Beginner Woodworker Lathe Project: Turning a Rolling Pin

Lathe Rolling Pin

Learn Lathe Techniques By Creating Different Styles of Rolling Pins

Rolling pins are used to shape and flatten dough. If you don’t use one personally, you’ve probably at least seen your mother, grandmother, or a cartoon character use one as a weapon. Or maybe you’ve seen them use one to actually flatten dough! Turning a rolling pin on a lathe is a good way to get used to using the lathe and hand tools. Whether you’re making one for yourself or to give as a gift, it’s a relatively simple project that you can do with only basic skills and end up with something nice that will be useful and treasured for many years.

There are a few types of rolling pins. The first style is called a “rod” type. This is essentially a wide diameter dowel rod with the ends smoothed and rounded out or tapered on each end. These are generally thinner and shorter than the rolling pins that we use today. Typically these are only 2-3 cm in diameter and about 8” long. They are used by rolling the pin with one hand to make small pie crusts, cookies and tortillas.

A “roller” style rolling pin has handles on either end, which are either stationary or free spinning on a dowel rod. The roller is heavy and generally between 8-10 cm in diameter. Two hands are used to grasp the handles on either end and the rolling pin is pushed across the dough. These are popular in Western cultures. The heavy roller makes pressing tough dough easier. It also makes an easier job of rolling out large quantities of dough for things like biscuits.

“Textured” rolling pins are really special and can be a lot of fun to make once you gain some skills. Textured patterns carved into the roller can create perforations for ravioli, crackers, crispy breads, and more. They can be patterned to cut noodles or dumplings. Some are textured purely for decoration, depicting pictures of farm animals, hearts, stars, “Made with Love” motifs, Christmas themes, and more. Use your imagination when creating textured rolling pins and come up with something truly unique and interesting. These are great for practicing using all of your different carving tools on the lathe. By the time you have a good collection of rolling pins, you’ll also be proficient with a lot of different hand tools.

Use hardwood blanks or scraps and a hardwood dowel for the roller handle to ensure the longevity of your rolling pins. Choose several types of hardwood for your first few rolling pin projects so that you can get used to how each one acts on the lathe with different tools.

About the Author: Dave Murphy is the founder and president of Good Wood, Inc., which makes a high quality wood dowel and the best hardwood dowel on the market. They also create wooden balls, wood knobs, wooden toy parts, custom wood parts, and more. They offer safe wood finishing, wood turning and can import from off-shore when necessary. Visit for all of your wood product needs.

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