I depends... what lathe are you going to put it on? If you new lathe
is a Jet mini or Rikon midi/mini. the 5 1/2" would be a lot of metal,
and certainly not needed.
Better yet, take this over to rec.crafts.woodturning and post it
there if you haven't already. You will have more opinions than you can
believe, all championing their favorite.
Me, I'm a VicMarc fan. I have two 3 1/2" chucks, and my oldest is
about 8 - 9 years old. Still as smooth as silk after all the abuse and
use that has been heaped on it. Make sure you get a chuck that 1) has
a KEY, not a drill chuck style key with teeth, and 2) has the different
kinds of jaws at affordable prices. You might be surprised at how you
will be thinking of additional jaws for you chuck.
Spend money on the chuck and get a good one. If you are serious, don't
get one that is just "servicable". A lathe chuck is truly worth
dropping the dough on a good one.
I bought both of mine from Bob Gadd in Kanuckistan at a great price,
and he is one of the nicest guys you will ever deal with as a vendor.
I will see if I can dig out a link if you are honestly interested.
You didn't mention the lathe it's for or how big a chunk of wood
you want the chuck to hold. BIG chucks are great- for a full sized
especially an "outboard" lathe for turning BIG stuff. But if you've
got a JET mini/midi you probably won't need HUGE gripping power.
I've got the JET mini/mid - and two SuperNova2 chucks - with most
of the jaw sets. I've turned 9 1/2" diameter by 4 inch deep bowls
on it and the SN2 holds 10-15 pound chunks of walnut just fine.
Of course having electronic variable speed so I can start out slow,
turn up the rpms 'til things start moving, then dialing back 'til it
stops is quite helpful.
You will soon find that chucking up something is a LOT easier if
one hand holds the wood in place while the other tightens the
jaws to it, than trying to tighten the jaws with two Tommy Bars
- while holding the wood. The SN2 uses a ball head allen wrench,
with T-handle to tighten the jaws with just one hand, leaving the
other to support the wood while tightening. Using a ball head allen
wrench is better than going with a chuck key on a long handle -
the former allowing you to tighten the jaws with the ball end
allen wrench at odder angles than permited with a chuck key.
The acquistion of a lathe is just the down payment on the turning
addiction / obsession. There are gouges and chisels to acquire,
more chuck jaw sets to buy, live centers, dead centers, vacuum
chucks, sharpening equiptment (edges dull fast when they're
cutting the equivalent of 5 dovetailed boxes - a minute. And
figure on buying rolls of sand paper strips, sticks of wax for
polishing, three or four or five - or more - different "friction
polishes, etc. , etc., etc.. (I still can't "etc." without thinking
of Yul Brenner in The Kind and I).
The SuperNova2 is a well thought out, pretty capable chuck.
You can't go wrong with getting one.
And when you do, here's something you might find useful.
The chucking sequence for some pieces - like lidded boxes
- is important. I know this sequence works - for me at least
- and hopefully for you as well.
Get a chuck!
ps - WARNING: There doesn't seem to be a Turners Anonymous
Piker! Once weighed a chunk of oak I was turning on 50mm jaws just for
jollies. 48 pounds soaking wet! Probably weighed eight less after wetting
down the entire shop. This is a maple chunk, and the chuck that roughed it.
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