Category Archives: Tools

Lathe Accessories for a New Turner

Chick here for printable PDF

Here is some advice I wrote for a new turner who has just purchased a Powermatic 3520C lathe. He was looking for advice on chucks, faceplates and a drill chuck. A threw in a little extra stuff.

Join the American Association of Turners (AAW)

You should join the AAW for there Journal magazine ASAP. The great mag easily pays for membership. It has lots of GOOD stuff for beginners and experience people. Go here:  https://www.woodturner.org/page/MemberBenefits

You should also check out the AAW’s Woodturning Fundamental magazine and other stuff for new people. Go here:  https://www.woodturner.org/page/FUNdamentals

Take A Class – Try before you buy!

You should take a class with a well known turner and/or a well known school. Try tools before you buy!

If you live in Colorado. Then take a class with Trent Bosch or a beginner class at Anderson Ranch. Or Google “woodturning classes”.

Turning Tools

I recommend taking a class and going with tool set used by your teacher/mentor. Otherwise my tool set is here:  http://www.carlford.info/pages/jigs_tools/modern_tool_set/modern_tool_set.pdf

Faceplates

Faceplates are a no brainier. The Oneway steel 4″ faceplate is the best out there. You don’t need stainless steel.

Note: Oneway is the manufacturer name.

Avoid the cast iron, thin steel ones and aluminum faceplates on the market. They are OK for making Jam Chucks, etc. But, not for everyday work where you “ride the plates hard and put them away wet”.

The faceplate that comes with the Powermatic 3520C is an exception to the no cast iron rule. It is OK. But, to small. Only 3″. Get a 4″ one.

If you want to go big. I would wait and see. If you go there, I would go with a Oneway Versa Hub with a 6″ Versa Plate. You could go the Versa Hub & Plate route for the 4″ faceplate. However, removing the plate from the versa hub to put in screws tends to be to much trouble for a 4″ plate.

The info here is out of date on the tools stuff. Use my new modern tool set stuff on my blog. But the screws and faceplate stuff is still good here: http://www.carlford.info/pages/demos_classes/natural_edge_bowls/My_Ellsworth_Class.pdf

Drill Chuck (Jacobs Chuck)

Any of the “MT2 Drill Chuck” search results on Amazon will do. I would go with keyless. You don’t need high quality.

Currently (2/2019) the “PSI Woodworking Products TM32KL Keyless 1/2-Inch Drill Chuck with a 2 MT Mount” looks good for $38.

Look for a Rohm Supra chuck made in Germany if you want to waste some money on high quality you don’t need. There are some nice Rohm MT2 chucks on eBay. I just purchased one for $106 for my drill press.’

Note: Your Powermatic 3520C has a MT2 (Morse Taper #2) hole in the tailstock. The headstock is 1-1/4 by 8 threads with a MT2 hole.

Woodturning Chuck

Now we get to the more controversial subject of chucks. I will try to stick to the middle of the road and be brief.

Wood Magazine has a good intro to how chucks work and terminology here:  https://www.woodmagazine.com/woodworking-tips/techniques/woodturning/four-jaw-lathe-chucks

Think about Jaws First

Sooner or latter most people decide they need/want more than one set of chuck jaws. Different size jaws, different shape, etc. Thus you should look at the cost of extra jaw sets BEFORE you pick a manufacture. Because you can NOT interchange different brands of chuck bodies and jaws. Vicmarc jaws only fit on Vicmarc chucks, etc.

Note: Vicmarc, Oneway, and Nova are the names of well known manufactures.

In general, extra Oneway chuck jaw sets tend to be cheapest. Then Vicmarc, Nova and then Easy Wood is out of this world expensive!

Oneway has a good jaw size and shape table here:  https://oneway.ca/products-category/chucks

Chucks in a Nutshell

I agree with most of the professional turners that Vicmarc makes the best chuck bodies. The VM120 chuck is loved by many. However, all these people tend to be in the “dovetail jaws are best camp”. They tend to turn mostly dry wood. They often expand the chuck jaws into a recess in the bottom of a piece. Making generalizations like this is obviously going to elicit negative responses from some people. Go with a Vicmarc VM120 if you are in the dovetail jaws camp.

I turn mostly green wood from FRESHLY cut logs from trees. Fresh cut wood is soft and cuts like butter. Thus, I am firmly in the “profiled serrated jaws are best camp”. They work better on green wood. I ALWAYS clamp my jaws down on to the OUTSIDE of a tenon. Expanding into a recess in the bottom of a green wood piece almost always ends in disaster.

You can ONLY get serrated jaws from Oneway and they only fit on Oneway chucks. Thus I recommend the Oneway Stronghold chuck. It is also loved by many. I have 5 of them. I don’t like the smaller Talon chuck by Oneway. Go with a Oneway Stronghold if you are going to turn bowls or hollow forms out of green wood.

You can get dovetail jaws for Oneway chucks and extra Oneway jaws are cheapest. So you can have the best of all worlds with a Oneway Stronghold.

Dovetail Jaws verses Serrated Jaws

The advantage to dovetail jaws is you can removed a piece from a chuck and then remount it latter. It will still run almost dead true, with no wobble, etc. If and only if the wood has not warped. You can’t do this with serrated jaws that are clamped down over a tenon. You can if you expand the serrated jaws into a recess. However, dovetail jaws expanded into a recess are better.

You have to cut a dovetail for dovetail jaws. This can be a huge source of pain for new people. They make dovetail scrapers that will cut a “perfect dovetail”. However, they tend to catch. Then all hell brakes lose. Serrated jaws use a simple straight tenon that is easier to create.

Other Chuck Manufactures

I started out with a Super Nova chuck. I still really hate that chuck. It’s the chuck key that I really hate! The newer Nova chucks that use a simple Allen wrench key are OK. It’s hard not to like the low price of the Nova SuperNova2 direct thread chuck bundles on ebay. But, extra Nova jaws tend to be expensive. Some people love Nova chucks. They are not going to agree with me here. Sorry, it’s my blog.

The new kids on the block, like Hurricane chucks use to be cheap. No more! I see no reason to go with one of these new kids when the above well known manufactures are in the same price range.

Record brand chucks just splashed onto the scene in the US. They have existed for a long time in Europe where they are known for being made by Nova. Why not go with a cheap Nova on eBay?

Sorby and Axminster chucks are UK companies. They generally are not cheap in the US.

When it comes to chucks for Mini Lathes the field has gotten pretty muddy. I have not been keeping up. I still like the Barracuda2 Chuck by Penn State Industries. Mostly, I like the $149 price. I don’t known that it is any better than the look-a-likes by other manufactures.

There is no way on the face of the earth I want anything to do with these new “no jaw screws” chucks! Like, Easy Wood Tools, Easy Chuck, etc. Jaws need to be securely screwed on to a chuck! Otherwise they are just an accident waiting to happen. Sooner or latter jaws with out screws will come flying off and kill you.

Chuck Size

Bigger is always better in the US. Thus sooner or latter someone was going to come out with chucks bigger than the Vicmarc VM120 (5″) or Oneway Stronghold (4-1/2″). They are just trying to knock these chucks off their well earned thrones. You don’t need any of the bigger chucks. The extra weight will just be a pain in the ass when you take them on/off the lathe. It is the chuck jaw size of work ranges that makes a difference. Not the chuck body size. Well, maybe if someone made an 8″ chuck it would be better. But there is no real difference between a 4-1/2″ chuck and a 5″ or 6″ chuck.

Turning Smocks

Get yourself a turning smock before “he who must be obeyed” complains about wood shavings in the house. I like the AAW Turning Smock best. It’ll make a good valentines day gift! 🙂

New Ring Tool

Here are some Cedar Vases I made with my new Sorby Ring Tool. The vases are roughly 6″ diameter by 5″ to 6-1/2″ tall. I turned these out of green Cedar logs. What you see is what came off the tool. NO sanding, 1 coat of poly when they were still wet, no finial finish yet.

Note: I cut the inside with Ring Tool.  I cut the outside with 1/2″ Bowl Gouge.

Ring Tools are poplar in Europe. They are practically unheard of in the USA. Here is what one looks like: (3 different views of the same tool)

The above is what they call a 1/2″ ring tool. This means the hole thru the center is 1/2″. The outer diameter of the ring is a little less than 3/4″. You can cut with either side of the tool. There are 2 bevels. The flat bevel is used for drilling a hole in the center of an end grain. The 60 degree bevel is used to do all the rest of the cutting.

Here is a quick video by Ulf Jansson showing how to use a Ring Tool.

A ring tools is like a modern version of a hook tool. I find the ring tool, cutting on the 60 degree bevel is a lot more forgiving than a hook and thus easier to use. I love it for end grain hollowing. With the Ring Tool you can take a hair thin shaving or a big 1/2″ deep shaving all with the same tool. All in the same pass of the tool if you want.

The best thing about a Ring Tool is that it cuts very cleanly in the bottom of a deep vase shape. Like no sanding clean. It’s almost impossible, to due this with a Bowl Gouge, or anything else.

A 1/2″ Ring Tool is a like a bigger version of the Oneway Termite Tool. I have all 3 sizes of the Termite Tool. I like my new 1/2″ Ring Tool a LOT MORE than a Termite. The Termite cuts to slow for me and tends to drill a hole because the radius on the end is to small. I really like my new Ring Tool.  I don’t like Termite Tools.

When I first saw one of these Ring Tools, I was very skeptical. There is no way a ring, just brazed on to a long shaft is not going to break off! Just a little bit of force and it is going to be gone! Well, I was all wrong! I have used and abused my Ring Tool, quite a bit. No problems.

Crown makes a 1″ Ring Tool.  I just purchased one.  I am looking forward to giving it a try. In the future I will probably be purchasing all my Ring Tools from Crown. I like Crown handles better than Sorby.

Mr Ring Tool – Ulf Jansson

I learned how to sharpen and use a Ring Tool from Ulf Jansson on the 2018 Norway Woodturning Cruise. Ulf is from Sweden. Ulf is “svarulf” on Instagram. He has posted good ring tool videos and great pictures of his very inspiring work. Ulf posts stuff in English.

Note: Ulf does not have a web site. He is just on Instagram. He posts often. You can access Instagram WITH OUT being a member!

Sorby says that Ring Tools are for End Grain only.  Ulf’s videos show this is not true.  He uses a Ring Tool on side grain bowls, etc. No problems.

Click here for Ulf’s Artist Statement and Profile on the Woodturning Cruise web site.

Click on the picture below for Ulf’s Ring Tool videos, etc.

Viking Sunset Bowl


Here is a Nick Agar style Viking Sunset Bowl that I just finished. 8″ diameter by 2″ tall. I really enjoyed making this piece. My students are also having a good time making these in my “Woodturning Workshop” studio classes.

I saw Nick make one of these in a demo at 2018 Totally Turning Symposium. I then purchased his “Viking Sunset Bowl Kit” from Chroma Craft. I also really enjoyed seeing Nick on the 2018 Woodturning Cruise in Norway.


I followed Nick’s directions in the kit. Plus Nick’s “Viking Sunset Bowl” article in “Woodturning” Magazine, February 2013, No 250 from www.pocketmags.com.

Airbrush

You need an airbrush to apply the stains and finishes in the kit.  At Totally Turning I saw Nick use Paasche brand airbrushes.  On the Woodturning Cruise, Nick used cheap $20 Harbor Freight airbrushes.  Nick uses more than one airbrush at a time.  One for each color and sealer.

Note: If you want a good Binh Pho style airbrush then you need to get something like an Iwata Hi-Line HP-CH for $250. Then you have  spend a lot of time cleaning it because it was  big bucks.

After doing some research I decided to go with a $80 Paasche VL airbrush.   Below, is what I ordered from Amazon.  All prices are on 12/2018.

I really like the Passche VL airbrush.  It is easy and fast to clean. I load each of the glass jars with a different color stain or sealer. Then I can easily switch back and forth between the colors and sealer by swapping jars.  I use the cup that comes with the airbrush and a lab squeeze bottle of denatured alcohol to clean the brush between colors or sealer.

Or