Good Lathe Chuck for a beginner


Hello All,
I did some word turning back in high school some 20 years ago, and am going to be getting back into it with a midi sized lathe. I hope to be making some small bowls and such, just working an old hobby that I loved so much.
When I turned in high school, we used a scrap block glued to the turned wood and the faceplate was screwed to the scrap. The more I have been reading, that doesn't seem too popular now, but chucks seem to be the better way to do things. I am trying to do some reading on chucks to familiarize myself with them.
What is a good chuck for a beginner that will serve a good range of projects? I understand that some can clamp inside and outside, and there are a lot of variations. Money is a bit of an issue, so I want to get a good one that can do a variety of jobs.
Thanks for all of your input.
DK
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Dave & Denise Kother wrote:

The chucks that PennState offers are along the line of what you are looking for.
http://www.pennstateind.com/store/cug3418c.html
Deb
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Get a half decent one at least, and one that has a range of jaws that you can add later if you find you like turning. I have a Supernova chuck and it has served me well. Plenty of extra accessories for it as well to handle different specialty turning work. -- Regards,
Dean Bielanowski Editor, Online Tool Reviews http://www.onlinetoolreviews.com + Over 100 detailed woodworking product reviews now online! + ------------------------------------------------------------ Latest 6 Reviews: - Veritas Low Angle Smooth Plane - Kreg Bandsaw Fence - Triton 5" Random Orbit Sander - "Hold-It" Magnetic Drill Bit Holders - Ryobi One+ Cordless Tool System - Kreg K3 Pocket Hole System ------------------------------------------------------------
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The chuck that Penn State offers is good in the sense that it comes with a lot of options. My brother bought one a while back, and has been satified with it. I bought a Nova Mini, which has given great performance, and at a price that was decent. The only problem with Nova is the cost of the accessories (I'm not interested in paying $50 for a set of pin jaws, which is 1/2 of what I paid for chuck).
All in all, if you're looking for versitality and variety for the money, the Penn State one is the way to go.
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Woodcraft has the SuperNova2 chuck on sale for $169.95, normally $199.95. Comes with a set of 50mm jaws as I recall but I also got the 30 mm "spigot" jaws for spindle work. You may also need a threaded insert adapter to have it fit on your lathe. Mine needed the 1" - 8 tpi adapter to go on my JET VS mini/midi - another $15 or so. In keeping with the Buy Once, Cry Once, the price tag will be forgotten long before you outgrow this chuck.
One key thing to look for in a chuck is "one hand operation". The less expensive chucks use a pair of Tommy Bars to open and close the jaws. They REQUIRE two hands. Unless you have three hands, that leaves no hand to hold the stock or piece while you tighten the jaws. You could chuck up the piece with the chuck sitting vertically on a bench then thread everything on the lathe - but that's a PITA. The SuperNova2 uses a long, T handled, ball ended allen wrench. The ball end will let you angle it behind a large bowl or pot when a straight wrench or the Tommy Bars couldn't.
Several other things to look for
- no sharp edges or corners sticking out where they can - and will - remove small to medium sized chunks of knuckle(s) in a careless moment - indexing holes on the back plate - handy if you ever get around to needing this feature. - NO slop in the jaws when installed correctly. Slop means trouble - jaws that can grip both "inside" and "outside" (one at a time, not both at the same time) If you plan to do bowls, plates and almost closed vessels, the grip of the outside of the jaws is almost essential. The "top" of the jaws should have a lip, some "dovetail shaped" to grip in a dovetail type groove in either the inside of a shallow hole or the top outside of a "tenon" - mass is good - more intertia when doing heavier cuts. On a mini/mid, 3 or 4 pounds of chuck will do. Don't go ape shit though - mini/midi's just won't do well with the 6-10 pound chucks that are available for larger lathes and the folks who do 3 foot diameter outboard turning. - other compatible jaw sets available. Chuck "systems" let you add capabilities without having to by an entire new chuck body.
Often initially overlooked - the tail center. Most lathes come with either a live or dead center. But consider getting a "ive" tail center with inserts - simple point, point with circle and a couple of different diameter concave hemisphere ends. The more ways you can hold the end of the piece the more options you have in your turnings.
Being able to remove the inserts in the tail center and having a through hole for a long boring bit is also nice to have.
If it's been a while since you last did any turning, also think about getting a "STEBCENTER"(sp?) for the head stock end of the turning. The conical "center" point is spring loaded and sticks out in front of the teeth. You can crank the tail center in enough to just get the teeth biting firmly enough to turn the piece while making normal cuts. But if a dig in should begin, the piece will stop - almost immediately as the spring loaded point disengages the head stock drive teeth. Handy when roughing to round or when working with gnarly wood or a new, unfamiliar gouge. Better to be scared than scared - and bleeding.
WARNING - TURNING CAN BE ADDICTIVE. CONSULT SWMBO OR YOU PHYSICIAN IF YOU EXHIBIT ANY OF THE FOLLOWING SYMPTOMS: - YOU EGURLARLY FIND YOURSELF KNEE DEEP IN SHAVINGS - YOU DON'T RECOGNIZE SWMBO AND/OR YOUR CHILDREN - YOU BEGIN FEELING WEAK AND LIGHT HEADED DUE TO NOT EATING OR DRINKING FOR EXTENDED PERIODS OF TIME - THESE PHRASES BEGIN TO BE UTTERED REGULARLY "JUST GOING TO MAKE THIS LAST CUT" "I'LL BE THERE IN JUST A MINUTE" "LET ME GET THIS FINISH ON AND I'LL BE RIGHT WITH YOU" - YOU LOOK AT COMMON EVERYDAY THINGS YOU SEE AND VISUALIZE WHAT SHAPE THEY'D MAKE IF ROTATED ABOUT VARIOUS AXIS
Public Service Announcement If you or anyone you know has become a rotationist junky - there's help. Go to www.turnersanonymous for the times and locations of the nearest meeting of Turners Anonymous. Or, conosult your Yellow Pages under Turners Anonymous and make The Call. Help is available and you can control your Urge To Turn (UTT in TA lingo).
charlie b
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Check out kmstools.com SuperNova 2 with 4 sets of jaws (including Cole) = $306.21 SuperNove 2 with above + PowerGrip + LongNose jaws + Scraper = $424.33
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wrote:

What does this stand for....seems to be wife but please break it down for me....pls Thx
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Susan Was My Best Option
Some say She Who Must Be Obeyed.
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Susan looking over your shoulder while you were typing?
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[...]

Yes, but how do I do that:

if
[...]
?
[...]
I never do _that_. I utter phrases like "I just go into the cellar^H^H^H^Hshop and make a small bowl..."
--
Dr. Juergen Hannappel http://lisa2.physik.uni-bonn.de/~hannappe
mailto: snipped-for-privacy@physik.uni-bonn.de Phone: +49 228 73 2447 FAX ... 7869
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charlie b wrote:

Only if your lathe doesn't have an indexing mechanism. If it does, only one bar is used.
--
It's turtles, all the way down

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Like you I just got back into turning and did not have a lot of money to spend. I found a chuck at Craft Supplies that comes with 3 sets of jaws and a screw center. I just got one the other week and so far it has been good for me. It make just what you are looking to get. Check it out, http://www.woodturnerscatalog.com/cgi-bin/shopper?preadd tion&keyE4-0100
John
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Dave You have gotten some good advice here. I like the One Way chuck, have had one for 5 or 6 years (maybe longer but they seem to blur after awhile) and highly recomment it. That said, a chuck is not necessary and I would go without for a while unless you are dying to have one. My chuck cost more than my first lathe. I seldom use a chuck for a bowl and then only if someone wants me to show them how. I prefer glue blocks. They are just as fast, just as easy and do not tie up equipment. My web site has some information on how I turn bowls. This is not original to me, but then what is original in this old art and craft of ours?
--
God bless and safe turning
Darrell Feltmate
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What Darrell said. Plus, since he is too modest, go to this specific page:
<http://www.aroundthewoods.com/gblock.shtml
on his web site and you may find yourself chuckless but with more money for other tools and wood. An appropriate size tap can be found on e-bay.
Have Fun LD
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It depends entirely on what you want to make. Dowels, plates and bowls: use chucks.
I have turned with chucks and with faceplates and by far use faceplates much much more than chucks, however I do mostly hollow turning, which doesn't lend itself well to chuck work, unless you make very small hollow things or very long tenons, and even that is iffy. Chucks are nice for small to medium bowls, but over about 12" dia they just don't have the strength (or the wood doesn't have the strength to take the stress imposed by chuck jaws, especially jaws that open outward) to keep the wood on the lathe. The most important thing I learned about chuck work, is you HAVE TO KEEP THE TAILSTOCK on the wood while you hollow the bowl as long as possible, especially natural edge bowls, or the wood will fail at the dovetail bottom or the wood will just work itself out of the chuck in very short order.
I love using chucks for small to medium open bowls, especially several in production mode. You can control more precisely where the center is. For small to medium bowls, gluing with thick paper between is still a nice standby, but for really large face plate work I have gone to direct gluing blocks onto my blanks (the paper fails on larger pieces) or more often I turn a small (1/4" high to 3/4" high by 3"-6" dia) tenon on my blank between centers, then turn a matching hole in the faceplate blank. This gives a lot more strength when hollowing, especially when I can't get a steady rest on the OD due to holes in the side of it, and it provides the same perfect centering you need for detailed control of where the windows will be.
If you glue to waste blocks, make the joints as flat as possible, and use yellow glue or epoxy. Gorilla glue fails often and dangerously except in absolutely perfect joints that are clamped super super hard, and it's not easy to clamp irregular chunks of wood, and it's not easy to clamp them quickly. Bubbles push the joint apart. Doesn't take the shock loading and fails right inside the glue which is mostly bubbles anyway.
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Hi Mark I don't agree with your statement that a chuck is only for small turnings, not to use them for larger than 12" and to always keep your tailstock on the wood. I will put a link here so you can have a look at the way larger bowls can be turned safely with a GOOD chuck, even without a tailstock.
http://homepage.mac.com/l.vanderloo/PhotoAlbum26.html
Have fun and take care Leo Van Der Loo
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So much for _your_ opinions, Mark.
It's obvious that you should attempt to keep the greatest amount of support (tailstock) possible available until the latest possible moment. Safety and stability. The lighter and more balanced your piece is before it has to hang on its own, the better.
The advantage of a chuck for bowl use is reversibility. Easy reversibility that makes it possible to work toward the headstock while turning the outside, reverse to a certain center and turn inside in the same direction. Without the fuss of glue blocks or the problems they can bring.
Different problem set with a chuck, of course. My feeling about Mark's dismount problem is that he's not cutting toward the headstock, where the force is in toward the shoulder of the mortise or tenon, but taking tool angles which cut into the angle of rotation, a practice that increases his tearout and the possibility of a bigger catch. Or he's turning at a higher speed, which gives much more energy to a collision of any kind. Takes pretty much the same energy to remove a shaving at any size or position in the bowl, so no point in having a lot of extra available but unused.
Had a touch of a problem with a bowl I was turning a couple days ago. I have 2" and 4" jaws for my chucks, and would really like to get some 3" to take care of the 12 to 16 (max on my 3000) types. Anyway, as familiar as I am with the use of a wedged tenon into a mortise, this one kept working loose on me when hollowing. I did the novice thing, seat and tighten, probably a half-dozen times during the hollowing, figuring it was a 2" mortise and 15" bowl problem. Then the light came on in this Polish brain. I removed it from the chuck, blew the loose sawdust out of the recess - I finish the bottom before reversing - and re-mounted. Since I was using a dovetail which seats and averages itself, the bowl settled back perfectly, and I finished it out without incident.
Still trying to convince Susan I need 3" jaws, though....
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I see how you manage it...do as much roughing as possible on the faceplate before going to the chuck to do the final cutting. I think I'm going to make my recesses deeper from now on...my problem has always been with the wood cracking and failing at the chuck contact point, and I assumed it was from insufficient tailstock support (maybe partly true) but it's also partly due to turning pieces that have voids and are therefore unbalanced, and now I have concluded that making a deeper recess for the chuck contact stress will also help.
Thanks for the pictures, that's quite a collection! I have as much wood still in log form and am doing triage now on the wood pile to find out which pieces are still sound, which ones are ready to turn with spalting and which ones are just firewood from too much rot, so I've been thinking about my chuck more this week, looking at the ones I still have drying and trying to determine how and when it's safe to use the chuck.
I still think when I have voids and they're unbalanced I need to keep the tailstock up tight until there's just a post left.
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I agree with just about everything said here.... whoa....
Anyway, I think just about any of your +/- $200 chucks will work very well, and last for years. I have two of these, the second I bought from here:
http://tinyurl.com/fmxdq
Bob Gadd is heading up the US aimed effort from KMS tools of selling woodturning supplies from Canada. A super guy, been at it for years, and give great service. My first contact with him was about 6-8 years ago at KMS Canada.
My first Vic chuck has been worked hard for about 7 - 8 years. I mean hard. And it still works great, only the smallest amount of loosening in the jaws which goes away when gripping.
Search this newsgroup for the Grizzly chuck and the Penn State chuck. Lots of great info on those two, but make sure you are looking at info on the newest Penn State chuck, not their older one.
I don't turn recesses when turning a bowl for gripping by a chuck. Especially if I am turning green wood to finish all at one shot, I turn between centers and leave a spigot/tenon about 3/8 long from the base of the roughed blank (sometimes a touch more) and about 2" or so across. I would rather compress a piece of wood to hold it than to expand it with the jaws and take a chance on cracking or splitting. Some of the green woods seem to do that just fine by themselves anyway.
I have found that the wider I leave the spigot, the less distortion and warp I have if I remount. I used to turn skinny spigots on my stuff until I laughed myself silly one day when pulling out some rough turnings that had longer, skinny spigots attached to them. They were turned really wet, and as they dried the spigots had curled and twisted into most wonderful looking group of woodwork you can imagine
Imagine a small bowl resting on its lip, upside down, and a small shape proudly pointing upward. Capezzoli di Venere, anyone?
Robert
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I have an old-style Super Nova chuck that serves very well and has an extensive array of jawsets available. Because it uses spindle inserts, it will fit your next lathe, too. Oneway Talon chucks are great, too. Stay away from the "cheapie" chucks. Keep using your wooden scrap blocks and glue while you save enough money for a real chuck. A chuck is not a good place to skimp on quality. If you buy a "cheapie" chuck and a sizeable chunk of wood comes flying loose, you could be getting new dentures, too. And, they ain't cheap.
Barry

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