I have found that using a 2-1/2″ diameter hole that is 1/4″ deep is a good way to mount blanks for plates and shallow bowls on the lathe. It is easy and very secure.
It’s a lot better than using a chuck screw. Because chuck screws and shallow holes don’t mix well.
I drill a 2-1/2″ diameter hole that is 1/4″ deep with a Forstner bit. Then expand my 4 jaw chuck into the hole.
You need to be careful when drilling a big hole. You ABSOLUTELY need to use a drill press. Using a hand held drill would be a receipt for disaster.
You also need to clamp the blank down to the drill press table. A big drill bit can easily catch and rip the blank out of and/or thru your hand. Any sharp edges or corners on the blank will shred your hand.
Updated: 9/8/2023. I now recommend the 2-1/2″ Carbide Forstner bit made by “Roman Carbide” (brand).
The cheap “Steelex” brand Forstner bit that I use to use, got dull. I could not easily sharpen it with a file. A new “Steelex” brand bit is now to much money. The new carbide bit design works better (drills faster and easier) than the old traditional Steelex brand design.
For more info see my “Roman Carbide Forstner Drill Bits” blog entry.
The cheap “Steelex” brand Forstner bits currently available on Amazon for $2x work ok. The Amazon reviews vary quite a bit. Getting a good one is a crap shoot. I have gotten 2 winners recently.
Note: Amazon dynamically prices everything. I purchased a new 2-1/2″ Forstner bit last week for $20. Today the lowest price it will show me is $28.91. If I wait a few more weeks then the price will probably go back down to $20.
Updated: 6/5/2020. This idea was published as “Drilled Chucking Recess” in the “Tips” section on page 16 of the AAW April 2020 “American Woodturner” Journal. Click here for page 16 PDF.
Updated: 9/4/2021. Carl has been published numerous times. Click here to see a list of Carl’s other magazine articles.
Updated: 12/27/2021. This tip is on page 15 of the new AAW “Tips + Tricks for the Woodturner” book.
You can get the book on Amazon or AAW Web site for $20.