Its happened to us all!
You put the chuck on the spindle, load up a large blank, spray some shavings and then when you go to take it off its stuck! This is one of those turning subjects that hosts lots of opinions and not much fact (best I can tell). As you can imagine I have an opinion. In my view its not stuck….. its just real TIGHT!
Before I get going on this let me tell you a horrible turning story. I turned on a craftsman for many years and when I decide to get serious I went down to Woodcraft and bought a Jet 1440. I couldn’t believe that my wife would let me spend $1000 on a tool :). I got it home set it up, mounted my brand new chuck on it and spun up a piece of aspen to turn a bowl. Many catches and a few hours later I had butchered the piece enough that I was ready to present it to my wife to insure her that this investment was well worth the money.
Uggh! I couldn’t budge the chuck on the spindle. I tried hanging on to whatever I could find but there is no gripping surface on the 1442 that will allow you to lock the spindle…. or was there. Then I noticed the index button. Pushing on the button and cranking on the chuck with a large crescent wrench I couldn’t believe my ears as I heard something snap in the headstock. The clinking noise was the sound of an aluminum tab from the drive pulley hitting the bottom of the headstock housing as it broke off. From the jet manual:
“Headstock Spindle Lock: (G, Fig. 5) Push in pin to keep the spindle from turning.”
Now I was pissed, a new lathe and I had ruined it! With frustration and anger I eyed the three threaded index hole at the front of the housing. I could run a threaded rod into one of these and that surely would hold the shaft still while I broke the chuck loose. With the spindle locked and the large wrench on the chuck …………… I cracked the main tail stock housing …. and pieces fell to the floor in front of me. I was sick to my stomach, you know, that pit of your stomach feeling when you know you did something phenomenally stupid and that the recovery was going to be expensive. Within six months I had built a special wrench, removed the chuck, bought a new headstock casting and new pulleys. I know more now about the innards of a Jet 1440 that any turner should. Believe me you don’t want to go in there! By this time I had a package of plastic washers and everyone at Woodcraft got a piece of my mind about the stupidity of the manufacturer not putting a washer and proper wrench in the box.
For years I used the washers on and off but never was convinced that they fully prevented locked chucks and in numerous cases proved that they created problems with wobble. Then I got my Stubby and started turning larger pieces, the washers did not prevent the chuck from sticking, but the large wrench in the box would easily break them loose. Is it possible that they aren’t stuck but just REEL TIGHT?
I have concluded that all chucks get tight NOT stuck. With the right mechanical advantage chucks are easy to unscrew with or without the annoyance of a plastic washer. There are two parts needed to solve this problem, a way of holding the spindle and a way to grab the chuck for loosening. Below are photos of what I use.
If you are using SketchUp for woodturning visit the Modeling site where you can get free plug-ins, like the “automatic cut list” generator.