Lathe Speeds & Chucks

  • Advertise with us

« back to Woodturning forum

Forum topic by ScrubPlane posted 02-10-2013 04:27 PM 1587 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View ScrubPlane's profile


190 posts in 2218 days

02-10-2013 04:27 PM

Topic tags/keywords: lathe turning tip

I have now figured out the ‘mystery’ of mounting a piece in my SuperNova chuck such that it stays (the instructions didn’t say anything regarding length).

What the instructions do say, however, is to turn at relatively low speeds while I see the turners on TV turning at higher speeds.

What say yee…what speeds do you turn your blocks while using a chuck?


12 replies so far

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4948 posts in 3983 days

#1 posted 02-10-2013 04:41 PM

Sounds like a goofy answer, but my turning speeds are relative to the size of the workpiece.
I start slow when roughing, faster for shaping basic form, then speed up more for final finish turning.
My speed range on the lathe is 500 to 2700 rpms. I rarely use the highest setting.


View Wildwood's profile


2322 posts in 2157 days

#2 posted 02-10-2013 05:17 PM

You do not mention using tailstock support obviously longer lengths/widths need extra support.

Not aware of a rule of thumb as far as length/width to use or not use tailstock support or lathe speed. I use tailstock support until it gets in the way whether spindle or bowl turning. Lathe speed depends upon what am turning, more than size.

Boils down to common sense, confidence, and experience.

-- Bill

View ldl's profile


1135 posts in 2388 days

#3 posted 02-14-2013 07:32 PM

I’ve seen this formula posted in several places. Diameter x speed = 8000 to 9000

Take the diameter and divide into 8000 to 9000 = speed

I usually divide into both 8000 and 9000 to get upper and lower speed.

I don’t usually follow this on small turnings but do with larger things like large bowls.

-- Dewayne in Bainbridge, Ga. - - No one can make you mad. Only you decide when you get mad - -

View John Voloudakis's profile

John Voloudakis

12 posts in 1960 days

#4 posted 02-14-2013 11:02 PM

In addition to the other advice… turn as fast as you feel safe. A faster speed often means a shorter completion time and a cleaner cut, but also more of a chance for something to go wrong. I start roughing pieces really slow. Once I’m sure they are balanced, I turn it up. If at any point I start to feel uncomfortable with the wood or the cut, I slow it down again.

Also, since no one else mentioned, turn the speed down low when you are sanding. High speeds generate heat, which can crack or burnish the wood, and also can cause the adhesive on the sandpaper to weaken, shortening its life.


View MonteCristo's profile


2099 posts in 2211 days

#5 posted 02-16-2013 01:51 AM

My understanding is that you turn the speed up to sand, otherwise it takes forever. If you don’t press too hard, heat build up can be avoided.

When turning pieces that are out of round or out of balance, I start at low RPMs and turn up the electronic speed dial until I get some vibration, then back off a bit. This is where electronic variable speed really shines.

-- Dwight - "Free legal advice available - contact Dewey, Cheetam & Howe""

View MNgary's profile


301 posts in 2439 days

#6 posted 02-16-2013 02:27 AM

+1 for Bill White.

-1 for speeding up to sand cuz it’s faster.

-- I dream of a world where a duck can cross the road and no one asks why.

View RussellAP's profile


3104 posts in 2309 days

#7 posted 02-16-2013 02:46 AM

I have a delta 46-460 with variable speed. I have the belt set on the medium pulley and I haven’t needed to change it for anything.
I can have a range of 500 to 1900 on that setting, and I’ve never had to go faster than that.

I’ve noticed that sometimes turning the speed up negatively affects the cutting, plus there is more risk of accident.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View RVroman's profile


163 posts in 2046 days

#8 posted 02-16-2013 03:14 AM

Turn fast, sand slow.

The formula Dewayne provided is a common, and good one. The other rule of thumb is “turn it up until it gets scary, then turn it down a bit”. Obviously this one is not without its hazards, but is also common and used at your own risk and based on comfort level and experience, use of the tail stock, etc.

As far as your tenon, make sure it has the correct taper for the jaws, and does not bottom out.

-- Robert --- making toothpicks one 3x3x12 blank at a time!

View Garwood's profile


29 posts in 1967 days

#9 posted 02-16-2013 03:43 AM

When starting your lathe, just make sure you are NOT standing in front of the workpiece. Stand off to the side so if the wood comes undone and comes off the lathe, it won’t hit you. It may take out a window or something but not you head or eye. Emergency rooms and mortuarys are not fun places to visit.

Be safe and have fun.

-- Gary

View ScrubPlane's profile


190 posts in 2218 days

#10 posted 02-16-2013 03:41 PM

Thank you for all for your thoughts and suggestions.

My NOVA chuck’s instructions suggest no higher than 600 rpm which just didn’t seem right relative to what I’ve seen on TV or YouTube. After having experimented on my own and from discussions like this, I’ve come to the belief that those manufacturer numbers are for their own liability more than anything.


View RVroman's profile


163 posts in 2046 days

#11 posted 02-16-2013 05:44 PM

Were they talking about the cole jaws? 600 rpm is the recommended max RPM on those, and I would follow that.

But for standard use of the chuck and jaws that is really slow for a max speed. I may have to dig out my manuals now! (granted my experience is with the G3 and the Super NOVA 2, so some of the others may have different instructions)

-- Robert --- making toothpicks one 3x3x12 blank at a time!

View Wildwood's profile


2322 posts in 2157 days

#12 posted 02-16-2013 10:53 PM

Robert spot on concerning cole jaws. I say save your money and just use a jam or donut chuck for reverse turning bowl bottoms.

I scanned the manual and think it is well written with sage advice for someone with experience or just starting out. Other than how to install threaded insert & jaws or cleaning not sure what manual has to say for my Oneway chucks.

CAPACITY: DO NOT USE THE SCREW FOR VERY LARGE WOOD BLANKS. Its use is intended for small bowl and screw chucking work. The maximum capacity which should be mounted on the screw – 250mm (10 inches) diameter x 100mm (4 inches). DO NOT EXCEED 600 RPM FOR THIS OPERATION. Use tailstock support.

This is a strong holding method, using the standard 50mm jaws bowls up to 310mm (12 inches) in diameter can be turned. DO NOT EXCEED 600RPM WITH THIS OPERATION. OUT OF BALANCE STOCK MUST BE TURNED AT THE SLOWEST SPEED POSSIBLE.

They should have omitted RPM’s and mentioned tailstock support what most folks do any way.

-- Bill

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics