Cheap Chucks: Jam Chucks Are Purpose-Built Chucks You Make Yourself

“The lathe is the cheap part” — that’s usually the intro line I offer folks who ask how much it costs to get into woodturning. Tools and accessories like chucks can be very expensive. The good news is that there are also many ways to save a few dollars by making much of what you use yourself.  Jam chucks, also known as jamb chucks, are a perfect example of project-specific tools that in most cases you could not even buy if you wanted to. Basically, there’s nothing that you can’t turn with a faceplate and assorted jam chucks. Manufactured chucks simple make things faster.

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This ring box is ready mount using only the small lid recess.

This ring box is ready to mount using only the small lid recess.

The piece holds on it's own to complete the final cut. Note the tail stock was used for most of the operation.

The piece holds on its own to complete the final cut. Note the tail stock was used for most of the operation.

WHAT IS A JAM CHUCK?

A jam chuck is any contrivance you can think of that is made to hold your workpiece in your lathe in a specific way so that you can make the needed cuts.

I can’t swear to it, but I assume the term “jam” comes from the fact that most often you “jam” the work onto/into the chuck so that it is held by tension or compression (and usually a little help from Mr. Tail Stock).

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