issues with new chuck and vase turning

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Forum topic by jred posted 04-04-2011 04:59 PM 1838 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View jred's profile


49 posts in 3159 days

04-04-2011 04:59 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

Woodcraft was selling the supernova2 chuck this weekend for $139 and, since i’ve been looking at chucks for a while and it was just as cheap as a the smaller nova (C3?), i picked one up. I’ve got a midi sized lathe and was worried about the weight of this one but it seems to spin just fine.
While there i picked up a piece of Osage Orange stock to turn a vase with and have had a little trouble with it. I first put it between centers and turned a tennon to fit in the chuck and the outside rough profile of the vase. the outside of the “log” (really a 4×4 x10” long block) turned really nicely and quite easily. I put on the chuck and tightened it down on the tennon and started to turn the inside of the vase and that’s when i started to have trouble.

I watched a video on youtube of a guy turning a vase and he used a small bowl gouge and basically stuck it right in the middle of the piece and “drilled” a hole with it. I tried the same thing and it worked pretty well. After that, i attempted to enlarge the hole with other tools but regardless of what i use, the piece snags, gets ripped out of the chuck and i’ve got to start over. I really can’t even touch the endgrain without it grabbing and throwing off the piece. The frustrating part is that every time i re-chuck the piece, it’s slightly out of center and i’ve got to touch up the profile again (this vase is getting smaller and smaller all the time!)
My tools are sharp, I’ve tried two speed settings although both were relatively slow, and i’ve tried a couple of different things with the tennon (making it straight and making it dovetailed).

Is it my technique? Tools? just the nature of this wood? Any help would be appreciated.

7 replies so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4212 days

#1 posted 04-04-2011 06:35 PM

Do you have a screw attachment for your chuck?

The way I usually do it is to first do as much exterior shaping as possible between centers, then attach the top of the vase to the chuck with the wood screw, and turn an interior tenon on the bottom, deep enough for the round jaws to fit at least 1/4” inside. Then I mount it on the chuck, expanding the jaws against the inside of the recess, and begin hollowing.

Having said all this, it sounds to me like the problem is most likely in your technique. It’s very easy to get catches while hollowing if you are not approaching the work at exactly the proper angle for the tool you are using. You might want to look into the Easy Wood tools. They are very forgiving and easy to use.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Pop's profile


427 posts in 3939 days

#2 posted 04-04-2011 07:07 PM

I follow Charlie’s method, but I like a deeper (1/2 inch if I can get it) tenon. I’ve also found my chuck will loosen if there is a lot of vibration. I also own a large tailstock adapter which I use to rechuck it seems to help center things up.


-- One who works with his hands is a laborer, his hands & head A craftsman, his hands, head & heart a artist

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3068 days

#3 posted 04-04-2011 07:30 PM

Based on what you wrote, I think the issue is your turning technique. It takes a little practice to master a bowl gouge. I always tell people it is a “feel thing”. When the gouge is working correctly it will feel right. It’s hard to learn the right feel from a book or video. You have to experience it, and a face-to-face mentor can help a lot.

It’s an absolute that you must have your gouge sharp and properly ground.

I will also endorse the Easy Tools Charlie referenced. Watch the video at the link Charlie provided. Those tools really work as easy as they appear to work in the video. I have the Easy Rougher and use it for 95% of my turning.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View jred's profile


49 posts in 3159 days

#4 posted 04-04-2011 09:33 PM

Is it pretty typical for a piece to not quite line up the same every time even when chucked in the same spot?

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4212 days

#5 posted 04-04-2011 10:04 PM

I know it’s typical for ME. I’ve never managed to re-chuck a piece and have it be perfectly aligned.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Stonekettle's profile


135 posts in 2897 days

#6 posted 04-04-2011 11:04 PM

The problem you describe is likely twofold:

1) Proper chucking: You’ve turned a tenon on one end of the piece. A common mistake is to make the tenon too deep. Securing a tenon in the chuck comes from the shoulder of the tenon being snug against the top of the jaws, not from the end of the tenon resting on the interior face of the chuck – in fact, the end of the tenon should not touch the face of the chuck at all. Additonally, you may have the wrong type of jaws, or the wrong size for the piece you’re turning. The SuperNova 2 is an excellent chuck and more than adequate for the piece you describe, check your chucking technique and re-turn your tenon if necessary.

2) End grain turning: You didn’t say, but from your description, i.e. “vase,” I suspect you are attempting to turn into endgrain, vice turning into facegrain. Turning into endgrain is very different from turning into facegrain, and much more difficult. You are essentially boring into a bundle of fibers, instead of making a shearing cut across them which is what a gouge is designed to do. A bowl gouge, with a standard grind, is designed for facegrain turning, not endgrain turning and will catch or chatter almost without fail. A long, very sharp fingernail grind will work better for endgrain turning but is not ideal. And higher speeds are better than lower ones for this technique, however the exact speed and grind changes with each type of wood. Distance from the tool rest also has a directed effect on catches and chatter when using a gouge into endgrain. Closer is better, giving you much greater leverage and stability.

A better technique is to bore a long well down the center using a Forstner bit (at the lowest speed your lathe is capable of, and backing off frequently – the bit will heat quickly during end grain boring and if it gets too hot it will destroy the temper of the bit and dull rapidly. Endgrain boring is also hard on the lathe, go slow or you increase wear on the motor, bearings, and drive), then use scrapers, particularly a goosenecked hollowing scraper, like the kind made by Sorby, to finish hollowing the interior.

If you do a lot of endgrain turning you might want to invest in a dedecated endgrain ring hollowing tool, like the Termite. In my experience, a termite type ring hollower is worth every penny and works better for endgrain than any other tool I’ve used.

-- Jim Wright, Stonekettle Station

View jred's profile


49 posts in 3159 days

#7 posted 04-05-2011 02:12 AM

Well, i think all of you have pretty well hit the nail on the head. It sounds like a combination of skill, tools, and difficulty level. It’s definitely a tight end-grain that I’m working with. I may try making a jig to put a fingernail grind on my gouges and see if that helps. otherwise it’ll just have to be a vase for holding one flower at a time :) (i’ve managed to bore a nice 1/2” hole down the middle thus far!)

I really appreciate the input and good advice!

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