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I'm interested in learning to turn and recently bought an old Delta/Rockwell lathe that came with some basic accessories.

I get the impression that a chuck and faceplate both serve the same purpose, namely that you can use either one to secure a workpiece by one end rather than by both ends. The thing I'm not quite clear on is when it makes more sense to use a chuck and when it makes more sense to use a faceplate. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each?

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The faceplate you use screws to secure the piece you are going to turn. some people will glue a waste piece to what they are turning so they don't have to put screw holes in their work piece.

A chuck needs something to grip. So you either need to drill/turn one of two things. A tenon for the chuck to clamp down on, or a recess to put the chuck in and expand it to hold.

Now the faceplate holds very well with the screws, so if you are doing heavy work by rounding out the bowl a face plate is very nice. A chuck is more likely to let the piece go if it is really rough or lopsided.

In both cases you can use the tail stock to help hold it secure.

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  • Recess and rebate are common terms for the 'hole', and 'tenon' / 'spigot' is usually used in place of tongue. – TX Turner Mar 24 '15 at 19:53
  • @TXTurner Thanks, I knew that but couldn't remember, meant to look them up and fix it but forgot. Will do so now. – bowlturner Mar 24 '15 at 19:54
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For turning something like a bowl, a chuck (with a screw center) is a bit more efficient. You can mount the bowl blank with the bottom of the (to be) bowl facing out on a screw held in the chuck, and turn a recess on what will eventually be the foot of the bowl.

Once that's done and the outside of the bowl is shaped, you can turn the blank around, remove the screw, and mount the blank the other way with the jaws expanding into the recess you cut into the bottom, which allows you to hollow the inside.

With a faceplate, you have to make a jam chuck and / or use a lot of scrap wood making waste blocks.

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A faceplate will have much more 'bite' and holding stregth but requires screws either into the piece or parting the final piece from a slug of material attached to the faceplate. This is usually scrap.

Without knowing about your specific chuck I can generically say these things:

A chuck can hold onto a piece (or a tool in your tail stock for hollowing/boring etc) depending on it's arrangement.

A chuck with face jaws can be used to hold onto a positive portion (knob) or a negative space (hole) in your piece and turn it. This can have the advantage of less wasted material.

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  • Also, most modern chucks come with a screw that can be gripped by the jaws, making it a bit of a hybrid. – TX Turner Mar 24 '15 at 19:52
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as I have seen chuck is basically for either symmetrical job or for unsymmetrical long jobs but face plate is used when the job is irregular and is short and can't go into the chuck.

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  • 1
    Hi, welcome to the site! Would you please elaborate a little more on your answer? What do you mean by "long" jobs--are you talking about spindles? Could you give some examples of each scenario and explain why one mounting method is less suitable than the other? Thanks! – rob Jun 7 '16 at 2:21

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