Picture of How to Grip your Woodwork
Once you’ve bought your lathe and some basic tools, the next consideration is how you are going to grip the work securely enough to allow it to be turned safely. In fact, holding the work is more than half the battle in woodturning, and with experience you’ll soon develop a range of different strategies to suit the item being made and your particular way of working. Alan Holtham talks us through how to grip your woodwork.
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Step 1: Holding Spindles

Picture of Holding Spindles
Holding spindles is relatively easy, as these are just held between centres which fit into the Morse tapers of the main spindle and tailstock, photo 1.

Step 2: Drive Centres

Picture of Drive Centres
The drive centres for the headstock are available in a variety of sizes and patterns, depending on the diameter of work you are turning. One with four prongs and a diameter of about 1in will cover virtually all your needs, photo 2.

Step 3: Two-pronged Versions?

Picture of Two-pronged Versions?
For smaller section material, a 5⁄8 or 1⁄2in diameter centre might be needed, but don’t bother buying one of these unless you actually need it. There are some two-pronged versions available, photo 3, but these should be used with care as you can split the work if you’re too heavyhanded with them.

Step 4: The Tailstock End

Picture of The Tailstock End
At the tailstock end, the work is supported by another centre, which ideally should be of the revolving type, photo 4.

Step 5: Don't Burn the Wood

Picture of Don't Burn the Wood
Although they’re bulkier, they spin with the work so you can apply enough pressure to get it secure without worrying about overheating. If you use the cheaper fixed or ‘dead’ type of centre, there’s a real chance of burning the work, photo 5, particularly if as a nervous beginner you tend to overtighten things.

just the info I needed. thanks

how to grip your wood... am I the only one that found this humorous
Most probably.
Really nice compilation of techniques. One thing does concern me though. For spindle mounting, a single-screw chuck is a dangerous idea. The holding strength of wood is across the grain. A single screw can easily split the wood, or literally just push the neighboring fibers aside. The slightest knock will pull such a mounting off-center and very likely start the piece whipping and then flying off the lathe.

Across the grain, screws work perfectly as they grab past several layers of different fibers, forming a strong grip.

While you can use screws for spindle work, the safe way is to use long machine screws, pre-drilled, and more of them. The machine threads do not taper like wood screws and therefore don't force the wood fibers apart as they advance.
kleinjahr1 year ago
Nicely done. For further workholding methods, do a search on Holtzapffel. It's a bit dated but still useful.
I've made a faceplate from a floor flange and a bushing. Works fine. Go to plumbing supplies pick up a floor flange and a bushing sized to fit it. Drill and tap the bushing to fit your lathe spindle. Mount on the lathe and use a file to true it, CAREFULLY.
rimar20001 year ago
Very complete, very interesting, thanks for sharing.

I am today using a method that works well for me, is cheap and easy. My homemade lathe is very simple, I have not a good chuck, only a 1/2" screw. I welded some pairs of nut and washers, The washers have three holes each, and I screwed them to hard wood pieces. These pieces have a cup shape, and I glue the wood on its frontal edge. It dries in about 2 hours, then I can turn it. When the piece is finished, it is very easy to detach it from the wooden cup of the chuck with a narrow cutting tool. The cup serves for many times. Eventually I can glue a new piece of wood over it, or simply replace it.
MyHobbyStore (author)  rimar20001 year ago
Wow, interesting thinking, thanks for sharing.
wilgubeast1 year ago
Very useful info for novice and intermediate turners.
MyHobbyStore (author)  wilgubeast1 year ago
Thank you.