Center and Tighten It Into the Wood

Ensure the point of the dead center lines up in the middle of the "X" on that side of the wood. Tighten as much as possible.

Step 5: Adjust the Tool Rest

Move the tool rest close to the wood, but not touching it. Ideally it should be less than 1/4" away. Spin the wood by hand to make sure it does not touch the tool rest.

Step 6: Get Ready to Turn

Put on all Personal Protective Equipment: Goggles/Face Shield

Make sure various gouges and lathe tools are handy.

Note: Do not use gloves because they can get caught on moving parts and pull your hands into the machine.

Step 7: Start Lathe

Start the lathe up at a slow speed, then increase the speed to the desired setting (I've found that around 1800 RPM works well with most woods, this project was walnut).

Step 8: Begin Shaping the Wood Into a Cylinder

Use the roughing gouge to turn the wood block into a cylinder. A little bit at a time! The more cautious you are with this step the easier it will be, because when the wood is spinning it is very hard to see the corners and where the tool will first touch the wood.

Step 9: Shape the Jar

Once you have a cylinder shape, switch to the spindle gouge and shape the jar (Marking it with a pencil to see a desired outline can be helpful). Make a tenon on the bottom of the jar.

Step 10: Cut the Wood and Drill the Hole Out of the Jar

Use a bandsaw to cut the wood into a top section and a bottom section. From the opposite end of the tenon, drill into the jar on the drill press, leaving about ¼ to ½ inches at the bottom.

Step 11: Finish the Jar

Put the jar into a 4-jaw chuck and tighten it. Remove the tail stock (the whole piece that has the dead center) and attach the 4-jaw chuck to the spindle. Resume turning, smoothing the transition from the outside of the jar to the top. IMPORTANT: Leave the inside edge of the jar squared off so that the lid fits snugly. Sand with 80-120-150-220 grit sandpaper. Oil the jar with food-grade mineral oil, inside and out. Remove the jar from the chuck and set it aside to dry.

Step 12: Make the Lid

Put the lid back on the lathe and shape it. Use a caliper to measure the diameter of the hole in the jar and ensure the attaching part of the lid is just under that diameter. I cannot stress this enough, it is better to have to put it back on the lathe to make smaller than to have to start over with the lid because it is too small. Sand with same grit progression, oil, and cut from the scrap wood. Let lid dry, and then enjoy the spice jar with lid.