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I'm learning to use an inherited wood lathe, and would like to turn a basic bowl. I have a couple of face plates but no three-jaw chuck (and no funds to buy one right now). I have read you can use something called "turners tape" to hold the bottom of a bowl to a face plate. Does carpet tape work as well? It is easy to run to the local hardware store and buy carpet tape, it will take a little longer to source some turners tape. Will I end up ruining my work piece if my tool catches and I'm using carpet tape?

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  • I'm not a wood turner (though I'd like to get into that some day). I'd be more concerned about ruining me with the work piece if the tape comes apart than ruining the work piece itself. Before you panic, though, wait for someone with actual experience/knowledge to chime in. – FreeMan Jan 29 at 16:26
  • I don't have any experience with large turning projects either, but I do have experience with carpet tape and my main takeaway is that it is terribly difficult to remove. Turner's tape you can basically just peel off. At worst it'll pull a few fibers out. To remove carpet tape I'd plan on using a carbide scraper and resurfacing your work once it's off. – SaSSafraS1232 Jan 29 at 17:04
  • As already covered in @Caleb's great Answer, carpet tape is not the same as turner's tape. Carpet tape is not a completely uniform product however, but even if you could find one with no creep and a really firm hold this is still not the best way to accomplish what you want to do. If you continue looking you'll see there are other ways of turning bowls that don't rely on chucks, so you're not prevented from tackling bowls before you acquire one. – Graphus Jan 30 at 8:27
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I have read you can use something called "turners tape" to hold the bottom of a bowl to a face plate.

In this video, Mike Peace demonstrates using turner's tape for holding small items. He says he uses it sometimes for reversing a small bowl, lids for boxes, etc. What's nice about it is that you don't need to leave a tenon for the chuck to grab onto. Also, it's flexible, so the mating surfaces don't necessarily have to be flat as long as they fit together well.

Notice that the taped part of the bowl in the video is a significant portion of the overall diameter of the workpiece. Turner's tape would likely not be a good choice for large or even medium sized bowl where the foot is small compared to the bowl's diameter.

Does carpet tape work as well?

No. At least, Mike emphasizes several times in the video that turner's tape is not carpet tape, and he talks about the very strong bond that you can get with turner's tape. Turner's tape is a cloth tape with strong adhesive, so it's more likely to bond well to slightly irregular surfaces.

I use carpet tape all the time for things like holding a template in place for routing. It works very well for that, but there's no way I'd trust it to hold a workpiece spinning at hundreds of RPM.

If a proper four-jaw scroll chuck isn't an option (three-jaw chucks are used more for metal work), and if you can't get turner's tape right away, consider a different option such as gluing the bottom of the bowl to a sacrificial piece that's screwed to a face plate. And again, without a chuck, keep the work small.

Will I end up ruining my work piece if my tool catches and I'm using carpet tape?

If your tool catches you might ruin your piece anyway, but if it catches while you're using carpet tape it might ruin your day as well. Be sure to stand outside the line of fire if you try it.

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    Thanks for the tip! – Tim D Jan 31 at 19:45

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