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Advice on drive center and usage

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by John Torchick, May 22, 2018.

  1. John Torchick

    John Torchick

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    I have two drive centers that I have from my new lathe and my old lathe. These are the usual ones with the four spurs and the point in the center. I just finished turning to round a piece of cherry as practice with the skew and the roughing gouge. I'm a bit leery about taking a tool too close to the drive center. What do you turners recommend for working close to the drive center? Technique for working close to the drive center but avoiding it while turning? How close to the drive center? I have a Woodcraft store locally so they get a lot of my business. Thanks for your help.
    Edit- I have a 60 degree live center on the tailstock so I have lots of room to work on that end.
     
  2. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

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    If the wood is wider than the center there is no issue working to the end where the center is.
    I like to leave the wood proud of the center diameter by an 1/8th inch

    I have a 3/8” diameter spur that I used before I went cup drives for just about anything.

    The drive center I use for most small spindles, balls, etc is a cup center. I also use a cup center in the tailstock.
    These centers recenter really well if I take a piece off. Also I can flip a piece end for end and they center.
    The cup drives I use are 1/2” to 5/8” diameter.

    Mounting is fast put pencil mark for the center push the center’s point into the pencil mark.
    These centers you can work right up to them. I have on rare occasions rested the bevel of the tool on the rotating cup center to cut something close.


    8A624221-4084-4CAC-AF0F-047066A61BC9.jpeg

    For bowls and hollow forms between center roughing i use a spur drive.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2018
  3. John Torchick

    John Torchick

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    Thanks. We had a demo recently and the turner used a small multi-spur center with a spring-loaded point. It was probably about 5/8 inch diameter.
     
  4. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

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    Steb center?
    These work well and are quite popular. I don’t like them as well as well as the cups.
    They don’t recenter as well as cups but recenter pretty good.

    My wife uses steb centers so they must be good!
     
  5. Mike Johnson

    Mike Johnson

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    Turning a taper on the end of your wood billet and mounting the piece directly into the Morse taper of your spindle
    eliminates the chance of catching the drive spur with your lathe tool. This works well for small diameter spindle work
    and allows you to pull the tail stock away on shorter lengths when finishing the piece.
     
  6. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    You could use a Steb Center.

    [​IMG]

    .... Or a cup center (AKA Safe Drive or dead center)

    [​IMG]
    My preference is the Safe Drive if the piece is sufficiently well balanced to hold without slipping.
     
    Dennis Weiner and hockenbery like this.
  7. john lucas

    john lucas AAW Forum Expert

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    I use all kinds of drive centers. I just cut right up to the center if necessary. On the Steb centers and cup centers you can actually bump the drive. It might dull the tool slightly but if you approach it slowly that last little bit of wood breaks off and you don't hit the center. Usually I plan ahead and leave an extra inch or so and cut simply make a cone from the center down and then cut my spindle right to the very center leaving a very small cone to carve away. You do have to support the turning with your fingers if your going to cut it all the way off but it's safe because it's being supported by the tailstock on one end and your hand on the other and your cutting away the drive part.
     
  8. John Torchick

    John Torchick

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    Steb center is what was used in the demo, if my memory serves me and I don't suffer from OTS (ole timer's syndrome). Again, many thanks for the replies and advice. Need to make a trip to Woodcraft. There is a NOVA drive center that fits into a Nova chuck. Anyone have any experience with it? Stock # 162028, -029, -030 for the different diameters.
     
  9. Dean Center

    Dean Center

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    If memory serves, the Nova center has a square end with points on the 4 corners. I have a steb center of a different brand that I use in my Nova chucks and it works well. All of the above suggestions are good ones and if you have lots of money, you could try them all. The least expensive solution may be to leave 1/4" of waste wood at the headstock end of things and avoid getting near the drive center altogether. BTW, there's a microwave out on the parkway near my house. Do you want me to grab it for you, Gramps?;)
     
  10. Gerald Lawrence

    Gerald Lawrence

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    Any drive will fit in a nova chuck but there are stebs specifically designed for that purpose. The Nova spur drive is not a steb type drive , more like a 4 spur drive. They also make 3 sizes flexible point drive (steb) which are designed to fit in the chuck. I found out in a Clewes demo at TAW that any drive will fit into the jaws of your chuck but not the outside . They fit in the inner parts of the jaws where they meet up in the center. That includes MT2 and probably MT1
     
  11. John Torchick

    John Torchick

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    Again, thanks to all for their input and suggestions. If you guys are feeling generous, my birthday is in September. Send a PM and I'll forward my address so you can send a nice card and a gift card to Woodcraft, which is close by. Actually, my wife feels it is too close.
    Dean, thanks for the offer. Shipping would be high from the boondocks out West. Good to hear from you! A slow turning motor would be useful. Had a demo last night by three club members on different finishes. One guy had a slow turner made from an electric car seat motor with a setup to vary the speed for different size turnings. Said he had about $50 in the whole thing.
     
  12. RichColvin

    RichColvin

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    That’s an idea I’ve never considered. Hmmmm ...

    Rich
     
  13. John Torchick

    John Torchick

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    What length taper do you need to be "safe?"
     
  14. Mark Wollschlager

    Mark Wollschlager

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    If it is a good fit ( close to the taper size ) 1 1/2-2 inches inside the spindle.
    Then you just have the problem of running the gouge into the spindle rather than a much cheaper ( and more expendable ) drive center.
    As for the chuck gripped steb or drive center, you need to be more careful getting the drive centered in the chuck than in the spindle.
    If your goal is to save time by not having to knock out the drive and spin the chuck on, I submit that batching spindle turning and chuck work will save more time.
    But hey, it's all a good learning experience.
     
  15. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    I hate to be the party pooper, but how do you plan on holding the spindle while turning a MT on one end? It seems to me like this is just kicking the can down the road. If you can use a drive center while turning a MT on one end then you can just bypass that useless step and turn whatever spindle you want using a drive center. If you're worried about running your skew or spindle gouge into the drive center then get a Oneway Safe Drive. The worst thing that could happen is that you might scuff up the pretty Parkerized coating on the safe drive. This would be a good place to practice tool control to see how close you can get to the drive without running into it.
     
    hockenbery likes this.
  16. Perry Hilbert

    Perry Hilbert

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    You do you hold a piece while turning a spigot or tennon for a chuck? I started turning using a taper that fits the MT about 6 months ago and I like it much better for spindle work and narrow pieces. I am tuning kiln dried sycamore 1.5 inch round and the tapers I use are only a half inch long for a MT1. Now I am not cutting the tapers on the sycamore, the round stock already had them on each end. I removed the point t from my live center and the taper fits that socket great too. I have seen folks use jam chucks, or just pound the work into the lathe head stock taper. I came into several hundred pieces of the sycamore and just got the MT2 to MT1 adapter to use because the tapers on the stock already exist The piece on the left is the round stock I start with
    [​IMG]
     
  17. John Torchick

    John Torchick

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    Time isn't a factor in any of my hobbies which, according to my wife, are all expensive. I'm retired so I am not under any "schedule" as a production turner would have to meet. If a pen takes two hours....OK. If it takes 15 minutes....OK. I was in the rat race for over 35 years. The rats kept winning.
    I appreciate all the replies, advice, and sharing of experience. Will see what I can conjure up to safely turn on the spur drive.
     
  18. Clifton C

    Clifton C

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    Matt Lewis wrote an excellent article, "Shop made cup centers" American Woodturners 25.3:24-26.
    I used www.wttool.com part# 1800-0030, at $3.75 hard to beat. It is a 2MT-2JT. The #2 Jacobs taper makes it easy to make the "cup" the same size as the Oneway style live center. Why? sometimes it's nice to be able to flip the piece end for end, say for eccentric turning, or, just more room at the tailstock end. Some FYI stuff, HSS cut the 2JT without annealing but you could if you wanted to. I sacrificed 1/2 inch of the drill bit I used for the pin and super glued it in.
    I think "tool making" would be a great club project. Has anyone done this?
     
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  19. Dean Center

    Dean Center

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    RE: wooden MT drives. This is one of the projects in the student turning section, along with things like tops and honey dippers. There should be directions, plans, instructions, dimensions--some sort of helpful info there.
     
  20. Perry Hilbert

    Perry Hilbert

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    The centers used by Alan Lacer are simple cup centers with a nick or two ground in the edge for bite. You can turn right up to the edge if you have to, no catastrophic spinnning spur points to tangle with.
     
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  21. Perry Hilbert

    Perry Hilbert

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  22. john lucas

    john lucas AAW Forum Expert

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    i was thinking about this thread this morning. I frequently turn right up to my drive centers with no problem. I think the reason is at 600 rpm each jaw of a 4 jaw center passes you at 10 times a second. At normal spindle speeds of say 1800 rpm (which is slow for small turnings) it passes at 30 times a second. Now multiply that by 4 (once for each jaw) and you have 40 and 120. That means your tool really never has a chance to go into the gaps. From personal experience you tool simply scratches the edge.
    That being said I found this in a catalog I got today. https://www.woodworkingshop.com/search.aspx?q=RK70940 A little expensive but would do the trick.
     
  23. John Torchick

    John Torchick

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    Thanks, John. All this math has given me a headache. Need to lie down a bit. ;) The drive center looks good but out of the budget. I could get it for my wife for our anniversary. Won't she be surprised!
     
  24. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    It depends on how dull your tool is and how hard you are pushing. :rolleyes: If your tool is so dull that you are on the verge of pushing your lathe off the workbench (and it's bolted down) then maybe you could do some damage. :D Just sayin' ... when you think something bad can't be done, somebody will come along to prove you wrong. :eek:
     
  25. john lucas

    john lucas AAW Forum Expert

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    You mean people actually turn with dull tools. :)
     
  26. John Torchick

    John Torchick

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    I'm surprised how good sharp tools turn. My, how the chips and shavings fly with sharp tools!
     
  27. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    That's what I hear. But, I'll never admit doing it myself. :D
     

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