There are several factors to consider in purchasing a new chuck.
IMO one of the most significant factors is does the chuck have available
jaws sets that most meet your present and future turning needs. A
chuck is no better than its jaw sets, and its jaw sets can function no
better than the precision of the chuck to which it is mounted. Thus I
don't believe you can consider them independently.
This is not quite as much of an issue as it was even five years ago, as
most of the major players have worked hard to develop a range of jaw
styles. Teknatool and Aximinster have the widest range, Oneway has
almost caught up with the jaws available for its Stronghold (but not IMO
for the Talon), and Vicmark follow at the rear with still a varied set
But again, the widest range is not necessarily meaningful for you unless
you are ever apt to be so varied in your turning tastes that you will
need a chuck to do every sort of turning task. So again, try to look to
the jaws available with an eye to how they meet your present and most
likely future needs.
Teknatool has one advantage over all of the others, in that all of its
main series of jaw sets will fit all of its chucks. There is presently
one very large jaw set (and likely in the future there will be 2-3 more
jaw sets that will only fit their largest chuck), but all their other
many many jaws will fit all of their current offerings. This IMO is
significant advantage for many, as quite a few turners eventually
purchase a second, or upgrade from their first chuck. It is infinitely
frustrating to have a moderate size chuck, have several jaw sets, and
find out that those jaws won't install on your new larger chuck. You can
not move your Talon jaws to the Stronghold, you cannot move the jaw
sets from the smaller Aximinster or Vicmark chucks to their larger
models, but you can with the Teknatool chucks, with any Nova or
SuperNova jaw set fitting on the new SuperNova 2 or Titan chucks. This
means a lot to me, but of course, if you believe you will never purchase
another chuck, it can be a moot issue.
Vicmarks have a outstanding reputation for precision and smooth
operation, perhaps not quite as precise as the big Axminster, but
otherwise notable so. I haven't yet obtained a SuperNova 2, but given my
experience with the Titan, my guess is that is will be significantly
more precise than its predecessor, of which I now have seven and have
liked using them.
In all my years of turning, I have yet to use indexing for any reason,
and I doubt I ever will. Now this isn't to say that indexing won't be
essential for some turners how carve or route or drill their turnings on
the lathe, but for typical bowl, box, hollow form work it is unlikely
you will ever use it. If you should require it, many lathes have
indexing built in and IMO again, this is preferable to lines scribed on
a chuck. So from my perspective (and I am sure others will give theirs)
indexing on a chuck is pretty useless.
Key operation is a major consideration for many. Frankly, the older
SuperNova had a rather unfriendly chuck key that was difficult to fit
into the gearing. The Talon/Oneway key is better, but really about the
minimum one should expect in a chuck. The Vicmark has traditionally been
viewd was having one of the most convenient of keys, it being a six
sided Allen wrench style. However, the new Titan and SuperNova 2 chucks
now use a ball headed hex key style that IME has been even nicer than
the Vicmark. The ball end is almost self guiding into the socket, and
allows the key to be approached a bit of center. It also allow the key
to be manipulated a bit off from perpendicular, which can sometimes be
handy when working with larger turnings that can crowd the space available.
There is more to be said and I am sure that others will share their
experiences. Frankly, it is hard to go too wrong with a quality modern
chuck from any of the major players: Oneway, Axminster, Vicmark or
Teknatool. Many have strong opinions about their chucks, but I would
suggest you consider just how many different kinds of chucks the person
has actually had experience with.
BTW, you can obtain my review of the Titan chuck here:
I have chucks from the others, and really like the Talon for a mini
lathe, but I personally am partial to the Teknatool jaw sets and now the
new series of chuck bodies. Again, your needs and thus preferences, may
> The new Nova 2 with 75 mm jaws is about $7 less than the Vicmarc 120
> (5-1/2) with 2-1/2" jaws at the Aussie site discussed earlier. As a new
> turner on a PM3520A which would you advise? Vicmarc is proven, Nova2 is a
> bit new but a natural evolution. Both seem to have some sort of indexing
> feature, but I don't know how useable that is. Both have hex keys and
> closed backs. Vicmarc maybe a bit more hefty.
> Any comments appreciated.
> Jerry Hall