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steb centers (Read 675 times)
 
Brad Barnhart
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steb centers
May 17th, 2017 at 7:41am
 
good morning! I've been kickin' around the thoughts of steb centers. Being fairly new to the turning world, I'm wonderin' if the investment would be worth it. I have done some research in my limited time available, but the concensus seems to go both ways. I haven't really got into any serious turning yet because of to many other projects going, but is the steb designed for a given type of turning? Does it slip under pressure? What are they designed for? I'm not to interested in bowl turning at this point, but I've got projects in the works that are going to be hollow form types. Hope this "question" makes sense. Thank you in advance for any info & advice. Brad.
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Re: steb centers
Reply #1 - May 17th, 2017 at 8:16am
 
Brad,

Steb is the name of the inventor of the center bearing the name.  Sorby licensed the patent and sells drive and live centers by that name.   There are similar knockoffs on the market.  Last I looked, the knock offs are not the same diameter as those sold by Sorby.

I have used the 1/2 inch Sorby Steb brand centers for many years for small to moderate sized spindles.  These are a form of "safety centers" that will spin with a serious catch.  In teaching kids to turn, they help reduce some risk and build skew confidence.  I like the small size for preparing spindles for small projects using irregular wood.

I have tried a couple of knockoff versions.  They are larger, but find I come back to the Sorby version.

These are not an essential tool.  But I find them handy for spindles up to 1 1/2 inch or so.  Really small stuff like knitting needles they apply too much compression.  Bigger than 2 inch is too much for the small sized one I have and I use a large drive center and live center

As usual, the answer depends on what you are doing.   

Safety centers are a good approach, and can come in several forms. 
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Re: steb centers
Reply #2 - May 17th, 2017 at 8:54am
 
Brad Barnhart wrote on May 17th, 2017 at 7:41am:
is the steb designed for a given type of turning? Does it slip under pressure? What are they designed for?

Yes
Yes
spindles

Like Ken mentioned, Steb has sort of become the generic name for this type of tool. They are primarily designed for spindle turning. The multi-tooth design is to engage the wood at multiple points (more surface area, points of contact) making it more secure. While at the same time not splitting the spindle if there is a catch but operating like a clutch slip. If/when a slip does occur, the center can simply be re-seated, with no significant damage done to the spindle, other than a small circle where the teeth were engaged.
Once I started using a steb "style" center I don't use the standard 4 prong drive center anymore (hardly ever).
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Re: steb centers
Reply #3 - May 17th, 2017 at 2:22pm
 
Brad Barnhart wrote on May 17th, 2017 at 7:41am:
Does it slip under pressure? What are they designed for? I'm not to interested in bowl turning at this point, but I've got projects in the works that are going to be hollow form types


Just my experiences.  They can/do slip with a catch.  What I use mine for is small dry spindles under 2" diameter and small dry face work under about 7".  For the face work I mean like a small platter, saucer, or other thin item where you may have a limited about of wood to be removed; this could also include small winged bowls (Clewes style).
I can't see where they would be any/much use with hollow forms that a 4 spur will not handle just as well or better.

For most spindles you can use your 4 prong but the steb really comes in handy where a spur would be hard to seat such as on a platter.
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Brad Barnhart
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Re: steb centers
Reply #4 - May 17th, 2017 at 7:49pm
 
Thank you for your input. That pretty well satisfies my curiosity. I'm thinkin' I'll just stick with my four prong that came with the lathe, & put the $$$ towards a chuck. I just have a faceplate at the moment. Thank you again..brad.
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« Last Edit: May 17th, 2017 at 7:53pm by Brad Barnhart »  

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Re: steb centers
Reply #5 - May 18th, 2017 at 8:36am
 
Mike Mills wrote on May 17th, 2017 at 2:22pm:
They can/do slip with a catch.

That's the point, they are supposed to slip. No damage to the wood (splitting) or the turner.

Brad Barnhart wrote on May 17th, 2017 at 7:49pm:
I'll just stick with my four prong that came with the lathe, & put the $$$ towards a chuck

I understand putting the cash towards a chuck but I will mention that the Sorby brand centers cost 3 times as much as a comparable Woodcraft brand. (and that's on sale)


A little off topic
It may just be me but why would you use a drive center of any kind on faceplate work?
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Brad Barnhart
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Re: steb centers
Reply #6 - May 20th, 2017 at 1:22am
 
i don't. I just mentioned the fact that I have a faceplate for now, & instead putting money towards the steb, I would keep saving for a chuck. my apologies for offending you, Ed. I don't use the faceplate, either. I haven't gotten deep enough into the "vortex" yet to learn all the vocabulary yet, nor done enough turning to even consider myself a turner. Most of what I have done to this point I've learned on my own, & figure things out by reading & research. Less the humiliation of asking questions about the things I've never used or been around. I just had the crazy idea I might get some information here from you turners that do know. From here on, I'll be more cautious of how I word my posts. Thank you for your time, & allowing me to be on this site. brad.
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Re: steb centers
Reply #7 - May 20th, 2017 at 11:51am
 
Brad, Nothing wrong with your posts at all. Just ask - and you will receive. Throw caution (about posting) to the wind. No such thing as a dumb question - the questioner is usually answered by a smart and experienced questionee (maybe the other way around  Shocked ).  I'm dumber than a blade of grass, but I still get answers to my stupid questions! I think some of the answers are dumber than I am though (!) Not.
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Ed Weber
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Re: steb centers
Reply #8 - May 20th, 2017 at 11:53am
 
Brad Barnhart wrote on May 20th, 2017 at 1:22am:
From here on, I'll be more cautious of how I word my posts.

Brad Barnhart wrote on May 20th, 2017 at 1:22am:
i don't. I just mentioned the fact that I have a faceplate for now, & instead putting money towards the steb, I would keep saving for a chuck. my apologies for offending you, Ed.

Brad, you have me a bit confused.

I think you may has misinterpreted my response.
1. I was simply saying that it isn't necessary to spend the higher price for one particular brand, there are less expensive alternatives.
2. The question about using a steb center on faceplate work was directed toward Mike Mills, who indicated that, that was his method of work.

Please feel free to ask anything you want, we all had to learn this information somehow.
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Brad Barnhart
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Re: steb centers
Reply #9 - May 20th, 2017 at 4:58pm
 
ok. well, like i said, i'm new enough to this that I'm still makin' more firewood than presentable projects. Lately, family obligations & my health have kept me away from the shop. After nearly 4 months, I was finally released from pt this week, so hopefully shop time will pick up. And, like i said, i've got a few ideas for projects, but have several scroll projects to get caught up first. I appreciate your explanation, Ed. I've learned alot here & didn't want any enemies.
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Re: steb centers
Reply #10 - May 20th, 2017 at 5:40pm
 
Glad to hear you're on the mend and don't worry, we all still make more firewood than anyone cares to admit. Smiley Smiley
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Re: steb centers
Reply #11 - May 20th, 2017 at 8:09pm
 
Brad

Like Ed, I've been confused by the various posts in this discussion.  And with several thousand hours on a lathe, I'm sometimes still feeling like a rookie when I try to go in a new direction.

A spindle could be a chair rung, a table leg, a rolling pin, a walking cane, . . .  Spindles usually are engaged at each end, and if the tailstock is backed off the spindle falls onto the lathe bed.

The spindle is turned by some sort of drive center in the headstock - a four spur drive center, a two spur drive center, or a cone or steb center.  The latter two are sometimes called safety centers, as the spindle can stop turning if there is a catch.  The drive centers almost always have a morse taper that slips into the spindle.

A faceplate is used for larger diameter "stuff."  They can be used for turning bowls and "face work" like the base of a table or floor lamp.  Screws secure the wood to the faceplate.  If the work is out of balance, many people will bring up the tailstock until the work is balanced, then the tailstock usually is not engaged.

Like a faceplate, a chuck secures the work at one end (although the tailstock may be used initially for additional safety) but does not leave screw holes in the end of the work.  Some attach a waste block to a faceplate, then adhere the work to the waste block and part off the work from the waste block when done.

With proper screws in proper number, a faceplate might be a more secure holding than a chuck.

Everyone has their own preferred leaning methods.  I started with book/video pairs by Richard Raffan, and still find them valuable reference material.   There are a number of quality videos on this forum.  A friend or neighbor can be helpful, but a turning group can be even more beneficial as one is exposed to different approaches and favored techniques.

Different types of projects - spindle,  bowl, faceplate, inside-out, . . . - involve different mounting approaches, different tools, different techniques, and so on.  It can be difficult to stay on one path initially, but you might find it helpful to focus on spindles for a while, even if just making fancy pieces of kindling, to develop confidence with some of the tools and terminology.
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Brad Barnhart
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Re: steb centers
Reply #12 - May 20th, 2017 at 10:59pm
 
that's my thoughts, Mr. Stephen. I've made a few chair rungs, a few s & p shakers, a couple drinkin' cups, but nothin' fancy. I'm tryin' to fit the lathe into some of my scroll projects, but It seems I don't have much time to get on the lathe:(. I keep workin' towards the goal of spending more time on the lathe. And thank you Ed for the health encouragement. I appreciate it.
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Re: steb centers
Reply #13 - May 21st, 2017 at 9:32am
 

Brad,  the folks at Gwinnett Woodworkers on Youtube have a few scroll saw lathe combinations. 

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Re: steb centers
Reply #14 - May 22nd, 2017 at 7:55am
 
Ed Weber wrote on May 20th, 2017 at 11:53am:
[quote

2. The question about using a steb center on faceplate work was directed toward Mike Mills, who indicated that, that was his method of work.


I guess I used the wrong verbiage.
As Don stated, "spindle" can be lots of things from the namesake to pens, pepper mills,...anything with the grain running parallel with the bed.
I was not referring to "faceplate" but what I was taught as "face work" meaning the grain running perpendicular to the bed of the lathe.  "Face work" can be held by a faceplate...or drive center, woodworm screw, pin chuck, scroll chuck and other methods.

It may well be that steb centers were designed to slip.  My impression is they were made to provide a tenacious grip with minimal damage to the wood.

Just for slippage I would suggest a safety drive ($) compared to a steb center ($$$$).  My safety drive was $4 new; they are just a simple cup & point dead center for the tailstock which greatly increases in value when moved to the headstock. Grin

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Re: steb centers
Reply #15 - May 22nd, 2017 at 9:02am
 
Mike Mills wrote on May 17th, 2017 at 2:22pm:
What I use mine for is small dry spindles under 2" diameter and small dry face work under about 7".  For the face work I mean like a small platter, saucer, or other thin item" where you may have a limited about of wood to be removed; this could also include small winged bowls (Clewes style).

You can call it whatever you want and hold it however you want, it wasn't the language that confused me.
From your description, I don't understand why or how (I can only guess in conjunction with the tailstock) you would use a drive center for "small platter, saucer, or other thin item"
I don't understand this approach to work holding.

Mike Mills wrote on May 22nd, 2017 at 7:55am:
My impression is they were made to provide a tenacious grip with minimal damage to the wood.

That part is true, but the other half of the equation is that in the event of a catch, they are "designed" to work as a slip-clutch mechanism. This means providing an outlet for the turning force so that, primarily the operator and secondarily the piece, suffer little or no damage.

In  the event of a catch with a traditional 4-prong drive center, you will usually have one of two things happen.
1. The tool will dig in further before it eventually kicks the tool out and creates a larger damaged area, since the drive continues to turn the spindle.
2. The tool stops the spindle entirely, leaving only one place for the turning force to be released, splitting the spindle.
A steb center eliminates both of those potential safety hazards.
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Brad Barnhart
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Re: steb centers
Reply #16 - May 22nd, 2017 at 9:19pm
 
thanks for all the input, spite the confusion. Mr. Ken, I appreciate the info, but, I own 5 scroll saws, & use them all but one. And it's the first one I completely wore out.

As I said, I'd like to learn more on the lathe to add some wow! to some of my scroll projects. Most of the projects I do are Native American, or centered around it. I have several ideas, it's just a matter of perfecting the lathe to my satisfaction in order to pursue the projects. If you care to take a look at my work, my fb page is Sawdust Haven. Again, I appreciate all your input. I learned alot from it. Brad.
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Re: steb centers
Reply #17 - May 23rd, 2017 at 8:26am
 
If you look at Lyle Jamieson videos on youtube, you will see that he starts all of his bowls between centers using a Steb in the headstock. This way, he can change the centers around until the blank is balanced, and then move the centers marginally while turning it to get the best grain and feature orientation.
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Re: steb centers
Reply #18 - May 23rd, 2017 at 8:46am
 
Grant, thank you for that explanation.
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I don't use that method, personally I start with my blanks a bit more refined than the one shown in the video.
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Re: steb centers
Reply #19 - May 23rd, 2017 at 11:44am
 
Ed: that's one of the videos that I was thinking of. In that one, Lyle is using a prong center, but the same idea holds using a steb.

As an aside, like you, I generally start with a blank a bit more refined. I tend to cut them round on my bandsaw first. I still get heavy spots, though, and Lyle's process works well. I've also learned from Lyle's method that I can get better grain symmetry than I did when I stuck a face plate on the blank from the start.
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Re: steb centers
Reply #20 - May 23rd, 2017 at 1:24pm
 
Brad

Pennstateind has them for a great price and I bought both the 5/8s" and 1" and the one for the tail stock also all less then then $90 and they work fantastic.

If you need a link I will get one for you.
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Re: steb centers
Reply #21 - May 23rd, 2017 at 2:00pm
 
Grant Wilkinson wrote on May 23rd, 2017 at 11:44am:
Ed: that's one of the videos that I was thinking of. In that one, Lyle is using a prong center, but the same idea holds using a steb.


You didn't post a link so I provided an example. (took a shot)
I'm well aware of what he is doing in his process with regards to grain alignment but I confess, I didn't get that from Mike's description. (if he's referring to the same thing).

As always, everyone has their own way of doing things. I am only trying to clarify for myself and others that either don't know of a different process or don't understand the explanation of a certain process.
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Brad Barnhart
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Re: steb centers
Reply #22 - May 23rd, 2017 at 2:01pm
 
thank you Arlin
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Re: steb centers
Reply #23 - May 23rd, 2017 at 3:11pm
 
I finally realized what was missing.  When I said "and small dry face work under about 7"."  I should have said "to start small dry face work....". 
In a Jimmy Clewes workshop one of the items we turned was a small platter (saucer) of QS sycamore 3/4 thick.  Starting between centers the top was slightly dished out and a tenon formed; then reversed holding the tenon with a chuck and then bottom was formed with a recess; then reversed again to finish the top.  Starting with the steb meant it did not have to be "set" into the wood as the teeth are sharp enough.
I did not make the connection that folks may think the entire project was turned with just a steb.  Sorry 'bout that.

Whether it is purchased for grip or for safety (slippage) is up to the buyer.
Mine are the cheapo PSI but they work fine for me (<$30 on Amazon).
I did check Sorby and PSI but my eyesight leaves much to be desired.  I could only find references to the superior hold/grip in their descriptions.
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I did look at your facebook and that is some mighty fine scroll work.

Alan Stratton posted this video a two days ago where he turned a scroll sawn item.  I know it is not up to what you do but it may give you some ideas.  He also shows a different approach (friction chuck) for starting the item.
Gave me an idea for next Christmas for some in-laws that fish a lot... a coin/key bowl 3/4" thick (1/2" deep) in the shape of a fish.
You can skip the first 2 minutes in this video.
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Re: steb centers
Reply #24 - May 23rd, 2017 at 4:10pm
 
Makes perfect sense now.
I also opted for a less expensive brand. I purchased the Woodcraft (Wood River) brand years ago. I wouldn't be without one.
Some of the "features" listed for the Sorby center do not interest me at all and could be considered dangerous. IMO

"Flexible: By varying tail stock pressure, the work piece can be inspected without shutting off the lathe, simply back off the tailstock until the teeth disengage the work piece. This allows the center point to hold the work in place with the lathe still running. Apply heavy pressure with the tailstock and you have a super aggressive drive center that won't slip."

Just because you can doesn't mean it's a good idea. I'll stick to turning off the lathe before I inspect my work.
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