There a several occasion when a homemade chuck becomes desirable to complete a particular project. While making your own chuck is not common it might save you money, or make a project feasible.
I needed to make a donut chuck so that I could mount a 12″ bowl on my lathe and finish off the bottom of the bowl. I have a set of Cole jaws for my jaw chuck, but they will only expand 10. The first step was to take a 16″ x 16″ x 3/4″ piece of plywood and find the center. I marked out three circles of 9″, 15″ and 15 3/4″ diameter. I laid out eight points on the 15″ diameter circle and drilled 5/16″ holes and inserted 1/4-20 tee nuts at each of these points.
A few years ago I came across an article from Wood Turning on something called the Longworth chuck and resolved to make one because the idea of a self-contained scrolling set of Cole jaws was just too appealing to resist. I finally got around to it, and was surprised at how simple it is. The cost was a couple of pieces of scrap and $5 for four 5/8" cane tips—buy rubber not vinyl—and four machine screws (¼" x 2½") and a couple of hours in the shop.
This is a jig I had discussed a long time ago on the Pond, and had planned to post pictures to clarify my description. I finally got a round to it, so here they are. I hope this is helpful for all you bowl turners out there. The nice thing about this jig is that it can be made for pennies, assuming you have a faceplate, and most lathes come with at least one faceplate. And, since that faceplate is usually WAY too big for the lathe it came with, it makes good use of a piece of equipment that usually gets stuffed in a drawer and forgotten.
An earlier article in More Woodturning on turning wine stoppers got me thinking about collet chucks. I wondered if I could make one entirely out of wood. I thought this would be just an exercise to see if I could do it, but it surprised me with its usefulness. Although the All Wood Collet Chuck doesn't have the holding power and range of wooden jaws mounted in a scroll chuck, it does have adequate power for turning tops, wine stoppers, and the odd bit of dowel. The All Wood Collet Chuck also has the advantage of being much faster to mount on the lathe and to convert to different sizes. Another advantage is that it's virtually free.
As I tend to turn about six or eight bowls in a row and then let the finish dry to later finish the bottoms, I decided I needed, or at least wanted, a quick way to do the bottoms. One Way makes a great set of large jaws for my One Way chuck, but the price is beyond me. So I made one. To start with I took a piece of 3/4" plywood about 14" on a side and drew as large a circle as I could on it.
Building a Lathe Chuck
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