Reply by Stonekettle

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Posted on Requesting help from wood turners!

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135 posts in 2926 days

#1 posted 01-24-2012 11:45 PM

Another option that I use for egg/sphere turning is a vacuum chuck. You can buy a vacuum system, but you can build an excellent system for relatively little money depending on your lathe, mechanical skill, and your ability to scrouge – especially if all you need is a small system for things like eggs. There are numerous designs online, a number of which use the vacuum pump from a small fridge – which you can typically get for free from your local dump. Typically the only part you need to buy is the swivel coupler that attaches the vac hose to the lathe. The rest is just tubing and some valves.

A vacuum chucking system makes a lot of turning jobs much, much easier. I built one that adapts to all three of my main lathes and I use it mostly to finish the bottom of bowls.

Of course, if you’re just turning two eggs and don’t plan on making this kind of thing a habit, a vac chuck is massive overkill. I’d go with a friction chuck. You can make one easily enough from a piece of PVC, cut into “fingers” on the griping end, secured with a hose clamp, and padded with a thick rubberband wrapped around the egg. Mount the PVC in a regular deep-jaw chuck (you’ll need to put a wooden plug in the mouting end, or the force of your mounting chuck will cause the PVC to deform) or secure it to a wooden disk mounted to a turning plate. Don’t make it any longer than it has to be, stability wise shorter is better. If you use this technique, PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR FINGERS relative to the work. That hose clamp will do a number on you, ditto the edge of the PVC.

As to your skew problems, get yourself a 1/2” oval skew. I’m also partial to the Beecham skewchigouge, which I think is the best thing since digital variable speed when comes to skew/spindle turning. Once you master the technique with the skewchigougue it’s almost impossible to get a catch and you can do some amazing turning with it. First most important thing when it comes to skews, is learning how to sharpen one properly, especially the skewchigouge. You can see some of stuff I do with it on my projects page.

-- Jim Wright, Stonekettle Station

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