How to cut something small on the lathe -- I made it at TechShop!

Picture of How to cut something small on the lathe -- I made it at TechShop!
Have you ever had to turn a small piece on the lathe and it just won't stay put??

Trying to turn something small and slippery on the lathe can be especially frustrating when centerdrilling or boring because applying any amount of pressure causes the piece to slide deeper into the chuck instead of staying put. If you don't have a chuck spider, then you're kinda out of luck...

HOWEVER, there is a quick fix to this problem. Check it out!
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Step 1: Examine the Lathe

Picture of Examine the Lathe
Check inside the throat of the chuck...

You'll notice that there is significant space between the jaws of the chuck and the back wall of the throat.

This is kind of a problem when you are trying to drill small pieces because there is nothing stopping them from sliding back there.

You'll also notice a shaft that goes clean through the lathe and out the other side. We'll come back to that...

Step 2: Locate the Dead-Center

Picture of Locate the Dead-Center
This tool should accompany every lathe. Find it.

Step 3: Insert into the Throat

Picture of Insert into the Throat
If the dead-center came with the lathe, it should slot perfectly into the throat behind the jaws. Simply slide it into place and the taper should lock it into place nicely.

Step 4: Prep Your Piece

Picture of Prep Your Piece
I like to use some good ol' duct tape to protect the surface of my part, especially if it's something slippery like Delrin.

Step 5: Insert Your Piece into the Chuck Until it Hits the Dead-Center

Picture of Insert Your Piece into the Chuck Until it Hits the Dead-Center
Simply slide it in as far as it will go.

Step 6: Crank Down!

Picture of Crank Down!
Always crank down. Always.

Insert your chuck key, tighten, and REMOVE THE CHUCK KEY! Don't forget.

Step 7: With Every Season, Turn, Turn, Turn...

Picture of With Every Season, Turn, Turn, Turn...
Turn away!

Your piece should be securely fastened and will no longer slip into the chuck. You can drill, bore, cut, whatever!

Happy turnin'!
mlaurita08 (author) 1 year ago
Good point, thanks for the tip ironsmiter!
ironsmiter1 year ago
Nice solution.

Another option is to use a chuck spider