Making a Wooden Collet
by Phil Colson
Note: click any picture to see a larger version.
Well have you ever turned a tenon too small, I did. I don't know what I was thinking when I started to re-turn a small cherry bowl that was dry. The tenon wouldn't fit into the #2 jaws on the chuck. I wasn't sure what to do, then I remembered someone telling me about a wooden collet. I turned the collet and finished the bowl.
Here is how it works. Put a piece of soft wood in the chuck that will be big enough to accept the small tenon and large enough for the jaws to be able to tighten the collet. Turn it round and transfer the size of the tenon to the piece of soft wood. I use soft wood because I feel it holds better.
Hollow the piece of wood from the marks you have transferred. Make it deep enough so it will stick out of the jaws. Go to the bandsaw and cut about a half inch slot in the side of the donut you have just made. If you made the hole a little to big, cut the slot larger. Insert it into the jaws and try the tenon. Remove the tenon and close down the jaws and face the collet so it is smooth and co-plane to the face of the jaws. Open the jaws of the chuck and put the tenon into the wooden collet and tighten the jaws down tight. Voila! Turn away. When you are finished using the collet, throw it away, you don't need another piece of wood cluttering the shop. Happy turning.
Phil can be reached directly via email at
The Highland Woodturner