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Chuck Choice (another looking for a chuck post)

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Noob here.

I am bewildered at all the chucks available. I see them ranging in price from under a hundred to well over four-hundred. I like the concept of buy once cry once, but I am not going to be purchasing a $400+ chuck at this time. That is more than I paid for the used Harbor Freight / Central Machinery, #34706, 12 x 33-3/8 lathe, 17 chisels, calipers, bowl rest, and other accessories I purchased. Right now I just want to be turning smaller items like various spindle items, boxes, pens, and small bowls (perhaps some with irregular edges).

So, I could really use some guidance on chucks to consider.

Thanks in advance,
Andrew
 
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My first chuck was a PSI barracuda chuck, which was about the most affordable I could find. They sell a package that includes a decent variety of initial jaws.
The other suggestion I would offer is the Nova series. They are affordable and seem well made for the price.
I have looked at different PSI chucks, but had not noticed the Barracuda series. Many of the chucks seem to fall into the $150 to $200 range. Is that what I should be expecting to pay for a basic chuck that can be expanded upon later?
 
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Working with a wide variety of chucks at our high school shop, the PSI (and other "inexpensive") chucks do not seem to be as durable as the more expensive chucks. They may have less precision and more runout than the more expensive chucks. That being said, they can be quite serviceable for non-demanding uses, such as you describe for yourself.

However, you also said you subscribe to "pay once cry once". Chucks are a perfect test of that belief. A top quality chuck will last you for your entire turning career without giving you headaches or regrets. Only you can decide if it's worth the price.

One rule of thumb is that the cost of the lathe is only half the cost of getting set up--the rest of the paraphernalia adds up to a roughly equal amount. Unless you have a 'tool buying problem' like some folks on here. ;)
 
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I have looked at different PSI chucks, but had not noticed the Barracuda series. Many of the chucks seem to fall into the $150 to $200 range. Is that what I should be expecting to pay for a basic chuck that can be expanded upon later?

That's probably the low end. As Dean said, for non-demanding uses they are probably fine, but cheaper than that price range I'd have concerns using it for even that much.

One other thought to consider (but maybe not too hard) is if "expanded on later" includes potentially upgrading the lathe, and you'd like to keep using the same chuck -- many of the better chucks are sold with inserts, so you can just replace the insert with the threading of the new lathe. The cheaper chucks tend to be direct threaded. Which isn't a problem as long as it stays with that lathe. (Although you can buy a threading adapter)
 
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Thanks for all the input guys.

When I mentioned "expanded on later", I was meaning something like being able to add flat jaws for holding a bowl. But changing to a different lathe may happen too, although that certainly will not be in the near future.

I can certainly see how the cost of the lathe can be 1/2 or less of the total setup cost. That said, I cannot afford a $400 chuck. Do you believe this one would be appropriate? Is there another you would suggest in that price range that would be substantially better?

Thanks again,
Andrew

Note: I just updated the link. The one I pasted in originally was to the wrong chuck.
 
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Thanks for all the input guys.

When I mentioned "expanded on later", I was meaning something like being able to add flat jaws for holding a bowl. But changing to a different lathe may happen too, although that certainly will not be in the near future.

I can certainly see how the cost of the lathe can be 1/2 or less of the total setup cost. That said, I cannot afford a $400 chuck. Do you believe this one would be appropriate? Is there another you would suggest in that price range that would be substantially better?

Thanks again,
Andrew

Note: I just updated the link. The one I pasted in originally was to the wrong chuck.
I would go with a Nova G3 chuck if you are looking in that range. I’ve had both the G3 and the PSI and found the G3 to be much better built.
 
Joined
Feb 19, 2012
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Lakewood , WA
Noob here.

I am bewildered at all the chucks available. I see them ranging in price from under a hundred to well over four-hundred. I like the concept of buy once cry once, but I am not going to be purchasing a $400+ chuck at this time. That is more than I paid for the used Harbor Freight / Central Machinery, #34706, 12 x 33-3/8 lathe, 17 chisels, calipers, bowl rest, and other accessories I purchased. Right now I just want to be turning smaller items like various spindle items, boxes, pens, and small bowls (perhaps some with irregular edges).

So, I could really use some guidance on chucks to consider.

Thanks in advance,
Andrew
My first chuck (about 14 years age) was a mid sized Nova to fit my Rikon midi lathe. I’m still using it—a lot. I have a couple others as well.
 
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IMO the place to start is with jaw grip type - do you want dovetail or serrated or Oneway profile (my favorite). All work well. I prefer serrated/profiled because I rechuck a piece various times, and the impressions these chucks leave make it easy to put back in the same spot. Next is jaw type availability, which depends on the desired jaw grip.

I have 4 PSI Barracuda chucks, a 2–1/2”, 2 x 3-1/2, and a large one. I’ve had them for 6-7 years and the bundle then included more jaws. I really like the jaws, and they are perfectly good chucks even for large items except for one big thing (why I don’t recommend them) - the chuck key/ring gear teeth are designed poorly, making it difficult to get the chuck tight, and over time the ring gear teeth start to fail.

I have a Nova G3. Works well, but I’m not thrilled with the jaw selection (for all Nova chucks). I do like the std jaw with the bird beak.

Also have a Oneway Stronghold, my favorite by a large margin. I already had the G3, or I would also have the smaller Talon. With several jaw sets these get oUt of your $ range.

My recommendation is the Apprentice from Craft Supplies. It uses serrated jaws, so if you want dovetail look elsewhere. For $200 and all the jaw sets it’s a good deal. It looks very similar to the psi Barracuda but has an captured bevel drive for operating the chuck, which should work well


Comes with a 1”x 8 insert. Check to see if the body is threaded 1-1/4” x 8, so it will fit your future lathe updrade.
 

hockenbery

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just want to be turning smaller items like various spindle items, boxes, pens, and small bowls (perhaps some with irregular edges)
lots of chucks to choose from.
the ONEWAY talon is an excellent Chuck for small items. I use the #1 jaws that close to .5” for ornament finials.
have held pen blanks to drill with these jaws but usually use a drill press.

The standard #2 jaws will hold any bowl you can put on that lathe. I use them for ornament balls turning and hollowing.

this is the Chuck I use for sidewalk and state fair demos.
goblets, 8x4 NE bowls, spin tops.....
 
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I would go with a Nova G3 chuck if you are looking in that range. I’ve had both the G3 and the PSI and found the G3 to be much better built.
The newer Nova Pro-Tek G3 (direct thread / non-insert) version is my first chuck, and got the bundle for around 189.00 that included 3 sets of jaws which felt like a good value and starting point for me on a midi lathe (1216). It tightens right-tightly, too! That was about the same price as just the chuck only at some of the more common woodworking stores. Search and ye shall find...
 
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Here's a question: why bother with an insert version of chuck? Isn't that just one more thing; one more moving part to avoid, if possible? I mean, adapters can be purchased to fit a larger or smaller lathe, as I understand it so is there any real advantage (or disadvantage) to choosing insert vs direct thread?
 
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Roulette, PA
Here's a question: why bother with an insert version of chuck? Isn't that just one more thing; one more moving part to avoid, if possible? I mean, adapters can be purchased to fit a larger or smaller lathe, as I understand it so is there any real advantage (or disadvantage) to choosing insert vs direct thread?
As I understand it (I wouldn't know for sure) I think you are talking about the same thing... Insert *is* the adapter? At least that is what I always assumed.. The one (Aftermarket cheapo) jaw chuck (I think it's a one-way knockoff? Dovetail tenon, 2 bars to tighten instead of a t-wrench..) that I have is a 1-8 thread.. as far as I can tell, if I got a new lathe with different (Bigger, 1-1/4") thread, I'd have to get a new chuck, too to go with it,, but if it had insert/adapter, I could take out the old thread and put in the new... so to me, Adapter IS an insert... I may be wrong (wouldn't be the first time) but that's my take on it..
 
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As I understand it (I wouldn't know for sure) I think you are talking about the same thing... Insert *is* the adapter? At least that is what I always assumed.. The one (Aftermarket cheapo) jaw chuck (I think it's a one-way knockoff? Dovetail tenon, 2 bars to tighten instead of a t-wrench..) that I have is a 1-8 thread.. as far as I can tell, if I got a new lathe with different (Bigger, 1-1/4") thread, I'd have to get a new chuck, too to go with it,, but if it had insert/adapter, I could take out the old thread and put in the new... so to me, Adapter IS an insert... I may be wrong (wouldn't be the first time) but that's my take on it..
I think there are two ways to go about it. A spindle adapter or use a different insert within an insert style chuck. One goes over the spindle itself and can reduce 1-1/4 to 1", for example and then direct thread a 1" chuck onto it. This is what I hope to do with my 1" (non-insert) G3 chuck in order to use it on the larger machine that is 1-1/4" spindle size.
 
Last edited:
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I think there are two ways to go about it. A spindle adapter or use a different insert within an insert style chuck. One goes over the spindle itself and can reduce 1-1/4 to 1", for example and then direct thread a 1" chuck into it. This is what I hope to do with my 1" (non-insert) G3 chuck in order to use it on the larger machine that is 1-1/4" spindle size.
OK cool.. let me know if that is a solution.. I hope to be , eventually, in the market for a bigger and better (hah! almost anything has to be better than Harbor Freight!?) lathe and if I can save some bucks by keeping my old jaw chuck (But if I had enough to spend $4500 on a nice new lathe, I probably could cough up an extra $200 for a decent chuck, I suppose!) .. Although if I lucked in to a used upgrade (I'd feel like I won the lottery if I did!) Then I may wanna find a reducer adapter to keep my 1" chuck...
 
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OK cool.. let me know if that is a solution.. I hope to be , eventually, in the market for a bigger and better (hah! almost anything has to be better than Harbor Freight!?) lathe and if I can save some bucks by keeping my old jaw chuck (But if I had enough to spend $4500 on a nice new lathe, I probably could cough up an extra $200 for a decent chuck, I suppose!) .. Although if I lucked in to a used upgrade (I'd feel like I won the lottery if I did!) Then I may wanna find a reducer adapter to keep my 1" chuck...
Mike Peace has some good info on YouTube about these adapters / inserts / etc
 
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I know it’s hard at least for me but try to plan ahead. I started with a smaller lathe so the Nova G3 was a fine Chuck for that lathe. The Chuck is threaded for a 1”-8tpi spindle. My new lathe has a 1.25”-8tpi spindle. I have a lot of different jaws for the G3 so I went with the Super Nova Chuck for the new lathe since all of the jaws will also fit it. I also ordered an adapter so I can use the G3 Chuck on the new lathe for smaller things.
 

brian horais

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Noob here.

I am bewildered at all the chucks available. I see them ranging in price from under a hundred to well over four-hundred. I like the concept of buy once cry once, but I am not going to be purchasing a $400+ chuck at this time. That is more than I paid for the used Harbor Freight / Central Machinery, #34706, 12 x 33-3/8 lathe, 17 chisels, calipers, bowl rest, and other accessories I purchased. Right now I just want to be turning smaller items like various spindle items, boxes, pens, and small bowls (perhaps some with irregular edges).

So, I could really use some guidance on chucks to consider.

Thanks in advance,
Andrew
I started off with the Penn State Industries Barracuda chuck and the accessories that came with the set. It has served its purpose well and is still in use today. Recently I acquired a Record Power chuck and have been very impressed by the solid build quality and overall performance. Record Power also has an impressive array of quality attachments. The big improvement these chucks have over the Nova chucks is that the chuck tool uses the English convention of 'righty tighty'. The Nova series use the opposite convention which is not what most Americans are used to...
 
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I think there are two ways to go about it. A spindle adapter or use a different insert within an insert style chuck. One goes over the spindle itself and can reduce 1-1/4 to 1", for example and then direct thread a 1" chuck onto it. This is what I hope to do with my 1" (non-insert) G3 chuck in order to use it on the larger machine that is 1-1/4" spindle size.

You are right there are two ways to adapting a chuck, but there are differences. The spindle adapter is solid, that is there is no thru hole so you cannot use the knock out bar . Also this type usually has run out that the inserts do not have.

Using insert chuck instead of direct thread allows you to use that expensive chuck on different lathes without the need for a spindle adapter. One more thing is use the insert that is made by the manufacturer of the chuck as there can be tolerance issues.
 
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My recommendation is the Apprentice from Craft Supplies.

After looking at the options presented, the chuck Doug recommended is the one I purchased. I strongly considered the Barracuda, but there were so many reviews that had issues with the key mechanism that I was dissuaded. Others were great, but out of my current price range. Hopefully, the Apprentice chuck will serve me for a long time.

Thank you everyone for all your input.
 
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Here's a question: why bother with an insert version of chuck? Isn't that just one more thing; one more moving part to avoid, if possible? I mean, adapters can be purchased to fit a larger or smaller lathe, as I understand it so is there any real advantage (or disadvantage) to choosing insert vs direct thread?
Allen, an insert is not a moving part. I have at least 10 chucks and they all have inserts except the Original Nova (tommy bar) chuck that came out about 30+ years ago. No problems! I also have an Axminster - not sure if that has an insert or not (would have to go look).
 

brian horais

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The newer Nova chucks are righty-tighty also. As far as the Record Power chucks - may I ask do all the Nova Jaws also fit the RP chucks? How do you like the RP's chuck key?
Allen,

I've been told that the Nova jaws fit the Record Power chucks, but I have no personal experience to validate this. The RP's chuck key works fine and has a solid feel, like the chucks.
 
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Best reason to get removable inserts for chucks would be if you plan to step up in lathe size in the future, AND you sell your small lathe. If you keep your small lathe, and there always seems to be uses for them for turning smaller pieces, then you would have to buy new chucks for the big lathe.... I did have one adapter for my lathe so I could use the small chucks on the big lathe. Didn't like it. The extra cantilevered distance out off of the headstock caused more run out and more vibration.

robo hippy
 
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Conflicting views on insert vs direct thread regarding the Vicmarc VM120 chuck. I'd prefer direct thread, as I won't run a 120 on my smaller, midi lathe. But, I want to be able to sand in reverse. It has been easier in my searches so far to find an available, insert version of the chuck. Can anyone shed a little more light on this re: VM120 insert vs non-insert types?
 
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I'd also ask where is the best place to buy a VM120 (direct thread) if anyone has good experience or suggestions. C. Supplies only has the insert version. If this isn't proper to ask about specific vendors on here just feel free to PM me. Thanks
 
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Conflicting views on insert vs direct thread regarding the Vicmarc VM120 chuck. I'd prefer direct thread, as I won't run a 120 on my smaller, midi lathe. But, I want to be able to sand in reverse. It has been easier in my searches so far to find an available, insert version of the chuck. Can anyone shed a little more light on this re: VM120 insert vs non-insert types?
If they are anything like the Nova chucks you should be able to sand in reverse with either.
 
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Woodworker's Emporium in Las Vegas would be where I would look. They carry the Vicmark lathes as well, so probably have more of the Vic products. Good people to deal with.

robo hippy
 
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If you have one of each of the chucks available in the market you will learn first hand the pros and cons of each one. Most wood turners end up with a selection of chucks that they use for various projects and have their favorites for turning specific items. For starting out most of the chucks will work for your turning needs, when you start turning larger pieces you will want a quality chuck with proper sized chuck jaws to hold the pieces you want to turn.
 
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