Cole jaws..

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Established Member
17 Mar 2017
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I think that's what they're called, these type:


I was wondering why, in all the videos I've seen nobody ever uses them for an initial bowl turning. I tend to see:

1. Round the piece
2. Shape the bottom of the bowl
3. Add a tenon or recess
4. finish the outside.
5. flip the bowl, inserting the tenon in the chuck.

Why don't people use these jaws, it seems, ever?


1. Round the piece
2. Shape the inside of the the bowl and finish.
4. Shape most of the outside of the bowl.
5. flip the bowl, using cole jaws do the final part of the bowl and finish.

It seems to my uneducated eye that you'd keep the bowl oriented in the same direction for 95% of the work, and only flip it for the base. The part that's seen the least.

You'd normally turn the outside first 1/ because it's the heavy out of balance part, and 2/ because while the blank is heavy and probably unbalanced there's plenty of waste solid wood to get a fixing in. Any on the hoof design alterations necessary would become more obvious as the outside was turned, so you'd turn the inside to suit the outside. You want your item to be as well balanced and as light as possible before relying on cole jaws alone.
Cole jaws have limited grip ability due to the nature of the standard soft jaws so are restricted to smooth light fishing cuts on preformed pieces.

With care, and home engineered more rigid buttons or steel buttons available from some sources combined with tailstock support they can be put to safe use on less than ideal blanks but they do need using with circumspect and care.

They will never give you the security of hold are rigidity of a dovetail or screw Chuck whilst carrying out bulk material removal.

Don't make the mistake of seeing Cole jaws just for bowls, they are very versatile for initial mounting forming and finish on box lids etc. I doubt there is a box or pot in my gallery that has not had 4- 5 Cole jaw processes in its making.
Amegr of the reply above, they de piece ont very securely usbute he tail stock to keep them bown in place while finishing off the bottom... just in case!

Also you have to think about the shape of the top you are cutting as the buttons are only designed to hold a slight taper when you tighten up on the cole jaws. They do work well though to finish of the base of the bowns you make.