Lathes are a great tool to have in the workshop, and learning to
turn wood is both a challenge and a rewarding venture, not to
mention being quite addictive too! When you buy a wood lathe, it
generally comes with one or two drive centers used mainly for
spindle turning, and perhaps a basic faceplate. If you want to
expand the versatility of your lathe and try out new turning
projects, you will eventually require a woodturning chuck.
There are many chucks on the market, and many
offer similar features, so what makes one chuck better than
another? Generally, you can tell a quality chuck from a cheap
one the first few times you use it. So let's find out which
category Teknatool's Supernova2 woodturning chuck slots into...
Out of the Box
The Supernova2 system ships boxed and includes the following
items as standard:
- 1 x Supernova2 Chuck
- 1 x 2" jaw set
- 1 x Woodworm screw
- 1 x handled hex chuck key
- 1 x insert adaptor
- 2 x hex wrenches
The Supernova2 can fit a wide variety of lathes,
almost all common lathes currently on the market. When you
purchase the Supernova2, you must request the correct adaptor to
fit your lathe. This adaptor screws onto the spindle threads on
your lathe, so you will need to know the spindle thread
specification of your lathe before you order, to ensure you
order the correct insert adaptor. For example, my generic MC-900
lathe has a M30 x 3.5 spindle thread, so I ordered the
appropriate M30 x 3.5 insert adaptor from Teknatool, but check
your lathe manual as spindles can differ, even between similar
Once the insert adaptor is threaded onto your
lathe spindle, the Supernova2 then fits onto the outside threads
of the insert adaptor. The insert adaptor and the Supernova2
chuck end up being a single unit which you can quickly add to or
remove from your lathe's spindle.
The Supernova2 is a 4" self-centering chuck made from
high tensile steel with a nickel plating. This means that
as you wind in the jaws using the handled hex wrench, each jaw
moves in and out at the same time, and same distance/speed etc,
i.e. self-centering, as opposed to some chucks where you need to
move each jaw individually, and these are quite difficult to
center on the spindle axis. A self-centering chuck is definitely
the ideal chuck for the woodturner, although there are some
cases where a non-self-centering chuck may be called for, but
these are usually used by more advanced turners, and are often a
purchase further on down the track. A self-centering chuck
should be one of your first lathe accessory purchases.
The Supernova2 ships with a 2" jaw set, and this
set works both in expansion and contraction modes. There is
an auto-stop feature that inhibits widening the jaws beyond the
body of the chuck for safety purposes. The Supernova2 is also a
lot faster to use, i.e. the jaws can be adjusted much faster
than the older Supernova chuck - at least 33% faster according
to the included docs. Each jaw features a slight tapered edge on
the inside face, whereas the outside jaw edge has a
dovetail-like angle. Both edges are designed for maximum holding
power when chucked up and engaged with a workpiece in either
A bowl chucked up using the outside jaw face in expansion mode.
Here a foot of a bowl is shown chucked in
One of the advantages of owning a Teknatool brand
chuck is the huge variety of accessory jaws made available to
fit directly onto the chuck without modification. Furthermore,
the standard jaw design across most of Teknatool's chucks allows
third party manufacturers to develop specialty jaws to suit,
further expanding the possibilities. The Supernova2
is also backwards compatible with Nova accessories.
Additionally, a woodworm screw attachment is
included in the kit with a new lockable shank feature. I use the
woodworm screw regularly to chuck up smaller bowls and logs for
spindle turning. It is very fast and convenient requiring you
only to drill one hole in the blank to screw onto the woodworm.
For initial roughing of bowls to a round form I often use the
tailstock center for a little extra support to round the edge,
but from then on, all the external surfaces of the bowls are
turned with just the screw only. It provides excellent holding
power and I have yet to have a problem with the woodworm screw
attachment. It works great and saves the hassles of using a
faceplate attachment for smaller bowl or vessel work.
Using the woodworm screw to chuck up a
rough-cut bowl blank.
Beats using a faceplate for smaller bowl work!
My setup for turning a rough cut bowl blank to
a perfect round shape.
Mounted on the woodworm screw and using
the tailstock, initially, for added support.
One of the "issues" with the original Supernova
were the exposed gears on the reverse side. This circular
rack-pinion style movement for the jaw assembly was prone to
clogging up with dust if not regularly cleaned, meaning jaw
movement became less smooth with more friction on movement. With
the Supernova2, Teknatool have enclosed the rear of the chuck
with a fully-sealed Duracon composite backing plate with an
integrated indexing function. This goes a long way to solving
the issue with dust seen in the original design and is a very
welcome addition to the newer model, plus the indexing feature
(24 division) can be used to perform indexing functions on
lathes that do not have this feature by default.
In use there is little to fault with the Supernova2. As
mentioned above, dust accumulation inside the chuck body was a
problem with the previous version, but that is now solved with
the Supernova2. Once fitted to the lathe, the chuck ran very
true on the spindle. The jaws were extremely easy to move and
the default 50mm jaw set included provided a very firm, positive
grip with no slipping issues during our test period, in both
expansion and contraction modes. The new jaw movement mechanism
with the handled hex key is a nice improvement. I sometimes
struggled with the T-bar handle and locking mechanism on the
original Nova chuck, trying to get it to engage, and this issue
has also been addressed with a new and improved (and simpler)
I would suggest that if you do purchase a
Supernova2 chuck, to also consider a set or two of accessory
jaws. While the included set will handle many tasks, often you
need a wider diameter capacity to turn larger logs or bowls with
wider feet. A 100mm (4") jaw set would make a good
addition to the mix, as would a set of pin jaws for smaller work
(if you plan on turning smaller items) and larger work, where it
can act just like a pin jaw to expand into the centre of a
drilled or turned hole. Another compatible
accessory for Bowl turners is the Nova Cole Jaws (previously
here) which is
an invaluable re-chucking tool for re-finishing the outside of
bowls and the foot to remove chuck marks etc.
Another handy use of a woodturning chuck is being
able to chuck up a spindle or log and end drill without
obstruction using a tailstock mounted drill chuck and drill bit.
This is not possible to do with a standard drive center only.
Teknatool are a world leader in developing woodturning
chucks, and they have earned a reputation for quality and
durability in their products. I have owned a Nova and Supernova
chuck previously, which are great chucks despite a few minor
problems, and they have served me well over the years. The
Supernova2 represents the next step up and continues the
evolution of easy to use and reliable Teknatool woodturning
You may recall at the start of the review that I
questioned which category the Supernova2
chuck fits in to. Well, I can say now that I believe it fits
into the upper class of turning chucks. It is well-machined,
strong, durable and easy to use. You pay a little extra for the
quality, but it is definitely money well spent in my opinion. It
is miles ahead of the cheap line of generic OEM scroll chucks
currently available on the market.
I'd have no hesitation in recommending a
They may cost a little more than a basic generic scroll chuck
(street price of around US$175 as at Dec 06),
but saving that $80 or so on a cheapie is likely buying you a
bag full of frustration in the end!
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