Thursday, October 20, 2016


Yesterday at the Clear Spring School we began a toy making project that we do each year at this time, making toy cars and trucks to give to the local food bank for holiday distribution. I make wheels by the hundreds using this simple device on the drill press that holds the wheel blank centered on the table for drilling.

The centering clamp is made from a lathe chuck, and makes the process simple enough that the children can drill their own axle holes.

Today I will go back to my writing, and attempt to get two chapters of text complete for my box guitar book. I am also ready to apply a Danish oil finish to boxes.

Make, fix, create, offer others the encouragement to learn likewise.


  1. Jukka Raulamo9:49 AM

    WHOA! That was really genius self-centering clamp. I´ve been searching that kind for years, for similar class use. Thanks for posting this.

    Yours Jukka

  2. It is not really a clamp, but a 3 jaw micro chuck:

    Using it in this way is something I came up with. I've reversed the way the jaws fit in the body to allow it to work in this way.

  3. Jukka Raulamo2:57 PM

    Yes, I got it.
    This was totally new idea how to use them. I should have mention that I have both Australian Vicmark and British Recordpower wood lathe chuks like that in my technology education class.

    Yours Jukka

  4. Jukka,
    YOU would of course know this, but with a lathe, and a jacobs chuck mounted on a morse taper in the tail stock, a person could make wheels on the lathe without the drill press press I use and without having to make the special holder to mount the lathe chuck on the drill press table. I'm not sure if it would be as easy to use or as fast, but alignment would be perfect using the lathe rather than the drill press for this task.

    I have a couple Rikon mini lathes that I could have used instead of the new mini drill press, as well as 3 Oneways, and a new Jet 1640, But I'd rather not introduce kids to the lathe until they are in 4th or 5th grades.

  5. Jukka Raulamo1:53 PM

    Yes, we have done that.

    I outsourcerd turnig and drilling in the lathe to my 8th and 9th graders. :-) First 20-30 wheels went fine, but after 200 wheels they weren´t so happy.

    Me neither like to introduce kids to the lathe until they are somewhat good age.

    And lathe is more dangerous than drill press and in Finland students are also protetcted by very strict laws of OHS. And this makes some working methods not so suitable (like turning wheels with 4th year students). But teacher must regonize this and use his/hers education and resources to make risk-assessment from the task and work accordingly.

    That is main reason why I like Your great idea to use lathe chuck as and centering jig. This would be handy next time we are makeing cars, with younger students.


  6. Jukka,
    The hazard of the lathe chuck spinning on the lathe (as you know but many of my other readers may not)is that it has parts that extend beyond the body that can dig into uwary fingers or knuckles. So to have the chuck still, while the wheel centers are drilled is a distinct advantage.

    My older students get bored making wheels just as yours did. For some reason, I don't get bored. I've made thousands, and maintain my enthusiasm, thinking of the creative joy the children find in using them.