Woodturning With a Bandsaw




I make and create anything that comes to my mind from skateboard hooks to garden rooms. And I foo...

Woodturning on a bandsaw!

I was invited to create a pawn chess piece for the Makers Central chess piece challenge...32 makers each making one chess piece...the whole set to be auctioned off for charity at the Makers Central show.

This idea was inspired by Izzy Swan and Jimmy Diresta who built a jig to spin timber above a circular saw to turn wood without a lathe...

...with some simple to make jigs great results can be achieved with the use of a bandsaw to turn little things.

Come with me and find out how to turn wood without a lathe...

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: The Idea

Makers Central is the UKs first big maker show bringing together top names in the maker scene...Jimmy Diresta, Izzy Swan, I like to make Stuff, Home Made Modern, Laura Kampf, Giaco Whatever, Get Hands Dirty...and so many more...two weeks time in Birmingham UK [5-6th May 2018]

The challenge was for thirty two makers to each make a chess piece for the set, each in their own unique style, materials and colour!

Make it...put your makers mark on the bottom and send it in...one lucky person will be the proud owner of a very unique chess set. Check out Makers Central website for details.

As no colour was specified...I decided to make a parquetry of a chess board chequer pattern...it would make an interesting pattern to the turned pawn.

The pawn was to be about 50mm high and 35mm at its widest.

Follow on through the steps to find out how the piece can be either black or white.

Step 2: Get Your Bits Together


Some dark and light hardwood - I used Walnut for the dark and Maple for the light

PVA glue

6mm MDF pieces for the jigs

Ply or thicker MDF for the brackets + turning block ends

2no. 22mm bearings

2no bolts to fit through the inner hole of the bearings + 2no. nuts to fit

2no. panel pins


Gerneral woodworking tools

Circular saw to cut strips [bandsaw with ripping blade would work]

Thicknesser or hand plane


Cordless drill

Forstner bits to fit the bearings

Abrasive paper


Step 3: Timber Strips

Plane the edges of your selected timbers square and flat...

...slice and thickness the timber to a 5mm thick finish...

...and trim the strips to length...I made a block that I could turn two of the pawns from so I could choose the best to put into the set and keep the other as a memory.

Step 4: Glue Up

Glue the strips in alternating layers of colour...

...and clamp together until cured

Step 5: Do It All Again!

Lets do the same process again!

Plane the block square...

...trim ends...

...slice into strips and plane to 5mm...

...add glue...

...stack the layers in a chequered board pattern...

...and clamp until cured...

...you should now have a very cool looking chequerd pattern running through your timber just like a 'stick of rock'!

Step 6: Pins

Cut two squares of ply or MDF the same size as the ends of the block...

Drill a hole in the centre and recess the head of the bolt flush with the face of the ply.

Thread on a bolt and tighten down onto teh ply...this will hold the ply and bolt tightly together and spin nicely on the bearings on the bracket [coming up in next step]

Carefully glue and clamp the assemblies to the ends of the block...try and get this as accurate as possible to avoid wobble when turning...as you will see in my video I could have done better!

Step 7: Turning Jig

To turn our beautiful block of wood we need to make a turning jig.

Make two brackets with some scraps of ply or MDF...glue and screw together...

...make sure that they are tall enough for the block to spin without touching the bandsaw table...

...mark at one end the position of the centre that the block will rotate around...

...clamp the two brackets together and drill a pilot hole through both so that they are in the same position on both brackets.

We will use a 22mm sealed bearing on both brackets to allow for smooth spinning.

Drill out to half depth on the inner face of teh bracket to allow the bearing to snugly push fit in...

Drill out the centre for the bolt to pass right through with some slack.

Cut a piece of thin 5mm MDf for a base and screw one bracket onto the base...

...Slide in your block with glued on pins...slide on the second bracket and screw in place to the base board

Step 8: Bandsaw Jig

A simple jig needs to be made for bandsaw table to allow the turning jig to run up against...

Cut a piece of thin MDF [good and slippy] to cover the front half of the bandsaw table...

Glue on a strip to the front edge...

...When cured start up the bandsaw and carefully allow the blade to cut through the strip and clamp in place to the table.

Attach a cordless drill to one end of the turning block by tightening the jaws around one of the bolts...

...press the trigger and spin the block to check for wobble...if all is good we can start to turn.

Step 9: Turn a Cylinder

Push the turning jig up to the stop on the bandsaw jig and check that the bandsaw blade is flush with the flat side of the block...spin around for all four sides to set to the furthest in face...

...clamp the bandsaw jig in place.

UPDATE - As has been pointed out in the comments please be aware to use a bandsaw blade with lots of teeth - high teeth per inch [TPI] designed to cut timber across the grain. A bandsaw blade with low teeth per inch may catch the timber.

WARNING - If you have a bandsaw you will know that they can cut off fingers super quick...keep your fingers away from the blade at all times and make sure that you have a firm hold of the turning jig at all times.

Pull the turning block back away from the bandsaw blade and switch on the bandsaw.

Set the cordless drill to spin the block upwards in a rotation that is spinning the block into the bandsaws teeth that are descending...

...slowly bring the spinning block into the bandsaw blade and slide sideways taking a very cut...just the depth of the teeth of the bandsaw blade....

...repeat until you have turned a nice cylinder.

It is advisable to set the bandsaw jig to only allow the removal of the tooth depth, advancing the jig and securely re-clamaping for each pass, this will give a firm stop to run along.

Step 10: Template

The big benefit of turning like this, is that you will use a template...this will allow for multiple exact copies...perfect if you are making a whole chess set.

First of all hammer in two nails into the front edge of the turning jig...make sure that they will be outside of the cutting area.

Draw your desired shape and cut out a stencil...cut it along centre line...

...cut two strips of thin MDF to make two templates...

...stick the stencil to the strips and carefully cut out the shape...I taped the two bits of MDF together and cut in one go giving exact copies.

Place the turning jig with the pins touching the bandsaw jig front strip...determine the position by placing to the right hand side that you will want to start turning the shape.

Glue the two templates to the left hand side of the pins of the turning jig...pushed up to the pins.

Step 11: Turn Your Shape

As before switch on the bandsaw and spin the block up into the blade...

...take small depth of cuts only the bandsaw teeth depth will cut...

It is advisable to set the bandsaw jig to only allow the removal of the tooth depth, advancing the jig and securely re-clamaping for each pass, this will give a firm stop to run along.

...slowly cut down until the pins of the turning jig start to follow the templates turning your shape into the block of wood.

Step 12: Sand

When the shape is turned...turn off the bandsaw pull the turning back from the blade...

...spin the block and apply abrasive paper to sand to a nice finish.

Step 13: Cut It

Cut off the turned piece from the timber block...

...and cut off the head of the pawn!...leaving a neck pin.

Drill a hole into the end of the body of the pawn so that the head is a snug fit.

Step 14: Collar

The pawn needs a nice thin collar between the head and body...

...cut a very thin strip of both of the timbers...

...and sand to as thin as you dare.

Glue together...when cured drill a hole in the middle to fit the head pin diameter...

...cut into a disc and sand to a nice circular shape.

Step 15: Black or White

Slot the collar over the pin of the head and push into the body...look down from above and line up the chequer pattern.

As my design for the pawn is not either black or white...the collar denotes the colour of the piece...

...which ever colour is pointing upwards is the colour of the pawn...Walnut is black...pull of the head and flip around for the Maple on the top to play as white.

Step 16: Makers Mark

Spray stencil my makers logo to the bottom of the chess piece so that the eventual owner of the set knows who made which piece...

...give it all a coat of wax to bring out the beauty of the wood...and done...


Step 17: All About Presentation

Such a little thing feels like it needs a special box to increase the experience of the piece...

A quick fingered box made from off cuts of the stripy strips of timber...spray with logos + text...place the unique chess piece inside and pack with some of the fantastic stripy shavings...

...make a little concertina pamphlet of how the change of colour works...

...box up and post off to join the rest of the chess set.

Step 18: It's Your Turn!

Super happy how this project turned [!] out...a new technique for me inspired by some of the makers that will be at Makers Central.

Check out Makers Centralwebsite...if you are quick there may be some tickets left...it would be great to see you at the show...I will be wandering around for the whole weekend taking in the vibe, meeting makers and handing out stickers...if you are there find me and say HI

I am entering this project into the Pocket Sized Contest as the chess piece is definitely pocket sized! and if you have enjoyed this project, I would really appreciate your vote...thank you so much.

This project is part of my YouTube channel where I try to make cool and interesting projects. Please check out my channel if you want to see more of the projects, if not there will be more coming to Instructables soon. Why not check out what I am up to on Facebook. + Instagram

Pocket-Sized Contest

Participated in the
Pocket-Sized Contest



    • Indoor Lighting Contest

      Indoor Lighting Contest
    • Metal Contest

      Metal Contest
    • Make It Fly Challenge

      Make It Fly Challenge

    29 Discussions


    1 year ago

    Great video. Very entertaining ! Thank you so much.

    1 reply

    Reply 1 year ago

    I am so glad you enjoyed the project...great little project and I will definitely use the technique again. Thanks for your kind words


    1 year ago

    It's voting season in Lebanon> I'm not voting for anyone but you. Best regards

    1 reply

    Reply 1 year ago

    Mihsin...you are very kind...are you sure that you shouldn't be voting in your parliamentary elections! I'm delighted to have your support.


    1 year ago

    Brilliant idea and a very skilled result thanks

    1 reply

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thank you RWLC some time to make the jigs though really quite straight forward to achieve the turning...the bonus of having a jig and template is that exact copies can be made...I have a second one made as a keep sake.


    1 year ago

    The contrasting effect of the two woods is heightened by the different angles that come from the piece having oblique, rounded sides. The same way that veined wood is attractive in rounded shapes. Lovely work!

    1 reply

    Reply 1 year ago

    I have never tried parquetry before though thought the visual play on the chess board chequer pattern would be fun...is it a black piece or white? The turning does give some patterns...thank you

    Lyman Bruce

    Question 1 year ago on Step 10

    Great idea, but I would like some better understanding and/or pictures of the pattern jig - I couldn't figure out how you use it from the images. Thanks.

    2 answers
    PricklysauceLyman Bruce

    Answer 1 year ago

    Okay - The templates are the exact shape of the object that you wish to turn. Cut it in half down the centre line, in other words you only need to cut out half of the shape as the timber your are turning is spinning.

    You require two of these to be glued onto the bandsaw table jig up against the timber strip. Position the turning jig [with the pins hammered in] so that the pins are touching the stop strip of the bandsaw table jig, in the approximate area that you want to the turn the shape from the timber block. Glue the templates making sure that they touch up against the pins, both on the same side, either both touching left hand side against the pins or both touching right hand end against the pins.

    Leave to cure.

    If you now move your turning jig with the pins touching the edges of the template the turning jig will effectively move in and out along the shape of the template and the timber will be moved into and away from the blade in a corresponding shape to the template.

    I would advise that the whole bandsaw table jig [with glued templates] is advanced in small increments of the blade cutting depth, only about 1mm at a time, with the jig securely clamped each time. this will ensure that only a shallow cut is taken for each pass of the blade and will mitigate that possibility of the blade snatching at the turning block.

    Hope this helps.


    1 year ago

    I have to agree, that was a great innovation. Because of that, I voted for you. Yes, you could have used the mini lathe, a tool designed for turning wood. In that case you would not have received my vote. I would have found that to be boring. Instead, you used your imagination and gave us a new use for an old tool. Thank you!

    1 reply

    Reply 1 year ago

    To tell you the truth I also have a lathe, which i would usually use. The aim of the project was to try to turn in another way and was inspired by the work of Izzy Swan with his turning over a circular saw. Well worth checking him out on YouTube if you haven't already.

    Thank you so much for your vote


    1 year ago

    All I can say is it worked and if you are happy with it, I'm happy for you.

    If a bandsaw works im guessing a table saw is next?

    I've seen a router with a template used on a lathe as well for contouring

    1 reply

    Reply 1 year ago

    Other makers have done the circular saw and jig set up which inspired me for this project, check out Izzy Swan on YouTube and I am sure Jimmy Diresta also did a version.

    I haven't come across the router and lathe template...must look that up...thanks


    1 year ago

    *Que mind-blowing sounds

    That is incredible! Great work and a beautiful finished product! Thanks for sharing!

    1 reply

    1 year ago

    Beautiful piece! And with the box and the pamphlet, it is just perfect!