In the Southern Appalachian mountains we turn dowels and rungs from stock that’s been riven with a froe, then cleaned up with a hatchet or drawknife. With the device sketched above, you can quickly chuck the rough stock in the lathe.
To make the chuck, screw a 1-1/2-in. thick hardwood block to a small faceplate. Turn the block to a 3-in. cylinder with a cone-shaped depression in the face, as shown in the sketch. Stop the lathe and with a V-parting chisel cut four 1/8-in. deep grooves in the walls of the cone 90¡ apart to grab the corners of square stock.
Prepare the stock to be turned by giving it four quick licks with a hatchet to cut a short, square section on one end. With the square end of the stock in the cone, tighten the lathe’s tailstock on the other end and you’re ready to turn.
W.W. Kelly, Clinton, Tenn.
Fine Woodworking Magazine, April 1981 No. 27