I have a lathe, but I need a way to hold my wooden rings to shape them. What method of holding the ring is the easiest to get started with?
There are a couple different methods for holding a wooden ring on your lathe while you shape and sand your rings. The first is using a purpose built ring mandrel. The second is using a chuck with a set of pin jaws.
Starting off with the easiest method, there is a purpose built tool for your lathe that’s called a ring mandrel. This looks almost like a step bit, and it has a bolt on the inside that allows you to expand the jaws.
You slide your ring onto the mandrel until it can no longer go any farther, and then tighten the center bolt to expand the jaws and hold the ring in place.
Depending on what size of wooden rings you make, you may need more than one mandrel. In most cases, two of these cover the entire spectrum of ring sizes, and they’re about $50 each.
They don’t wear out, and you hold them in your chuck as you turn your rings. If you were just switching to the lathe for making wooden rings, adding a mandrel really simplifies the process.
Your second option for making rings is to use a four jaw lathe chuck with a set of pin jaws. These are very slender jaws they can grip even some smaller rings from the inside.
This does place the ring fairly close to the face of the chuck, which can make contouring both sides a little bit more difficult than while using a ring mandrel. However, if it’s all you have, then you need to make the best of it.
Out of the two, I definitely recommend using the mandrel over just using a chuck. It’s much easier, much faster, and allows you access to all points of the ring for sanding and shaving.
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