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  • Building a Chuck Plate

    About 5-6 months ago I wanted to turn a piece of Cholla, but there wasn't any solid wood to center on to. It took me about 30 minutes to come up with what I call a "Chuck Plate".

    It consists of a 3/4" piece of hard maple 3" od, with a 3/8" x 2 1/4" tenon.

    This piece is glued and screwed to a piece of 3/4" Baltic Birch plywood 4 1/2" od. The screws are #8 x 1 3/4" long, and protrude 5/16" out from the face of the plywood. The inner screws form a 1 1/2" circle with one in the center for a total of 5 screws. The plywood utilizes 8 #8 x 1" screws forming a 3 1/2"diameter.

    After setting the chuck plate in the chuck, put your wood up against the screws and bring the tailstock up to the soon to be tenon side of the wood. Tighten the tailstock, and with a deadblow, or good hammer, tap the wood in at least 4 places to seat it onto the screws of the chuck plate. Retighten the tailstock. Turn on your lathe on and turn your tenon onto your wood. After the roughout and tenon is turned, remove the chuck plate, insert your turning into your chuck, and finish your turning. It's as simple as that!

    You do not need to have a flat surface to set up against the chuck plate. It's a lot quicker than setting up a faceplate, and just as safe as a faceplate.

    If you are going to turn something without a good solid center on either end, use two chuck plates.

    Remove the 8 outer screws and the center screw. Put the point of your live center in it's place, and tighten the tailstock.

    After you turn your centerless piece, then you need to figure out what you're going to do with a cylinder.

    This last picture is showing that the tailstock is removed, and the screws are still supporting the cholla, just from the pressure from the original tightening of the tailstock. This Chuck plate is intended to be used with the tailstock. I suppose you could turn large spindles, such as table bases, columns and the like.

    Jerry (in Tucson)
    Comments 14 Comments
    1. Andrew Raymond's Avatar
      Andrew Raymond -
      What is the major od on the final piece of material
    1. Randy Buck's Avatar
      Randy Buck -
      Very cool idea! We are going to be back in Tucson in the near future and wouldn't mind picking up some Cholla like that. Do you have a source, or do you pick it up in the desert?
    1. Jerry Marcantel's Avatar
      Jerry Marcantel -
      Quote Originally Posted by Randy Buck View Post
      Very cool idea! We are going to be back in Tucson in the near future and wouldn't mind picking up some Cholla like that. Do you have a source, or do you pick it up in the desert?
      Randy, there's a forest of this stuff about a mile from where I live. You only want to get the dead and standing stuff. After it dies and finally hits the ground, it's usually too far gone to do anything with it..... When you know when you're going to be here, let me know about a week in advance, and I'll give you contact info, and I'll take you into the desert to get some......... Jerry (in Tucson)
    1. Andrew Raymond's Avatar
      Andrew Raymond -
      How many pieces of material are utilized in making this item. I read a description for two pieces and think I see three.
    1. Jerry Marcantel's Avatar
      Jerry Marcantel -
      Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Raymond View Post
      How many pieces of material are utilized in making this item. I read a description for two pieces and think I see three.
      Andrew, there are two pieces of wood. One piece of 3/4" hard Maple at 3" od with a 3/8" x 2 1/4" tenon to fit my Nova G3. If you just attach a 2 1/4" round to the plate, there is not enough edge distance(ED)to keep the wood from splitting when you set the screws, Therefore, I use a 3" od with the step tenon with screws at 1 1/2" od.....The Maple is glued and screwed to a 4 1/2" piece of 3/4" Baltic Birch. Two pieces of wood. 5 #8 x 1 3/4" screws attaching the chuck tenon to the plate, 8 #8 x 1" screws at a 3 1/2" diameter circle leaving 1/2" ED... If you make one for yourself, please give me the credit for the design if anyone asks.
      You could make your own as small as you like or as big as you like. That would be your preference. My capacity is 12", and this 4 1/2" CP does the job perfectly. I even made on for my tailstock. In that case, you remove the center screw, and countersink the center hole a little deeper, and set your point and apply tension. Works for me.. ....Jerry (in Tucson)
    1. Andrew Raymond's Avatar
      Andrew Raymond -
      Thank you......I am sometimes dense............
    1. Richard Golde's Avatar
      Richard Golde -
      Do you use wood screws or sheetmetal screws? The thread pitch is different. The reason I ask is sheetmetal screws hold a faceplate better.
      Richard Golde
    1. Jerry Marcantel's Avatar
      Jerry Marcantel -
      Richard, I use sheet metal screws because they are threaded the full length. These screws do not screw into the wood you're going to turn. They act like a spur..... That is the only purpose for the screws on the CP. Thirteen screws total with 8 on an outside diameter of 3 1/2" will keep anything from catching and digging in. Also, if the wood you are going to turn is touching the face of the CP, it's probably too far gone to turn. There should be space between the CP and the project you're turning......... Jerry (In Tucson)
    1. Carol Kinney's Avatar
      Carol Kinney -
      This is great Jerry! I made a very similar design based off the commercial face plate; I just added the tenon to attach it to my chuck. I couldn’t understand why no one had done this because to me at times it’s easier to attach pieces to your chuck (this is normally what you’ll use to turn the piece with anyway). So instead of getting out more equipment, removing the chuck (which I have a hard time doing at times) I just copied the normal face plate design and added the tenon. I use mine all the time and now I’m sure other turners will be doing the same. I’m fairly new at turning and figured I was doing something you shouldn’t so was afraid the post it LOL . Great post and great design Jerry . . . keep them coming!

    1. Chris Helie's Avatar
      Chris Helie -
      Thanks for the great idea! I am a newbie on here and appreciate all the tips and "nuggets" of valuable info! This is a great site! Thanks again!
    1. Bill Bolen's Avatar
      Bill Bolen -
      What a great idea! Copied your design for use on my DVR and it works like a champ. Thanks for sharing!
    1. Al Rogers's Avatar
      Al Rogers -
      We can call it Jerry's porcupine chuck

    1. Prashun Patel's Avatar
      Prashun Patel -
      I just built one of these last night so I can turn vessels with smaller openings than my faceplate allows (by making deep screw holes 3" apart). I really like it, thanks, Jerry.

      The issue I have is that it when I reverse the vessel for hollowing, I can no longer use the tailstock adapter to center the form. Even if I were to buy a second chuck to hold the place, it wouldn't be that easy to center the piece on the plate again...

      Anybody have a solution to this?
    1. Neil McWilliams's Avatar
      Neil McWilliams -
      When you reverse it to hollow it, aren't you gripping a tenon in your chuck? Shouldn't any minor deviation from concentricity turn away easily? My challenge comes when I reverse the hollowed form to finish the base. I've gotten pretty proficient with using the chuck, padded, as a jam chuck but rarely can avoid a bit of runout.