Bowl turners - to chuck or not to chuck?

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Forum topic by skone posted 01-31-2012 01:24 AM 5350 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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144 posts in 1897 days

01-31-2012 01:24 AM

Topic tags/keywords: lathe turning turner

Hi guys. skone (Ted) here.

I have finally had a chance this winter to use the lathe (my first) that I got of craigslist last summer. It’s an old Craftsman tube style 15” swing. I have made one very—and i mean very—small bowl from scrap butternut, so far. All I have is a face plate for this type thing. To put it plainly, I really stumbled through this first project.

I have come to the conclusion that I am in need of technique and practice. Obviously.

I feel like I’m at a fork in the road though – here it is:

I have only a 4” faceplate and little money to spend.

Do I follow the tutorials I see on the web re: turning without a chuck


do I “invest” in an inexpensive chuck.

Please feel free to steer me here.

Thanks everybody.

-- "Take extra care not to lose what you feel" (Winwood/Capaldi/Wood)

14 replies so far

View SASmith               's profile


1810 posts in 2079 days

#1 posted 01-31-2012 01:29 AM

Do you plan to turn green bowls or dry bowls.
I turn mostly dry wood and all I have is a faceplate. I glue a scrap to the bottom of the bowl to prevent screw holes on the bottom of the bowl. Not sure this would work with green wood.
Here are a few examples of my bowls.

-- Scott Smith, Southern Illinois

View Dlow's profile


70 posts in 1779 days

#2 posted 01-31-2012 01:50 AM

I can’t say what you’ll find in the “inexpensive” range, but you will for certain get your money’s worth if you plan on getting serious about turning. I bought a barracuda 2( probably around $170) and it has been worth the money and I have yet to turn a bowl. They are very versatile with the different size jaws so I’m sure if you plan to do a lot of bowl turning, you will find that it was money well spent.

View skone's profile


144 posts in 1897 days

#3 posted 01-31-2012 02:03 AM

SASmith – nice work. That OSB turned out really neat looking. I will be using green wood mostly simply because I can’t afford dried blanks and the green wood is constantly presenting itself to me here in Vermont. The method you describe sounds much like what I’ve read about. Though I’ve not tried it with green wood (or at all) I have read that attempting to glue to green wood should at least be done with some caution.

Dlow, I was looking on Ebay, to be honest. Like I said I’ve got an old Craftsman lathe. There happens to be an old Craftsman chuck listed right now. The jaws are independent but I’m willing to forgo the ease and convenience of the self centering chucks to save myself some money. I have seen the Barracuda chucks and read various reviews. People do seem to love them—- not in my price range, unfortunately. Not right now, anyway. I can always upgrade eventually, I suppose. For now, I’d just like to get turning.

-- "Take extra care not to lose what you feel" (Winwood/Capaldi/Wood)

View skone's profile


144 posts in 1897 days

#4 posted 02-03-2012 06:59 PM

Well, I went ahead and tried the scenario where you glue a blank to a waste block and screw your face plate into the waste block. I took it pretty far before it flew off. Titebond 3 let loose—- usually pretty great glue. Maybe the blank was just too big.

I WAS right about standing well to the side and not right in front of the blank.

I DO think I’d be more comfortable having a chuck in the mix.

I’ve abandoned the Ebay chase for the most part and as tight as I am with money am pretty much convinced that a good chuck is worth waiting for. Looking at the Barracuda (B 1 or 2 is there really a big difference?) and the Nova G3. Both seem to be in the $130-150 neighborhood.

-- "Take extra care not to lose what you feel" (Winwood/Capaldi/Wood)

View TomHintz's profile


207 posts in 2490 days

#5 posted 02-03-2012 07:10 PM

I am wary of an “inexpensive” chuck. I like the Oneways and such because they are very well made and VERY safe because of that. I did the gluing on of tenons for face plates and did that for a few years without knocking myself out or anything but did have a couple close ones…. I finally saved up for a decent chuck and life has been good ever since.

-- Tom Hintz,

View MyChipCarving's profile


542 posts in 2217 days

#6 posted 02-03-2012 07:35 PM

I’ve glued a lot of dried wood blanks to a piece of wood screwed to my faceplate.
It’s a good way to get started.
Put a piece of brown paper bag in between the faceplate wood and your bowl blank.
when you’re done turning, put a chisel between the two and they will separate cleanly.

-- Marty,, 866-444-6996

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4022 posts in 3052 days

#7 posted 02-03-2012 08:43 PM

All depends on the thread specs on the C’man lathe. I use the Grizzly small self centering chuck with good results. It seem to be a replica of the Vic Mark chuck. It has been a good chuck.
BTW my first lathe was the C’man “tube type”. I still use the lathe tools that came with it.
They are the parkerized tools. I have also spent $_ on others. (Don’t tell Maggie.)


View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 2166 days

#8 posted 02-03-2012 08:50 PM

I’ve been turning for over 15 years and I have recently rediscovered faceplates. At first, all I had were a couple of faceplates. Then, I thought I needed a chuck and I bought a good one (Oneway). Now I am starting to realize that, in several regards, faceplates are better.

This is a little too technical to explain in the forum, but it is much easier to find the center of gravity of a blank and position the faceplate to minimize vibration versus doing the same thing with a chuck. Faceplates provide a more secure and reliable connection to the lathe.

If you are concerned about screw holes showing, learn how to make and use a waste block. With a good CA glue and proper gluing technique you can, very securely, attach a bowl blank to the lathe, turn and remove the waste block when done.

I had not used a faceplate for almost 10 years. Now I use them on over half my projects.

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

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 2362 days

#9 posted 02-03-2012 09:07 PM

Depends on the item’s size and weight as to how I will mount something on my lathe. If the piece is stable and not overly heavy, I will turn between centers….rough it round…cut a tenon or dovetail and chuck it in my Barracuda chuck. If the object is full of checks…and not completely stable or quite heavy….I use a block with double sided tape or CA glue to the object and attach the faceplate or a center screw to the block I have just attached. There are many other different ways to achieve the same results – bearing in mind that you want your object to remain on the lathe while it is being turned….safety has to always be your first priority….no project is worth injuring yourself.

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View skone's profile


144 posts in 1897 days

#10 posted 02-03-2012 10:09 PM

I agree with the safety being a priority.

I’m using green wood (money issue) so that may have had a hand in the glue failure.
Also, I don’t have CA glue. I think I’ve read the name before, cyano-something or other. I’ll look into it.

Bill, what is “parkerized”? I might have those same tools. Here’s what I got for my $100 craigslist purchase…

- a late 1950’s Craftsman lathe 113.23881, thirtysix or so inches with original belt drive Sears 1/2 HP motor
- homemade stand/bench for the lathe
- set of 5 Craftsman turning tools
- set of 8 Marples turning tools
- set of 5 Robert Sorby micro turning tools
- Craftsman 4 inch faceplate
- Original Craftsman booklet, “How to do more with your wood lathe”
- “Woodturning” book by Geoff Peters
- A conical shaped India hone with its own handmade, shaped wooden box

Not bad. So I can’t complain if I have to spend a little money on a chuck eventually, I suppose.
Thanks for the comments, all!

-- "Take extra care not to lose what you feel" (Winwood/Capaldi/Wood)

View SASmith               's profile


1810 posts in 2079 days

#11 posted 02-03-2012 11:57 PM

You might try gorilla glue or some other polyurethane glue. I suspect it would work better with green wood.
Or you could just screw your faceplate to the bank and make the bottom of the blank sacrificial.

-- Scott Smith, Southern Illinois

View Cousinwill's profile


129 posts in 1982 days

#12 posted 02-04-2012 04:47 PM

I pefer faceplates over using chucks. I purchaes a chuck last year and have used it one 3 or 4 times but I have used the faceplate method about a 100 times !!! Yes you do have to be careful with the size and weigh of the wood you are working with. I have had several pieces come off !! Anything over 10” in diameter I screw the face plate on the piece of wood I’m turning . Smaller blanks I glue a scrap piece of wood to the blank (with a piece of newspaper in between the block of wood and blank) and attach the faceplate to the scrap wood. I use Titebond II glue. I am more confortable with this method than using the chuck. Check out some of my “faceplate bowls!!”

-- William from the oldest town in Texas

View lew's profile


10701 posts in 2847 days

#13 posted 02-04-2012 06:32 PM

here are two sites I find very useful-


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View skone's profile


144 posts in 1897 days

#14 posted 02-04-2012 08:21 PM

Thank you, Lew! Those are resources I haven’t seen before. I had only a quick glance but will come back to them. The bowling pin mallet was pretty neat. What a great idea.

-- "Take extra care not to lose what you feel" (Winwood/Capaldi/Wood)

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