There is nothing quite like working with wood. It lets you explore your creative side, create beautiful items, and more. However, if you’re turning wood, then you need the right tools for the job. Sure, the lathe is one of the most critical, but you must be able to hold the piece in place. That’s the job of the wood chuck.
The right wood lathe chuck provides you with security, stability, and peace of mind. It locks your piece into place, allowing you to shape it exactly as you want. If you’re on the market for a new wood turning chuck, you’ll find a broad range of options. It can be pretty tough to separate one from the other.
We’ve taken a lot of the guesswork out for you with our lineup of the best chucks for woodturning lathes on the market. Below, we’ll list the top wood chucks for sale, then run through reviews of the individual lathe chuck types to help ensure that you’re able to make an informed purchase.
Table of Contents
- 1 Best Wood Lathe Chucks for 2020
- 2 WEN LA4444 4-Inch 4-Jaw Self-Centering Chuck Set
- 3 WEN LA4375 3.75-Inch 4-Jaw Self-Centering Lathe Chuck Set
- 4 PSI Woodworking CUG3418CC Utility Grip 4-Jaw Lathe Chuck System
- 5 NOVA TK-23099 Direct Thread SuperNOVA2 Chuck Bundle Gifting Set
- 6 PSI Woodworking CSC3000C Barracuda Wood Lathe Key Chuck System
- 7 Easy Wood Tools C2000 Wood Turning Lathe Quick Change 4-Jaw Chuck with Zoom Ring
- 8 NOVA 48232 G3 Reversible Wood Turning Chuck
- 9 Buying the Best Wood Lathe Chuck
- 10 Conclusion
Best Wood Lathe Chucks for 2020
WEN LA4444 4-Inch 4-Jaw Self-Centering Chuck Set
The WEN LA4444 is a wood lathe chuck with self-centering technology. It is our top pick for several reasons, including ease of use, durability, quality, and piece size. This lathe chuck can be used for turning bowls, spindles, and other projects that are difficult to hold. It is also capable of holding pieces from 1.6 to 2.8 inches in size, making it one of the more versatile lathe chucks on our “best of” list. It features a 1-inch by 8 TPI thread, which means it’s compatible with most of the wood lathes out there, too. The included screw chuck expands on the tool’s versatility, and this is one of the few items on our list to list the size (and presence) of pilot holes (2 to 3.2 inches).
- Versatile woodworking lathe chuck
- Excellent size range
- Standard thread fits most systems on the market
- Some customers state it does not tighten as well as it could
- Some customers note that the tightening tools are not durable
WEN LA4375 3.75-Inch 4-Jaw Self-Centering Lathe Chuck Set
The WEN LA4375 is the second WEN wood lathe chuck to make our best-of list and for a good reason. It’s a little smaller than the previous model, which makes it a good solution for anyone with smaller projects to turn. It can handle pieces that range from 1 1/4 to 2 /12 inches, and it also has pilot holes ranging from 1 3/4 to 3 1/8 inches. Like the larger model above, it features a 1-inch by 8 TPI thread, so it’s compatible with most of the setups on the market today. Also, like the other WEN lathe chuck on our list, this one is designed to hold spindles, bowls, and numerous other items while turning.
- Smaller size suits smaller projects well
- Keyed tightening mechanism
- Offers up to 24 different positions
- Does not come with an adapter for 1 1/4 x 16 TPI lathes
- Won’t accommodate more than a 3 1/8-inch project.
PSI Woodworking CUG3418CC Utility Grip 4-Jaw Lathe Chuck System
The first PSI Woodworking lathe chuck to make our list, the CUG3418CC is a 4-jaw chuck system that is threaded to fit most of the lathes in use today (1-inch by 8 TPI). However, unlike the other two chucks on our list, this one comes with an adapter that allows it to fit smaller, 3/4-in by 16 TPI setups if necessary. The entire thing weighs in at just four pounds, as well. The included screw chuck makes it easy to tighten or loosen the tool, and the chromed metal withstands wear and tear. Because this is a C-Series chuck, it is compatible with all C-Series jaws and accessories, allowing you to expand its capabilities.
- Included adapter offers greater versatility
- Chrome plated
- Easy to use on midi and full-size woodworking lathes
- Requires two hands to tighten fully
- Tightening tools may be low quality
NOVA TK-23099 Direct Thread SuperNOVA2 Chuck Bundle Gifting Set
The first NOVA wood lathe chuck on our best-of list, this is a gift set that includes multiple chucks to suit a very wide range of needs. All of them are chromed for durability and long life. They also come in a limited edition 30th anniversary carry case that is fully padded and designed to hold the chucks and tools securely. You also get the chuck, plus three accessory jaws that expand your ability to hold pieces large and small. Note that this set is designed to allow you to work on medium to large projects, including 29-inch bowls. As such, it’s not designed for smaller projects. The one-handed geared operation also ensures simpler use of the chuck.
- Multiple jaw sizes
- Supports medium to large pieces
- Chromed metal
- One-handed operation
- Does not fit smaller projects
- Only fits 1.25 by 8 TPI spindles
PSI Woodworking CSC3000C Barracuda Wood Lathe Key Chuck System
Another set of chucks, the Barracuda lathe chuck system from PSI Woodworking offers lots of potential for projects large and small. The set includes a Barracuda2 chuck body, as well as four self-centering jaw sets, a woodworm screw chuck, a spindle adapter, a gear key, an Allen wrench, and more. It also comes in a carry/storage case, although we knock it a few points because the case is not padded like the NOVA wood lathe chuck set we reviewed above. This is also a C-Series set, so any C-Series jaws or accessories will fit. Finally, note that it is pre-threaded for 1-inch by 8 TPI spindles, but comes with an adapter for 3/4-inch 16 TPI spindles.
- Includes a wide range of jaw sizes for projects big and small>
- C-Series compatible
- Includes chuck key
- Works with pen blanks
- Convenient carry/protective case
- Some customers notice that the faceplate screws begin to strip over time
- Some customers report the tightening tools are low quality
Easy Wood Tools C2000 Wood Turning Lathe Quick Change 4-Jaw Chuck with Zoom Ring
The only entry from Easy Wood Tools on our best-of list, the C2000 Wood Turning Lathe offers some pretty impressive features and benefits. It’s fully formed from stainless steel for durability, for one. For another, it requires minimal tools to tighten or loosen. The quick-change functionality of the Zoom Ring and Snap Lock features allows you to change one set of four jaws for the next one in mere seconds, allowing you to do more, faster. Overall expansion is 2 inches, making it slightly smaller than some of the wood lathe chucks on our list, but still a contender for your attention. Simply turn the Zoom Ring to close the jaw with your fingertips (must still be fully tightened with a tool). This wood turning lathe chuck is also manufactured in the US.
- Stainless steel construction
- No need for a chuck key
- Zoom Ring lets you tighten with your fingers
- Change jaw sets in less than 30 seconds
- Jaw travel is pretty limited
- The solid body makes registering the chuck difficult
NOVA 48232 G3 Reversible Wood Turning Chuck
The NOVA 48232 G3 wood turning chuck is the only reversible wood lathe chuck on our list. It is designed to fit 1-inch by 8 TPI spindles, and is designed to work with all of NOVA’s other accessories, too. So, if you already have NOVA tools on hand, this will expand your capabilities without adding difficulty. The back of the chuck is open to make cleaning easier, and the T-bar makes it simple and easy to adjust. This woodworking lathe chuck also offers a Tuff Lock gearing system that helps ensure you have a rock-solid grip on your piece at all times. Note that the 4-jaw design can hold both square and round pieces, and the chuck comes with a woodworm screw to help mount rough wood quickly. Also note that this chuck is designed to work with the NOVA Comet II Midi Lathe primarily, but will fit any 1-inch 8 TPI spindle.
- Reversible wood lathe chuck
- Comes with a chuck key
- Includes auto-stop
- Works with other NOVA accessories
- 2-year warranty
- Some customers have noted that the chuck strips over time
- May not work with all 1-inch 8 TPI spindles as it does not include a locking nut
By this point, you should have an idea of what each of the wood lathe chuck models on our list can offer. However, how do you choose the right option from the number of choices we’ve provided you? If you’re new to using a wood lathe and chuck, our buying guide below will answer some of your most pressing questions.
Buying the Best Wood Lathe Chuck
New to wood turning? The wood lathe chuck is a vital tool that helps ensure you have a rock-solid grip on the piece being turned. Whether that’s a bowl, a pen, a spindle, or something else, a wood lathe chuck locks it in place and holds it securely without you having to fit a tailstock for support, or using screws to hold it in place. Of course, there are quite a few things you’ll need to know about how lathe chucks are used.
Why Four-Jaw Models?
You’ll notice from our reviews of the best wood lathe chucks on the market that the majority of them were four-jaw models. Why is that? Simply put, four-jaw lathes provide better security for your piece, but it goes deeper than delivering a stronger hold than a three-jaw model. With four jaws, the chuck can hold both square and round pieces securely, while minimizing vibration.
Are There Other Jaw Configurations?
Yes, you will find more options than just the four-jaw chuck on the market. You’ll find up to six jaws on some models, or as few as three. However, these models usually require a key to calibrate them, which adds to the difficulty in using them, the time required to set up the lathe, and other drawbacks.
Why Does Self-Centering Matter?
Another feature you probably noticed from our lathe chuck reviews is that most of the models we reviewed are self-centering. What does that mean? Really, it just means that you don’t have to use another tool or device to center the piece in the chuck.
Why Do Accessory Jaws Matter?
All of the wood lathe chucks we’ve reviewed are capable of using accessory jaws and other elements. These help make your chuck more versatile and allow you to do more with fewer tools (and less expense).
What Metal Is Best for Wood Lathe Chucks?
A quick glance at our list of the best wood lathe chucks will show you that multiple metals are used here. In some cases, black steel is used. This material choice is fine, and the blackening process means that the chuck won’t show stains as well as some ordinary types of steel. Chromed steel is also used and can offer some additional benefits, including easier cleaning.
Finally, you’ll also find stainless steel wood lathe chucks on the market (a couple of the options we reviewed were made from stainless steel), and these offer substantial stain resistance and excellent durability. In general, look for a lathe chuck that is made from high-quality steel (stainless or otherwise). Softer steel and inferior metals should be avoided. These will weaken the chuck and lead to premature wear and tear.
How a Wood Lathe Chuck Works
Not sure how a wood lathe chuck works? It’s relatively simple. Here’s what you need to know in a nutshell:
- The chuck consists of the main body, as well as jaw slides, and jaws.
- Machine screws hold the jaws into the slides, which makes specialized jaw designs possible.
- Internal gearing is responsible for opening or closing the jaws as you turn the adjustment mechanism.
- More advanced designs allow one-handed operation, simplifying things. Simpler designs require two hands to adjust the jaws.
- As you adjust the jaws closed, they clamp down on the piece, securing it place for turning and shaping.
- As you adjust the jaws open, they release the piece, allowing it to be removed.
What About Opening?
A wood lathe chuck can grip tightly by closing around something, but some models are also able to expand and grip through outward pressure. Note that the expanded maximum size will determine how wide the diameter of the jaws is, thus the maximum size of the piece you can turn.
What about Wood Lathe Chuck Jaw Types?
There are the most commonly used styles or types of jaws today. One is the dovetail jaw, which is best for pieces where you need to leave minimal marks behind or even leave no marking. This reduces the need for finishing work on the gripped portion of the piece.
Serrated jaws are also common and are often used when the gripped portion will be removed. The serrated portions of the jaw leave deep indentations in the wood that are difficult to remove through finishing. However, the greater holding power is often of significant benefit.
In the end, wood lathe chucks offer the ability to grip and hold pieces ranging from chair legs to salad bowls, walking sticks to trim work. They help ensure that your piece stays rock-steady during turning, allowing you to achieve greater accuracy and speed than would otherwise be possible. Our list of the best wood lathe chucks includes something for almost any need, whether you work on very large pieces, small pieces, prefer stainless steel, or like the low maintenance of black steel. We’ve included some of today’s top brands, such as Barracuda, NOVA, and PSI Woodworking to name just a few. Whether you’re just beginning your woodworking journey or you are an experienced master, the right lathe chuck is a vital piece of your toolkit and will ensure better accuracy and more beautiful pieces.