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Homemade faceplate rings

Faceplate rings are useful in bowl making, and also as a quick method of mounting things such as sanding discs in the lathe. They allow you to work on a batch of items over a period without having to remove the fixing. I needed a number of them, and now have a batch of homemade faceplate rings. They consist of a ring made of metal, or in this case, plywood, with a hole or recess that fits the dovetail jaws of a woodturning chuck. The ring is fixed to the bowl blank or other item with screws, just like a normal faceplate, so it can be held in the chuck. They are a good alternative to a screwchuck

Making the rings

Instead of the usual steel or light alloy, I made my homemade faceplate rings from good quality birch plywood, free of voids. They are about 100 mm across and 12 mm thick, but other sizes would work, and hardwood could be used instead. After bandsawing the blanks, I marked the centres and pinned each one against the open jaws of a chuck with the tail centre. This is a quick and easy method of driving small items by friction. I turned the rims true, then gripped the discs by their rims in the chuck. For this I used an engineering chuck, but could have made a jam chuck from scrap wood. I used a small skew chisel to bore (scrape) a tapered hole right through each one.

Just as when making a chucking recess in a bowl, the hole needs to fit the jaws of the chuck that will hold the rings. The diameter should fit the jaws when they are almost closed. The taper should match that of the jaws reasonably closely – the closer the better. And the depth of the hole should allow the top of the jaws to register on a true surface. That could be the surface of the bowl blank or other item if it is reasonably true. Otherwise the hole could be blind, or have a step to act as a depth stop. Alternatively the disc could be made thick enough for the bottom of the jaws to make contact on it.

I then mounted each ring in the chuck it was intended for and marked a circle on it. My lathe has an indexing ring, so I used that to divide the circle into thirds for the screw holes. Without that, I could have used a strut under the chuck jaws to lock it and locate the holes for four screws. I drilled the holes to suit the fixing screws. The holes have countersinks on one side for the screw head, and on the other to accommodate swelling in the timber made by the screws when in use.

Durability of homemade faceplate rings

I was slightly concerned that the expanding chuck jaws could cause the ply to delaminate in use. However, the screws prevent the layers from separating. I put the screw holes fairly close to the recess, where the stress would be greatest. Wooden rings cannot be as strong as metal, but these are holding up well so far. They should be at least as strong as the chuck recess made in a wooden bowl.

With an offcut of plywood and a little time, I have a number of very useful homemade faceplate rings, saving the significant cost of factory-made ones.

Update: After considerable use, the rings show no sign of delaminating. But I found that the screws were gradually deepening the countersinks. A washer under the screw head would help prevent this, provided there is room between the ring and the chuck jaws. But now I have made some steel ones, which of course are more durable. Steel is better for heavy use, although the plywood ones worked well enough.