Stupid Me

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Project by WoodChuck84 posted 10-15-2010 03:46 AM 4360 views 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

A while back I was placing an order from Penn State. I noticed that the bottle stopper chuck was on sale 30% off, so I figured what the heck. So I used the drill bit that came with it and prepared a blank, only to discover that the bit size was a wee bit too large. I found a slightly smaller bit and grabbed a piece of poplar, prepared the blank, turned it, and all was well. Now stupid sets in. Since the first one went so well, I decided to turn some purpleheart stoppers. I used the same bit, but the purpleheart is a bit more dense than poplar. My senses should have kicked in when I had to use some fierce torque to thread the blank, but I just bucked down and got in on. After turning the stopper I discovered the upsetting truth—it was stuck real good. So here are my questions for anyone who uses the bottle stopper chuck:

1. What size drill bit works best?

2. Assuming you don’t have to use pliers to get the stopper off the chuck, do you do anything special to keep your hands from marring the finish?

In an unrelated matter of stupidity, the bottle stopper chuck was sort of an impulse buy, so stupid me didn’t order any stopper kits. So…

3. Which style stopper bottom do your customers like best: high profile, low profile, classic, vintage, gold, chrome, stainless, or cork?

Any other suggestions, comments, or advice is welcome.

-- Hello, my name is Jarrod and I am a woodaholic.

10 comments so far

View interpim's profile


1170 posts in 3964 days

#1 posted 10-15-2010 04:50 AM

I have that same chuck and the bit is a bit oversized. I last turned a stopper over a year ago, but from what I recall I used it, and used the tailstop to get the general shape of the stopper, and when I wanted to turn the end, I pulled the tailstop off and used light cuts. You could use your smaller bit, and when you use the denser woods go back to the larger bit. If it’s still to big, maybe thread on the blank, then teflon the chuck and re-seat it.

-- San Diego, CA

View darryl's profile


1795 posts in 4832 days

#2 posted 10-15-2010 05:04 AM

are you using a bottle stopper tap= to cut your threads? If not, that would be my first suggestion.

I have heard the chrome plating can flake off if exposed to red wine… not wanting to take any chances, I only use the stainless steel options.

View petar's profile


1 post in 3541 days

#3 posted 10-15-2010 12:48 PM

WJS; It looks like you did a nice job on the stopper (at least until ‘oops’ happened). I’m not familiar with the stopper chuck you’re using (my lathe has been living in storage for about 14 years now, I know I’ll have time for turning again someday), but I can see right away that I’d use one of those rubber strap wrenches (similar to Lowes item #253674). You can find them quite cheap at discount tool houses and even some “dollar stores” carry them now. The gripping pad (like one jaw from a pipe-wrench) is usually wider than the strap, so I grind it to be narrower before I use it. When it’s smaller items I’ve got hopelessly stuck (do you recognize the voice of great experience here?), I wrap the strap around the part a couple of times before locking it back in the handle and so far it hasn’t marked or damaged even the softest of wood.
Keep up the nice work and don’t forget to let us know what solutions you find that work for you.

-- The only 'stupid' question is the one you don't ask!

View Woodbutcher3's profile


459 posts in 3392 days

#4 posted 10-15-2010 02:56 PM

A couple hints for things I do when I turn that might help you. These will keep the piece from “locking” on so tight. You may still need a tool or strap wrench, but it won’t be as hard to remove.
Put a plastic washer cut out from a milk jug between the workpiece and the chuck.
Put a plastic washer over the threads of the headstock when I screw on the chuck or anything else.
Put some beeswax on tight fittings into wood.

-- Rod ~ There's never enough time to finish a project, but there's always time to start another one.

View lew's profile


12859 posts in 4261 days

#5 posted 10-15-2010 06:04 PM

Here is a chart for drill/tap sizes: Note the “W” and “X” bit sizes can be used for adjusting the “fit”

Instead of using a tap, I use my home made mandrel to thread the stopper blanks

I use a wrench to screw the mandrel directly into the bored hole and a Jacobs chuck w/ a #2 Morris taper to mount into the lathe

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Raspar's profile


246 posts in 3653 days

#6 posted 10-15-2010 09:05 PM

I buy from Ruth. Here is the link:

I bought her kit and the same thing happened to me. I use a strap wrench to get it turn off the mandrel. Since then I add a little paste wax when I am spinning it on and have not had any problems since.

Her stoppers are very high quality too.

Hope this helps

-- Have thy tools ready. God will find thee work.

View tucsoncyclist's profile


96 posts in 3596 days

#7 posted 10-16-2010 02:21 AM

I typically drill the blank, add a few drops of CA and twirl it, then tap. Hardwoods are fine, but softer woods can strip the threads. I remove the stopper while the chuck is still in the lathe and I have had a few strip but never any that were stuck.

PS. I took a piece of plywood and glued some carriage bolts to it that have the same thread pattern. I take them off the lathe and finish them on the plywood. Here I go assuming that you are leaving it on the chuck to apply the finish.

-- Marc - Tucson, AZ

View Berg's profile


116 posts in 3695 days

#8 posted 10-18-2010 10:46 AM

Raspar has the answer to #3. Go stainless and buy from Ruth. If you use wine stoppers you will notice that any plated stoppers WILL start pitting and flaking ruining your efforts.

-- Pete - "To every thing there is a season Turn! Turn! turn!" [Ecclesiastes and Pete Seeger]

View gurnie's profile


342 posts in 3540 days

#9 posted 10-22-2010 08:56 PM

Sorry to hear you are having issues. i bought this kit:

and i have turned walnut and maple so far. I haven’t had any issues with the stopper twisting off, sometimes it takes effort, but it’ll come off. Maybe your bit is just a little too small.

i will comment that AFTER i am done turning putting the stopper into the block is a PITA (i use these stoppers ). They seem a little big for the hole made for the chuck, but i usually can drill or sand the difference

-- Please visit my Etsy site, or You can also follow me on my artfire blog:

View Dusty56's profile


11852 posts in 4193 days

#10 posted 02-19-2011 06:51 PM

Good question and a lot of helpful answers ….thank you all : )

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

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