What is Turning?

Turning refers to the process of shaping materials, particularly wood, by rotating them against a cutting tool.


In the context of interior design, turning is a technique used primarily in the fabrication of wooden furniture and decorative objects. This process involves securing a piece of wood onto a lathe, a machine that rapidly rotates the wood. As the wood spins, a cutting tool is applied to its surface, allowing the creation of symmetrical, rounded shapes. This technique can produce a wide variety of forms, from simple cylindrical shapes to more complex profiles with intricate details.

Turning is utilized to create many interior design elements such as table legs, chair legs, balusters for staircases, and decorative finials. The texture and finish that can be achieved through turning can significantly impact the aesthetic appeal of these elements. Furthermore, turning is admired for its ability to highlight the natural beauty of the wood, revealing the grain patterns and color variations inherent in the material.

As a craft, turning demands a high level of skill and precision. It bridges the gap between traditional craftsmanship and contemporary design, allowing for creativity in the shaping of wooden elements. Despite its historical roots, turning remains relevant in modern interior design, where bespoke and artisanal pieces are highly valued.


Turning is prominently seen in the production of custom furniture pieces, such as a dining table with elegantly turned legs that add sophistication to the design. It is also applied in crafting stair balusters that enhance the architectural appeal of a space. In addition, decorative accessories like wooden vases or candlesticks, shaped through turning, can introduce texture and a touch of craftsmanship to interior settings.


  • What materials can be turned?

    While wood is the most common material used in turning for interior design, materials like acrylics, metals, and even stone can also be turned on a lathe for specific applications, though these require different techniques and tools.

  • Is turning only used for creating round objects?

    Primarily, yes, as the rotating action of the lathe naturally produces symmetrical, round shapes. However, skilled artisans can manipulate the technique to create more complex shapes and profiles.

  • How does turning relate to modern interior design?

    Turning is highly relevant in modern design, offering a way to incorporate bespoke, handcrafted elements into interiors. It is especially valued in designs that emphasize artisanal beauty, natural materials, and unique, custom details.

Practical Application

To successfully incorporate turned elements into interior design, consider the overall design vision and how the texture, form, and material of the turned pieces can complement or enhance the space. For instance, a room with a rustic aesthetic might benefit from the addition of turned wooden elements that emphasize the natural grain of the wood. Working with skilled artisans who specialize in turning can also ensure high-quality, bespoke pieces that add character and distinction to interior environments.