Best Drive Center

Updated: 5/8/2020: I just discovered that this center is now be manufactured by Nova. It is called the “Nova Jumbo Spur Center”. You can get it from it is $90 on 5/8/2020. However, I now like the “Oneway Big Bite Spur” center better than this center. See my “Oneway Big Bite Spur Center” blog entry at

Updated 2/2/2018: It looks like Stuby Lathe USA is out of business. Thus you can no longer get the big gold drive center shown below. I suggest you get the “Elio-DR Safe Drive 2.5” from “Woodturning Tool Store” or the “Big Bite Chuck Spur” from Oneway.

I like the looks of Elio better than the Big Bite, because you can adjust the dept of the points on the Elio. On the other hand the simplicity of just sticking the Oneway Big Bite into a Oneway Chuck really appeals to me. I DO NOT own either of these. Thus, I really don’t know.

Here is a picture that shows the 3 different sizes of Elio-DR Safe Drives that are available on 2/2/2018. I would go with the 2.5″ model shown in the center. I would probably also purchase the Drawbar Kit for Elio-DR. Then never use it because I don’t want to spend time removing the Oneway Vacuum Adapter from the headstock of my lathe.

Here is a picture that shows the Oneway Big Bit Chuck Spur on 2/2/2018.

Updated 10/3/2016: Change Stuby Lathe USA web address from to I don’t really understand what is going on here and I am a bit dubious.

I was watching a woodturning video this morning. I agreed with the video when it mentioned that a 2 prong drive center works better than a 4 prong drive center on bowl blanks.

But, once again, I was not impressed by there wimpy little drive center. Why? Because I have one of these.

Stubby Lathe USA, 2” Convertible Screw-on Drive Center, 1-1/4 x 8 or M33 x 3.5


It is made by Stuby Lathe USA.  I love this drive center because you can just screw it on to the headstock and you can remove 2 of the prongs.   Thus, it can be used as a 2 prong or 4 prong drive center.  I always use just 2 prongs.  The center point can be adjusted in/out. The prongs are deep so you can really sink them into a log.  2″ wide is just the right size for rough bowl blanks.  Not to small and not to wide.  It is the best drive center for bowls in my not so humble opinion.   I now use this center for all of my bowls when I start off by mounting a log between centers.

The only other center that comes close to the above center is the Oneway Big Bite Chuck Spur.  It is ok.  But I like the above one better.  The spurs on the big bite are to far apart.  Thus it is often hard  get both spurs to engage on a round log surface when making a natural edge bowl.

2 prong centers should always be used with the prongs across the grain (rather than with the grain) to avoid splitting a blank.

I own other drive centers.  Jumbo and standard size 2 and 4 prong drive centers.  Steb centers, etc.  I like to use a 1/2″ or 1″ steb center for spindle turning.   The $20 steb centers work fine.

Label Your Tools

No Color Code

When someone saw the following photo they asked me. Do you have a “color code” for the bands on your tools.   I often get this question.

No I don’t. Long ago I started off in that direction. But, I just did not have the necessary discipline. I quickly ran out of colors (different shades of the same color are not good enough) and things get fouled up when you reuse a handle that was on a scraper for a new gouge. Etc.

Gouges with Color Bands and White Labels on Ferrules

I add the color bands to help me bring home the tools I bring with me to Classes, Demos, Learn & Turns, etc.  And I like lots of color!

White Labels On Ferrules

The white labels that I added to the ferrules of tools are very useful. They say things like Ellsworth – 2″ or Jordan – Ellsworth – 2″

I added these one day when a student was having trouble keeping my different gouges and grinds straight in their head. Now, everyone who visits my studio likes them.  One of my better ideas?

Jordan – Ellsworth – 2″ means that it is Jordan grind that I create using the Ellsworth jig with the tip of the gouge extended 2″ beyond the end of the jig (i.e. use the 2″ hole under my grinder).

When the grind and jig are the same then I just use Ellsworth – 2″. Ellsworth grind, Ellsworth jig, 2″ hole under grinder.

Note: Ellsworth grind has a wing. Like David Ellsworth  shows in his book.  Jordan grind does not have a wing.  Like John Jordan shows on AAW sharpening video. I use the same Ellsworth jig for both grinds. Its all in the motion! Swing the jig/gouge less to create the flat Jordan grind.

Close up of $2.50 Holes under my Grinder

I create the labels using my “Brother P-Touch” label maker. Around $30 on Amazon. The printer is cheap so they charge you a fortune for the label tape.

Turning Tools Bag

I came across this “Pie Iron” storage bag the other day at Dick’s Sporting Good on sale for $10.    It is made by Rome.  Item #1998.  $20 on Amazon.

I have no idea what a “Pie Iron” is but the price was right.   It is just the right size for carrying my turning tools to club meetings, etc.

I have tried all kinds of things for transporting my turning tools.  Tool rolls are hard to deal with.   Take up to much space when unrolled.  Get full of shavings and are a pain to roll up and fasten.  Its hard to find the tool you want when end of gouge is stuck into the roll.  I always seem to forget and put them in this way.

Buckets are kind of to big.  They tip over when you have to stand them up in  trucks and cars.   When you drive down the road they drive you nuts due to endless rattling.  They are heavy and awkward to carry.

I like this tool bag because it has a full zipper. I can find my tools easy and get them in and out easy.   It’s light weight.   I can zip it up easy to discourage shavings.  The price was right!

I lined one end of the bag with an old cardboard box to discourage holes from points of tools.  See photos.