UnsquareD #1: Sort of a new beginning, and a new Supernova (chuck)

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Blog entry by PurpLev posted 07-16-2013 06:31 PM 2587 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of UnsquareD series Part 2: Getting Carbided (?) - or Shopmade Carbide Turning Tools - Version 1 »

While I have been turning small stuff for a while, I guess I never really took the time to write about it.

My first introduction to turning was when I was a youngster. my cousin was turning bowls and vessels and he would let me monkey around with the lathe just turning small spindles for fun – I never really learned techniques, but just went along with it picking it up as I go.

As of late I started turning metal, and tried to turn a few small wooden parts, and while it works, I would rather avoid the mess of (metal turning lathes) oils and wood. plus when I saw that my daughter was enjoying turning I figured it would be a good idea to get a small dedicated wood lathe for playing with. not in a rush I kept an eye out on CL for something that would be good quality and affordable, and still available before it is snatched by others until I came upon the Delta VS midi lathe which I picked up a few weeks back:

I like it. it’s super quiet, stable, it’s stout yet small frame. controls are easy to access, and arms and TS all move freely and lock well in place. the VS option is great when needed although I personally would have no problems using belts only to change speeds (even this VS model has belts which control ranges of speed where the VS can control the max and min speed within that range). all in all – I like it alot. it did come with an extra long tool rest which is great for longer spindles/pens and the likes, but I would like to get a shorter one for when turning between centers or chuck+tailstock on shorter pieces where the longer toolrest won’t be able to reach the part… but no rush on that one.

While researching for a chuck I found several decent options from the Novas, to the Baraccudas, and the Apprentice chuck as well. All somewhat within the same price range of $100-$200. anything above that was just not in my interest. but within this group I was interested in what will be the best performer, best kept value, and best longevity.

The Nova3, Baraccuda, and Apprentice all share a similar price point and come with a wide selection of jaws to grab stock from small to large and seem to be the best bang for the buck. The Supernova comes at a higher price range and only comes with 1 jaw set – plus it requires an adapter to fit to the lathe spindle where the rest of the options are designed for the smaller lathes and come pre-threaded to mount directly on the spindles, this adds another part , and another cost to the supernova.

the supernova and the apprentice both differ from the other chucks in that the scroll mechanism is completely enclosed in the body of the chuck whereas the other chucks have an open back. I didn’t care much for the open back both for the reason of dust collecting there (gears) and more so because I didn’t care much for the key that was used to engage the scroll mechanism (personal preference – nothing is functionally wrong with that design).

unfortunately I could not find any contextual reviews on that Apprentice chuck, but what I could find suggested it is mediocre at best, and came with some hints that the machining process isn’t as good as it can get.

While I like the ‘best bang for the buck’ idea of getting the most jaws for your chuck at a low price point, I personally prefer to get less jaws, and more chuck even if it cost a little more (again – price range is still close enough so that the extra cost isn’t extreme and out of reason). That in conjunction with the good reviews and the high tolerance machining (as claimed) of the Supernova got me to go that route.

I ended up purchasing a reconditioned Supernova from Teknatools directly. with 1 set of jaws (50mm / 2”), a drive screw, enclosed scroll mechanism and an indexable chuck (not sure I’ll use it as the lathe itself has an indexing mechanism in the headstock) which were all standard, as well as an adapter to fit my spindle and shipping, it ended up costing less than any of the other alternatives – before shipping was included (some had free shipping though)- albeit without the extra sets of jaws.

I will get the jaws I need as I need them – most likely the smaller jaws – or I might even make them (wood or metal) per required project.

The chuck arrived oily as expected, and other than a few scratches/blemishes and some minor damage to the box itself it looks in pristine condition after cleaning it up a tad (a spritz of WD-40 and a paper towel did the job):

I bolted the jaws and left them a bit loose, then closed the jaws using the wrench until they made contact with one another. aligned them properly – and tightened the bolts holding them to keep them in proper positioning:

...and with the drive screw:

Now, when I did my research – I simply could not find any images of the supernova on a Delta midi lathe – for sizing visualization, so I figured I’d put these out there if anyone is doing a similar research and might be interested. here is the supernova on the midi lathe:

The chuck has a set screw which locks the insert in place, and there is mark on the insert where you can drill it out and tap to add another set screw to lock the insert to the spindle which I will do at some point as this lathe can turn in reverse and theoretically the chuck could come off – although for sanding purposes, this is very unlikely to happen if the chuck is mounted properly.

The chuck seems to be holding stock pretty well. runs smoothly and doesn’t seem to overpower the lathe in both size and weight.

next – I do want to turn some wooden adapters to be able to hold narrower stock with the stock 50mm jaws for turning smaller projects.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

6 comments so far

View Woodwrecker's profile


4229 posts in 4059 days

#1 posted 07-16-2013 06:47 PM

I have the same lathe and that chuck’s little brother.
Both have served me well.
I have just scratched the surface of turning, but like it.

Nice blog post Sharon.

View TheDane's profile


5671 posts in 4147 days

#2 posted 07-16-2013 06:55 PM

I, too, have the Delta 46-460 w/extension bed. I have two chucks … a PSI Economy (tommy bar), and a Delta/Nova G3 (open back). I bought the G3 because it is reversible, and find myself using it most of the time. So far, the open back hasn’t been a problem.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View PurpLev's profile


8551 posts in 4132 days

#3 posted 07-16-2013 07:31 PM


I think turning is the most addictive form of woodworking – the results are immediate and very gratifying.

Gerry – I don’t think there is anything wrong with the G3 (or any problem) -just a matter of personal preference. nothing more.

FYI, as I mentioned, the Nova insert can be drilled and tapped with a set screw just like the reversible G3/delta chucks. What I do like about the larger chuck is that while it does require you to also get an insert – it also makes it possible to move to other lathes, and probably for the same reason -easier to resell if the need ever arises.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View SPalm's profile


5334 posts in 4366 days

#4 posted 07-16-2013 07:49 PM

Looks good Purp.
Not much to add here, I have the same lathe with a PSI chuck. I like it, but the Nova does seem nicer.

It will be fun to see what you do with it.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View MrFid's profile


893 posts in 2388 days

#5 posted 07-27-2013 04:39 AM

I remember seeing that lathe on CL… glad to see it got into good hands. I have a Jet 1220 that I got on said CL, and a Nova also. You probably already know this, but in case not… I found that it helped to have a washer to separate the chuck from the threading on the headstock, since it tightens as it spins. Sometimes it can be tricky to get off. A good washer can be had for zero dollars as long as you have a milk jug lying around. Cut into shape of washer and go to town.

-- Bailey F - Eastern Mass.

View Mauricio's profile


7163 posts in 3635 days

#6 posted 07-29-2013 06:22 PM

Great write up Purp. A good resource for anyone in the market for a chuck. Thanks for sharing.

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

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