How to Build Fishing Lures With a Wood Lathe

How to Build Fishing Lures With a Wood LatheA lathe works by turning a block of wood mounted between two center points. As it turns, you shape the wood with a wood-turning tool, similar to a chisel or file, and sandpaper. A lathe will allow you to quickly produce wooden lures that are uniform in shape and size.


Difficulty: Moderate

Making Your Lure

Things You’ll Need:
  • Balsa, cedar or pine wood
  • Wood-turning tools
  • Eye protection
  • Sandpaper
  • Drill
  • Small drill bit
  • Paint
  • Paintbrushes
  • Treble hooks
  • Small eye screws
  • Split rings
Step 1
Choose a square piece of soft wood or a dowel that is free of knots and splits. Mark the center of each end of the wood block with a pencil and mount it between the lathe's two center points. Also measure and mark out the lure's length on the wood block so you know where the ends will be.
Step 2
Turn on the lathe and use a wood-turning tool to shape the wood to the desired diameter and taper. Once you have the final shape, use 1-inch-wide strips of 320 grit sandpaper to sand the lure smooth as it turns. Take the wood block out of the lathe and cut off the excess wood at each end of the lure.
Step 3
Drill holes at the front, end and underside of the lure, where you will later put eye-hook screws. Coat the lure with a flat enamel primer, then paint it with a colored enamel paint or lacquer. Airbrushing or spray paint works well. Choose a colorful pattern that imitates baitfish, frogs or other common fish prey. Finish by applying a coat of epoxy or clear lacquer to seal the lure.
Step 4
Insert eye-screws into the pre-drilled holes and attach hooks to them with split rings. Do not attach a hook to the eye-screw at the front of the lure, which is used to tie the lure to the line. Test the completed lure in the water to make sure it has the desired action, which can be affected by hook placement, shape and wood type.

Tips & Warnings

Keep your wood-turning tools sharp.
Take your time and stop to inspect your work often. If you remove too much wood from the block, you can't go back.
Avoid wood with lots of knots, resinous sap or that splinters easily.
If you're getting wood shavings larger than 1/4 inch when you hold the wood-turning tool to the wood block, you're applying too much pressure.
Always wear eye protection.
Read your lathe's owner's manual and safety warnings before using.
Make sure all mounts and fittings are tight.


Article Written By Richard Hansen

Richard Hansen grew up and currently resides in Minnesota. He graduated from Dartmouth College and has traveled extensively in Africa and South America, including the Amazon jungle. He has worked as a wilderness guide in Yellowstone and northern Minnesota, and written for Fur-Fish-Game, Dartmouth Alumni Magazine and

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