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What center works best?

Joined
Jul 19, 2017
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I recently turned a couple of small bowls using a spur center rather than a chuck/woodworm screw (which my usual way of roughing out the outside shape). One bowl was from a thinner blank which is why I tied the spur center. Both were oriented with the face grain rather than edge grain toward the top and bottom of the bowl. I had a problems with the spur center tearing out of the blank and ended up in both cases remounting with the wood worm screw.
I also own a Steb center (I think that is the correct name. )

Would the steb center work better? If not what is the likely cause of my tear out problem?
 

hockenbery

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Would the steb center work better? If not what is the likely cause of my tear out problem?
I use a spur drive for almost all my bowls and hollow forms.
I drive it in with a mallet to set the the teeth( spur drive need to be sharpened every 50. Pieces turned or every drop.
also i orient the spur blades at 45 degrees to the grain so that they all bite in evenly.
while turning the tailstock need to be checked for tightness. The drive centers will work themselves deeper into the wood as you cut. A 1/4 or 1/2 turn in t he tailstock after a few cuts.

when the spur drive gets a little bit loose it becomes a 4 bladed spade bit and drills a hole.

a spur drive is better for adjusting the grain patterns and the heights of natural Edge rims.

i would not use a steb drive for bowls. it Can work with mixed success.
learning to use a spur drive is a better course of action.
 
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Randy Anderson

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I use the stock issue spur drive that came with my lathe for all of my green wood first turns - big and small. Tighten up, turn a bit, check and tighten a bit more, turn a bit more and after a few times it's good and snug. Rarely but it does happen when it might slip and spin. I take it off the lathe, clean out the hole a bit and put back up.
 
Joined
Mar 12, 2017
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Mostly I bore a hole and use the chuck in expansion mode. Sometimes I use a shop mad drive that I can use with either 4 or 2 points. with 4 points.

K3_04821LRs.jpgK3_04824LRs.jpg
 
Joined
Nov 22, 2009
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Midland, MI
I start most of my bowl turnings with a spur drive (1.5" Texas Spur drive from Best Wood Tools). Lyle Jamieson teaches a technique that's very helpful for getting the drive to seat well and avoid turning into a drill bit later.

Once the blank is on the lathe and reasonably tight between centers, lock the headstock so it won't rotate. Then grab the blank at the bottom and pull it towards you (try to rotate it clockwise if you're looking at it from the tailstock end). It will probably rotate a little. Then crank your tailstock again to push the blank tighter against the spur drive. Repeat that process again and then you should be good to go.
 
Joined
Feb 26, 2019
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I start all bowls between centers with a 4 prong spur drive. For smaller bowls < 8-10” I use one that fits into the spindle taper. For larger pieces I like Nova’s jumbo drive center. It threads on the spindle vs going in the taper. As @Dave Bunge says, Lyle’s technique of rocking the blank and seating the spur works really well, and dont forget to get tightening the TS with wet wood.
 
Joined
Jan 3, 2012
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I may use any of the methods above at any given time depending on what the blank looks like.

When sizing up a blank for its grain orientation, I may use just the oneway safe drive center with its teammate the oneway live center on the tailstock. They both make the same impression on the wood. Additionally, The wood doesn't get marred as much and you can flip the blank around using the indentations made by either if you find the need. The safe drive holds well and never acts as a drill as do some 4 prong drive centers.

Like all things in woodturning, there is no one solution that is optimal in all situations.
 
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