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Odds and Ends

Home made insert chuck
I find this is a useful bit of kit. It has no moving parts, just a simple chuck body with interchangeable inserts. Making it involves some metal working, but nothing difficult, mainly drilling, tapping and hand turning.

The chuck body to hold the inserts can be a soft blank end Morse taper big enough for the hole and locking screw. It will need a draw bar to keep it secure in use. You might find one with hole and locking screw ready made.
Alternatively a screw-on chuck can be made using a nut to fit the lathe headstock thread, welded to a short bit of steel bar then turned smooth and true. This involves more work. I made the thread on mine using a screw cutting lathe instead of a nut.

Either way, you will have a steel chuck body attached to the lathe spindle, into which you can drill, using a Jacobs chuck in the tailstock, an axial hole of a suitable size. Reaming makes a more accurately sized hole, but it will work without. I find 12mm is about right, but any size will do. Then drill a cross hole in the chuck and tap it so that an Allen grub screw will lock the insert when in use. Don't use a screw that projects, as it will catch your fingers.
To make the inserts, push a short length of steel rod, which must be a snug fit, into the drilled hole, tighten the locking screw enough to mark the spot, remove the rod and file a small flat or drill a shallow depression in the rod so that it will not get cut up by the locking screw. Then shape the end as you wish. This could be done by hand turning in place. 

An insert can be anything you want, and could be made of hard wood. I have inserts that are small pin chucks, mandrels, taper friction drives, miniature 2-prong drive centres, and threaded ones that will screw into the wood for finials or take lock nuts, for example for turning discs. If the hole is true and the insert nicely fitting, it can be removed and replaced and will still run true enough for wood turning purposes. Once the chuck body is done, you can make a special purpose insert whenever you like.
Other options are to hold the inserts themselves directly in an ordinary woodturning chuck or a Jacobs chuck with a draw bar, or to hold the homemade chuck body in an ordinary woodturning chuck without welding on a nut. This approach, though easier than making a metal chuck body, does result in some loss of rigidity because of the increased projection from the lathe spindle nose, and access to the work is reduced by the larger chuck body. I prefer working with the small chuck.

Drill rack
If you use a power drill for sanding your work you may get tired of waiting for the drill to stop spinning before you can put it down. You don't have to wait very long, but it happens so often!

I made a special shelf next to the lathe. It has a simple guide block that stops my old mains-powered drill falling off while it runs down. The chuck key lives on a magnet right there. One minor source of annoyance gone.

Sizing gauges
This is a very well known idea but it is so useful for repetition work that I include it for anyone who may not have tried it. When making spindle tenons in batches each has to be identical.  Make the tenons with a parting tool or a narrow square scraper, holding an open spanner to the tenon and keep cutting till the spanner slips on. I have fitted wooden handles to spanners cut in half for the sizes I use most. Some people sharpen the spanner so it actually cuts the tenon but I have not found this so effective. Instead, I round off the points of the spanner jaw to prevent catching in the wood, a particular problem with softwood because of the alternating hard and soft growth rings.

Piloted lathe centre
I often have to make components with a 12mm hole through them. The best way is to pre-drill the blank and turn it centred on the hole. Friction from a conical dead centre in the headstock is enough to drive the blank if it is small and there is a live tail centre. For larger blanks, I use a bit of 12 mm rod, turned down at one end to fit the pin hole in a piloted four-spur drive centre. This could be converted from a normal drive centre if necessary by drilling a hole and tapping for a lock screw. 


Chip deflectors
A clip-on chip deflector for roughing gouges and scrapers stops hot or spiky high velocity chips from hitting your hand or arm. I made some deflectors out of thin sheet steel and fix them to gouges or scraper blades using a couple of little Neodymium magnets. This allows the deflector to be removed quickly for tool sharpening. The magnets are fixed using small self-tapping screws or glue.

Dust collecting
One problem with collecting dust at the lathe is that the collector inlet needs to be adjustable and there may not be much room if the lathe is against a wall. I have tried slings, floor stands, stayput hoses and other arrangements to support and adjust the inlet, but the best I have found by far for my long bed lathe is a plywood bracket carried on a wall shelf behind the lathe. The bracket is just high enough to clear the back of the tool rest holder and is made of 12mm ply. The suction power of any extractor falls off rapidly with distance from the mouth of the hose, so it should be positioned as close as possible to the work, particularly as the cutting takes place at the front and the extractor is at the back. The bracket clamp is just tight enough to allow it to slide along the shelf but stay where it is put. I use an extractor with a 125 mm flexible hose and the suction is usually enough to get virtually all the dust and fine shavings. I can see the shavings and dust plume leaving the tool edge or sandpaper and going up the pipe. When I am turning larger pieces I have to use a dust mask as well as the extractor. If you have a small extractor, or one with poor filtration, don't rely on it alone.

Friction grip pads
A handy thing to have in the workshop is a couple of the high friction pads sold in kitchen shops for opening jars. They are a great help when getting finished items off a screw chuck. (And for opening jars of sanding sealer).


Countersunk Neodymium magnets are very handy in the workshop. They can easily be fixed to the wall and one will hold a pair of callipers, rule or spanner in a handy location. They are quite inexpensive on Ebay. I also put one on the end of a long dowel to pick things up, such as the arbour nut on my table saw when I drop it down inside the machine.

Lathe tool trays
During a turning job, you may be using several turning tools, a tape measure, abrasives in various grades, pencil, a drawing or sample, and sets of callipers. It is a great convenience to have somewhere to keep them tidy and to hand.

I made two lathe trays to keep all this stuff. One is kept on the lathe bed and I use it for turning tools I am using. It is very easy to make, and lots of turners will have something similar. It is just a sheet of MDF or ply with a block fixed underneath. The block fits between the lathe bed ways so the tray easily slides along and lifts off. If the block is deep, the tray doesn't tip.

The second tray is screwed to the top of the headstock. The horizontal pulley cover on my Tyme Classic lathe is cast iron and flat, though not big enough to use as an equipment tray. I drilled two holes in the cover and tapped them for small machine screws. A square of ply or MDF with edging strips then makes a surface for callipers, abrasives etc. It lifts up with the cover when I need to change the drive belt position.

I drilled holes in a 150 mm steel rule and screwed it to this tray where it is always handy. I can set the calipers from it. One leg of the calipers hooks against the end of the rule while I set the other.

Sanding discs
Most turners use sanding discs. They are expensive and don't last long, so you can get through quite a lot, in different grits, and they have to be stored tidily.

I buy large velcro backed discs from Ebay. The 180 mm / 7 inch size is available in a wide range of grits. I also bought from Ebay a 50 mm punch. They can be quite expensive, but soon pay for themselves. You could sharpen the end of a bit of steel pipe instead. 

Using the punch, I convert each large disc into 8 small ones. Each small disc costs much less than the ready-cuts from woodturning suppliers. I generally use them about twice, then discard them before they are completely worn out, getting better results on the bowls. If I were really stingy, I would use the scraps cut from between the discs for spindle sanding.

I label the back of each disc with the grit number (most are already stamped by the maker, but there are gaps in the printing), then stack them neatly between dividers in a biscuit tin. The interlocking dividers are easily made to fit a box or shallow drawer, using thin ply and a bandsaw. 

I have a 500 mm strip of velcro (from a haberdasher, no doubt you can get it from Ebay too) pinned to the wall by the lathe where I park the discs in current use.

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