How to Make a Jam Chuck for a Lathe

Written by angela baird
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How to Make a Jam Chuck for a Lathe
Jam chucks are used with lathes in the production of bowls or other hollow objects. (lathe image by Tomasz Plawski from Fotolia.com)

Used in woodturning or lathing, a jam chuck has nothing to do with jelly-making or toast. It is a piece of material that fits firmly over the lathe jaws at one end and is sized to specificity to have a woodturned project, such as a bowl, fitted tightly over the other end. The purpose of the jam chuck is to use friction to hold and turn the bowl so the outside bottom of the piece can be easily finished off on the lathe. Jam chucks are often made of blocks of wood with a centre hole that fits over the lathe's jaws; the drawback of a wooden chuck is that often, one must take time to turn a new chuck in order to fit it to the project at hand (Reference 1). Chucks made of PVC pipe fittings streamline the process.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Pipe fittings in desired size or sizes
  • Sand paper or dremel tool
  • Hobby foam
  • Glue

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Select your pipe fitting according to the size of the scroll chuck on your lathe and the size of the projects you typically complete. You may choose to do several different sizes if you regularly do a wide range of projects. The tail stock end (the end that does not fit over the scroll chuck of your lathe) must be close to the inside diameter of the bowl and larger than the diameter of the bowl's base in order for it to be able to "grab" the bowl once inserted.

  2. 2

    Smooth the edges at the ends of the pipe fitting. Be certain that the lip is true on the end that is to be slid onto the scroll chuck. It must fit on tightly and sit straight so that there is no wobble or spin when the lathe is turning at high speeds.

  3. 3

    Glue the foam, which should be cut to size to cover the edges of the tail stock end of your jam chuck, to the lip of the pipe fitting. This is the part that contacts the project, so smooth edges and full coverage of the foam are necessary to protect the surface of the project inserted onto the jam chuck.

Tips and warnings

  • Try out different weights of foam for different projects. You may also use shelf lining rubber, old mouse pads or carpet padding, depending on your requirements.
  • For all steps and the tip, see Reference 2.

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