Collet Chucks

I find collet chucks convenient for holding small work.  

Collets typically come in standard dowel sizes 1/4″, 3/8″, 1/2″, 5/8″, or 3/4″.   So it is very easy to mount a chunk of dowel as a turning blank.  Or you can mount a turning blank between centers and turn a tenon.  I like to use 3/4″ diameter tenons when possible.

I own both the “Beall Collet Chuck” and the “Apprentice Collet Chuck”.   The Apprentice Collet Chuck is sold under a number of different names by different retailers.

Apprentice Collet Chuck

I really like the Apprentice Collet Chuck better than the Beall Collet Chuck.   Because the knurled rings on the Apprentice allow you to tighten and loosen it with out wrenches most of the time!

Avalilable from Craft Supplies USA, Penn State, Etc.

Beall Collet Chuck

The Beall Collet Chuck does not have any knurled rings.   The smooth body on the Beall chuck makes it difficult to hand tighten and almost impossible to loosen with out wrenches.   Using the wrenches on the Beall chuck is a pain!

The Apprentice chuck is cheaper and you can use wrenches on it if hand tighen/loosen is not adequate.

The Beall chuck is available from Packard, Craft Supplies USA, etc.

ER32 Collets

The Apprentice and Beall chucks use the same “standard” ER32 spring collets developed for the metal working industry.  If you need more sizes of collets you can easily find them on Ebay, Mcmaster, MSC, Enco, etc. 

There are lots of different ways to mount ER32 collets in metal lathes.   I recommend you avoid these solutions.   The Apprentice and Beall chucks are cheaper and easier.  Just screw them on.  No drawbar required, etc.

Collectors of Wood Art

A lot of galleries that use to show and sell woodturnings have fallen on hard times due to the economy.

The “Collectors of Wood Art” is a club of people interested in collecting (purchasing) high end wooden art (woodturings, etc).   Over the last few years they have been attending AAW  International Symposium.

They have a good web site where artists show there work.   Many of the big time artists have some great eye candy out there.  See

Check out the work of

J Paul Fennell
Clay Foster
Christian Burchard
John Jordan
Jerry Kermode
Michael Mode – I love the castle like pieces he has been making.
Binh Pho
Joey Richardson
Hayley Smith
Steve Sinner
Keith Tompkins
Malcolm Zander

And many more.

I recently joined.   My artist profile is here: 


People are always asking me where did you get that?   And, my answer is always “Mcmaster”.

Mcmaster-Carr is an old time industrial supply company with a very efficient modern business model.  It’s a big cut above all of it competitors like Travelers, Enco, MSC, Grainger, etc for the following reasons.  

  1. Mcmaster has a great web site!   The best in the industry!
    • The Mcmaster web site defines the standard that all other web sites should be judged against

    • It is really easy to find things.   Even if you don’t know the exact technical names of things.
    • There search engine is the best.  It finds things even when you don’t really know what you want.
    • They show good summaries at the top of things.  For example if search on “steel plate” they will show you a summary that explains the grades of steel (A2, 1440, O1, etc).
    • They show just the right amount of little pictures to guide you thru the process of seeing what is available and finding what you are looking for.
    • Mcmaster is far better than its competitors.  Who want to show you 10,000 images of each bolt size, etc.    Mcmaster shows just one  picture of bolts,  etc with all the different sizes in tables.

    • Mcmaster often shows a sidebar that lets you zero in on the size of things.   For example you can ask it to show you all the tubing they have in stock with a 1/2″ inside diameter.   Then you select if you want copper, steel, plastic, etc.

    • Mcmaster has CAD drawings in PDF format for most things.   You can use these to check the part you are ordering is really what you want.    Will the head on that bolt be to big?

  2. Mcmaster shipping is really fast!
  3. I live in Poughkeepsie NY.   Almost everything I order arrives on my door step the next day from their warehouse in NJ. If I order before 8am it may come the same day!   This is there standard shipping method.  No extra charges.

  4. Mcmaster shipping is really cheap!
    • Anything that fits in a 12″ x 18″ x 6″ box is only around $5 for shipping to Poughkeepsie NY.   Weight does not seem to matter.   When I order heavy steel items, it still cost around $5.

    • Even when they ship things in bigger boxes it tends to be around $5.   I don’t known how they do it, but I love it!

    • When they ship steel to me in 6 foot tubes it is around $12 for shipping.   Weight does not seem to matter.

    • One thing about Mcmaster is you never get to see the shipping charge in advance.  You just have to trust them.  I have done business with Mcmaster for many years and there shipping charges are always very reasonable or down right cheap.

    • It appears that Mcmaster does things the old way.   Your order goes directly to the warehouse.    After the order is filled it goes to the business office were they add shipping and tax.    

  5. Mcmaster has a huge selection of good quality items.
    • But, you can find what you want because there web site is really good.

    • For most things Mcmaster does not show you the brand name.   Don’t worry the quality will be good.   It appears they use their own CAD drawings to get quality stuff from their suppliers.  

  6. Mcmaster’s  prices are very competitive.   Often the lowest with shipping.
    • If you want to buy new power tools (drill, circular saw, etc) then you should look on Amazon.

    • If you want to buy metal or machine shop stuff then suppliers like Travelers, Enco, MSC may be cheaper.    But, maybe not with shipping.

      Lower quality? Others are often cheaper because they stock more brands of lower quality cheap imports.   Mcmaster often only stocks good American Made stuff plus one of the better imports.

      If you compare apples to apples on quality, then Mcmaster is often cheaper.

  7. Pay by Credit Card
    • If you order via Web and pay by Credit Card you don’t need a business account to do business with Mcmaster.

    • You need a business account to get a catalog.   But, who cares.  Mcmaster’s web site is great and gives you PDF access to all of their catalog pages.