Donut Chuck

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Project by dmann posted 04-28-2008 03:20 AM 8689 views 31 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Inspired by the Straka chuck article in the AAW journal and too cheap to spring $90 for the Cole Jaws for my SuperNova chuck this is what I came up with this weekend. Actually I had already completed the ‘chuck’ part of this project and was dragging butt on doing the ‘donut’ part.

To make the chuck plate I bought a 1”x8tpi bolt from my local Ace Hardware. I made a couple of rounds of 3/4” plywood and glued everything up.

For the donut part I happened upon a multi-pack of multi-pack of 12”x12” baltic birch ply pieces from Woodcraft and couldn’t deny that it would make finishing up my 12” donut chuck a whole lot easier than wrestling with a 4×8” piece of plywood. I stopped at Lowes Hardware on the way home and got bolts and tubing.

All in all it took < $30 in parts and about 3 hours work.

-- David / Durham, NC

17 comments so far

View Chris 's profile


1879 posts in 4191 days

#1 posted 04-28-2008 03:32 AM

Nice Job… Wish I had seen this or thought of it (better yet) earlier. I just purchased a Cole jaw for my Nova chuck

-- "Everything that is great and inspiring is created by the individual who labors in freedom" -- Albert Einstein

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 3968 days

#2 posted 04-28-2008 03:49 AM

nice. making something is always better than spending a lot more to buy one. thanks for the post.

View Dusty56's profile


11822 posts in 3887 days

#3 posted 04-28-2008 05:56 AM

perfect ! ......any out of balance problems ?

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4499 days

#4 posted 04-28-2008 12:44 PM

Very nice, it’s also a good use of scrap plywood pieces.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View kevinw's profile


198 posts in 3939 days

#5 posted 04-28-2008 01:34 PM

I got an old lathe recently and have been trying to figure out the best kind of chuck to get, but was reluctant to spring for big $. This just might do the trick for me. Thanks for a great post.

-- Kevin, Blue Springs, MO

View odie's profile


1691 posts in 4039 days

#6 posted 04-28-2008 03:04 PM

Great idea…...

-- Odie, Confucius say, "He who laughs at one's self is BUTT of joke". (my funny blog)

View DocK16's profile


1184 posts in 4286 days

#7 posted 04-28-2008 06:16 PM

Add me to the list of “you posted this a week late” crowd just bought jaws for my nova chuck. You were more inventive than me.

-- Common sense is so rare anymore when you do see it, it looks like pure genius.

View dmann's profile


82 posts in 4006 days

#8 posted 04-28-2008 06:48 PM

Dusty… Out of balance… I only run this at the lowest speed setting on my lathe (500rpm) and haven’t noticed anything yet. I only plan on using this for finishing up the foot of bowls so I don’t think this rig will ever hit 1000 rpms. I used a piece of 1/16” cork on the face of the plate. Some articles mentioned cutting some grooves in the face every 1/2” to help hold the rim of the piece but I decided I would hold off on that for now.

I did have a small catch that moved the bowl about 1/4” of an inch off center. At least with the way this is constructed I didn’t have to worry about a flying bowl :)

Lining up the piece and clamping it down is the biggest challenge, but no more than I have seen trying to get something lined up nicely on a vacuum chuck. To get it positioned I rotate the lathe by hand and give the outer plate a little rap with a tool handle to get it lined up better, rinse, lather, repeat until it is straight enough for me to work on. Once it is straight I clamp it down pretty good. I used pieces of clear silicone tubing for cushioning and it looks like they didn’t mark the finish on the outside of the bowl—so far so good.

Chris and Dock16, I might eventually invest in the cole jaws but right now I’ll be using the money saved on this project to get a set of Pin Jaws so I can work on small boxes a little easier. I can’t make those out of plywood :)


-- David / Durham, NC

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3810 posts in 4221 days

#9 posted 04-28-2008 06:54 PM

This chuck is pretty useful for trimmng the base of a piece .
You will find tht you may need more than one “donut” as your project can vary in shape.
I so prefer the coles jaws for smaller parts as I can set then up quickly if they hav sufficient rims

p.s. You can glue some felt or similar weather stripping around the dge to protect your finish. P.P.s Don’t make one of these from Mdf or similar material- not strong enough.

-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View Grumpy's profile


24647 posts in 4051 days

#10 posted 04-29-2008 01:31 AM

Nice Chuck David. Just one point, what precaution have you made on the wing nuts coming loose, or are they left hand thread?.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

View David's profile


207 posts in 3915 days

#11 posted 04-29-2008 09:41 PM

When I make my bowls; I mount a new piece of plywood on the headstock, then cut a circular groove in it the same diameter as the lip of the bowl. A couple of trys and it will fit nicely. Then I hold the bowl into that groove with the tailstock, and turn the bottom all except a small spot where the tailstock is. The center is easy to clean up with a chisel and a little hand sanding. Use a lite touch as if the bowl stalls out, the lip will burn from friction.You might try the groove to keep things centered.
I think I’d consider countersinking the bolt heads: your setup is great but I once did something very similar to this and busted a knuckle on the protrusion. Like Grumpy points out: how about those nylon locking nuts so they won’t loosen.
Is that vinal tubing I see for padding. Very clever.


View dmann's profile


82 posts in 4006 days

#12 posted 04-29-2008 10:47 PM

I got the rounded head bolts instead of the hex head bolts to reduce the chance of injury. I’m not usually one to go through the fuss of painting jigs but maybe this one could use a little ‘danger’ yellow and black striping near the possible-knuckle-busting parts.

The wing nuts are regular thread but I haven’t had an issue with them loosening yet. The bolts have a pretty rough finish so that along with a washer and they haven’t budged during use. If they did come loose I would probably try some type of lock washer inbetween the wing nut and the washer that protects the wood surface near the hold.

I am making more ‘donuts’ from birch ply as needed for my projects. A 4” and a 6” should handle 90% of the pieces I turn but I always have more ply on hand for future projects.


-- David / Durham, NC

View Dusty56's profile


11822 posts in 3887 days

#13 posted 06-15-2008 04:07 AM

thanks for the feedback : )

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View fred4999's profile


107 posts in 3684 days

#14 posted 11-11-2008 05:54 PM

David, I liked your suggestion for finishing up bowl bottoms, I hope to make one tonight when I get home. I tell you folks, this time change with it getting dark at 6:00 here in GA, I am going to have to put a heater in the shop, I want to go to bed too early. I am new to this site and like what I see here. Thanks, Fred

-- Fred, Georgia

View jason64's profile


41 posts in 2837 days

#15 posted 03-09-2011 08:50 PM

This is was simpler that the jig I was thinking of making,Great ideal!!!

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