Best Wood Lathe Chucks for Bowl Turning

Wood lathe jaw grip and chuck plate.

The lathe chuck is an indispensable component of wood lathes because it holds firmly one side of the wood piece without the need for screws to enable you to hallow or turn the other side. It may come in the forms of a simple jam-fit or friction-fit chuck or a modern multi-purpose scroll chuck. It can make life easier for you as a woodturner and enable you to engage in a broader range of woodturning jobs and projects.

Lathe chucks provide sturdy, quick, and accurate centering for turning squares and bobbling on a lathe. You can improvise chucks using a scrap of wood, or you can turn on a faceplate bowl and hide from sight the screw marks. But soon after, you will surely need a scroll chuck for woodturning, for it can make your woodturning life easy.

The range of prices of chucks is from $170 (basic body and a set of jaws) to around $300 (chuck body with several jaw sets). And as you read on, you will later learn the chuck models that are worth buying.

What Chuck Should You Buy for Bowl Turning?

If you intend to turn large-diameter bowls, you need to buy a heavy-duty and larger-capacity chuck. For smaller turnings, you can, of course, settle for smaller capacity chucks. Nevertheless, if you will turn bowls, you would need a chuck with jaws that compress into a tenon or something that expands well into recess.

It will be good to note that chuck manufacturers produce chucks that fit almost all types of lathe’s thread count and spindle size. But you will still need to ensure that the chuck you are going to buy fits the thread count and the spindle size of your lathe.

The four-jaw chuck or woodturning chuck is a primary tool that you can use in wood bowl turning. Of course, you can wood bowl sans a chuck, yet you can facilitate the woodturning process for you if you have a four-jaw chuck. The angled jaws will usually lock to a well-formed tenon and smoothly turn during the whole bowl process:


The Most Recommended Chucks for Bowl Turning

A wide range of chucks and accessories exists in the market today. This fact makes selecting and buying one a bit confusing. To facilitate the choosing process for you, I have listed here the most recommended chucks for bowl turning in the market today:

1) PSI Woodworking CSC3000C

PSI Woodworking CSC3000C comes with one Barracuda2 chuck body, four self-centering jaw sets, one woodworm screw chuck, one spindle adapter, one gear key, one Allen wrench, eight screws, and one storage case. Its body is around 3.5″ in diameter and weighs about four pounds.

You can maximize your wood lathe’s ability if you use this chuck. It allows easy fitting for your workpiece, enabling your lathe to achieve high performance. Moreover, it is completely equipped and accessorized for providing you with the best results.

The PSI Woodworking CSC3000C is easy to operate and is sturdy. It has a high build quality that includes (T handle jaw) tightening key that lets you tighten the jaws using only one hand, leaving your other hand free for supporting your work. It likewise comes with a wide array of accessories that include four sets of jaws. It can mount any project onto your lathe.

This C-series chuck lets you thumb up with Small Flat Jaws and Jumbo Flat Jaws. Thus, it will grip a bowl by its rim. Moreover, you will also appreciate its set of two alligator jaws.

Pros:

  • It comes with a complete chuck system with four jaw sets.
  • All these jaws are self-centering and can keep the stock firmly locked in place.
  • Given its price point, it is indeed a good buy.
  • It is perfect for small and medium bowl turning jobs.
  • It is quite easy to operate and allows you to tighten it with one hand using its tightening key.

Cons:

  • It is not a high-end chuck but a budget-friendly one.

2) NOVA 48232 G3 Reversible Wood Turning Chuck

The NOVA 48232 G3 is a solid and sturdy chuck that is engineered for fitting onto midi lathes. With its solid 4-pounder build, this chuck is remarkably sturdy. It has a reverse locking feature of chuck self-centering that lets reverse and forward functions, allowing you to operate it without exhausting yourself.

The NOVA 48232 G3, with its reverse lock feature, lets you secure it onto the spindle. It also comes with the standard NOVA features like the Auto Stop, Woodworm Screw, (Copper composite) Jaw Slides, 2″ Jaws, and T-Bar handle. It also features powerful Tuff Lock gears that offer precise and hardened action that delivers remarkable smooth strength for vibration-free and solid performance.

Its four-jaw design allows firm grip around both square and round wood. It also features a specialized woodturning dovetail profile on its jaws and woodworm screw (safe lock) for quick mounting of timbers. Moreover, it has commendable safety features like the Auto Stop jaw slides that don’t go past the body of the chuck.

If it doesn’t fit with the spindle, you can use a NOVA spindle adaptor, and it is only this adaptor that can support this chuck. Nevertheless, it is compatible with all SuperNova2, Super Nova, and Nova accessories.

Pros:

  • It is compact and sturdy and is lightweight at 3.92lbs.
  • It is easy to operate and lets you do reverse operation.
  • It is vibration-free and safe.
  • It is easy to maintain.

Cons:

  • It features a complex chuck system.
  • It has limited compatibility with other lathes.

3) Delta Industrial 46-461

The Delta Industrial 46-461 offers different applications. It is engineered for providing the most recent innovation in professional bowl turning. It features an Anti-release Spindle Lock that ensures it remains securely mounted. It also features enhanced jaw gearing that offers smooth jaw movement as well as increased clamping pressure.

Its jaws are also threaded to increase the surface contact that offers more secure surface contact with the wood. Its Auto-stop jaws prevent the jaws of the chuck from going beyond their optimum range.

You can use it in various ways. You can expand, for example, the dovetail recess and retract the jaws to fit with your workpiece. This chuck is effective and fast for small bowl turning. Moreover, its design allows for remarkable holding power.

Pros:

  • It has jaws with a serrated edge and an incredible grip.
  • This chuck is durable and sturdy.
  • It offers quiet and vibration-free operation.
  • It also comes with an auto stop option.

Cons:

  • It is not ideal for larger lathes.
  • The Allen wrench are tiny and short.

4) Mophorn’s 4-inch Nova Chuck Self-centering Lathe Chuck

The Mophorn’s 4-inch Nova Chuck is wrought in quality steel, and the bearing surfaces and guideways are precisely machined for optimum performance. You can adjust each jaw to allow for superior gripping force and improved chuck flexibility and clamping.

The Mophorn’s 4-inch Nova Chuck is 4-inch in diameter. You can carry it with ease because of its compact structure. It also comes with a universal adaptor for precise threading.

It also comes with a screw chuck stud. It also includes a T-shaped Allen wrench along with a tightening lever set for easy installing and removal. It also offers a wide range of applications ranging from general lathe grinder usage, milling, and drilling machines.

Pros:

  • It is intuitive and easy to install.
  • It is less expensive.
  • It is also sturdy and solid.


Cons:

  • So far, I haven’t seen any disadvantage with this chuck.

5) Ron Brown’s Best Longworth Chuck

This Longworth Chuck makes use of two disks that symmetrically contract or expand when rotated against the other. Thus, it can hold your bowl precisely in the center and allows you to finish turning your tenon away. You can use it for the final step of turning your bowl.

It features eight rubber bumpers that are gentle and kind to your bowl. It doesn’t use hard grippers and doesn’t leave marks on your vessel that requires sanding afterward.

You can use it in compression mode (bumpers outside the bowl) or expansion mode (bumpers inside the rim). If you turn a bowl like in a calabash-style bowl wherein the vessel’s rim tilts inward, you may find it difficult to grasp its exterior.

Pros:

  • It holds well as you work on finishing the base.

Cons:

  • It doesn’t hold the vessel very well, according to some users.
  • Beginners will indeed have a hard time using it.

6) 6″ Steel Wood Lathe Face Plate

The 6″ Steel Wood Lathe Face Plate comes with a 7/16″ faceplate made of thick steel. It is heavy and rigid and features a 1-1/4″ thread depth. It also features eight offset screw holes on two guide rings for quick centering.

It also comes with a locking set screw for reverse use. It also features flat spots cut on its back spigot for quick removal from the lathe. You might be required to use a Maxwood 5144 spacer at the back of this faceplate when using some Laguana and Powermatic lathes. This faceplate, of course, is inexpensive.

Pros:

  • This is a quality faceplate.
  • It is less expensive.

Cons:

  • Its shaft is short.
  • Its spindle also substantially protrudes.

7) Lathe Chuck,7-3/4″, Flat Jaws

The Lathe Chuck,7-3/4″, Flat Jaws features a distance, between two install holes, of 20 mm. The second install hole slot is 11mm. This jaw set fits other chucks and is compatible with “C” Series Chucks. It will be best to check first if it fits your chuck before buying it.

The Cole jaws are made of aluminum and is engineered for polishing and finishing bowl and plate bottoms. The bowl’s reversing jaws are also made of quality steel. They are durable and well-shaped.

The maximum turning speed of these jaws is 800rpm. Moreover, this jaw set consists of four flat jaws and comes with seven holding positions. The distance between holes is 1cm.

Pros:

  • It is lightweight and sturdy enough.

Cons:

  • It doesn’t fit all chucks. So, you need to check the size description before you shell out your money.

Understanding the Four-jaw Lathe Chuck

The self-centering chuck, also called “scroll chuck,” makes use of dogs called “jaws” that interconnect using a scroll gear or scroll plate so that they can hold onto the workpiece. The most popular among these dovetail jaws is the scroll chuck, a self-centering and versatile type of chuck. Its price range is from $35 to $280. You need to buy a four-jaw chuck for the following reasons:

  • These chucks can provide you with accurate, quick, and positive centering of standard turning squares and bowl blanks.
  • You don’t need to attach any waste block by glue to your turning blank, or you don’t need to give up the thickness of the bowl blank just to accommodate the required screws for fastening it to the faceplate.
  • The chuck is removable and re-mountable. They are easy to remove and remount than using faceplate mounting.
  • You can also avail of accessory chuck jaws that can hold even a tiny ΒΌ-inch diameter tenon to as large as an 18-inch diameter platter’s rim.
  • Moreover, you will not leave any trace of how the bowl was held when you’re done with the bowl turning.

Understanding Faceplates

You can also use faceplates to attach bowl blanks and wood to the lathe securely. Moreover, you will find many uses for faceplates. The following are the known applications of faceplates:

It can create a secure attachment between a wood bowl and a lathe using screws. The faceplate doesn’t have moving parts. Its two components include the threaded neck that hooks up the headstock threads and the vertical plate that comes with screw holes for attaching a wood bowl blank.

The use of faceplates is straightforward and sturdy; they work well and create good connections. Faceplates also come in different sizes and configurations. You can size faceplates using two measurements: the headstock threads’ size and the faceplate’s overall diameter.


Conclusion

The four-jaw chuck is the primary chuck used for wood bowl turning. Of course, if you have a quality four-jaw chuck for your wood lathe, you can increase exponentially your woodturning output. Remember that your choice of lathe chuck will play a crucial role in the success and failure of your bowl turning activities.

The lathe chucks come with several components like body, jaw slide, and jaws. These components work together to make it possible for you to engage in wood bowl turning. Hence, to know how the chuck functions, you need to understand how each component of the chuck works.

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