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Beall Spindle Taps
Make screw-on, special-purpose wooden chucks!
Text, photos & video by Tom Hintz
Posted - 7-9-2007
The creativity of Woodturners often requires devising special purpose fixtures. Despite the multitude of chucks and accessories on the market, being able to turn a specialized wooden piece that threads directly onto the spindle enables you to design and turn specialized faceplates, vacuum or jam chucks - virtually any shape needed to accommodate whatever your imagination can come up with. The sticking point in this has been how to cut spindle-matching internal threads.
In addition to the freedom of creating whatever profile you need, threading the wooden chuck onto the spindle eliminates the weight and restrictions of using a traditional chuck. Saving weight and length can be especially important on the popular mini lathes so many of us use.
The folks at Beall Tool offer specialized, high-quality Spindle Taps for three popular spindle threads - 1"X8, 1 1/4"X8 and 33mm. Used right on your (unplugged) lathe, the Beall Spindle Taps cut snug-fitting threads that let you turn whatever chuck design is needed and know that it will mount and run perfectly true every time. That eliminates re-centering a purpose-made piece in a traditional metal chuck, not to mention the between center length saved.
How They Work
There are two important points to remember when using the Beall Spindle Taps. First, the lathe is never turned on when cutting threads. Second, threads can not be cut into end grain as that creates tiny unsupported points of grain that simply snap off. This grain orientation applies whenever threads are cut in wood, not just with the Beall Spindle Taps.
First, the wooden blank is mounted in a chuck or to a faceplate. Then, a pilot hole 1/8" smaller than the spindle thread outside diameter is drilled. The depth of the pilot hole should be sufficient for the chuck being made to thread onto the spindle fully without contacting the power head.
After drilling the pilot hole, remove the drill, install a common live center in the tailstock and then lock the spindle for the rest of the threading operation. To control the thread cutting, the lathe is not run for this operation.
To begin cutting threads, insert the end of the Beall Spindle Tap into the pilot hole and bring the tailstock up, placing the live center point in the hole in the shank of the tap. Apply light pressure with the tailstock ram while turning the Beall Spindle Tap with an open-end wrench. As the tap cuts its way into the pilot hole, turn the tailstock ram to maintain a slight pressure and to keep the tap straight.
As when threading metal, turning the Beall Spindle Tap back out a turn or so once in a while helps clear chips and to create clean threads. When the Beall Spindle Tap reaches the bottom of the pilot hole, carefully back it out, using the tailstock to keep it straight until it emerges from the wood.
Now you can thread your new chuck onto the spindle and turn whatever shape you want.
The Beall Spindle Taps are high-quality tools that enable creative Woodturners to pursue a wider range of ideas and projects. With prices of $17.95 for the 1 X 8 tap and $26.95 (2-26-2007) for the 1 1/4 X 8 or 33 mm models, the Beall Spindle Taps represent a very economical way to expand your turning capabilities. The quality of Beall products promise this investment will continue to serve for many years to come.
If you enjoy creating unique objects on your lathe, the Beall Spindle Taps are a great way to expand those capabilities.
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