What Is A Woodking Lathe Mandrel?

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If you’ve read previous articles I’ve written, you know my brother is a turnery artist in Boston.  His work is stunningly beautiful, true works of art.

I especially loved his spring 2022 collection from spalted maple.  His lathe talent is well beyond my understanding.

The wood is held in place with a dead center tool, a center hole.  But I didn’t know what that holding element was called until I learned from his work.  So, we thought we’d expand a bit about it, familiarize yourself with it, to gather a little about how one works with lathes.

Key Points:

  • Plain mandrels and the many other types of mandrels, are an integral part of turnery, whether it is wood or metals or food you are turning on your lathe.
  • Mandrels hold the work piece in your lathe, not to be confused with the arbor, which holds the tool.
  • Mandrels are an integral part of turnery’s spinning process as they keep work pieces spinning in perfect circles.

Its name is not to be confused with either Barbara or her sisters; singing starts in country music.

We’ve written of lathes in past articles, including a piece about the Laguna 1216 lathe, CBN wheels, and chucker lathes. Today, it’s the mandrel.  Read on to learn more.

What Is A Mandrel In Woodworking?

A mandrel in woodworking is a cylindrical rod that is used to support and shape a workpiece while it is being turned on a lathe.

The mandrel is held in place by the tailstock of the lathe, and the workpiece is attached to the mandrel with a variety of methods, such as glue, screws, or pins.

Mandrels are made of a variety of materials, including wood, metal, and plastic. The material of the mandrel depends on the type of workpiece being turned and the desired finish.

For example, a wooden mandrel is often used for turning bowls and other objects that require a smooth finish. A metal mandrel is often used for turning pens and other objects that require a more precise finish.

There are many different types of mandrels available, each designed for a specific purpose. Some common types of mandrels include:

  • Straight mandrels: These are the most common type of mandrel. They are used for turning cylindrical objects, such as bowls, pens, and spindles.  These plain mandrels are used most frequently, as bowls and spindles are very common lathe work pieces.
  • Tapered mandrels: These mandrels have a tapered end that fits into the tailstock of the lathe. They are used for turning objects with a tapered shape, such as finials and legs.
  • Expanding mandrels: These mandrels have a threaded end that expands when it is turned. They are used for turning objects with a hollow shape, such as bowls and cups.
  • Compound mandrels: These mandrels combine the features of straight, tapered, and expanding mandrels. They are used for turning objects with complex shapes, such as vases and figurines.

Mandrels are an essential tool for woodturning. They allow woodturners to create a wide variety of objects with precision and accuracy.  This is so because they are dead center on the work piece, so the spinning process is not lopsided or wobbly, enabling work pieces like plates and bowls to be perfectly circular.

All that is necessary is to remove a portion of the piece where there is a center hole.

Here are some additional tips for using mandrels in woodworking:

  • Make sure the mandrel is the correct size for the workpiece. The mandrel should be slightly smaller than the workpiece in diameter.
  • Use a lubricant on the mandrel to prevent the workpiece from sticking.
  • Be careful not to overtighten the workpiece to the mandrel. This can damage the workpiece or the mandrel.
  • Remove the workpiece from the mandrel carefully after it has been turned.

What Are The Various Types of Mandrels?

There are many different types of mandrels, each designed for a specific purpose. Some of the most common types of mandrels include:

  • Straight mandrels: These are the most common type of mandrel. They are used for turning cylindrical objects, such as bowls, pens, and spindles.
  • Tapered mandrels: These mandrels, tapered tools, have a tapered end that fits into the tailstock of the lathe. They are used for turning objects with a tapered shape, such as finials and legs.
  • Expanding mandrels: These threaded mandrels have a threaded end that expands when it is turned. They are used for turning objects with a hollow shape, such as bowls and cups. They come in a range of sizes, and the mandrel taper gives you options to choose from depending on your work piece.
  • Compound mandrels: These mandrels combine the features of straight, tapered, and expanding mandrels. They are used for turning objects with complex shapes, such as vases and figurines.
  • Cone mandrels: These mandrels have a conical shape and are used for turning objects with a conical shape, such as cones and funnels.
  • Ring mandrels: These mandrels are used for shaping rings and other cylindrical objects. They are typically made of metal or plastic and have a series of grooves or ridges that help to grip the workpiece.
  • Collar mandrels: These mandrels have a collar that fits around the workpiece to help secure it in place. They are often used for turning objects with a small diameter, such as pens and beads.
  • Screwed mandrels: These mandrels have a threaded end that screws into the workpiece. They are often used for turning objects with a delicate shape, such as flowers and leaves.
  • Flanged mandrels: These mandrels have a flange that helps to secure the workpiece in place. They are often used for turning objects with a large diameter, such as bowls and tables.

The type of mandrel that you need will depend on the specific project that you are working on. It is important to choose a mandrel that is the correct size and shape for the workpiece.

You should also use a lubricant on the mandrel to prevent the workpiece from sticking.

What is A Chuck Mandrel?

A chuck mandrel is a type of mandrel that is used to hold a workpiece in a lathe chuck. The chuck mandrel has a tapered end that fits into the chuck, and the workpiece is attached to the mandrel with a variety of methods, such as glue, screws, or pins.

Chuck mandrels are typically made of metal, such as steel or aluminum. They are available in a variety of sizes and shapes to accommodate different types of workpieces.

Chuck mandrels are used in a variety of applications, including:

  • Turning wood
  • Turning metal
  • Turning plastics
  • Turning glass
  • Turning composites

Chuck mandrels are an essential tool for lathe work. They allow lathe operators to hold workpieces securely and accurately, which is essential for producing high-quality results.

Here are some of the benefits of using a chuck mandrel:

  • It provides a secure and accurate way to hold the workpiece.
  • It allows the workpiece to be turned at high speeds without slipping.
  • It makes it easier to change the workpiece.
  • It can be used to turn a variety of shapes and sizes of workpieces.

If you are working with a lathe, a chuck mandrel is a valuable tool to have in your toolbox.

Here are some of the factors to consider when choosing a chuck mandrel:

  • The size of the workpiece: The chuck mandrel should be the correct size to fit the workpiece.
  • The material of the workpiece: The chuck mandrel should be made of a material that is compatible with the material of the workpiece.
  • The type of lathe: The chuck mandrel should be compatible with the type of lathe that you are using.
  • The application: The chuck mandrel should be designed for the specific application that you are using it for.

What Are Mandrels Made Of?

Mandrels can be made of a variety of materials, depending on the application. Some common materials for mandrels include:

  • Steel: Steel is a strong and durable material that is resistant to wear and tear. It is often used for mandrels that need to withstand high temperatures or forces.  Steel mandrels are sturdy and can take a great deal of stress, and provide accurate machining.
  • Aluminum: Aluminum is a lightweight and strong material that is also corrosion-resistant. Aluminum mandrels are lightweight and can be exposed to moisture.
  • Wood: Wood is a relatively soft material, but it is also strong and easy to work with. It is often used for mandrels that need to be shaped, or that will be in contact with food.
  • Plastic: Plastic mandrels are lightweight and inexpensive, as well as easy to work with. Plastic is often used for mandrels that will be used in a variety of applications, such as manufacturing and food processing.
  • Ceramic: Ceramic is a hard and brittle material that is resistant to heat and chemicals. It is often used for mandrels that will be used in high-temperature applications or that will be exposed to harsh chemicals.
  • Tungsten: Tungsten is a very hard and dense material that is resistant to heat and wear. Tungsten mandrels are used when they need to withstand high temperatures or forces.

The specific material that is used for a mandrel will depend on the specific application. For example, a mandrel that will be used to turn wood might be made of wood, while a mandrel that will be used to turn metal might be made of steel.  You can easily see that some of these mandrels are standard equipment in machine shops.

What Are Bull Ring Mandrels?

A bull ring mandrel is a type of mandrel that is used to hold large-diameter workpieces. It consists of a live center with interchangeable rings that can accommodate a wide variety of parts.

The live center is mounted in the tailstock of the lathe, and the rings are secured to the live center with set screws. The workpiece is then placed over the rings and secured in place with a clamp or other device.

Bull ring mandrels are used in a variety of applications, including:

  • Turning large bowls and other wooden objects
  • Turning large metal pipes and other objects
  • Turning large glass and plastic objects
  • Turning large composite objects

Bull ring mandrels are an essential tool for lathe work when working with large-diameter workpieces. They allow lathe operators to hold workpieces securely and accurately, which is essential for producing high-quality results.

Here are some of the benefits of using a bull ring mandrel:

  • It provides a secure and accurate way to hold large-diameter workpieces.
  • It allows the workpiece to be turned at high speeds without slipping.
  • It makes it easier to change the workpiece.
  • It can be used to turn a variety of shapes and sizes of workpieces.

If you are working with a lathe and need to turn large-diameter workpieces, a bull ring mandrel is a valuable tool to have in your toolbox.

Here are some of the factors to consider when choosing a bull ring mandrel:

  • The size of the workpiece: The bull ring mandrel should be the correct size to fit the workpiece.
  • The material of the workpiece: The bull ring mandrel should be made of a material that is compatible with the material of the workpiece.
  • The type of lathe: The bull ring mandrel should be compatible with the type of lathe that you are using.
  • The application: The bull ring mandrel should be designed for the specific application that you are using it for.

Are Mandrels Only for Lathes?

Well, actually, they are not.  They are primarily a lathe tool for all of the reasons we have outlined above, but even the “lowly” Dremel uses mandrels.

We use the quotation marks because of the Dremel’s perception of a small and inexpensive power tool; in fact, Dremels are terrific and terrifically handy power tools to have in your woodworking shop and even around the house.

Dremel EZ407SA EZ Drum Sanding Band and Mandrel
  • Provides a quicker and easier alternative to using a traditional sanding mandrel
  • Allows for flat sanding and edge sanding
  • Compatible with all Dremel rotary tools

Here’s a quick video about the Dremel drum mandrel.

Not every woodworking shop includes a lathe as standard equipment.  And not every turner makes art.  But mandrels are essential to good turnery work, and now you know how and why.

Last update on 2024-04-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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