Turning: Mounting a blank correctly for spindle turning?

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Forum topic by dpoisson posted 02-17-2012 03:25 PM 2101 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View dpoisson's profile


190 posts in 2334 days

02-17-2012 03:25 PM

Topic tags/keywords: turning blank mounting

Hi everyone, So I have a problem turning some wood pieces. My lathe isn’t a powerful one (1/3? I bought it for game call making). It would seem that my 4 prongs bit never seems to engage the wood properly. The second I put a tad much push in (for example) my roughing gouge to start really removing a lot of wood, the 4 prongs skip and simply burn the end-grain wood, marking a nice burnt circle.

Is there any remedy for this? I find it very annoying…My tools are sharp (not sure if I could shave myself with them, but pretty close), so I don’t think the problem’s there.

I usually mount my wood (maple in this case) in the following manner:
- I take a nail punch (to set finishing nails) and make a hole in the middle of my blank.
- I take the 4 prong bit and remove it from the lathe
- I put the bit, center it in the hole I made in my blank
- Hammer it in until I see the 4 marks of the prongs on the end-grain

Should I be drilling a hole in the center so the middle, centering, cone of my 4 prong bit can go further in the wood and thus, the 4 prong will be able to go deeper as well?




11 replies so far

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4405 posts in 3380 days

#1 posted 02-17-2012 03:50 PM

Yes on the deeper center hole for the drive spur. I usually remove the spur from the headstock, mark my center drill a pilot hole if the wood is hard, then tap the spur center home. DON’T DRIVE THE SPUR WITH IT INSTALLED IN THE LATHE HEADSTOCK!
Also wanna make sure that the tailstock is secured properly.


View DBoltz's profile


122 posts in 1799 days

#2 posted 02-17-2012 04:06 PM

I second what Bill White said. The deeper the 4 prong bit goes in, the better it will hold.

-- Dan, Virginia Beach

View hairy's profile


2377 posts in 2952 days

#3 posted 02-17-2012 04:08 PM

Many people make corner to corner cuts with a saw, maybe 1/8” deep.

-- stay thirsty my friends...

View dpoisson's profile


190 posts in 2334 days

#4 posted 02-17-2012 05:46 PM

Hi Everyone, Next time I mount a blank, I guess I’ll try a combination of a larger center hole and corner cuts with a saw.

I knew there was a better way!!



View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 2418 days

#5 posted 02-17-2012 07:41 PM

Just another data point for sawing slits for the prongs. The center point is just for reference. The spurs do the work. Some of them have a spring mounted center that once you tighten up the tailstock, it just pushes in the center point into the drive center.

You don’t want to just pound it in because that is a good way to split the wood.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View interpim's profile


1158 posts in 2878 days

#6 posted 02-17-2012 10:26 PM

I’ve found that I’ll need to tighten up the tail stock a few times while turning to prevent this from happening.

-- San Diego, CA

View KevinWelp's profile


17 posts in 1721 days

#7 posted 02-18-2012 01:17 AM

I’m with interpim, I make sure the tailstock is tight and adjust as necessary.

-- Kevin - Rochester, MN

View Grandpa's profile


3256 posts in 2095 days

#8 posted 02-18-2012 03:07 AM

Put your stock in a vise with the end up. Make corner to corner with a pencil for reference. I like a back saw because they have little set and make a narrow kerf. Cut the stock on the diagonal lines and then tap the center into the cuts. This has worked well for me for many years.

View oluf's profile


260 posts in 2459 days

#9 posted 02-18-2012 03:11 AM

grind off two of the spurs on your spur drive. when you drive the spur drive into the end of your stock line up the two remaining spurs up with the grain. they will cut in much better when you are not trying to cut across grain and the two deep set spurs will drive better than four shallow set spurs..

-- Nils, So. Central MI. Wood is honest.Take the effort to understand what it has to tell you before you try to change it.

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 2494 days

#10 posted 02-18-2012 03:26 PM

If possible, I use a chuck – even with spindle stock. Drive the tailstock into the center before tightening down the chuck. Chucks never slip.

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

View dpoisson's profile


190 posts in 2334 days

#11 posted 03-07-2012 09:43 PM

Hey everyone, just wanted to drop by and confirm that the 2 diagonal cut lines did fix my problem!

No more slipping!



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