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I have an old lathe which I bought dirt cheap many years ago.
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I don't use it very often and I am certainly not very skilful in turning. I am currently busy making an old time toy truck and I thought of using my lathe to make the wheels.

One problem that I have with this approach is that I don't have a chuck for my lathe ( I plan to shape the face of the wheels). Limited financial resources excludes buying one and also I am not sure whether an aftermarket chuck will fit on my lathe. It has a faceplate with a drive mechanism for turning spindles with a centre point and some drive teeth. I think this is a modification and not standard.
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The faceplate screws on to the drive shaft, but it is fairly securely attached and it would take quite an effort to remove. The drive teeth are not difficult to remove however. Just loosen the lock nut and they screw out.
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Since buying a chuck is not really an option (they are quite expensive here in South Africa and shipping costs and a weak currency za R against the US $, makes imports quite expensive) I am wondering if I can't make one that will attach to my lathe's faceplate. After searching online I found a few that works basically like the one Dan made.

The disadvantages that came out i.r.o. this design are
1) Dangerous. Somebody mentioned on one of the forums that it will be the equivalent of sticking your hand into moving farm machinery!
2) difficult to align the work piece.
3) Small contact area of the screws securing the work piece.

After thinking about it and fiddling about a little on Sketchup, I came up with the following idea which hopefully addresses the concerns mentioned above.

My design considerations were:
1) Safety. No screws or bolts sticking out just waiting to zap your hand.
2) It must be able to accommodate a fair size range.
3) the jaws holding onto the workpiece should be adequate.
4) Make use of a centre point to help in centering the workpiece.

My Sketchup drawings shows the design detail. As Sketchup in some way lives in a perfect world I thought that I would just like to gain the opinions of a few guys who are more experienced than me, before attempting to make it.
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I will appreciate any comments about the above design and also any ideas on different designs.
 

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4 jaw, as opposed to 3 and 6, is easier to make because the jaws do not move in unison. I would think it could be made by just having a good cylinder that is drilled and tapped on its quadrants. you could use full thread bolts at that point. The key with a 4 jaw is having a good dial indicator (depending on the required accuracy), and making the holes you drill in the cylinder dead straight and on quadrant.

Post pics when you are done.
 

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Why not just mount you piece of wood to the face plate? You would need to drill more hole in it to mount your wood, but attach it to the FP. Bring up the tail stock, turn a wheel, part it off, and repeat until you have your 4 wheels. ....... That sounds simpler than building a chuck…............... Jerry (in Tucson)
 

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George I think this plate is fitted on a screw, and can be disassembled. Can you make a picture of the backside?

BTW for making wheels you dont,s need a chuck. It can be handy but it isn,t necessary.
 

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George,
I do not think you will be happy with a 4-jaw chuck. It may be fine for the first phase of turning a spindle or bowl, but if you need to flip the piece around, you are going to face real challenges trying to get the piece adequately centered. Not to say it cannot be done, but I would certainly tire quickly if faced with this challenge on every turning.

I'd think you will want both a chuck and a drive center. If the lathe headstock does not have a Morse taper to hold drive centers and other accessories, but is just threaded, then if you can get a 3-jaw chuck mounted, you can always chuck the drive center. I guess it all depends on what that faceplate is mounted to, and that will dictate your options.

I hope it works out for you.
 

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I agree with the above… no need for a chuck. You can either glue a blank onto a sacrificial piece of wood and attach that to the faceplate, or if you can remove that faceplate (which you should be able to do), you can make your own wood faceplates to use and put a bolt in the middle to hold your wheel blanks, similar to this:

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The above was for making some rotors for a scroll saw, but they would make great wheels as well. You just drill a hole in your blank, mount it on the faceplate and turn it true. In the above, I also made an extended hub so I could drill and tap for a set screw to hold it on the shaft. You can use whatever size bolt you need depending on what size axle you plan on using for your project. Using the bolt to hold the blank ensures that the turning comes out true and centered around the center hole, which might prove difficult if you drill the hole after turning the wheel (being just slightly off center would make for one wobbly ride!).

Cheers,
Brad

PS: If you notice in the picture above, the faceplate has the final diameter of the rotor cut into it to make it easier to determine how far to turn the wheel down, and the washer at the top marks the diameter of the hub. Makes it pretty easy to turn out duplicates all the same size. Once you get it turned to roughly the right dimensions, you can use a calliper or other measuring device to fine tune if required. Another washer between the faceplate and rotor helps to keep them separated slightly so you don't bugger up the faceplate when turning the rotor.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the replies so far. You all have confirmed my feeling that making a chuck is not the best way to go on this.
Lee, centering that chuck is one of my concerns.

Brad, thanks for the advice of a wooden faceplate. The faceplate does screw on, but will need some force to come off. Any ideas on cutting the thread into the wooden faceplate? (I don't have such a big tap)

I think at this stage that simplest alternative is a sacrificial piece of wood and attach that to the faceplate. Your idea of using a bolt that is the same as the axle size to hold the wheel blank sound good.
 

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Do you know the thread size of your spindle? My lathe has an oddball spindle thread (3/4-10), so finding accessories has proven difficult. But the faceplates (made out of scrap pieces of 2×4's) work great. Finding the proper tap for your spindle should not be too difficult, and it's only being used for wood, so even a really cheap one would work fine. They do come in very handy for a lot of things… just glue it onto your stock, turn it, then part it off. If it gets too short, just glue another piece on top to lengthen it a bit; and since you can make dozens of them out of scrap, you don't worry too much about tearing them up in the process.

Regardless, I would still try to get that faceplate off your lathe… that would give you a much wider range of options. It would also help in getting something with a bolt mounted, as you really need to put it in from behind the faceplate (I put it in and then glue or epoxy it in place to keep from moving).

To put in the bolt - mount whatever you will be using as the faceplate on the lathe, then use the tailstock to drill the hole for the bolt. That will make sure it's perfectly centered on the headstock/faceplate.

Cheers,
Brad
 

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Not familiar with your lathe so do not know if spindle simply treaded or has morse taper bore & threads.

Mount (screws or nuts & bolts) a waste block (scrap wood) to the face plate. Glue another smaller waste block (scrap wood) centered on larger waste block. True up that second waste block with turning tools.

That second waste block is where you want to mount wood going to turn into wheels. Can choose to turn one or more wheels at a time. Simply mount wheel wood with either carpenters glue & paper joints or hot melt glue. Might be simpler to use a screw in center of wood wheels & hot melt glue. Turn outside of wheels to dimension first. Then turn inside diameter next part off the lathe. Next drill and turn wheel hub to size and part off. Add spokes later.

Might get more help from local woodturners in the area.
 

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Started woodturning on very inexpensive lathe without a morse taper, back then faceplate & homemade jam chucks pretty common. Still use faceplates today on my fourth lathe now and updated thread inserts so can be used. Still start out turning between centers before mounting project (bowls or hollow form)on chuck or faceplate.

This book takes few minutes to download and if go to table of contents to find topics that interest you will find it a great information and pictures or illustrations.

http://wood.woodtools.nov.ru/books/lathe_book/lathe_book.pdf

Chapter 4 Holding the Work, explains why using sheet metal screws vice drywall or wood screws important when mounting waste blocks to faceplates. After reading section on special purpose chucks will be able to figure out how to make something to meet your needs.

Last time posted Ernie Conover link here, someone said information pretty old! Well there are many ways to turn stuff on a lathe without a 4-jaw scroll chuck and still turn that lathe speed to "L " for leap, "D" for drag, "R" for race, and "P" for pass!
 
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