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Have a ball completing narrow turned vessels

Have a ball completing narrow turned vessels

I really enjoy turning tall, narrow vessels, such as flower vases, on my lathe, but I don’t enjoy making a new plywood jam chuck for each different bowl size. (A jam chuck allows me to reverse-chuck the vase and clean up its bottom.) My solution involves a short length of 4″ PVC pipe and a few rubber balls of various sizes.

I attach a 5″ disc of birch plywood to a faceplate, true up the circumference, and turn a 1⁄2″-deep rabbet into the faceplate’s outer edge so that it fits the inside pipe diameter. Using the tailstock as a clamp, I attach the PVC to the plywood with PVC glue. After it cures, I finish and sand the open end of the pipe to a smooth, rounded edge.

Setting up the jig, ball, vessel, and tailstock is a breeze, as all the components “center out” automatically. Using a prudent speed and a few light passes with a 1⁄4″ bowl gouge, I can easily detail the base of the vase.
—Jim Vasi, Williamsville, N.Y.

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