Review By Dean Bielanowski  Teknatool Website - http://www.teknatool.com


Supernova2
Woodturning Chuck

 Review

By Dean Bielanowski

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 models.

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.

Supernova2 Features
The Supernova
2 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 mode.

 
A bowl chucked up using the outside jaw face in expansion mode.


Here a foot of a bowl is shown chucked in compression mode.

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
In use there is little to fault with the Supernova
2. 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) adjustment mechanism.

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 reviewed 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.

Overall
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 Supernova
2 represents the next step up and continues the evolution of easy to use and reliable Teknatool woodturning chucks.

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 Supernova2. 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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Supernova2 Photos
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The Supernova2 ships in this box...


The Supernova2 chuck cleaned up and ready to go...


The black, fully-sealed Duracon composite backing plate helps keep dust from getting inside the chuck.


A much simpler hex jaw adjustment mechanism!


Close-up of the jaw slides.


One of the Supernova2 standard jaws included. Note the dovetail-angle shape.


A fully assembled Supernova2 with 2" jaw set added.


The woodworm screw with large, wide threads for a better grip.


The appropriate insert fitted to match your lathe.

 

 

 

 

 


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