Our preference is to use the right tool for the job, but sometimes that just isn’t possible. If you don’t have a lathe and need to turn a few small pieces of wood, you can: invest in a small lathe jig for your drill press, opt for a small lathe bed for a handheld drill, or attach smaller workpieces directly to a drill or drill press.
One has to improvise with the tools available to them. Check out this poor man’s lathe, by Flickr member Funadium. While far from elegant, this is a simple solution, and as long as one is careful and takes proper precautions, it can be safe.
Photo by Funadium, used with permission.